4th of July festivities and foods

Well, despite our basement partially flooding on Thursday and having to fork out more money than I care to admit I have to say-this weekend has been awesome so far.
I started the weekend with a 4th of July eve 4 miler…it went fairly well, and despite still having some breathing problems I was able to hold pace.

Friday we got together with my amazing friend Carolyn and her family for the 4th of July festivities. They have included us in their family tradition for the last 3 years, and I feel so blessed to have them in my life. We met up at her folks house to gather for the parade. I missed it last year due to work, so found myself extra excited to spend the entire day with such amazing people.

My two super cool mini movers
My two super cool mini movers

Carolyn and I on the fire truck!
Carolyn and I on the fire truck!

After the parade, we dispersed and took a much needed nap.
We had primo seats for the fireworks, and I was able to catch a few really good shots. Here’s one:

Today should’ve been ‘chore’ day as my house looks like a tornado hit it…I finally finished washing all the towels used to soak up the water for Thursday’s flood, but the rest of the housework is lacking. I asked my husband what he wanted to do today this morning, and he said, “Let’s go on a picnic!” Deal. I was IN. My oldest daughter was at a friend’s BBQ party, so we gathered our youngest, a cooler, our picnic basket and a bunch of yummy food and headed north on the Fox River.

Someone enjoyed our food choices!
Someone enjoyed our food choices!


I finished up the day by making this amazing zucchini, squash, and potato soup.

Easy, healthy, and what a hit!
Easy, healthy, and what a hit!

Here’s what you’ll need:
2 yellow squash, peeled and cubed
2 zucchini, peeled and cubed
2 red potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 white onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 pats of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of avocado oil
2-3 cups of unsalted vegetable stock
Seasonings to taste:
Kosher salt
Coarse ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper
Smoked paprika
Parsley for garnish

Heat a large sauce/soup pot on medium heat and add in one pat of butter and the avocado oil. Next, add your garlic and onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes until lightly translucent. Add in the rest of your veggies and seasonings, and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the veggies are soft. Next, add in your veggie stock, and simmer for another 5 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender (see pic) or in your food processor.
Taste your soup for desired seasoning, and add your second pat of butter. Stir well, and serve! My hubby asked for seconds! 🙂

What is your favorite way to spend the 4th of July?

Do you enjoy soup? What are your favorite kinds?

Have a great day, and thanks for reading!

❤ Michelle


Recipe and real life sharing time…

The first recipe I’ll share since so many have requested it, is my roasted carrot and red pepper with onion puree. This can be served with your favorite protein, salad, or whatever sounds good to you at the time!

This awesome 'mash' can be substituted for your basic mashed potatoes!
This awesome ‘mash’ can be substituted for your basic mashed potatoes!

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
Gather the following ingredients:
4 large carrots, chopped into bite size pieces
2 red peppers, chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Mix these ingredients in a large bowl, and season with avocado oil, kosher salt and pepper, Mediterranean oregano and basil, cayenne pepper, and cumin. I don’t ‘measure’ more so use a pinch of each until it smells just right…
Mix well, and spread on a cookie sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil (spray with cooking spray) and roast at 375 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.

While the veggies are roasting, get your food processer out…add 1/2 cup of veggie stock, 1 pat of unsalted butter, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.
Take the roasted veggies out of the oven, and let cool for about five minutes.
Transfer them into your food processor and pulse on high until you achieve desired consistency.

Next, we have a super easy pistachio crust that will add a yummy crunch to any protein.
1-pistachio crusted tilapia
What you’ll need:
2 cups of pistachios (I employ my daughter’s help to de-shell them)
2 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of lemon zest
2 teaspoons of avocado oil
Kosher salt, pepper, oregano and basil to taste
Throw it all in your food processor and pulse until the mixture is at a breadcrumb consistency.
I used Tilapia that I patted dry and seasoned with kosher salt and pepper. Place on a baking rack that has been sprayed with non stick spray, and liberally apply your pistachio mixture on top of your protein, and bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes depending on the protein. Serve with your favorite sides, and enjoy!

I am trying my best to come up with healthy substitutes for family favorites that will leave my family and our appetites satisfied.
I am realizing that the extra weight I am carrying is my fault, and my fault alone.
I have substituted breakfast for protein shakes, and am choosing proteins and veggies over French fries and chips (98% of the time).
I am placing my health, and my happiness in my OWN hands, and have seen so many fabulous changes in such a short time…
I am down 4 lbs, with 6 lbs to go, and am not giving up on my dreams of a sub-2 hour half marathon.
I am not letting distance snobs that say “oh it’s JUST a half marathon” take away from my joy…

For part of moving forward, is starting at square one-with healthy eats, positive attitudes, and above all-confidence in all that you do…be it work, cooking, family, or fitness…the race is yours to win…

Keep Movin’ forward, gang…

❤ Michelle

food, Recipes

Pan Seared Steak with rasberry/red wine sauce served with Root Vegetable puree’ and chopped salad

Tonight, I’ve prepared a pan seared steak, with a raspberry/red wine sauce served with a root vegetable puree’ and simple chopped salad.

