Tart & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

It’s finally cool enough in California, at least once the sun goes down, to justify getting the stock pot out to make a hearty soup that can serve as dinner with a big salad & crusty bread that can then live on as a couple of workday lunches too!  Great for the wallet AND the waistline!  This soup is so rich, and has such depth of flavor, that it seems like a cheat meal, which is a plus during the non-stop holiday feast season.

Tart & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1  –  2 to 2+1/2 lb Butternut Squash (Peeled/Seeded/Chopped into about 1″ Cubes)
  • 1  –  Large Granny Smith Apple (Cut into about 1″ Pieces – seeds/core/stem removed)
  • 3  –  Large Ribs Celery Chopped
  • 3  –  Carrots (Peeled/Chopped into about 1″ Pieces)
  • 1  –  Medium Yellow Onion (Peeled/Chopped into about 1″ Pieces)
  • 4  –  TBLS Butter
  • 1  –  32 oz Container Organic Chicken Stock
  • 1+1/2 Cups Water
  • Freshly Grated Sea Salt (To Taste)
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper (To Taste)
  • Freshly Ground Nutmeg (1/4 tsp)
  • Cinnamon (1/2 to 1 tsp)
  • Cayenne Pepper (Pinch to 1/8th tsp)
  • Chopped Parsley (if desired)

Melt the butter in a medium stockpot and add the onions, carrot and celery.  Sauté over low heat about 10 minutes.  When onions just start to brown, add the squash, apple, salt, pepper, chicken stock and water.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring just to a boil.  When bubbles appear at the edges of the pan, reduce heat to low.  Cover pan tightly and simmer soup for 45 minutes until squash is completely softened.

Remove soup from heat and either process soup until smooth using your blender (I use my Vitamix) and returning to the pan after processed or an immersion blender as shown in the video.

Once soup is smooth, add the Nutmeg, Cinnamon and Cayenne.  Adjust spices to taste.

I came across a video that uses the same technique I use to make my soup, with slightly different measurements, and it’s much prettier, so I’ll give the standard #ShoutOut and #HighFive to Simply Recipes for producing a great (and quick) video that I can also use to demonstrate how to assemble my soup!

I’ve already been remiss at keeping up with my blog, so not having to produce a video is a definite bonus! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Eat All You Want & Don’t Gain! Really!

fruitsEveryone who follows this blog regularly knows that #ThisGirlLovesToEat.  Anything that lets me eat unregulated amounts of food that I like, except kale #IHateKale, without bursting out of my jeans is something that is going to catch my attention. Sounds unlikely?  I know, I doubt it too, but I’m willing to be a guinea pig!

According to scientists, you can eat as much of these 14 foods and not gain any weight due to their high water and low-starch fiber content while containing very few calories.

These foods are not high in muscle building (and fat burning) protein, but they are filled with vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants.

Celery:celery

  • 95% Water
  • Contains potassium, folate, fiber, and 30% of your daily requirement of vitamin K
  • Has about 6 calories per serving
  • Eat when fresh – celery loses most of it’s nutritional benefits after 5-7 days

Kale:

  • One of the few foods that contains an Omega 3 Fatty Acid
  • 1 Cup has about 33 calories
  • High in vitamins and folate

Blueberries:three-blueberries

  • Champion in the Antioxidant world – has more than any other fruit
  • 1 cup has about 85 calories
  • 1 cup has 14% of the recommended daily requirement of fiber

Cucumbers:

  • 96% Water
  • 16 calories per serving
  • Seeds and skin contain most of the Fiber and Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene) which is good for your eyes

Tomatoes:tomatoes

  • Contain lycopene, a carotenoid, which helps fight against chronic diseases
  • High in vitamins A, C, and B2, as well as folate, chromium, potassium, and fiber
  • 1 medium-sized tomato has about 25 calories

Grapefruit:

  • High in fiber, which stabilizes blood sugar helps you feel fuller for longer
  • 1/2 a grapefruit has about 50 calories
  • High in Vitamin C and folate
  • Grapefruit has been found to help in weight loss, lowering cholesterol, and improving digestion

Broccoli:Broccoli

  • Contains an anticarcinogen known as sulforaphane
  • Most nutritious when eaten raw or steamed
  • Contains vitamins A, C, E, and K
  • 1 serving contains 20% of your daily fiber requirement
  • 1 serving has about 31 calories

Cantaloupe:cantaloupeandhoneydow

  • Contains beta carotene, a form of vitamin A that promotes healthy eyes
  • Contains potassium
  • Contains more than 100% of your daily recommended value of vitamins A and C
  • 90% Water
  • 1 serving has about 55 calories

