Recipe: Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

creamy-sweet-potato-and-carrot-soup

Recipe: Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 52 ounces

Ingredients
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 small onion, about (3/4 cup), chopped
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (about ¾ pound)
  • 1 ¾ cup water
  • 14.5 oz can chicken broth
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons half and half
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon parsley
Instructions
  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook until tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg.
  3. Add remaining butter to the pan. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook for 1 minute or until butter begins to brown.
  4. Add sweet potatoes, water, chicken broth, and carrots. Bring to a boil.
  5. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 35 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  6. Place soup mix in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid; secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid. Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl.
  7. Stir in half-and-half, salt, and pepper.
  8. Pour into bowls. Sprinkle with parsley.

 

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Recipe: Slow-Cooker Cheese-Stuffed Meatballs

Slow-Cooker Cheese Stuffed Meatballs

I’ve tried many meatball recipes over the years, but this one is by far our family favorite.

Recipe: Cheese-Stuffed Slow Cooker Meatballs

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 16 meatballs

Ingredients
  • Cheddar cheese, cut into 16 cubes, approximately ½-inch in size. (My kids like the yellow cheddar, but you can use white cheddar or another type of cheese if you prefer)
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs (I usually toast two pieces of bread and then grind them in my Nutribullet)
  • 2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 28-oz jar spaghetti sauce (Make sure it is only made with real-food ingredients and no added sugar. I like Victoria brand, but use your favorite)
Instructions
  1. Mix together salt, parsley, egg, garlic powder, black pepper, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and milk.
  2. Add ground beef and mix well.
  3. Roll into 16 meatballs.
  4. Place one piece of cheese inside each meatball and roll until cheese is completely covered.
  5. Add meatballs to the crock pot.
  6. Pour sauce over the meatballs.
  7. Cook on high for 4-5 hours.

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Recipe: Mango Banana Smoothie

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October Unprocessed 2016: 31 Days of Real Food – The Results

october-unprocessed-2016

The Results

This year was my 4th attempt at this October Unprocessed “real food” challenge.  I certainly did not stick to this challenge 100% of the time, but I feel like I did better than my previous 3 attempts at the challenge and I learned more than ever this time around!  I also participated in a few Clean Eating challenges throughout the month, so that helped me to stay on track.  My weight did not change at all as a result of this challenge, but I didn’t expect it to and that wasn’t one of my goals, so that is completely fine with me.

I did find myself feeling exhausted a few weeks into the challenge because I was having to make 2 completely different meals much of the time – one for me and my husband, and then something completely different for the kids.   The last few weeks of the challenge, I just decided to compromise and make something I knew the kids would eat, and then I would make a healthier version for me to eat (for example, when the kids had tacos in taco shells, I just had the taco meat over rice.)  I let go of my need to have everything 100% unprocessed for simplicity (for example, the first time I made our favorite meatball recipe this month, I modified it to use oats instead of breadcrumbs.  As a result, the kids didn’t like it.  I didn’t feel it was worth the effort to make it 100% unprocessed and have the kids not eat it, so the next time I made it, I used the usual breadcrumbs, and I ate it.)

This year, my husband decided to join me in the beginning of the challenge, and that made it so much easier because he wasn’t bringing unhealthy foods into the house.  I think the first step to clean eating begins in the grocery store.  If you don’t buy it and you don’t bring it into the house, then you’re not going to eat it.  If you can get other family members on board, then that is a huge help, but I am not a believer in forcing anyone to take the challenge with me, especially the kids.  I believe they will learn by example and be more open to trying new foods the more they see me eating them.

This year, I’m in no rush to go back to eating junk food.  I actually WANT to continue on with the challenge and continue to find some new, healthy recipes.  Right now, I don’t even crave the Halloween candy that has filled my kitchen, and that is a big deal for me and my sweet tooth.

What Did I Learn?

