Healthy Ham and Lentil Soup

So remember how I cooked up that large ham for my family Christmas dinner? It was very large. And although we like to eat, we had a lot of left. I mean A LOT:

My mother cut up what was left because the ham bone FREAKS me out.

My mother cut up what was left because the ham bone FREAKS me out.

My mom suggested that I make some soup with the mountain of ham and since Michigan has been a frozen tundra, soup sounded perfect!

Love lentils? Love soup? Love healthy ingredients? You’ll love this:

Healthy Ham and Lentil Soup

Half a large white onion, chopped
3-4 large celery stalks, chopped
3-4 large carrots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
8-9 cups of water
1 can of crushed tomatoes (optional, I don’t like tomatoes so I did not add them)
1 bag of lentils (16 oz.)
2 cups of ham, chopped (veggie? omit this and use some beans or meat replacement)
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 Tbl. basil
1/2 Tbl. parsley

ONLY 4 EASY STEPS! GAH! SO EASY!

1. Soak the lentils in water for 30 minutes and then drain. I have no idea why you do this but my Mom told me this needed to be done. It is science.

Lentils getting a bath.

Lentils getting a bath.

2. In a LARGE (LIKE THE BIGGEST ONE YOU GOT) pot, drizzle some olive oil and add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery and saute over medium high heat.

Mhhhmm I can smell this goodness.

Mhhhmm I can smell this goodness.

3. After these have all simmered a little, add all the lentils, along with 9 cups of water, tomatoes, spices, ham.

It is green... but tasty.

It is green… but tasty.

4. Bring entire mixture to a boil and then simmer for 1 hour. The lentils will soak up A LOT  of the water, so the soup is actually quite thick and not nearly as broth-like as you suspect, with all the water.

Enjoy with crackers of if you are like me, a tiny bit of parmesan cheese grated on top. It is green but it is super tasty and keeps you warm!

I actually served this to my friends on New Year’s Eve and then we partied by playing cards and drinking wine. Is that normal to serve soup to people during a party?? Whatever. Two guests were outside watching hockey all day so I think they more than enjoyed the hot meal.

XoXo

SO THICK AND TASTY AND HEALTHY.

SO THICK AND TASTY AND HEALTHY.

Sincerely,

Lily

PS Mr. Speedy’s dear friend knew that I have a problem chopping veggies and bought me a Mandolin Slicer for Christams that came with 4 safety settings so that I don’t chop any of my fingers off. I actually did not use it for this recipe because I am dork and forgetful (next time…) but it would have been probably perfect to use! Specail thanks to Tall C!

Running on Ice

So, there has been some serious freezing-rain-or-snow-or-ice happening here in Michigan.

Everyting is frosted and iced.

Everything is frosted and iced.

The last two days I went out early and ran.

The path was either wet and slick or thick with snow. And for some reason I absolutely LOVED it.

There is something about running when the conditions aren’t great, or even ideal. There is something about running miles before passing another brave soul. There is something about having to use extra caution so that you don’t twist or fall. There is something about feeling extra strong because you are pounding the pavement when most avoid it. There is something about running in winter that makes you feel so dang CONFIDENT. You can’t be stopped by the weather. You can’t be stopped by the temperature. You can’t be stopped.

There is something about running that makes me feel so alive, so here, and so in the moment.

I love this quote from the book Run Like a Girl –

quoteDon’t you just love that?

This applies to me so much. This last week at work made me want to rip my hair out. The wedding is getting close and I have so much to do. I am behind on laundry. GAAAAAHHHH the list goes on. But-

Taking time for my sweat session clears my head and cleans my soul. Throw yesterday away and start fresh the next. Let that icy road carry your mind to a solid and strong place. Sweat it out.

With Christmas so close, many people seem to voice concerns about ‘holiday eating’ and ‘too cold to workout.’ Silly. Nonsense. There has never been a BETTER time to throw your gloves on and get some fresh air. Layer up and make time for yourself during the holidays. Round up your family or a friend. Sign up for a 5k and walk it.

We are leaving for Nebraska in the morning to spend Christmas with Mr. Speedy’s family. I am not looking forward to the looooong car ride but I am sure looking forward to doing some running and taking in the cornfields and Nebraska sky.

I just love running, even on icy paths.

Sincerely,

Lily

Healthy Broccoli Cheese Soup for Cold Days

I made this soup and it warmed me up so well, I just had to share.