Cauliflower:

  • Contains antioxidants and phytochemicals to help fight off chronic disease
  • An excellent source of folate, fiber, and vitamins C and K
  • Has about 25 calories per serving

Blackberries:The blackberry

  • Blackberries can help your brain to stay alert
  • Rich in vitamin C as well as antioxidants known as bioflavonoids
  • Can aid with digestion
  • Tightens tissue, leading to younger-looking skin
  • 1 serving has about 62 calories

Lettuce:

  • Whether Romaine, Green Leaf, Red Leaf, Romain, etc.: 96% Water
  • Folate, iron, and vitamins A and C
  • 1 serving has 10 to 20 calories

Oranges:

  • High in Vitamin C which is crucial in collagen production: oranges help keep skin free of damage and looking good
  • Medium orange has about 80 calories
  • You need to eat the white stuff under an orange’s skin (pith) it contains a lot of fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels

Strawberries:strawberries-on-white-plate

  • Fat-free, sodium-free, and cholesterol-free (healthy for the heart)
  • More vitamin C in one serving of strawberries than there is in one orange
  • Tons of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant
  • A good source of potassium and fiber
  • 1 Cup of strawberries has about 50 calories

Honeydew Melons:

  • Only slightly more calories per serving than cantaloupe (64)
  • Contains over half of the recommended daily value of vitamin C
  • Contains over half of the recommended daily value of copper, which is crucial for healthy skin

If you are interested in more scientific details, you can read the original article on INSIDER.

If you’re interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to like:  health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, gadget reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a community page on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

I wanted to make something healthy for an impromptu, no occasion, mid-week family gathering but didn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen prepping.  I thought about a simple ground sirloin meatloaf and a salad, but meatloaf, even with ground sirloin, screams, “Boring!”.

Having just gone to the grocery store yesterday, I was SO not in the mood to go again today.  Thankfully a dive into the freezer led to a discovery of 2 pounds of frozen ground chicken breast and 3 pounds of handmade gourmet chicken sausage I’d had to freeze due to family drama derailing a dinner a couple of weeks ago!  A quick check of the pantry confirmed that I still had a jar of the amazing Gia Russa Hot Sicilian Marinara I’d come across at World Market, I always have pasta, Parmesan & mozzarella and the makings for a green salad, so dinner is handled!  Whew…

chixparmml3

Spicy Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil or butter
  • 2 pounds ground chicken breast
  • 3 chicken “Italian” sausages
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes, drained (these are a bit spicy, you can use diced tomatoes instead)
  • 3/4 cup seasoned Panko crumbs
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1+1/2 cups marinara sauce (I use a spicy sauce)
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

First Prepare the Sausages:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Place the sausages into a rimmed baking pan.
  3. Cook for 30-45 minutes (depending on how big the sausages are) until casings begin to brown.
  4. Remove sausages from the oven and set aside to cool.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F
  6. In the bowl of your stand mixer, with the paddle or dough hook attachment, combine the ground chicken, eggs, Panko, tomatoes, garlic, 1/4 Cup of the marinara sauce, and Parmesan cheese.
  7. Using a sharp / serrated knife, slice the sausage links into rounds.
  8. There isn’t much fat in the ground chicken breast, so, using about a tablespoon of le-creuset-heritage-covered-square-cherry-red-baking-disholive oil or butter, grease the bottom and sides of your chosen baking dish. NOTE:  I use a Le Cruset® square 3 QT Covered Baking Dish so I can keep it warm out of the oven and at the table.
  9. Take approximately 1/4 cup of the marinara sauce and spread it along the bottom of the pan then layer 1/2 of your sausage slices on top of the sauce.
  10. Mound 1/2 of your ground chicken mixture into the pan then layer the rest of your chixparmml1slices on top of that. (This is why I use the larger, square shaped pan.
  11. Mound the rest of the ground chicken mixture on top of the second layer of sausage slices then, using your hands (or a pair of rubber spatulas) shape the meat in from the sides to form a loaf mounding up towards the middle.
  12. Top the meatloaf with the rest of the marinara sauce allowing it to spill down the sides.  NOTE:  You can prepare up to this point, cover and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook.  If you are going to do that, allow to sit on the counter while you are waiting for the oven to preheat.chixparmml2
  13. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until chicken is cooked (insert instant read thermometer into the center of loaf should read 165°F).
  14. When done remove and add the mozzarella cheese on top.
  15. If you have extra marinara sauce, put into a small saucepan and warm to serve alongside slices if desired.
  16. Return the meatloaf to the oven until the cheese is melted.
  17. Remove from the oven and let the meatloaf rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  • Prepare some wide egg noodles, fettuccini, angel hair, spaghetti, or spaghettini.
  • Drain.
  • Toss warm pasta with some butter or olive oil and grated parmesan cheese.
  • Pile some pasta in the center of the plate, then lay a thick slice of the meatloaf atop the pasta.
  • If you have warmed some of the extra sauce, ladle a bit of it on top of the meat and grate a bit more fresh Parmesan (or shake some out of the green can) cheese on top.
  • Toss a crisp green salad and dinner is served. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

