Category Archives: Light and Healthy

Whole30/Paleo Mexican Chicken Soup

In August, hubby and I decided to start eating better.  We did the Whole30 (actually we stopped a few days short of 30 if I’m being honest, but we are still sticking with the program for the most part).  We learned a few things while we did the program, including the importance of prepping your food ahead of time, and that it can get expensive!  This soup was great because it made a TON!  We did the full recipe and ate for most of a week on it.

Don’t let the fact that it’s “diet” get you down.  Husband said that he would eat it even if he wasn’t on a diet, it was that good!  I was even a daredevil and took a trip out of state to visit friends and brought some with me since I didn’t expect them to cook Whole30 style for me.  My friend tasted the soup and she loved it too!  It’s a winner!

Mexican Chicken Soup

Mexican Chicken Soup

Mexican Chicken Soup
Recipe adapted from Framing Cali

2 whole chickens
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 bell peppers (I had a mix of red, green and yellow in the freezer), cut into strips
1-2 zucchini, diced
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 bunch cilantro
1 tbsp minced garlic
Avocado (for topping)
red onion (for topping)
1.5 tbsp onion Salt
1.5 tbsp garlic powder
1.5 tbsp curry powder
1.5 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
1.5 tbsp dried cilantro

In a large stock pot, place your chickens (with the innards removed) and fill with water until just covered.  Add half the yellow onion, minced garlic, and a handful of fresh cilantro and boil for about 45 minutes.  Season to taste (I used salt and Cajun seasoning blend).

While that’s boiling, saute the rest of the yellow onion, bell peppers and zucchini.  Set aside.  Remove the chickens (this can be complicated!) and set aside in a large casserole to cool off a little bit.  Add the diced sweet potatoes to the broth made from the chickens cooking.  Boil until tender, about 15 minutes.

Once cool enough to touch, peel and discard the chicken skin and shred the meat into bite sized chunks.  Add the chicken, sauteed vegetables, and spices to the broth.  Simmer on low at least 20 more minutes.  Serve topped with diced avocado and red onion.

Mexican Chicken Soup

Mexican Chicken Soup



Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

I’ve been seeing pictures of stuffed squash blossoms in the foodie world for a while now, and I’ve been intrigued.  I love squash and really had no idea what in the world this might taste like.  So when my brother-in-law planted a ton of squash, I kept my fingers crossed that I could persuade him to let me have some blossoms.  And he did!

I found a recipe in Cooking Light for the stuffed blossoms, and that magazine has never steered me wrong so I went with it.  They are stuffed with a homemade pimiento cheese, how yum!  I love pimiento cheese, but only if it’s homemade.  The store-bought junk is awful so if you think you don’t like it, and that’s all you ever had, then try again.  This recipe was pretty easy to make, I think it makes a difference to roast the peppers yourself, rather than the jarred kind.  The blossoms themselves really didn’t have much of a taste, they were primarily a vehicle for serving up that delicious pimiento cheese!  This would be a great (visually impressive) appetizer for a small dinner party.

Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms
Recipe from Cooking Light, June 2013

1 small red bell pepper, halved and seeded
1/2 cup fat-free cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp. minced green onions
1 tbsp. mayo
1/2 tsp hot sauce (I used Tabasco garlic flavor)
dash of ground red pepper
2.5 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I used a Cabot Vermont white)
1 slice bacon, cooked and crumbled
8 fresh squash blossoms, thoroughly washed


Set the broiler to high and place the bell pepper halves skin side up on a pan covered with foil and sprayed with nonstick spray.  Broil until they are blackened, then place in a paper bag, closed well for five minutes.  (I had never heard of this approach but it worked well!)  Peel the blackened skin off and dice the bell pepper.

In a bowl, combine the diced bell pepper and all of the rest of the ingredients (except the squash blossoms) until well-mixed.  VERY carefully (use a very small spoon) stuff the mixture into the squash blossoms and serve.

Pan-Seared Balsamic Tender Baby Squash

I think the title of the recipe takes longer to say than it took my husband and I to eat this entire dish.  I cooked this with every intention of having it as a nice little side dish.  Sometimes things don’t go as planned – it ended up being done earlier than the other dishes, and I tasted it.  Then I said “oh James, taste this, it’s so good!”  And within minutes, all the squash was gone.  I can’t blame him though, I had a part in its’ demise.

We are members of a local CSA (crop share) and with each weeks’ produce, they give a recipe on how to use some of the stuff.  I try to use their recipes because they are usually quite tasty, and this was no exception.  The little baby squash were just perfect.  I should note that I did use this recipe for regular squash and it was just as good, you just might need to add a little more balsamic vinegar.  This is a great side dish, if it lasts that long!

Pan-Seared Balsamic Tender Baby Squash

Pan-Seared Balsamic Tender Baby Squash

Pan-Seared Balsamic Tender Baby Squash
Recipe from Inglewood Farms

1 bag (about a pound?) squash
1 bunch green onions, chopped
olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar (more if desired)


Gently wash and dry the squash, cut in half lengthwise.  If using fully grown squash, you can cut it into circles.  Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, then place the squash in it, pressing down gently with the spatula to sear the bottom.  When all squash are brown, sprinkle salt and toss to coat.  Add the balsamic vinegar and green onions and let it reduce, coating the squash.

Pan-Seared Balsamic Tender Baby Squash

Pan-Seared Balsamic Tender Baby Squash


Orange Chicken with Asparagus

Pinterest.  Who is addicted, raise your hands!  Me, Me, Me!  I think I’d have to live to be 300 to make all the things I’ve pinned.  But I’m slowly working my way through!  One thing I couldn’t wait to try was Orange Chicken with Asparagus.  Fitness magazine called it one of their Flat Belly Foods.  Sounds good to me.

