Travel Often

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

Love Deeply, but Laugh Along the Way

"Happiness is only real when shared." - Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

View Marriage as an Adventure

"Love is a flower which turns into fruit at marriage." ~Finnish Proverb

Fuel your body with GOOD (It's the only one you get)

He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything. - Arabian Proverb

Open your Soul to Motherhood

A Grand Adventure is About to Begin - Winnie the Pooh

A New Kind of Love is Born

Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chicken with a Moroccan Punch

I found this recipe a couple years ago and loved it then and still love it. There's a ton of flavor and spice to it, and it's super easy to make.

Moroccan Stewed Chicken
serves 4
(Found in Women's Health Jan/Feb 2009)

1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 large zucchini cut into cubes
1 can (16 oz) garbanzo beans
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
1/2 TBS olive oil
1 c chicken stock or water
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Toss it together
1. Place oil in a large saute pan or wide pot over medium-high heat.
2. Season chicken with salt and black pepper and cook in pan until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Add zucchini and continue cooking, stirring often.
3. When zucchini pieces have browned lightly, add garbanzo beans, tomatoes, chicken stock, cayenne, cumin, and cinnamon. Turn heat to low and simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, garnish with chopped cilantro.

On the Side:
Cook couscous per package instructions. I also suggest quinoa. Karl just bought me a bag. It's loaded with good stuff. Bob's Red Mill has some! Scoop some on your plate and put the stewed chicken on top! Tasty!

Karl's reaction: "What kind of chicken is this? It's super tender. Yum. If this dish was anymore hotter, I might say it's too hot. But good babe."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Quick Taco Casserole Goodness

WARNING: Church cookbook recipe. This is super good stuff.

When I used to work at Transfiguration Lutheran Church, I was given an old cookbook during our construction period. And let me tell ya, there is one recipe in this book that I can't get enough of. It's easy, quick and so good. You're going to wonder how this is remotely healthy. And yeah, the original recipe isn't really packed with super foods and nutrients, but there's always a way to add freshness and so I tried to make it that way. Below is what I do. I thought I'd spare you the iceberg lettuce. However, I couldn't get rid of the Frito's. Sorry. I usually make this dish when guests come over and the only one who hasn't liked it was my friend Angela Hoover...well, because there were too many veggies in it. She carefully picked them out. Good news! She has recently texted me a picture of broccoli in her kitchen. She's trying.

Quick Taco Casserole
Serves 6-8
(Found in Transfiguration Lutheran Church's Cookbook 1977, Mrs. Gloria Schroeder)

1 6-ounce package of Frito's. (Let's be honest here...I fill the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan with Frito's so there's no white space. Not sure 6 ounces can do that.)
1.5 lbs ground beef
1 can chili beans
1 packet taco/Mexican cheese
3-4 green onions
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 can sliced olives
1 bushel grape tomatoes
1 head of romaine lettuce
1 8-ounce can mild enchilada sauce
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 8-ounce can taco sauce

Layer Frito's in bottom of 9 x 13 pan. Put in oven until crisp. (DO NOT BURN...I've done this before. Ruins the taste. Duh.). Brown meat and drain. Sprinkle beef over Frito's. Heat beans separately and spread over ground beef. Sprinkle half of cheese over beans. Add lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, olives. Heat sauces together and pour over vegetables. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Serve immediately. I serve with salsa and sour cream...and sprinkle cilantro for taste! I'm serious...this dish is GOOD. If you try it, please let me know what you think.

Karl's reaction: "Yessss! You're making this again?"

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Are You Pear Yet?

This is an interesting recipe. Different is a good word to describe this dish, but it's packed with the "Fs"! Flavor and Fiber! Yum! Yum!

Ginger Pear-Glazed Chicken
Serves 4
(Found in SHAPE November 2010)

2 TBS flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 C low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 C pear nectar (I had no idea what this was so yes, I bought canned pears and used the syrup. Karl thought this was hilarious. Hey, he's lucky I'm still cooking for him! :))
2 TBS olive oil, divided
1 C chopped scallions
1 TBS chopped ginger
2 large Asian pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (oops, I didn't peel...Karl didn't like this and you'll read more on that below)
1 cup baby bok choy, halved lengthwise (oops, I didn't cut these. I should read)
2 TBS chopped cilantro

I also cooked edamame for the side and they were delicious!!!