The meatloaf came out moist and didn’t end up needing the extra sauce.  When I reheated the extra slices in the microwave the next day I added the sauce.

If you are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to like:  health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a community page on Facebook you can visit: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

20 Natural Disease Fighters

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

Another Twitter video find when I was hungry…best part?  It’s from www.health.com!

buffalocauliflower

My sister Wendi and I fell in love with these when we went to San Diego and found a sports bar to watch USC football at before going to a Blake Shelton concert last year. I’ve finally found a recipe that comes close to what we had there!

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

  • Preheat oven to 400° F.
  • Wash a Large head of fresh cauliflower (About 1 lb).
  • Remove the outer leaves and stem and then cut to separate the individual florets.
  • Dry the florets and spread out on a cookie sheet lined with foil.
  • Sprinkle florets lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Put sheet in oven and roast for 20 – 25 minutes stirring once.

In a medium bowl combine:

  • 1 TBLS Butter melted
  • 3 TBLS Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or any kind you like)
  • 1 tsp Vinegar
  • Put roasted cauliflower florets into the bowl and stir with rubber spatula until all florets are coated with sauce.
  • Return coated florets to the cookie sheet.
  • Roast at 400° F for 5-10 minutes more or until cauliflower starts to brown.

Make the dipping sauce:

  • In a small pan over medium-low heat put 2 tsp Olive Oil and 1 clove garlic, minced.
  • Heat until garlic starts to brown.
  • Transfer garlic and olive oil into the mixing container of a blender or Vitamix.
  • Add 1/2 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt.
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 1 TBLS Parsley
  • 1 TBLS Chives
  • 1 tsp Dill
  • 1/4 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Honey
  • Pinch of Salt & Pepper

Blend until well combined.  Transfer to a small serving bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with the dip and ranch dressing on the side.

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

The Health Benefits of Nuts

We’re all a bit nuts 😉 but really, we all should be nuts about adding more nuts to our diets! That’s a lot of nuts in one sentence.  I had no idea how healthy nuts really were.


I couldn’t give a better explanation than this infographic from http://www.calmhappyhealthy.com did, and thank them for the post-assist!

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Lemon Turmeric Energy Balls

lemon-turmeric-energy-balls

I came across this recipe on Pinterest and am so excited to try it.

I have a tree bursting with Meyer Lemons in my backyard and just got a fresh delivery of Medjool Dates from Hadley Fruit Orchards in Cabazon, CA.  I can’t possibly ONLY drink date milkshakes (although I’d love to try), and I need to find a way to get more turmeric, with it’s anti-inflammatory gifts, into my diet, so this is a win-win.

I may even make a batch that substitutes blood orange for the lemon because I also have a tree full of ripe Blood Oranges. #CaliforniaGirlCitrusProblems

In the ginger family, turmeric is used to flavor both sweet and savory dishes in many different regions’ cuisines: South Asia, Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia), India, Eastern Asia, the Middle East, Iran, South Africa, and Thailand among others. In Medieval Europe it was known as Indian Saffron because it was used as an alternative to the more expensive and harder to get spice.

Lemon Turmeric Energy Balls

  • 12 dried Medjool dates
  • 1 cup old-fashioned gluten-free oats
  • ½ cup almonds
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ cup shredded coconut, for dusting
  1. Remove the pits from dates and soak them in hot water for several minutes. When the dates are softened, drain them and place in food processor. Save the water.
  2. Add the other ingredients to a food processor and blend until mixture turns into a dough-like consistency. Add 1 tablespoon of water from soaking the dates if the mixture is too dry.
  3. With the small spoon scoop the mixture and roll into balls. Roll the balls in shredded coconut and place on the baking sheet.
  4. Store energy balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator until serving.

    Notes: Energy balls can be kept frozen up to 3 months.

    You can find the original recipe at http://www.natalieshealth.com/

    If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood