The holidays are fast approaching and we all feel our pants getting a bit tighter! Thanks to this Healthier Taco Skillet, you can worry a little less! When you live in Iowa in the winter, all you want to eat are comfort foods! Comfort foods are usually associated with words like creamy, gooey, cheesy, etc! That also usually means they pack on the fat and calories too! I knew I needed an ooey, gooey comfort good without all that, so I came up with this dish!
I’m in a round of the 21 Day Fix right now! (I know, how many times have you heard me say that?!) But, seriously, I have to stay after it or my addiction to sugar just goes crazy! A good friend of mine is a coach and decided to run this challenge before the holidays and I thought it was a great idea, so I joined in! For the most part, I’ve done REALLY well (except for that ice cream on Saturday night and that Oatmeal Cream Pie on Sunday night)!
Thanks to Iowa, I’m craving warm comfort foods sooner than normal! We seemed to have skipped over fall for the most part and our temps are already consistently in the 30’s and have even dipped into the 20’s already! UGH! It’s going to be a long winter at this rate! Thankfully, I have this new Taco Skillet in my arsenal to help me get through it without having to just eat salads when it’s so cold out!
I love it when a new recipe comes together, as well as being healthy, and these Mexican Quinoa Bowls did just that!
My Eating Habits
My eating habits have been dreadful at best! Life is busy (weekend trips, construction jobs, home repair, and work commitments) and through all this, my eating and health has taken a backseat! I’ve been eating whatever is in the house and whatever is quick and easy! We went a week extra without getting groceries, which also meant that a whole week went by without fresh veggies and fruit in the house! This has all taken a toll on my body. I’m moodier, am incredibly bloated, my pants don’t fit right, and overall feel yucky! My workouts have been harder to complete and I sweat something crazy! It’s amazing how our bodies adapt to the way we eat! Put good things in and we get good things out!
I’ll be the first to admit it, there are lots of cottage cheese pancake recipes out there, but I’ll also admit, that this one is my favorite! It’s my favorite for a couple different reasons! The first is that it is all made in a blender! One “bowl” makes for easy clean-up! The other thing that makes it my favorite is flavor! I wouldn’t say that there is anything that makes it more special than any other, other than the seasonings and added flavors!
I’ve been in serious meal planning mode recently and these Instant Pot Chicken Tacos with Fresh Pico de Gallo have been at the top of my list! Thank goodness for the Instant Pot which makes meal planning and prep so easy! During the few weeks of track season, I seemed to have really got off the path of clean or whole eating and have been working to get back on track!
I also noticed that when I don’t meal plan, there is a lot more waste of food and even money! Meal planning helps me save a $! For some reason, when I don’t have meals easy to grab and portioned off sitting in the fridge, I have a greater tendency to run to a convenience store or restaurant for lunch and we even do it for supper! So, now that track is over I am making the dedication to meal plan and meal prep to save our family money!
Winter in Iowa isn’t over and this Beef & Barley Soup not only is easy, but it is comforting on these cold, blustery days. Weekends without lots of commitments means we stay home a lot and this means that I can experiment with recipes! It also means I’m get lots of quality time with my three favorite guys and you all know how happy that makes me!
When I was about 8, I had really good beef and barley soup at a local restaurant and I’ve never forgotten that! That was probably 27 years ago and I’ve never had beef and barley soup since! Now, I’m currently eating clean and working to incorporate more veggies and good grains into my diet. And with this diet has come the joy of experimenting with my foods!
I Tame The Leftover Roast
When we cook a roast we seem to always have some left over! Traditionally, I like to make my Saucy Beef Sandwiches, Easy Shredded Beef Enchiladas, or my Shredded Beef Tostadas. Unfortunately, these aren’t exactly “clean” and so I needed to come up with something to use up leftover roast I have in my freezer! As I perused the grocery store my eyes fell on a box of barley and I instantly got excited! I knew that a batch of Beef & Barley Soup was in my future and that’s exactly what I set home to do!
1 tablespoon each: minced garlic, oregano, and parsley
Cook the barley according to the directions on the box!
Drain any excess water off barley when it is done cooking.
In a large pot, combine the broth, carrots, celery, onion, and shredded beef.
Add in the oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper.
Allow this to simmer while the barley cooks.
Once the barley is cooked, add to the broth and beef soup.
Simmer for at least 15 minutes.
