Italian Sausage and White Bean Soup

As soon as we feel the first cool breeze in fall, I dig out my collection of soup recipes.  There is something so cozy about sitting around the dinner table with a steamy bowl of soup and a hot piece of crusty bread that is fresh from the oven.  This Italian Sausage and White Bean Soup recipe is the most requested recipe from our kitchen.  It is hearty, satisfying, and packed with flavor.  I hope it becomes a staple in your kitchen too!

Italian Sausage and White Bean Soup
8 servings

Garlic- 6 cloves, minced
Onions- 2, chopped
Celery- 6-8 stalks, chopped
Mushrooms- 2 8 oz packages, sliced
Kale- 6-10 leaves, chopped (or a few handfuls of the pre-chopped kale)
Diced Tomatoes- 28 oz can
Great Northern Beans- 2 14oz cans, drained and rinsed
Italian Sausage- 1 lb
Chicken Stock- 6 cups
Bay Leaves- 2
Dried Oregano- 1 tsp

1.  Add a splash of EVOO to a pot and brown the Italian sausage.  

2. While the sausage is browning, chop the onions, celery, and mushrooms.  Add the veggies, garlic, and the can of diced tomatoes to the soup pot.  Cook for 3ish minutes until the onions become translucent.  

3.  Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, and oregano and bring to a boil.  Boil for 10ish minutes until the celery is tender.  Toss in the kale leaves and boil for just a minute or two until they become slightly wilted.  Turn the heat off and stir in the drained and rinsed beans.  Salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Enjoy!

What is your favorite soup recipe?  Please share in the comments!  We are always hoping to add to our soup collection! 

Chicken Fajita Salad with Chipotle Lime Dressing

This salad is one of our favorites to whip up in the summer!  We love to grill extra chicken and serve it again the next day for lunch.  The Chipotle Lime Dressing serves as a marinade and a salad dressing.  Delicious!

Chicken Fajita Salad with Chipotle Lime Dressing

4 servings

Salad Ingredients:

Chicken breasts, boneless and skinless – 1 lb

Romaine Lettuce, chopped

Tomatoes- 2, chopped

Avocados -1, sliced

Red Onion- 1, sliced

Bell Peppers (Any color)- 2, sliced

Black Beans – 1 can, drained and rinsed

Cotija Cheese- 1/2 cup

Chipotle Lime Dressing Ingredients

Garlic- 2 cloves, minced

Olive Oil- 6 Tbsp

Lime- 1, zest and juice of

Lime Vitality Oil– 2 drops

Honey- 1 Tbsp

Coconut Aminos- 1 Tbsp

Ground Chipotle Peppers- 1/4 tsp

Smoked Paprika- 1/2 tsp

Sour Cream- 2 Tbsp

1. Make dressing. Whisk together garlic, olive oil, lime juice and zest, Lime Vitality oil, honey, coconut aminos, ground chipotle peppers, smoked paprika, and sour cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Pound chicken breasts until they have a uniform thickness and tenderize with a fork. Lightly salt and pepper. Pour half of the dressing over the chicken and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Slice red onion, bell peppers and avocados.

4. Drain and rinse black beans.

5. Heat grill to Medium-High heat and grill chicken breasts for a few minutes on each side until the internal temperature reads 160 degrees. Allow chicken to sit for a few minutes before slicing.

6. While the chicken is grilling, heat a sauté pan to Medium-High heat. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and the sliced onions. Sauté for a few minutes and then add the sliced bell peppers and sauté until they soften but are still slightly crisp.

7. Assemble salads by topping lettuce with tomatoes, black beans, avocados, shredded cheese, sautéed onions and peppers, and chicken. Whisk remaining salad dressing and pour on top of the salads.

What are you having for dinner tonight?

Everything But the Bagel Seasoning Blend

There are a lot of recipes out there for Everything But The Bagel seasoning blend, but this one is a keeper. 

The secret weapon? 
Sea salt flakes. Don't skimp on this!

6 Tbsp poppy seeds
8 Tbsp white sesame seeds
4 Tbsp black sesame seeds
6 Tbsp dried minced garlic
6 Tbsp dried onion flakes
9 tsp sea salt flakes (
Maldon is my fave)

(This fills an 11.5 oz shaker)

The Fab Four Smoothie

Until recently, I never really understood how to eat.  I would fill my plate with real foods, but I had a lot of blood sugar crashes and would need frequent snacks and I had a lot of cravings throughout the day.  And smoothies?  I never understood them.  I'd throw a ton of fruit in a blender, add a little liquid, and then I'd be starving 30 minutes later!  How on earth did anyone stay satisfied from a smoothie for breakfast?

Then I discovered Body Love by Kelly Leveque and it all started to make sense!  She explained that the best thing to do to stop food cravings, overeating, to balance hormones and to manage diabetes and cardiovascular disease is to balance the blood sugar curve.  When we fuel our bodies with what they need we have sustainable energy and we aren't reaching for a snack to spike our blood sugar.  

So how do we know what our bodies need?  