Combine flour, salt and pepper. Lightly dredge chicken in flour mixture; set aside any remaining mixture. In a small bowl, combine broth and nectar.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over high heat until hot but not smoking.
Add chicken, reduce heat to medium high, and sauté for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add 1∕2 cup scallions and the ginger and cook over medium heat for about 30 seconds or until beginning to brown.

Stir in leftover flour mixture and cook, stirring, for 15 seconds. Stir in broth mixture, increase heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring until thickened.

Return chicken to skillet, along with any juices. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until chicken is just cooked through.

Divide chicken among four plates. Add pears and bok choy to skillet, raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes or until pears and bok choy are crisp-tender. Stir in cilantro.

Divide the mixture over ginger chicken. Garnish with remaining scallions and serve.

Karl says: " there dirt on these pears? Wait, or is that the skin? Oh, you were supposed to leave the skin on? I'm used to canned pears... It's different. Good job babe."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Where's the Beef?

What can I say? My husband loves meat. I do too, but it's not something I crave on a daily basis. He thinks meat and thinks protein. But because I love making him happy this next recipe is quite beefy and made especially for him with love.

Grilled Beef with Basil Puree Over Tuscan Beans
Serves 4
(Found in Fitness Magazine, July/August 2010)

1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 loosely packed fresh basil
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1 lb sirloin steak cut into 4 portions
2 15.5 ounce cans white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup grape tomatoes halved
1 TBS finely chopped red onions

I mixed in the leftover Gorgonzola cheese from the spinach/shrimp penne recipe

I did this recipe a lot different than how it's listed in the magazine. I busted out our George Forman, which I accidentally called Greg Forman and got laughed at by Karl for a good three minutes. I salted and peppered both sides of meat. Grilled for 5 minutes. I drained and rinsed beans and put in a bowl. I mixed with olive oil, already made pesto leftover from another recipe, basil, tomatoes, lemon, salt, garlic (browned in a skillet with olive oil), onions, pepper, salt. Put the meat on plate and put beans next to it. Served and it was realllllly good.

Karl's reaction: "The bean salad is good. Wholesome. Gosh, this meat is thin."

Spinach will keep you lean

Growing up we had a big garden in our backyard. I used to love this garden and I especially couldn't wait to eat all the fresh vegetables, either could my dad. He used to care for the garden like a fourth child and prepare all the veggies on the table for Saturday dinner. For some reason I remember the radishes, leeks and chives the most. But there was spinach and it always tasted so good. It was a great summer tradition - one I obviously remember and want to have myself one day. My grandparents also used to have a garden that was ten times as big as my dad's. It was the coolest ever - now it's a postage stamp but there are reasons for that. My grandpa and I would go out and pull carrots from the ground, wash them off with a hose and eat them. There was nothing quite like like it.

Today's recipe focuses on Spinach! It fights cancer, heart disease, stroke, obesity and osteoporosis. It's loaded with Vitamins A, C, K, folate and minerals: calcium, magnesium, fiber and beta-carotene. It's supposed to help fight aging too! Yeah! Why wouldn't you want to eat it? I always substitute spinach on my Subway sandwich too rather than iceberg.

Savory Seafood Penne
serves 4
(Found in Women's Health - March 2010)

2 oz mulitgrain penne (we actually used this and it was good!)
12-14 medium precooked peeled shrimp (oops, I didn't peel ours)
2 Tbsp crumbled Gorgonzola
3 c chopped baby spinach (I put a whole 5 ounce box in)
1 tomato (I cut up grape tomatoes)
2 TBS chopped walnuts
3 TBS ready-made pesto

I also added:
  • Mushrooms (according to Women's Health, December 2010, and The Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, fungi may fight colds and the flu. Compounds in the white button variety boost the activity of immune-system cells that help wipe out infections. Researchers believe shiitake, cremini, and other species have the same effect, so add them to salads, soups, and stir-fries.)
  • Kalamata olives
  • whole pack of basil

Cook pasta according to directions, drain and transfer to large bowl. Add shrimp, cheese, spinach, tomato, shrooms, kalamata olives, walnuts, and pesto, stirring well to help wilt the spinach and distribute the pesto.

