Minestrone Soup

My love for minestrone soup is a new-found one. I never cared much for vegetable soups in the past but all of that changed when I decided to give this recipe a try. Don’t ask what came over me to make me want piping hot soup for dinner on a WARM winters night but I am happy I tried it. My hubby and I loved it and vowed to make it again soon. This soup is hearty, comforting, and deceivingly healthy!

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The best thing about soups is their versatility, you can feed a group for relatively cheap, and the mass amount of leftovers keep well. Great for families!! You can pop this in your slow-cooker before work and have dinner on the table as soon as you walk through the door. I did not plan very well in advance so I made this in my dutch oven on the stove top.

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Anyways, I’ll skip the intro and jump right to the meat, or lack there of in this case, of the recipe. I am heading out to Charleston, S.C. tomorrow bright and early so I need to get myself packed and ready for my food adventure. Oh, and a bachlorette party thrown in there too ūüėČ !! That city has some SERIOUSLY amazing food and I cannot wait to dig in!

Served it with these homemade pita chips. Recipe to follow!
Served it with these homemade pita chips. Recipe to follow!

Minestrone Soup

Serves: about 12

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow or sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 small/medium zucchini, diced small
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced thin (about 1 1/2 large carrots)
  • 1 cup celery, sliced thin (about two large stalks)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups (64 ounces) of low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups small whole-wheat (or brown rice, etc) pasta shells
  • Two 14.5-ounce cans no-salt added diced tomatoes (do NOT drain!)
  • One 15-ounce can no-salt added red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-ounce can great northern white beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-ounce can no-salt added green beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. no salt added mixed seasoning blend
  • 1 tsp. pepper, freshly cracked
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1/2 lemon, juice
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, lightly packed
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional for topping

Directions:

  1. To very large Dutch oven or stockpot, add oil, onions, zucchini, carrots, and celery and saute for about 5-10 minutes or until they just start to soften. Stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the garlic and saute for additional 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add vegetable broth, pasta, tomatoes, both cans of beans, green beans, bay leaves, seasoning blend, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil gently for about 10-15 minutes or until pasta is cooked.
    1. Note: If at any time during cooking the liquid level is lower than you would like, add in a cup or two of water or vegetable broth.
  4. Turn down to a simmer and add in the spinach and lemon juice. Stirring to combine. Taste soup and add salt to taste. I added about 1 tsp overall.
  5. Serve warm with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, fresh made pita crisps (recipe to follow!) and enjoy!!

Recipe adapted from Averie Cooks.


 

Turkey Meatballs

Yay, it’s Thursday! Which means it is “little Friday” and almost the weekend, woo-hoo! It has been a super busy month thus far for me with being in a wedding, attending wedding events, holidays, and trying to close on our house. I apologize if I am not posting as much yumminess (that’s a word, right?) for you all but hope to change that once the crazy dies down a bit! If you have something you want to see me make — COMMENT BELOW!!

turkeymeatballs

In my house we are growing tired of eating the same few meals a week and were looking to change things up. I know I’m not the only one who runs into this problem. The main issue is that I find all these amazing recipes online to try out but never have the energy or groceries on hand to make all of them. I had tried turkey meatballs before and failed but this time they came out perfect! Live and ya learn!

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These turkey meatballs are a close rendition to my ground turkey pasta sauce but have SO much more flavor from searing the ground turkey meatballs and allowing them to simmer in the savory tomato sauce. This is going to be a staple in my house for sure!!

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My husband raved about them. They tasted a lot like ground beef to me – but without all the fat and cholesterol that typically comes along with eating beef. What could be better than that?!

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NOTE: This looks like a ton of steps and ingredients…but it really isn’t! Give it a try and let me know how much you love it – comment below!


Ground Turkey Meatballs

Servings: 4 (large portions)

Ingredients:

For the Sauce:

  • 2 cans no-salt added diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can no-salt added tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. all purpose seasoning
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

For The Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground turkey thigh
  • 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 Tbsp. bbq sauce ( I use Chubby’s – organic and low sugar/sodium)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 Tbsp. low-sodium Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. all purpose seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. In dutch oven or large saucepan, saute onion and garlic in 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil until translucent.
  2. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, garlic powder, all purpose seasoning, and red pepper flakes to saucepan/dutch oven. Stir to combine. Add in water to pot until desired consistency is reached. For thicker sauce add less water than the above mentioned 1/2 cup.
  3. In medium mixing bowl, combine turkey, oats, bbq sauce, worchestershire sauce, egg, all purpose seasoning, garlic powder, and black pepper. Mix well and form mixture into small meatballs with hands and set aside.
  4. In separate saucepan, add remaining olive oil over medium high heat. Add in meatballs about 5-6 at a time (do not over-crowd pan). Let cook on each side about 1 minute just until browned then immediately remove from heat and add to pot with the sauce.
  5. Once all meatballs are seared and added into the sauce pot, simmer on low for 25-30 minutes, gently stirring occasionally. Meatballs should be browned in center prior to consuming.

Nutritional Information per 1 serving: 355 calories, 5.5g fat, 38.2g carbohydrates, 39.7g protein, 10.1g fiber, 22g sugar


 

Serve over spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, or whole wheat pasta and enjoy!!