What you’ll need for the steak:
Top sirloin steak, or your favorite cut.
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
Drizzle both sides with the olive oil, and season liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
What you’ll need for the root vegetable puree’:
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a medium sauce pan; while you are waiting, start chopping!
3 carrots, peeled and chopped in 1-2 inch pieces
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 medium sized red potatoes, peeled and chopped in 1-2 inch pieces
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 pat of unsalted butter
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Boil veggies until fork tender, (NOT mushy) and place in your food processor and process on high until completely smooth. Cover, and set aside.
What you’ll need for the raspberry/red wine sauce:
1 box of beef stock, brought to a boil with 3 tablespoons of corn starch. (Add the corn starch right away when the stock is still cool or it will clump)
Season with kosher salt, pepper, and rosemary.
Chop one onion, and add to the liquid.
Add in about 2 cups of a good red wine (Pinot Noir or Merlot are two of my favorites for sauces)
Bring back up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let reduce down to about half the original amount. Strain the mixture, and put back on the heat. Add in one dollop of sugar free raspberry preserves (or fresh if you have them on hand would be even better!) and whisk until incorporated. Add another pinch of salt and pepper to taste, and let simmer.
Now it is time to sear your steaks. First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Preheat a pan with extra virgin olive oil, to a high heat. Sear your steaks (don’t overcrowd the pan) to a golden brown, 3-4 minutes each side, and place on the baking sheet. Cook an additional 10 minutes in the oven, and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
While your steaks are finishing off in the oven, you can prepare your salad.
What you’ll need for the salad:
Romaine hearts, chopped finely
½ of a red onion, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
Kosher salt and pepper to season
Toss with your favorite dressing-I used a sugar free red wine vinaigrette
Plate as shown, drizzling the red wine sauce over the steak, serve, and enjoy!!!
Note-as an added yummy goodness I roasted some button mushrooms in the oven for about 20 minutes, drizzled simply with extra virgin olive oil, a splash of red wine, and salt and pepper. My daughter gobbled them down! Delish!

dedication, food, goals

Tonight’s Mystery Box Challenge

My husband came home from the store with the following “mystery box” ingredients:

Pork crown roast
Oyster Mushrooms

For those of you that have been following me for a while, you know one of my dreams is to be a Chef, and own my own restaurant. My husband and I fell in love with the show, “Master Chef” when it first came out, and although he swears I was ready to try out this year, I decided I needed a year to practice, perfect, and hone my skills as a ‘home cook’ that has had NO professional training.
Every couple weeks after our bi-monthly trip to the grocery store, he chooses several ingredients for me to create a dish with for our family.
I try to cook within an hour time limit, but am not always successful yet in that aspect of my goals.
So here is what I did…
I immediately preheated the oven to 375 degrees, and drizzled the pork with good extra virgin olive oil, and seasoned liberally with salt and pepper. I seared all sides of the roast, and popped it in the oven to roast. (Takes about 45 minutes, and I pull it out about 10 degrees early-150 degrees, as letting it rest at least 10 minutes will bring the temp up to the required 160 degrees).

While the roast was cooking, I knew I wanted to make a puree’ with the mango to set off the pork nicely. I chopped 2 mangos and put them in my food processor. I added a splash of chicken stock, drizzled with EVOO, and seasoned with salt, pepper, cilantro, jalapeno flakes, ginger and lemon juice and gave it a few pulses until it was pureed. Set this aside for plating.

Next, I thought since we had 45 minutes for the roast to cook, I’d make an appetizer with the oyster mushrooms. I cleaned several caps for the appetizer, and also sautéed half the mushrooms with garlic to serve in my brown rice-and the appetizer filling.

Stuffed Oyster Mushrooms
I added 1 dollop of low-fat cream cheese and light sour cream into a bowl. Chop 2 tablespoons of the sautéed mushrooms, a handful of green olives, 1 teaspoon of capers, and 1 chopped green onion and add them to the mixture. Mix well, and spoon onto the caps. Bake for 10 minutes and serve!

Prepare brown rice according to the package directions, and add in dry cilantro, salt, pepper, and the remainder of the Oyster Mushrooms.
Next, sauté your favorite veggie to serve along with the roast once you pull it out to rest for 10 minutes. I chose Asparagus and button mushrooms, tying the dish together.

Plate, and serve!

This delicious dinner can be prepared and served in just about an hour! Enjoy!!!

❤ Michelle


Simply Chicken Soup


I love the fact that most days, I simply take a protein out of the fridge or freezer with NO idea what I am going to prepare. 

With the terrible snow storms and dropping temps here in Chicagoland, I made sure to get my grocery shopping and errands done YESTERDAY so I could at least enjoy the warmth of my home before going back to work on Monday.  Most businesses and schools are officially closed, but hospitals simply can’t ‘close.’  So tomorrow at 3:30 a.m. I will be hitting the roads and getting slapped in the face with -30+ degree winds/temps. 

With that being said, my first thought as I looked at the boneless/skinless chicken thighs was….SOUP.  Who doesn’t love a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter day?




6 skinless/boneless chicken thighs (or breast if you prefer, but I find the flavor of thighs so much richer and they hold up better in soup)

6 cups of organic chicken stock

Noodles of your choice-if desired

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

Extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons of flour (I use semolina flour)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small onion, diced

2-3 stalks of celery, diced

2 carrots, chopped into bite size pieces

6 button mushrooms, chopped

1 tablespoon of parsley and thyme

2-3 pinches of turmeric to taste

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

You will need one deep sauce pan for the soup, and one fry pan for the chicken.

In the deep sauce pan melt the butter, and whisk in the flour until evenly distributed; about 3-4 minutes.  Toss in your minced garlic, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Slowly add in your chicken stock, and bring the liquid up to a boil.  Add in your veggies, herbs, and spices and lower the heat to a high simmer.  Cover the pan while it is simmering.

Next, heat your fry pan and coat with extra virgin olive oil.  Season your chicken with salt and pepper, and seer on both sides.  Cook through, and set aside to cool/rest. 

Next, if you desire, cook noodles to the packages instruction, ensuring you salt your water. 

Chop the chicken finely, and add to your soup.  Total simmer time is about 30 minutes. 

Serve with your favorite bread, crackers, or by itself!  This dish will definitely be on my menu!


Please feel free to share this recipe with friends and family, and I would love for you to follow my blog!  XOXO




#keepbeingmore #healthyeats #keepmovinforward