I grabbed a large wok, heated it up, poured in some olive oil and warmed the shrimp, spinach, mushrooms and mixed in some pesto too. I like getting the flavor over everything.

Karl's reaction: "I really like this little dish a lot. The olives are a nice addition. Mmmm, good babe."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Power of Lentils

First of all, I'm just going to say crock pots are an amazing invention. Second of all, I'm sorry I haven't posted any recipes this week. I have a lot of them, so I'll try to get them up by this weekend.

Side note: Lentils are freakin' GOOD for you. Loads of fiber, protein and vitamin B...among other good stuff. Read more.

Vegetable and Green Lentil Soup
(courtesy of Rival Crock-Pot Best Loved Slow Cooker Recipes)
Makes 4 servings

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) vegetable broth
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash, diced (I used both...what the heck, right?)
1 red or yellow pepper. (I used a green one too)
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
1/2 cup lentils, rinsed and sorted (I used the whole darn bag...)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 TBS fresh basil

Combine all the goods for 4 hours (high) or 8 hours low. Sprinkle with cheese. Enjoy! I feel like there needed to be some more zest. But that could be because I went a little happy with the lentils and it sucked out all the juices. Not sure.

Karl's reaction. "This is different. There's no meat in here?"  Where's the meat???

Before Pic - with all the fresh veggies!

Yummy Goodness! Your heart will thank you! :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Seeking Change!

I don't want to write too much in this blog post and save it for my next Star Tribune blog, but if I don't write my thoughts, I go batty. And after today's commute into work, I'm pretty much there. And it's not even 8:00 in the morning! Great. I spent my morning drive listing off things I'm grateful for to help motivate me through the day.

1. The sun is peeking through the clouds.
2. It's actually semi-light out at 7:20.
3. We're able to afford food (the healthy kind).
4. I have a car that runs.
5. I'm married to the cutest little bugger ever.
6. My skin is actually starting to look kind of nice (buh bye zits).
7. I'm healthy.
8. I live in a warm house with lots of blankets.
9. My pants are loose and not cutting off my circulation.
10. I wrote a frickin' book.

And then I pulled into the parking lot. I crawled out of my car (that now makes creaking noises), slipped in the snow and headed out into the cold. Not just normal cold, but the take-my-breath-away-below-zero stuff. Just like that, I was grumpy again.

This has been happening a lot lately. Call me Mrs. Cranks. Everything about my day is so routine. I can't stand it. The weather is cold; the earth all dark...all the time. I want to jog outside. I want to roll in the grass. I want to smell spring and hear birds chirping, but it's only January. There's a long way to go. What I can't figure out is why I didn't feel this crazy around the same time last year? I can't figure out what my problem is. But I've deciphered some ways to change things up outside of work, and it helps. Problem is most of my day is spent at work. Can you see a pattern here?

Without boring you with the details, instead I thought I'd blog about some of my more exciting news. These things always bring a smile to my face and help me stay motivated and determined. And God knows I need that right now!

1. Book status.
Where do I start? Luke still has my full manuscript; poor fella. I can't sit still and have managed to make plenty of changes since I sent him draft number one. And then I created an outline. And then I made some more changes. And some more. And even more. In the meantime, I'm sending him all of these changed documents and emails with questions. Yes, I'm a lunatic. I can only imagine his reaction. He has enough on his plate with his movie coming out in March and more screen play requests. This past weekend I filled in a few holes toward the end of the book since Karl felt there were still unanswered questions after reading the whole thing. So I adjusted and changed some things around. My book went from 324 pages to 346 pages. Oops! But I'm much happier with it and like the end a lot. Before I felt maybe it was too cheesy. Don't get me wrong, I love cheesy-goodness romance, but my first draft was a bit over the top. Think BrideWars. I was so excited to see that movie, but it just ended up so so so stupid. Cheesy stupid. I don't want that! I just hope other people like literary agents so they can send off to publishers.

