Sunday, October 20, 2013

Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Soup! The HEALTHY Version!

A CHEESEBURGER without the GUILT of a BUN?!?! Sign me up! 

Cold weather is finally hitting us. The past week the sun has barely been out and school work has picked up big time. Midterms in grad school are not even close to being the same difficulty as undergrad. Needless to say, my fiance and I have been in the mood for some real comfort food. However, just because I need something to make me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside doesn't mean I want to look big and bulky on the outside (although, an occasional Chinese food run won't kill us right? :) )

I found a few cheeseburger chowder recipes online and I adapted them to make them healthier, cheaper, and less time consuming! The aroma of the soup reminds me of a ma and pa coffee shop that has soup of the day. You can't really get more of a comfort food smell than that!

Prep Time: ~30 minutes     Cook Time: Slow Cooker 4-6 hours on low

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tabelspoon Garlic (1 Tbs with Celery and Onion, 1 Tbs with Slow Cooker)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 medium celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey (93/7)
  • 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour 
  • 3 cups chicken broth (fat free, low sodium, no msg)
  • 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk (fat free) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 ounces cubed cheese (I used Velveeta 2%)
  • Additional cheese for topping, if desired
  • Could also top with bacon, tortilla chips, sour cream, etc if you wanted to be a little less healthy 
  1. Heat olive oil in a medium sized skillet, add celery and onion (diced to your preference), and garlic. Cook until tender (~10 minutes) 
  2. Spray slow cooker or use a liner, add celery, onion, and garlic mixture to slow cooker 
  3. In the same skillet brown turkey and then add to slow cooker 
  4. In a bowl, mix whole wheat flour and chicken broth (I heated mine on the stove for about 5 minutes because the whole wheat flour wasn't mixing in very well, heat seemed to do the trick) 
  5. Pour flour and chicken broth mixture into the slow cooker 
  6. To the slow cooker add: rest of ingredients except for Velveeta cheese (and topping cheese) 
  7. Stir mixture and turn on low for 4-6 hours (some recipes only cooked for 2 hours but that defeats the purpose of a slow cooker meal to me) 
  8. 30 minutes before serving add Velveeta cheese 
  9. Top with your favorite toppings! 
  10. Pin, Tweet, Comment, and Share this recipe with your friends! :) 
Per Serving:Calories

My Opinion: 
Using whole wheat flour made the soup a little runnier than I was expecting but it was still really good! I don't think I will change the flour type or amount in the future just because I really liked the flavor this time. It was already really filling and I don't want to add more carbs. This is way lower in fat than I was expecting! :) Which of course makes me happy! Even with Velveeta cheese in there it is NOT horrible for you. I tried using just half the amount of Velveeta cheese but ended up with the full 8oz for thickness and flavor. Next time I would personally add more paprika and mustard, but the fiance says that would be too much of a mustard flavor for those who don't put mustard on their sandwiches. Overall, it was easy to make and really filling! Definitely comfort food approved.

Dude Approved? 
My fiance gave this an 8.5/10. He would prefer less celery, more meat, and a thicker base. BUT given the fact that all of those changes would make it less healthy, he wouldn't change it next time! He is excited for left-overs tomorrow! :) 

As always please share it with your friends and please leave me your feedback/questions!

Have a positive, happy, healthy, weekend! :) 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip no-bake Cookies!

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year! Leaves changing, crisp in the air, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and closer to Christmas! Fall also means PUMPKIN! I love pumpkin EVERYTHING. Lattes, cookies, oatmeal, muffins, pancakes, put pumpkin in it and I will eat it. I was craving something with oatmeal, chocolate, and pancakes. This recipe is a no-bake recipe but I want to try popping them in the oven for a few minutes in the future because there is just something about gooey, melty, chocolate chips that makes me happy.

A note about oat-flour: You can buy it or you can make it yourself! This is a great flour substitute for all types of recipes. It is so easy and has less junk in it than other flours. Make your own by tossing quick oats into a food processor for a few seconds!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip No-Bake Cookies: 
Prep Time: ~ 20 minutes
Refrigerate Time: At least 30 minutes

  • 3/4 cup quick oats (60g)
  • 1/2 cup oat flour 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup Sugar Substitute 
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional: a pinch pumpkin pie spice as well)
  • 1/3 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips (I use sugar free but you can use dark chocolate) 
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin 
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons water (could use milk of choice) 
  • 1 tablespoon oil 
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Mix all dry ingredients together. Stir in wet ingredients. Let sit in fridge for about 10 minutes to make it easier to form balls. Once mixture is a cold/firm form balls (will still be gooey in hands so don't press firmly). Store balls in refrigerator. ENJOY 

My Opinion: 
These were GREAT but personally I could use more pumpkin flavor, so I would add more pumpkin spice. This also make a small batch so I ended up doubling the recipe to make enough for friends as well :) I had a few for breakfast one morning with coffee. If you add a little bit of protein powder they would be great for a protein breakfast!