Mhmmmm can you feel the warmth?

Mhmmmm can you feel the warmth?

Confession: I do not like thick soups. I do not like creamy soups.

Mr. Speedy loves creamy soups and has a special liking for broccoli cheese soup. I am a weirdo and prefer broth soups and am really not too crazy about this soup. But for the sake of his taste buds and my need to serve him new recipes, I thought I’d make some soup from scratch.

However, I modified the traditional cream base recipe and used broth. And added A LOT OF VEGGIES. We are a healthy household, or try to be.

Healthy Broccoli Cheese Soup

 1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic gloves, minced
Olive oil
2 cans of chicken-broth
1/2 of a large head of broccoli (remove stems, chop)
1 cup of finely chopped carrot
1 cup of finely chopped mushrooms
1 cup of finely chopped celery
2 1/2 cups of skim milk
1/2 cup of flour
Salt & Pepper & any other spices you enjoy
1 cup (and a bit more if you want) of shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
Parsley

1. Chop up the onion, garlic, carrots, mushrooms, celery and broccoli. Just get it done and it’ll make everything easier. Promise.

2. In a large saucepan, drizzle some olive oil and saute the chopped onion and garlic for a few minutes.

3. Add the broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, celery and broth.

4. Bring to boil and cook over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes.

5. Blending time. If you have a blender, then you are in luck and this step will be easy. If you do not have a blender (aka ME) then this step might be messy and you might swear. You need to blend the entire soup mixture. I used a bowl and hand mixer:

6. Remember if you do use a blender, you need to keep the top open to let the hot air vent. Place a paper towel on top to avoid flying hot soup from shooting out.

7. After the mixture is blended (mine did not blend NEARLY as well as I thought), place back in saucepan over medium heat and add milk.

Milk!!

Milk!!

8. Then add the flour, salt, pepper, any spices, and cheese:

9. Stir often to help soup thicken. Keep over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes and then serve! Sprinkle parsley on top. Great with thick, crusy bread!

So much veggie goodness.

So much veggie goodness.

I really enjoyed this soup despite my disliking for creamy soups. The broth add enough liquid and the milk/flour thicken it nicely, so you don’t feel like you are slurping up heavy cream. And there are so many flavors with all of the veggies simmering together.

I think I need a blender though… should probably add that to the wedding registry.

What is your favorite soup in the winter? Tomato. Hands-down. Love that stuff.

Sincerely,

Lily

My First Casserole: Spanish Chicken & Rice & Mystery Sauce

This week, I got out my domesticated side out from underneath my cereal-consuming side and braved a new dish:

I present to you- zee casserole:

Mhmmmm

Mhmmmm

Mr. Speedy is a subscriber to the magazine, Cooking Light, and this month’s cover caught my eye with the casserole recipes.

It really is quite a good magazine if you are looking for meals that don’t require using 56 lbs. of butter and lard and don’t want your waistline to suffer.

I am immature. Sorry.

I am immature. Sorry.

Party pooper…. hehe.

Okay, I choose this mexican chicken rice recipe because a)I had a lot of the ingredients and b)it did not look too hard. I will warn you that I did not have any saffron, so my recipe is slightly different (and it has a mystery sauce)…. and I didn’t include olives because they make my soul die a little and tongue shrivel up like a raisin.

This recipe requires a lot of chopping which is DANGEROUS for me. Creating this was taking a risk, like trying to ride a horse bareback, while tweezing your eyebrows, and eating a cupcake. Quite risky business. I have cut my fingers multiple times while chopping things. I don’t know if it is my inability to aim or my directionally-challenged brain or what…. but it is a hassle when you are trying to be the next Julie Child for your man.

Mr. Speedy actually does not like it when I chop things and usually stands near-by, waiting for me to scream or for a finger to fly off in his direction. It is kind of romantic but kind of pathetic, on my part. He always says to me, “Be careful.. I don’t want to lose you because you bleed out while attempting to slice a cucumber. And don’t ever chop when home alone.”

You know how you aren’t suppose to swim alone? Or walk alone in the dark? I can’t use the kitchen knife when home alone.

ANYWAYS, I DIDN’T LOSE ANY FINGERS ON THIS ONE, KIDS. But, I did cut my finger later that evening while making my salad for work the next day.

HERE IS THE CASSEROLE- ENJOY!!!