Just when I think I have a completed manuscript and I print chapters one through three, I sit down and flip through each page with a smile and a ton of confidence and pride. However, I end up making more changes and catch things I missed in the first place. What the heck? Then I go into this tizzy. I'd like to blame it on my computer. I swear it doesn't save my changes. But I know this is simply a major work in progress and will always be. And I need to accept that, considering I have 47 chapters to go through. For some reason I feel like I'm in a race against time. Not sure what that's about. I do know I want to send something I'm 100 percent proud of and know I gave my all.

My goal was to have my manuscript out to agencies in February, before we leave for Mexico, but now I don't know if that's possible. Damn it! Since I sent my manuscript to Luke, I've also written a query letter, and fixed up my outline to go along with my submission. What's left: a two-page synopsis. I have a feeling that is going to be hard to write. How can I condense my entire book in two pages? And I guess what worries me the most...what if Luke and the rest of my critiquers get toward the end and say..."well that was silly and you're going to have to think deeper." And the fact that I even have the thought, scares me. Karl liked it, but he's my husband and has to. I guess time will tell.

2. Karl and I bought snowshoes. 
Let me just say this is a great investment and I encourage you to go out and buy some for yourself, or at least rent them. I realize my biggest problem in the winter is not getting outside enough and breathing in FRESH AIR. It's so necessary, yet I refuse to do it because I hate being cold. I have no idea what I'm doing in Minnesota either, but I do love my spring, summer and fall here. Snowshoeing was really fun and I look forward to hitting up some trails versus the paved road in our backyard.

3. Getting into healthy cooking
So, Karl and I need to eat to survive, yes. Common knowledge. But why on earth were we eating pizza three times a week around the holidays? Because we got really busy and there wasn't time. I kind of felt like a cyclone every day when I got home from work last month. This is a nice way to burn out quickly. And I don't get the luxury of stepping away from work because I'm bumming out. What I do know: my spirits are lifted a lot when I eat healthy. I feel better inside and about myself in general. So for the past few weeks I've made time to find healthy recipes and get to the grocery story. I've found time to make healthy dinners. And it's really improved my attitude at home. As you see below, I'm trying to post a few recipes a week. I plan to continue this throughout the year.

4. I hired a personal trainer
So I'm not really paying for him because he's super expensive, but wowweeeeee, he's good!!! I'm not paying because all Lifetime Fitness members get one free session with a trainer. So I used my pass, and then my brother and sister-in-law (who remain nameless) became members and used my name as their referral, so I got two free trainer sessions!!! Why haven't I done this before? My workouts are different and more enjoyable. I'm seeing muscle tone I haven't seen...ummm...ever and I feel really good. Plus I was working out maaaybe one time a week at the gym because I was sick of doing stair stepper, level 11, for 25 minutes. Now I'm there three or four times a week and I can steam!!! Steaming at Lifetime is a mini-vacation for me. Next week I have a cardio session where I wear a mask and run and they figure out all sorts of "science" behind my calorie burn. I'm pretty pumped about this. Watch out skinny jeans.

5. Townhome for sale
We're doing it. We have to do it. We're putting Karl's townhome up for sale. This means we have to move all the stuff jammed in his basement to our townhome in Shakopee. We're both dreading this. We both have anxiety about it, but it has to be done. I'm mentally psyching myself up for some major purging. I know this scares my husband, but I think in the end, we'll both feel better. We need to sell it. We need it out of our lives. It's only been bringing both of us down. With that said, anyone interested in buying it? It's cute! It's in a great neighborhood. Costco just went up across the street:) Pics to come.

P.S. Money is such a crazy thing...that's all I'm going to say. It really can change everything.

That's the latest. Hope everyone is finding time to change up their schedules a little. Don't let the cold bring you down. CHANGE! It's a beautiful thing.

If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it.  - Mary Engelbreit

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What's for Breakfast?

I like to start off my day with a healthy breakfast. After all, it's the most important meal of the day. And I'm someone who cannot handle being hungry. There are two things people need to know about me:

1. I'm super crabby when I'm hungry (i.e. stay away).
2. And I'm not the most friendliest person when I have less than six hours of sleep under my belt.

So it only makes sense that I start off the day right. And I noticed that the more protein and fiber I consume, the longer I'm able to last until I grab a snack before lunch. For one, I hate getting into work and feeling the start of hunger pains before I even turn my computer on. I try to at least last until 10:00 - 10:30 a.m. before grabbing something to snack on, and that means finding the right breakfast foods for me.

Below is my typical breakfast, which I eat around 6:15-6:30 a.m. during the week. Gotta get my chocolate somehow!

Old-Fashion Oatmeal
packed with protein and flaxseed

Have you seen these new BetterOats "space-saving" oatmeal? Well I have. And they are awesome because there are lots of cool flavors and they aren't packed with sugar, and they are organic! I get mine at CUB for like $1.37 a box or something reasonable like that. There are five pouches per box. I get the dark chocolate flavor. Yum!

1 packet of dark chocolate (Dark Chocolate BetterOats) oatmeal
1 handful of old-fashion Quaker Oats
1 C 2% milk (like I said...hate that fat free stuff)

Heat for a couple minutes

Top with:
1/2 TBS of PB - I use Smart Balance
1/2 TBS Bob's Red Mill Flaxseed
1/2 TBS Organic 100% Protein Whey (I use Biochem)
Stir together and enjoy

I like to eat blueberries or 1/2 grapefruit with breakfast. I usually drink a bottle of water and coffee with half and half.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Healthy Fish Recipe with Flavor

Grilled Halibut Cod with Puttanesca Salsa and Parmesan Orzo
Makes 4 Servings
(found in Fitness Magazine - May 2010)

Takes about 20 minutes to put together. And it is bursting with flavor!!!

So I did some changing to the recipe in the magazine ...

1 cup whole-wheat orzo (I didn't use whole wheat...sorry...still don't like taste)
1 1/2 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth (I use Wild Harvest Organic instead, not fat free)
1/4 cup dry white wine (or 3 TBS chicken broth and 1 TBS lemon juice) - (I used the broth and fresh lemon)
2 TBS freshly grated Parmesan
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 6-ounce halibut fillets (could not find these so I grabbed cod. Big mistake. Should have used salmon instead)
4 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 pint grape tomatoes
8 large Kalamata olives (I used Peloponnese Halved Kalamatas)
1 TBS drained capers
2 garlic cloves
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
2 TBS silvered fresh basil (I used a whole Wild Harvest Organic packet!!!)

The goodness I added:
Can of Chickpeas (rinsed and drained...loads of fiber and great health benefits)
1 avocado (good fats!!! And great benefits!)

1. Combine orzo, broth and wine. Bring to a boil and stir; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes...I added in the chickpeas. Stir in Parmesan and black pepper. Cover and set aside.

2. Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush fish with 2 tsp olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt. Grill until just cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side. (I had to bake the cod and sprinkled with paprika for some reason)

3. Combine tomatoes (cut in half), olives and capers in a medium bowl. Warm the remaining olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper; saute until fragrant. Stir in remaining salt. Toss garlic mixture with tomato mixture and add basil.

4. Serve fish over orzo and top with tomato mixture. I sprinkled fresh Parmesan on top.

5. Place sliced avocado around plate. (Each of us had a half)

Karl says, "This is good, babe...minus the lemon seed I just ate."

I would make again but for sure use salmon instead!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Making Chicken Less Boring

I like chicken and all, but over time it can get boring and bland. But after making the recipe below, there was a little chicken dance going on in my mouth. We had Sauteed Zucchini with Lemon-Thyme Chicken. It was SUPER delicious!

Karl's vote: "This is awesome, but could use a little more salt." Now, just so you're aware, he says that about most things I make, but I kinda think he grew up licking a salt cube. When I first met him, he was eating Ramen Noodles out of his coffee cup for breakfast. And I still loved him right on up.

Anyway...  Here it is and it took 15 minutes total!! Yesssssssss!

Sauteed Zucchini with Lemon-Thyme Chicken
Makes 4 servings
(Found in Health Magazine - Sept 2010 issue)

1 TBS lemon zest (I used two lemon's rinds - what can I say, I looove lemon)
1 TBS chopped fresh thyme (stained my cutting board by the hiss)
1 pound chicken cutlets (I bought a packet of three chicken breasts)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 water
1/3 cup uncooked couscous (I bought the Near East boxes)
3/4 pound zucchini (about 2 medium)
1/2 pound yellow summer squash (about 2 medium)
1/4 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
I packet of mushrooms (I added this to the recipe)
Chopped fresh thyme, for garnish

1. Place lemon zest and thyme in small bowl
2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper on both sides
3. Sprinkle half of the lemon-and-thyme mixture evenly onto one side of each cutlet.
4. Heat the olive oil in large pan and cook chicken - once cooked, transfer out
5. Cook couscous (I followed box instructions)
6. Saute the zucchini and squash (in same skillet chicken came from) - I also added mushrooms since they're such fun...guys...fungi... Get it?
7. Stir in remaining lemon-and-thyme mixture (I added fresh basil to the mix and it smelled really good), chicken broth, and couscous.
8. Spoon the couscous on plate and top with chicken, garnish with thyme!


My added goodness to recipe:
packet of sliced mushrooms
packet of fresh organic basil

Some more pics below

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Healthy Eating in 2011

I promise you'll find a recipe at the bottom! So you can scroll down if that's what you're after.

But for those interested in learning more, read on. One thing I pride myself on is being able to fuel my body with delicious, healthy foods. I enjoy finding old and new recipes and discovering ways to make them better for me (and my husband). My meals are not perfect--I didn't go to culinary school, but I think this cooking stuff might be in my blood. My mom is one of the best "healthier" cooks I know, along with my grandma. So I feel like it's my duty to continue on the tradition and jazz up dishes with flavor and BURSTS of color. If any of you have been to our house, you know "color" is everywhere! I also bought a pretty cool camera and think it rocks at taking pictures of food.

Side note: I minored in health at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and have a fascination with food, fitness and health. I also like to eat, but even more, I like to eat foods that are good for me and that I know help build a strong immune system, keeping those viruses/illness at bay and cancer cells far and few between.

Oh, and here's my disclaimer: I'm sure the hardcore "Whole Fooders" and dietitians alike will be down my throat, disagreeing with all my menu choices and options, but I know a few things:

1. There's not a ton of time in my day. I need to be in and out of the grocery store quick and have about 10 - 30 minutes a night to whip something up; a meal I know is good for us, tastes great and is packed with nutrients that will energize us.

2. I'm not rich and can't afford a $200+ grocery bill every few days (I say this because I was behind someone in line at Valley Natural Foods and her bill came to $284 and she had less than half her cart filled.) Hopefully I'll be able to buy more organic foods and hormone-free meats, dairy and eggs; but for now, it's baby steps.

3. I know what I like and what satisfies me...I refuse to go hungry or eat anything sugar-free, fat-free, diet, FAKE, unnatural tasting and/or loaded with whacked out ingredients. I'd rather save room for the good stuff and allow myself to eat anything I desire, but all in good portions. There's a word I've learned: B-A-L-A-N-C-E. But I will admit it: I love my Jack and Coke, and maybe a Dairy Queen Blizzard....or some french fries, but I definitely don't salivate over them anymore because I know how crappy they make me feel.

I'm going to try my best and upload at least one healthy recipe a week, not because I think I'm awesome with my 11 blog followers (ha!), but because I know others are busy and want to eat healthy, but don't know how to get there. I'm always searching for new recipes and thought I'd share what I do when it comes to preparing a meal.

So enjoy! And let me know what you think if you try it and make it yourself.

Spinach-Tomato Pasta Shells (recipe found in Health and from Guy Fieri--the host of three Food Network shows)

Makes 4 Servings
Cook 3/4 pound whole wheat pasta shells (I used normal shells because Karl and I don't like the taste of whole wheat pasta just yet...I know, I me a hypocrite)
Heat 1 TBS butter in large saute pan (I also added olive oil for the good fats!)
Add 1 sliced shallot
And 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
Reduce heat and cook until translucent
Add 5 ounce baby spinach
And 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Cover and cook 1 min
And 1/4 cup half-and-half,
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
And 1/2 tsp black pepper
Stir and cook 3 minutes
Add grape tomatoes (cut longways)
Toss in pasta
Garnish with parsley and add additional cheese
(takes all but 15 minutes)

My additions:
I cooked Jennie-O Italian Turkey Sausage (because Karl likes his meat). I sliced up into pieces and added to the mix.
I also added olive oil and basil

I served in bowls and with chocolate Almond Milk to drink. Delicious!

Yum, yum in my tum!! Karl gave it two thumbs up.