I found some AMAZING new recipes this month, and I’m so excited to add them into our meal rotation and share those recipes in this post!   Continue reading

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Recipe: Taco Meat

Taco Tuesday has become one of our favorite traditions at our house!  I love it because I don’t have to decide what to cook on Tuesdays, and the kids look forward to it because they love tacos and they are able to customize it to their own tastes.  Finally, something the whole family enjoys!

When I took the October Unprocessed challenge this year, I discovered a taco seasoning recipe that my whole family loves.  I love it because it costs less than buying the seasoning packets, it is very quick and easy to make, and I know the exact ingredients that are going into it.  If you’re trying to avoid bread, this is just as delicious served on top of rice.

taco-meat-with-jasmine-rice-logo-top Continue reading

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Recipe: Haddock Chowder

haddock-chowder-logo

Being from Maine originally, I grew up on haddock chowder.  This chowder is the perfect comfort food on a cold, winter day.  Feel free to modify the following recipe to suit your own tastes (add celery, other fish or seafood, etc.).  Enjoy! 🙂  Continue reading

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Recipe: Chocolate Banana Smoothie

I am in the middle of taking the October Unprocessed Challenge (a challenge to eat only REAL foods for the entire month of October.)  I have been drinking lots of smoothies this month, and I have discovered a new one that I love!  This  smoothie tastes great, and it’s made with ingredients I usually always have on hand.  So, when I have plans to make a different smoothie and discover that I’m out of yogurt or berries, this is usually what I’ve been going to.  It tastes a lot like chocolate milk to me, only without the added white sugar!

Chocolate Banana Smoothie

Prep time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 16 ounces

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces Milk, any type (Cow's milk, Almond, Soy, Coconut...use what you prefer)
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey, preferably raw and local
  • 2 Bananas, ripened and frozen
  • 1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth. Enjoy! 🙂

 

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October Unprocessed Challenge 2016: 8 Days of REAL Food

october-unprocessed-2016

We are almost halfway through the October Unprocessed Challenge (eating only REAL food for the entire month of October)!  This is my 4th year taking the challenge, and I am still learning so much every day!

My greatest accomplishment so far this year was finding a recipe for taco seasoning that my whole family loves!!  Taco Tuesday is so much better now, and I feel great knowing exactly what is in the seasoning!  If I get nothing else out of this challenge, I will be happy about my new taco night discovery! 🙂

This year has seemed the easiest so far of all the years I’ve attempted the challenge (last year I only lasted a few days, and then I gave up!).  This blog is what is keeping me accountable this year, and knowing that I’m going to post everything I eat is one of the main reasons I haven’t given up.  Although it seems easier than previous years, this challenge is still a LOT of work and takes a lot of planning and prep, since I often have to make 2 meals for dinner since my kids will not eat some of these new foods (although I do make them try everything.)

Below is a list of EVERYTHING I have eaten for the first 8 days, along with links to many of the recipes.  It’s not 100% unprocessed (chocolate chips are my weakness), but I am happy with my progress so far.  I am surprised that I have not really had any cravings for sweets, and I have not felt hungry at all.

For more real-food recipe ideas each day, check out the Journey To Complete Wellness Facebook page.

If you have any favorite real-food recipes, please feel free to share them in the comments on this post or on the Journey to Complete Wellness Facebook page!  I’ll take all the help I can get! 🙂

October Unprocessed 2016

Saturday, October 1

Breakfast: Omelet with Peppers, Onions, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

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Snack:  Grapes ,cashews, raisins
Lunch: Salad (Romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, raisins) w/balsamic

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Dinner: Honey Balsamic Sheet Pan Chicken

This is delicious!  I will be making this again (maybe a few more times this month)! 🙂

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Sunday, October 2

Breakfast: Gluten-Free Banana Pancakes

I love these, and my 12-year old daughter does, too!

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Snack:  Celery Stick, Raisins, Grapes, Cashews
Lunch: Leftovers from Dinner and  Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

The soup is so tasty!  My 13-year-old daughter loves it as well!

Dinner:  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili

This was good, but my family was not crazy about it.  I had a lot of leftovers that I froze in individual portions to use later in the month.

 

Monday, October 3

Breakfast:  Chocolate Avocado Smoothie

chocolate-banana-smoothie

Snack: Plain Greek Yogurt w/1 T honey & 1T chocolate chips, Popcorn
Lunch: Leftover Chili
Dinner: Mozzarella-Stuffed Slow Cooker Meatballs

This is a favorite in our house!

 

Tuesday, October 4

Breakfast: Leftover Banana Pancakes/Kiwi/Slice of Boar’s Head Deli Turkey
Snack: Fuji Apple, 5.3oz Greek Yogurt, ½ T Honey & 1T chocolate chips
Lunch: Leftover Chili
Dinner:  Taco Meat w/Jasmine Rice, Lettuce, Tomato. Taco Seasoning

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Wednesday, October 5

Breakfast: Leftover Banana Pancakes with Grapes
Snack:  Grapes, Chocolate Chips
Lunch: Raspberry Peanut Butter Green Smoothie (I used grape juice)
Dinner:  Slow Cooker Chicken Tortellini Soup (w/brown rice noodles)

 

Thursday, October 6

Breakfast: Scrambled Egg w/Diced Tomatoes;grapes
Snack:  Peanut Butter Cookies, cashews

pb-cookies-crop

Lunch: Leftover Chicken Soup
Dinner:  Pate Chinois

 

Friday, October 7

Breakfast: Leftover banana pancake, PB cookie
Snack: Yogurt w/honey & cc; apple; cucumbers,celery,dip,chips,salsa
Lunch: Leftover Tomato Soup
Dinner: Leftover Pate Chinois

 

Saturday, October 8

Breakfast: Leftover chicken soup
Snack: Kettle corn; Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Lunch: Strawberry/banana/yogurt/milk smoothie
Dinner: Baked Haddock,rice pilaf, and Roasted Broccoli

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October Unprocessed 2016

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October Unprocessed starts tomorrow!

When I first decided to take the October Unprocessed Challenge 4 years ago, I had no idea what would come of it. I love a challenge (especially if it’s free), so I wanted to try it to see if I could do it (eating only REAL foods for an entire month.) I was also hoping to discover some new foods and recipes along the way so I could add more variety into our diets.  I did those things, but as I look back now, I can see that this challenge had so much more of an impact on my life than I realized at the time… it was actually life-changing for me.

Among other things, I learned that the body, mind, and spirit is much more closely connected than we may realize.  When we decide to honor and respect our bodies by fueling them with the foods nature intended for them, doors automatically open up to help us improve in the other areas of life as well.  It all comes back to self-love!

The first October Unprocessed challenge I took was a catalyst for so many wonderful things in my life. Immediately following that first challenge, I was inspired to start this blog, which has since led to even more amazing things! This will be my 4th year taking the challenge, and I can’t wait to see what comes of it!

If anyone would like to join me in this year’s October Unprocessed Challenge, you can sign up or find out more information about it here! It costs nothing to participate, but be prepared to spend a little extra time in the kitchen. The rewards are worth it, though!

My goal is to try to post on here once a week with updates on my progress and recipe ideas. On the Journey to Complete Wellness Facebook page, I will try to post daily recipe ideas and tips.  This blog is what is going to be keeping me accountable, and I hope you will join me on the journey and take one step closer to loving yourself more and becoming healthy in body, mind, and spirit.

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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Each Morning to Help You Live Intentionally and Create Your Ideal Life

Do you want to live a more intentional life?  Do you want your days to be happier?  More exciting?  More productive?  More meaningful?

To achieve our ideal life, we must first recognize that each of us is the creator of our own reality and we are responsible for our own happiness.  In each moment, we have the ability to choose love and happiness.  Although we are not the master planners of our life, we have the opportunity to create our lives through intention and our daily practices.

intention leslie schwartz

Each morning, I begin my day writing in my journal.  This practice brings me a peace that I have never experienced in any other way.  When I write, I connect with my soul and I feel a deep connection to God. Writing has helped me to realize that the answers are ALL within us. We do not need to look to others or look outside of ourselves for the answers.  We just need to allow ourselves to be silent and to listen.

When I do not begin my day writing, I often feel scattered and rushed, and my day often feels unproductive.  When I do write and set my priorities for the day, I find that I am able to stay focused throughout the day. Throughout my years keeping a journal, I have discovered that there are a few things that I write about each morning that set the tone for my day and get me off to a great start. Specifically, there are 5 questions I find myself answering each morning:

1. What am I most looking forward to today?  Life is short, and we need to make the most of each day we have here.  If you want your days to be exciting, you need to make that happen.  There should be something in the day ahead to look forward to every single day.  Something other than your alarm clock should be getting you out of bed each morning.  If nothing comes to mind right away, be intentional and come up with something to be excited about for the day.  Maybe you could plan to do an act of kindness that will brighten someone’s day.  I guarantee that will make your day as well!

2. What are my top 3 priorities today?  List the 3 things you would most like to focus your attention on today.  If you are looking to make your days more productive, I would definitely recommend setting your top priorities at the beginning of the day. I have found this practice to be especially effective in my own life.  When I do not set my priorities at the beginning of each day, I find myself feeling scattered and often running around in circles.  When I do set my priorities, I feel more focused, and as a result, I get much more done.  Do recognize that life and distractions do happen, and even your top 3 priorities may not get completed.  I find that it happens often that I don’t accomplish everything on my list, especially with it being summer and my kids are home with me.  I have found that it is important to remain flexible and to think of these things as a guide for my day rather than a rigid task list that must get completed.  Also, I have learned that it is important to recognize distractions as a gift, because they are.  It’s great to set goals for our day to help us remain focused, but ultimately, we need to recognize that we are not the master planner of our lives.

3. What am I most grateful for right now?  I personally believe that gratitude is the secret to happiness, and it is essential to spend some time in gratitude each day.   It is so important to stop and recognize all of the blessings in our lives each day.  We are ALL surrounded by so many blessings.  Many of us take so much of what we have for granted, and we often don’t recognize the gifts in our lives until they are gone.  I try to come up with something different each day, and I try to include those things that I often take for granted. (i.e. a warm bed, the cool breeze of a fan on a hot summer day, etc.)

4. What would I like to learn today?   I love to learn new things!  I think life is so exciting, and there are so many things to explore and learn about.  We all learn new things each day, but every morning I choose something that I would like to intentionally learn how to do, or something I would like to learn more about. (YouTube makes this very easy.)  I have found that this practice makes my days more exciting.

5. How could I spread love into the world today? / How may I serve?  We are here on this earth to love one another and to help one another.  We were all born with unique gifts and talents.  They were given to us so we could use them to serve and to help make the world a better place. We need the help of others to survive, and others need us and all of the gifts we have to offer.  Our actions do not need to be complicated to be effective.  A simple offering of a hug or a compliment can make someone else’s day and have more of an impact than you may know.

Other ways to phrase this question might be:

  • What are some acts of kindness I could do today?
  • What are some things I could do to help others today?
  • How could I use my natural gifts and talents to make a positive difference in the world today?

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”  ~Rabindranath Tagore

If you begin your day after answering those five questions, your day will be off to a great start!

If you would like to start your days with these questions but find yourself intimidated by a blank page in front of you, I have created a Daily Planner and Journal that will ask you each of those questions. You simply need to fill in the blanks.  (It is currently available on Amazon for only $3.99)  This daily planner and journal prompts you to answer the 5 questions each morning so you can live your days more intentionally and more productively.  It also provides a nighttime review to help you review your day and to keep a log of some of the activities that are essential in living a healthy, balanced life.  Click the book cover image below to find out more about the Daily Planner and Journal.

August 2016 Daily Planner and Journal Cover

Click cover image to learn more

 

May all your days be filled with love, excitement, learning, living, laughter, kindness, and all things good!

Peace, Love, and Blessings

Stacy

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