Saffron cream? I did not do that just to warn you.

Saffron cream? I did not do that just to warn you.

  • 1 Tbl. olive oil, divided (divided? I just used like 2 Tbl. and did not divide b/c that sounds complicated)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces (trim that fat off people!)
  • 1 c. chopped white onion
  • 2 ounces cured Spanish chorizo sausage, diced (I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THIS IS. I USED 3 TURKEY SAUSAGE LINKS.)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (I MINCED LIKE, 7 CLOVES BECAUSE IT TASTE GOOD AND VAMPIRES WILL STAY AWAY)
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 c. hot cooked long-grain rice (Uncle Ben’s long grain rice, 1 package, works wonderfully)
  • 1 c. frozen green peas, thawed
  • 16 pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped (EWWWW NOOOO.)
  • 1 1/2 c. fat free milk
  • 1/4 c. tomato paste (I DON’T KNOW WHAT PASTE IS… SO I USED TOMATO SAUCE. PERFECTO.)
  • 2 Tbl. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. saffron threads, lightly crushed (I am lazy and didn’t know what this was or have it… so it didn’t go in)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c. fat free sour cream

1. You will need to pre-cook the rice and have it ready to go. I also chopped up my onion, pepper, garlic, chicken ahead of time. Made it easy-peasy!

2. Pre-heat oven to 375° and spray your casserole dish with Pam so nothing sticks.

3. Using a large nonstick skillet, over medium-high heat, add 1 Tbl. olive oil and cook chicken, turning to brown on each side. Remove chicken from pan and place in large mixing bowl, set aside.

4. In same large skillet, add 1 Tbl. olive oil, and onion and chorizo (OR TURKEY SAUSAGE IF YOU ARE LIKE ME). Cook for a few minutes and then add in the chopped up pepper and garlic. Cook for a few minutes and then add this mixture, along with the cooked rice, and the peas, all into the mixing bowl with the chicken.

5. Mix the entire mixture well. Set aside and don’t move it.

6. In same saucepan, over MEDIUM heat, pour in the milk, tomato paste/sauce, flour, salt, saffron (or not), and pepper. WHISK around constantly, mixing well and until you see sauce to begin to boil (a few minutes).

7. Let it boil for 1 minute (but no longer because this sauce will burn quick). It should be thickening. Take off burner and add sour cream, mix it in sauce with whisk.

8. Pour sauce over the chicken mixture in the bowl, and mix around well, till evenly coated.

9. Pour entire chicken mixture into the casserole dish, evenly.

10. Cover with tin foil and cook for 15 minutes. Then REMOVE the foil, and cook for another 15 minutes.

11. EAT IT UP. BUT SHARE WITH OTHERS.

I feel like you could add the following and it would be super tasty: corn, broccoli, cauliflower, salsa on top, or tortilla chips on the side, or spoon it into taco shells.

ANYONE HAVE ANY FAVORITE CASSEROLE DISHES??? Preferably easy ones that do not require TOO much usage of sharp knifes.

sincerely,

Domesticated-Knife-Chopping Lily

I have done this. I can relate.

I have done this. I can relate.

Girls on the Run

Hello, I love being a girl. And I love running.

Therefore, I am totally GEEKED about Girls on the Run and BEING A COACH for a team of young girls.

BEST VOLUNTEER WORK EVER.

Running Girl in her natural habitat.

Running Girl in her natural habitat.

GOTR is a nonprofit running program to help young girls feel empowered, confident, and healthy through the sport of running. I first heard about this program from my blogger friend, Sarah, who blogged that she applied to be a coach.

The program is all over the country, so if you are interested, click around on their website and apply to coach.

The young girls range from 3rd – 8th grade and by the end of the 10 week-long season, they run a celebratory 5k.

I pretty much love everything about this program.

I pretty much love everything about this program.

I’m super pumped. LIKE I AM AS EXCITED ABOUT THIS AS I AM ABOUT WALKING DOWN THE AISLE!

I’m excited to give a little back to the running Gods… they have helped me stay sane, strong, healthy and led me to the love of my life. If I can help some other girls find a balance and strength that running offers, then I will feel accomplished. Also, little girls are super cute and I’m excited to get to know them, and their personalities, likes and dislikes.

I used to coach youth swimming and that was a blast. I can only imagine what this will bring- at least I don’t have to worry about anyone drowning or forgetting to breath during freestyle.