Dude Approved?
My FiancĂ© likes pumpkin but isn't the biggest fan of overwhelming pumpkin taste so this was the perfect amount for him. He gave this a 8/10 because they weren't cooked and he is a big fan of melted chocolate chips and oatmeal. He also really liked the oatmeal flavor mixed with pumpkin, he said it was "fall in a ball". 

As always please share and leave comments! :)
Have a beautiful, positive, healthy day! 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana

It is rainy and gloomy here in Minnesota. PERFECT weather for slow-cooker meals, especially on a Sunday! I figured this was the perfect way to start off my pinterest recipe reviews by making a copycat Olive Garden soup AND making it healthier!

I am new at this SO please share with friends!
Pin it, share it on google, tweet it, put it on facebook, comment, favorite, follow :) Whatever you do, just show me some love and give me some feedback! :)

Things I modified to make the recipe healthier: 
Instead of Italian Sausage --> Jennie-O Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage Links
Instead of heavy whipping cream--> half the amount of fat free cream cheese (there are recipes that use fat free half & half, I used cream cheese to get a thicker taste)
Instead of chicken broth --> fat free, low sodium chicken broth
Instead of bacon bits --> I omitted these completely because I am not a huge fan, but you could use turkey bacon bits (still not the healthiest)
Some recipes called for 4 potatoes, I used 2

Ingredients: (serves 10, 1 cup servings)
  1. 1 package Jennie-O Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage Links 
  2. 1 yellow Onion 
  3. 2 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth 
  4. 4 cups water 
  5. 2 russet potatoes 
  6. 1 table spoon red pepper flakes
  7. 1 table spoon garlic 
  8. salt and pepper to taste 
  9. 4 oz fat free cream cheese 
  10. 2 cups kale
  11. (fat free Parmesan cheese for topping)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: ~4-5 hours on high

  1. Brown turkey sausage 
  2. While turkey sausage is cooking, chop potatoes and onions to whatever size you prefer (diced or chunky) 
  3. Add all ingredients except kale and cream cheese into crock-pot
  4. Cook 4-5 hours on high 
  5. About 30 minutes before serving add chopped kale and cream cheese 
  6. Turn crock-pot down to warm 
  7. Serve after at least 30 minutes (Serving with wine sounds amazing! :)
  8. Enjoy! :) 
Per ServingCaloriesCarbsFatProteinSugar
             1 cup                            176                      19                5                13                      3

Holy smokes! It even looks like the real deal! :) I was a little worried that the cream cheese would not have the same effect as the heavy whipping cream but it worked perfect! This is my fiances favorite soup since he was tiny eating at Olive Garden and he was shocked at how much it tastes just like the restaurant version! Not gonna lie, I am pretty pumped that this was such a success and so easy!  If you don't like spicy than omit the red pepper flakes because the turkey sausage have rep pepper flakes in them. Next time I will chop the kale up finer because the fiance is picky about eating any type of vegetable and this was just a little too chunky for him. 

Dude approved? 
I was pretty shocked that he gave it a 10/10 because he has such high standards and LOVES the Olive Garden version. He even liked the spice of this version better. I will be getting his opinion on all of the recipes, but expect to see some 0's in the future, he is one picky guy! 

Have a healthy, positive, happy week! :) 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I haven't always been huge on tracking calories, carbs, etc. But as I am working towards the healthiest weight of my life, I figured I would give it a shot. Now that the pounds aren't flying off because I don't have nearly as much to lose as I did before, I want to be held accountable for something more than the number on the scale.

I will post later about how I feel about weighing yourself daily. But for now, I just wanted to share how I use myfittnesspal. I have the app on my phone which makes things a lot easier. But if you don't have a smart phone or tablet that you can do this on, you can access it from your computer as well. Once you make an account and enter your height, weight, activity, and how much you want to lose, you can get started! You can utilize the app in many different ways. After using it for a few months now, I found the easiest way for me is to upload everything I plan on eating throughout the day in the morning. This way, I know I won't get off track. Today for example I am away from home for about 13 hours, so I have to plan what I am going to take for lunch and dinner. I plan on going to panera for dinner so I wanted to plan my breakfast and lunch accordingly so that I don't go over my calories, fat, or carbs by getting a soup and salad for dinner. Again, this method works for some people, others would rather track as they go and just eat less for dinner or skip dinner all together if they need to. I love dinner and food for that matter so that method does NOT work for me.