This is where the Fab Four Ingredients come into play.  

1. Protein helps the body build and maintain muscle. (Fish, chicken, lean meat, protein powder, nuts, seeds, and beans are all excellent sources of protein).

2. Fat keeps the body's cells and hormones functioning properly.  (Coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, nut butter, ghee, avocado, and coconut milk are all excellent sources of fat).

3. Fiber feeds the body's gut bacteria which improves digestive health and supports proper waste elimination.  (Chia seeds, flaxseed, acacia powder, and cauliflower are all excellent sources of fiber).

4.  Greens provide the body with vitamins and antioxidants to support normal levels of inflammation.  (Spinach, kale, and collard greens are all excellent sources of greens).

Keeping these components in mind allows for a lot of flexibility and variety with meal planning.  I can easily pick something from each category and fill my plate with food that I love without feeling restricted.  Keeping my blood sugar balanced throughout the day eliminates the urge to snack and keeps cravings under control. 

My favorite part about adopting the Fab Four Rule into our life has been that I've learned how to make smoothies that are actually filling and satisfying.  My kids can eat one and do NOT ask for a snack 20 minutes later! 

This is our favorite smoothie recipe!

Chocolate Almond Butter Smoothie
1 Handful of Spinach
1/2 Banana
Coconut milk
Small handful of ice cubes

Toss all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until creamy! This smoothie recipe is for one person.  Adjust accordingly if you are feeding your family! 

It's super easy to mix and match ingredients to make a Fab Four Smoothie of your own!

Kelly Leveque's Fab Four Smoothie Formula is:
Protein (20 g min) + Fiber (10 g min)  + 1 Tbsp Fat + a handful of Greens + Superfood (optional) + Liquid

Click here to check out Kelly's delicious Fab Four Smoothie Recipes!  

Our Real Food Guidelines

A few years ago I was exhausted and unmotivated.  My mental health was suffering.  I had two small children and couldn't find enough energy to make it through the day without caffeine fixes and sugar highs.  Then I read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen and I knew that I needed to make changes immediately.  Before reading his food manifesto I had never read an ingredient label on the food I was consuming.  I had never considered finding out where my food was grown or how long it took to get to my grocery store.  I didn't even realize that what we were eating on a regular basis wasn't even FOOD.  

We were eating a lot of processed food and I had no idea where to begin so I adopted Pollen's Five Ingredient Rule from his book Food Rules: "Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients.  The specific number you adopt is arbitrary, but the more ingredients in a packaged food, the more highly processed it probably is."

There is a ton of information out there about what to eat and why to adopt a particular diet (Keto, Paleo, Whole30, etc...) but I've found the most help from Michael Pollen's Five Ingredient Rule and by applying this quote from Jillian Michaels, "If it didn't  come from the ground or the ocean or have a mother- don't eat it.  Think about it.  Twinkies and Cheetos- what the hell are these?  There's no Twinkie tree, and I'm pretty positive that nothing ever gave birth to a Cheeto."

As we've adapted to the real food life, I've added a few more personal guidelines to my food choices to help us feel our best. When you are setting up your own guidelines you will want to keep your personal budget and diet preferences in mind,

When I am grocery shopping, I ask myself these questions:

1.  Does this item meet the standards of the Five Ingredient Rule?  (Bonus points if the item is in its purest form and doesn't need a label!  Example: apple, carrot, brown rice)

2.  Did this item come from the ground or ocean?  Did it have a mother?

3, Does this item include refined white sugar?  (We prefer to use coconut sugar, honey, or maple syrup for our sweeteners)

4.  Does this item include refined white flour?  (We prefer to use Einkorn flour or organic oat flour).

5.  Is the meat grass fed and local?

6.  Are the eggs organic and cage free?

7.  How processed is the dairy?  (Milk isn't bright orange when it comes out of the cow, so why is the cheese?)

8.  Are the fruits and vegetables organic if they fall on the Dirty Dozen list?

We have tried a variety of things in my home for various reasons (dairy free, gluten free, Paleo, etc...) but the one thing that has been consistent has been defaulting to the Five Ingredient Rule and finding food in its purest form.  

I am happy to report that I am no longer the exhausted and unmotivated mother I was a few years ago.  When we started consuming nutritious food, my energy levels came back and our bodies and minds were nourished.  My brain fog is gone. My hormones have balanced out.  My husband's skin has cleared up.  And my kids have improved digestion.  We are enjoying the meals we are preparing together in the kitchen and we know our bodies will thank us in the long run.

I know that I said mean things about Cheetos and Twinkies.  And I don't want to lead you astray and believe that we never have a treat.  We tend to follow the 90/10 rule.  90% of the time we follow our Real Food Guidelines.  And 10% of the time we have treats.  We enjoy a big slice of birthday cake on family birthdays.  And we love ice cream on a hot day.  I want my kiddos to have a healthy relationship with food.  I want them to recognize that some foods make us feel icky if we eat them all of the time but occasionally as a treat they are enjoyable! 

How do you determine the Food Guidelines for your family?

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