Hearty Sweet Potato & Quinoa Stew

April showers bring May flowers! That is certainly true here in Virginia at this time of year. I love me a good thunderstorm! Especially when I’m all cozy and warm inside my house. This is the third straight day in a row of rainy weather and I’m starting to feel as if I live in Seattle or England.

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On cold, rainy days it is best, in my opinion, to eat heart-warming meals like soup or stew. I got the idea to make this stew simply from what I was craving yesterday. I have been dieting this week to better fit into a bridesmaids dress I have to wear in early May and wanted a low-calorie and low-fat dinner that would still fill me up.

sweet potato stew

That’s where this stew comes in! It has so many nutrient rich vegetables packed into it. Sort of like a detox veggie soup you see all over the nutrition blogs promising to help you lose 10 pounds in 5 days…only it actually tastes delicious and is very filling! Like I said, it is packed with nutrients as well as lots of fiber. Oh and trust me, you won’t miss all the added sodium typically in canned goods by opting for the no-salt added versions used in this recipe!

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This could absolutely be made into a crock-pot meal by adding all un-cooked ingredients into the crock pot and setting on low for about 4-6 hours. This will freeze well also and is great for big families!

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Let me know how you like it in the comments below!! This was one of my first recipes completely made up by myself so I’m a tad proud of how it turned out!!

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Hearty Sweet Potato & Quinoa Stew

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (32oz) container of low-sodium vegetable broth (I used 365, Whole Foods brand, here)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 can no-salt added corn
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. salt, depending on taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions:

  1. In dutch oven or large skillet, saute onion and garlic over medium heat until translucent.
  2. Pour in vegetable broth and stir to de-glaze the pan. Add in the remaining ingredients and reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for a minimum of 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  3. Serve warm with side of crusty whole wheat bread or topped with low-fat cheese and enjoy!

NUTRITION FACTS per 1 serving: 140 calories, 1g fat, 28.9g carbs, 3.7g protein, 5.9g fiber, 11.4g sugar, 365mg sodium

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Chicken Lentil Stew

cs2If you are new to receiving my blog’s emails – Welcome!! Remember to sign up for the NUTRIBULLET contest by midnight tonight in order to be entered to win!! If you don’t know what I’m talking about simply click here to view more information on how to be entered to win. cs5

Alright, back to the food. I was inspired by a vegetarian magazine I was reading on the treadmill the other day at the gym (because who doesn’t read about food while working out?) to make this savory chicken lentil stew. Obviously, I added chicken therefore making the vegetarian part of the dish null and void but you could just as easily omit it if desired.

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This stew smelled so amazing cooking in my crock pot all day. It was really hard to resist tasting…because I definitely didn’t do any of that. None at all. Seriously, give this dish a try. I had never had lentils before but they are very yummy! They offer lots of protein and fiber but aren’t a complete amino acid so I added chicken in order to round out the ingredients and add a lot more protein.

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NOTE: I used 2 1/2 chicken breasts because that’s what I had on hand that was defrosted. Please feel free to add more chicken as desired…3 chicken breasts would be a good amount to start with.

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Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 chicken breasts
  • 32oz¬†(1 container) low-sodium Pacifico Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. dried¬†thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 jalapenos (may substitute with green chiles if desired)¬†
  • 2 cans no-salt added diced tomatoes
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup green lentils, rinsed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, add all ingredients, stir to make sure to cover all vegetables and chicken with the broth.
  2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10 hours or high-heat setting for 5 hours.
  3. Serve topped with cheese, avocado, or greek yogurt as desired. Enjoy!

Nutrition: 1 serving (~2 1/2 cups) has 376 calories, 3.7g fat, 722mg sodium,  42.8 carbs, 9.2g fiber, 10.9g sugar, and 43g protein.

 

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

cns2There is nothing better than a piping hot bowl of chicken noodle soup when you are sick. Must be something we carry over from childhood when our moms made it for us. Granted most of the time we pretended to be sick just to stay home from school and would miraculously get better by the time the school bus flew by our house. Sorry mom! Sick or not, chicken noodle soup really does warm the soul (side note: remember those books?!).

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Since I am fighting off a nasty¬†cold today I thought I would remedy myself with some good ol’ fashioned chicken noodle soup. This is a healthy version of the classic, of course, but has all the same flavors and comforts as the original.

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I have tried making this before and failed miserably! It turned out very bland. This time it was anything but…TONS of flavor! I think I feel better already!

Chicken Noodle Soup

Yields: 6 servings cns6

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 oz. whole wheat egg noodles
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced or shredded
  • 1 box low-sodium organic chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Tbsp. butter (or EVOO)
  • 2 Tbsp. Thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. Rosemary
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp. marjoram

Directions:

  1. In medium pot or dutch oven over medium high heat, saute onion and garlic in butter or EVOO (Note: I only used butter here because it adds minimal calories and fat but does increase the flavor).
  2. Once browned add the remaining ingredients to pot and reduce to low heat. Simmer for a minimum of 1 hour for maximum flavor.
  3. Remove bay leaves, add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.
  4. Store leftovers in fridge for up to one week or freeze.