After purchasing a cheap food scale using myfitnesspal also got a lot easier. On most items you can just scan the upc code and it will pop up with serving sizes. So, for example, this morning in my omelet I weighed out my spinach and green peppers so I knew how much of a serving I was using. 2 cups of spinach in an omelet was way too much for me so weighing it out helps you know how much of a serving you are getting!

I also find that by tracking everything on here I am less likely to get off track. Don't get me wrong, I don't think "indulging" every now and then is awful, but I  don't want to make a daily habit of it. On a side note, there is also an option where you can choose to record your workout from the day. It will then record how many calories you burned and increase the amount of food you can have for the day. I personally choose NOT to do this because to me, 1300 calories is enough for me to be eating in one day, I don't want to be tempted by seeing I have more I COULD eat. So I just avoid it stick to the macros that I could have if I wasn't working out, even though I am ;)

Obviously using calorie tracking apps is not rocket science, but I think it is always interesting to hear how other people use it, that's why I shared it here. If you have any questions please let me know! :) Also, feel free to add me Drakegirl2013

If you're in Minnesota, get outside while it is still nice. Rumor has it the weather is gonna change to being silly cold real fast!

Have a beautiful, positive, active day!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why I am Starting This

As a 5 foot 11in female, I have always been called "big boned". Which let's be honest, being called "big boned" is just a way for people to tell someone they are fat without being harsh about it. Anyway, my sophomore year of undergraduate school I was at my heaviest weight I have ever been. While I was uncomfortable with my weight, I started working out, and trying to eat healthier. The first 5 pounds flew off and then I was at a stand still! Which, if you've been on a weight loss journey, you know is the HARDEST thing to see and accept. I was doing everything right, why wasn't I losing weight?!

That summer while I was home visiting family, my sister, mother, and I had an in-depth conversation with my father about his weight. My entire life my father has been big. But at this point he was on multiple medications for his blood pressure, cholesterol, and other health conditions resulting from a stroke he had when he was 36 years old. At his most recent routine monthly blood drawl and Dr. visit, he had been told he was morbidly obese. He was ashamed of this news and didn't want to tell us. He was so ashamed that he didn't want to diet because he was scared of FAILING at dieting. We sat as a family frustrated that he wasn't willing to diet and discussed the possibility of him not living long enough to see my sister or I walk down the aisle at our wedding, or live long enough to see his grandchildren. This approach was NOT working for him. He was upset but didn't know how to handle his emotions, embarrassed, feeling like a failure, scared, intimidated, etc. Thus, the conversation stopped with all of us frustrated.

The next few days I spent online researching diets for myself. Finally, we were grocery shopping at Target and I noticed a book called 17 Day Diet. I read the reviews to my father and read some of the sample "meals" to him. It seemed easy enough. He said he wasn't interested, but my mom and I bought all of the groceries to start the diet the following Monday. My mom started cooking my dad's meals and made him a packed lunch to take to work, and he agreed to only eat what we made for him. We stuck to the diet and we both ended up losing weight with minimal exercise! I am forever thankful for this diet, I lost 45 pounds and my father lost 70!!

However, I quickly realized after I lost that weight that this was much more than a diet, it taught me how to eat healthy and how to make my favorite comfort meals into healthy, clean-eating friendly meals. Now, I have made working out a daily routine, and have started steering away form "dieting" and instead living a healthy, clean, lifestyle. I am also focused on creating a lifestyle that I can maintain and one that is not unrealistic. 

Now, I am a 22 year old Clinical Psychology Doctoral student, still trying to improve my lifestyle, keep it fun, quick, and BUDGET friendly! As a psychology student, I believe self-care, attitude, and positive outlook are the most important qualities to a happy life! Let's be honest, as busy and hectic as school can get, it would be SO much easier and cheaper to grab some easy-mac and spaghetti o's, but I am going to make these recipes SO much better than those fat-filling-carb-loading-junk food meals that SEEM more convenient. My favorite pastime, AKA my favorite way to procrastinate is to spend hours on pinterest. Recently I have been asked to post the workouts I find on pinterest as well as recipes and reviews to healthy pinterest meals. Most recently I have been asked to post how to  MAKE pinterest meals healthy. That is what I am going to attempt to do here. I am always accepting of requests and questions! Just remember, I am a full time doctorate student so I may not respond as soon as you send it ;)

By no means am I done on this journey, it is something that I want to continue improving and enhancing the rest of my life. I also want to be there for YOUR journey! Let's transform together! :D

Have a beautiful, positive, active day! :D