A few cooks notes: the amount of chopped carrots, celery, and onion are completely up to you! I use about 1/2 cup each of celery and carrots and about 1/4 cup chopped onion. As far as the shredded beef, use whatever is your preference, but I use about 2 cups worth.
Like with most soups, the longer you allow this soup to simmer, the better it will taste. It also reheats exceptionally well, so it’s perfect for lunches!
I love tuna and could eat it on a very regular basis. Ok, I’ll be honest, I really do eat it pretty regularly and I’ve recently fell in love with the tuna packets that don’t require you to drain the tuna. And while I know they are more expensive, my time and energy are clearly worth more than that to me! Plus, who can actually successfully drain a can of tuna without losing some down the drain?!
I’m in the middle of another 21 Day Fix round as well as participating in the Live Healthy Iowa 10-Week Wellness Challenge. Basketball season (hello, concession stand food) as well as my own bad habits have made it more difficult this time around and it’s cold which means I want creamy, gooey, warm foods! Why are comfort foods so unhealthy?!
I’m so excited to announce that I am participating in the Live Healthy Iowa, 10-Week Wellness Challenge again this year! I’m also super excited because I’ve partnered with the Iowa Food & Family Project for this endeavour once again! Last year was the first year that I participated and thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie of the team and the challenge to place first within our group! So, of course I was game to participate again this year! This is super exciting for you, my followers too! Iowa Food & Family Project has given me some awesome goodies to giveaway to you, my readers, throughout the journey!
So, what is the 10-Week Wellness Challenge?! An opportunity to focus your life around health and wellness. Well, that is the short of it at least! As a participant you can focus on increasing your activity, weight loss, improving your eating habits…or a little bit of all the above!
Time for a new recipe from me! WOOHOO! This Chicken & Asparagus Skillet is the perfect dish for eating straight from the pan or reheating for lunch! Packed full of protein and veggies with a little carb on the side for fun!
Prior to the Christmas season, I embarked on another round of the 21 Day Fix. The more times that I follow through with the 21 days, the more adventurous and creative I get with my cooking. While I tend to combine chicken and broccoli, I LOVE asparagus just as much, so I decided to come up with a new dish for my lunches! When I think about cooking something, I often think about the re-heatability of a dish so I can use it for my lunches at work!
Executing My Vision
In my mind I worked through how I wanted this dish to come together and my favorite way to eat asparagus is sauteed, so I knew I wanted to incorporate that. I also knew that it would deepen the flavor of the dish a great deal, instead of just steaming it. To me, there are very few things as beautiful as sauteed asparagus!
I’m in my final week of this round of the 21 Day Fix and I’m feeling better about it than ever before! I’ve done a much better job at meal prepping and not buckling to everything around me. Now, I’ll be honest and say that this doesn’t mean that I haven’t buckled at all, but it’s been within reason. This Broccoli Lemon Chicken has helped me stay on track!
The 21 Day Fix is going well this time around! I’ve had plenty of challenges to stop me from succeeding too! Do you know how hard it is to find a “clean” meal at a basketball concession stand?! I’m proud to say that I’ve only eaten one walking taco. Other times I held out until it was over and we hit the drive through at a fast food joint where I picked the grilled chicken sandwich and only ate half the bun. I also selected apple slices instead of fries! It was brutal, but I did it! I also had a citizen bring me a plate of cookies at my full-time job! There were 8 on the plate and I only ate 2! Meal prepping has been a lot my success to this round and I’m loving how I feel inside and out!
I’ve really been working hard to clean up my eating again (summer through me off completely) and these Banana Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce have helped curb my carb addiction and sweet-tooth! Breakfast is probably the hardest meal for me to eat “clean” and always has been! I love carbs: I love cereal, muffins, hash browns…anything in the carb family, sign me up for them! So, when I’m attempting to eat clean and whole, it’s incredibly difficult to find suitable foods!
I’ve done lots of eggs, baked oatmeal, but I’m not a smoothie person and usually eat breakfast on the go or at the office so I need something that can either be cooked in the microwave or warmed-up! I’ve tried several homemade pancake recipes: whole wheat, protein, cottage cheese..you name it, I’ve tried it! One of the major problems with a lot of healthy pancake recipes is that they dry out if they aren’t eaten right after they are cooked. So, reheating them tends to take the luster out of them.