My mother-in-law is always talking about how much she loves orange chicken so Mrs. Aubrita I hope you try this and like it!  Sure, it’s not the same as what you would get in a restaurant, those places usually deep fry and use things like corn syrup to make the sauces.  This was a very light version, but it was so flavorful!  I think it’ll definitely satisfy the craving when you don’t want to use those calories for the real deal.

Orange Chicken with Asparagus

Orange Chicken with Asparagus

Orange Chicken with Asparagus
Recipe from Fitness

1 tbsp sesame oil
4 oz. chicken, sliced into 1/2 inch strips
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cups chopped asparagus (I used frozen and thawed)
1 can Straw mushrooms
1 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce (I ignored that and used Tabasco brand)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sesame seeds
juice and zest of one orange
brown rice or fried rice for serving with


In a large skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium heat.  Saute’ the chicken, garlic and red pepper flakes for 7 minutes or until cooked through.  Add the asparagus and mushrooms, cook three additional minutes.  In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, sesame seeds and juice and zest of the orange.  Add to the skillet and cook another minute.  Serve with the rice.

Chicken Spaghetti

I recently went on a road trip/girls weekend with some friends and like all good Southern girls, we talked about food at lot!  One of the dishes discussed was chicken spaghetti.  We didn’t even talk long about it, but it stuck in my head and I started craving it!

After about a week I decided I wanted some so I went online to find a recipe.  I found one on Cooking Light and it sounded interesting, a little different.  I didn’t buy all of the different types of mushrooms it called for and just used a packet of regular button mushrooms, and it worked just fine.  It was so delicious, it was one of those things that I couldn’t wait until lunch the next day to eat some leftovers!


Chicken Spaghetti

Chicken Spaghetti

Chicken Spaghetti
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

8 ounces uncooked spaghetti (I used whole grain)
kosher salt
extra-virgin olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 pkg. mushrooms
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups reduced fat milk
4 oz. cubed Velveeta cheese
3 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
2 oz. shredded Gruyère cheese (about a half cup)
1.5 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup finely chopped chives
Bread crumbs for topping


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente (or to your liking).  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set aside, drain the rest of the water off of the pasta and rinse with cold water.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp oil and chicken, season with salt and pepper and saute’ until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove the chicken, add the butter and the mushrooms and garlic.  Lightly salt the mushrooms and saute’ three minutes, or until softening.  Add the flour and stirring constantly, saute’ for one minute.

Gradually add the reserved pasta water, broth and milk to the pan, stirring constantly and bring back to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook for one minute, until it thickens slightly.  Stir in the Velveeta and cream cheese, remove from heat and continue stirring until smooth.  Add the Gruyère, stir in well.  Add the pasta, chicken, peas and chives and toss to coat and mix well.  Scrape mixture into a greased oven-safe 9×13 baking dish then sprinkle bread crumbs over the top.

Bake until the bread crumbs start to brown and is heated through.


Seared Scallops with White Beans and Spinach

I’m really lucky in love. I have the man of my dreams and luckily for me, he is an adventurous eater. A lot of people won’t try new things but both of us like to. I’m always seeing pictures of scallops and they look so good but I was always scared. I finally decided to get over it and just try a recipe.

Before cooking, I did a little research that told me that scallops need to be dry before cooking. They emit a lot of water, particularly previously frozen kind, which is what I used. I thawed them, rinsed and patted dry, then I set a little stack of paper towels on a plate, placed scallops on it, put more towels on top with another plate sitting on top to push some of that water out. Worked perfectly and the scallops got a nice sear. We really loved this dish, I’m going to be making it again soon, and maybe trying some other recipes as well.

Seared Scallops with White Beans and Spinach

Seared Scallops with White Beans and Spinach

Seared Scallops with White Beans and Spinach
Recipe from Women’s Health

2 strips bacon, chopped into pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cans white beans (cannellini or Great Northern), rinsed and drained
4 cups baby spinach
1 lb. large sea scallops
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp butter
juice of 1 lemon


In a medium saucepan, cook the bacon over low heat. Once crisp, add the onion and garlic, cook until softened. Add the beans and spinach and cook until the spinach has wilted. Keep warm.

Over medium-high heat, heat a large cast-iron skillet. Blot your scallops dry with a paper towel and season on each side. Add the butter to the pan and sear the scallops on each side, about three minutes each until they have a nice caramelized crust.

Add the lemon juice to the beans and serve topped with scallops.

Quick and Easy Salsa

I love chips and dip, it’s one of my favorite snacks.  Every time I would go to my friend Kelly’s house, she would have this super yummy salsa.  Finally I asked her to send me the recipe and it was a link to a blog.  I made it.  And the next day I made it again.

This recipe really IS quick and easy.  The ingredients are inexpensive, something you can keep in your pantry to pull out for a last-minute appetizer.  It takes literally minutes to make.  And it’s quite tasty.  It says it’s a copycat recipe for the Chili’s salsa, and it may be.  I don’t eat there often enough these days to compare, but I do love this one!  Thanks for sharing, Kelly!

Quick and Easy Salsa

Quick and Easy Salsa
Recipe from:  Six Sisters Stuff

1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, drained
1 small can (4 oz.) diced jalapenos
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp salt (or 1/2, depending on taste)
1 tsp cumin
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp sugar


Add all ingredients to a medium-sized bowl.  Using an immersion blender, puree until the consistency is to your liking.  Alternately, you could put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it is to your liking.

Serve with tortilla chips.