Our practices will be 2x a week, for 75 minutes. Due to my work schedule, I”ll have to get into the office extra squeaky early to get to practice on time, but that’s no big deal. I have a feeling this is going to be well worth the lack of sleep and extra drive time.

I can’t wait!

Sincerely,

Coach Lily

^Oh… that has a pleasant ring, now doesn’t it?

P.S. I AM REALLY EXCITED #%#&RUHDFGESFJDRGDTH

P.S.S. What do tiny girls eat for snacks? How far can they actually run? I need to do research… and buy a cooler.

My Mini Pan

Since unpacking, I keep discovering objects from my past apartment. Things that totally define a person that was cooking for one and living alone (i.e. only having 3 large drinking glasses… what was I thinking?).

Like this tiny little pan:

It is just big enough for one egg.

It is just big enough for one egg.

I love this thing. I have only used it to cook an egg or two at a time, but I am sure it would great to saute a carrot or heat up a single-serving of some sort of sauce.

Or make a mini-pancake.

Today I made myself the perfect little lunch- an egg white sandwich.

First, I cracked one egg white, and added some chopped onions:

One egg white with italian seasoning and black pepper.

One egg white with italian seasoning and black pepper.

I usually add salsa, but today I used this Italian bruschetta topping:

This is full of garlic. I love it.

This is full of garlic. I love it.

Smoosh the two together on a toasted muffin:

Soooo simple, light, and tasty.

Soooo simple, light, and tasty.

I also had a side of steamed green beans with chopped almonds:

Almonds are the best!

Almonds are the best!

I’ve learned that you can pretty much chop any nut (peanuts, walnuts, almonds) to add a punch of protein and flavor to some veggies.

Enough about my uber-healthy meal, back to the cute tiny pan.

Speaking of cute (this is not very cute at all), but when I set up my computer I thought I’d browse to some pre-Mr.Speedy pictures of myself.

During my non-Mr. Speedy and I-only-use-a-tiny-pan to cook days:

I was just stuck in the rain aka my life.

I was just stuck in the rain aka my life.

And… this is me today:

I call this "Pensive Person."

I call this “Pensive Person.”

So- I look the same. Pretty much. Except I try to stay out of storms because I have a slightly irrational fear that my diamond will attract lightning and I am 5768 times more likely to be struck and get electrocuted.

This happens, right?

Anyways, back to the tiny pans. Mini pans are a necessity sometimes in points of your cooking life and hopefully, if you have one, it will bring you good fortune like mine.

After seeing my tiny pan, Mr. Speedy said-

“I think we might need to register for …. bigger pans.”

Yes. He is so smart and observant. A few of the many million reasons I am marrying him. But I’m going to save this little pan because one day a small child will appreciate it’s compact size and it will be perfect for pretend guitar playing. Or I can shove it my big purse and use it as a weapon against anyone that tries to mess with me. I will pan them in the face.

Does anyone else have a tiny kitchen device that they absolutely do not need, but love?

Sincerely,

Lily

WINNER: Run Like A Girl

Sorry this is a day late…. moving is super busy and I have limited internet at the moment!!! Please bare with me. I mean bear.

________________________________________

Let me just say, I am going to start collecting used copies of this book to repeat this giveaway.

I am not joking.

Be patient- you’ll eventually win one… because you all deserve a copy. It is that amazing and so are you.

But, some lucky reader will get a copy right away…

runlikeagirl

I went online to a random number generator, plugged in the information. Prior to this, on all giveaways, I have been writing down every commenter’s name on a tiny piece of paper, mixing them all in a bowl, and selecting a winner.

I have no idea for the life of me why I did not think to use the all-powerful, all-knowing internet to generate a winner. Way easier. And there is no mess of paper shreds.

This is what the random generator selected:

Lucky comment #7....

Lucky comment #7….

The #7 comment on the giveaway, was –

ashley

OH MY AMAZING- I know for a fact that Ashley will ENJOY it and hopefully read every single page immediately. Her blog is here and it is a cute, fun-lovin’ blog to read. She offers great music choices, advice, and is honest and open. She is currently nursing her body back from an injury from running… and there is a whole section in this book devoted to that anxiety-filled, down-time.

CONGRATS, ASHLEY!

I have to go finishing packing/un-packing my entire life now. And then make-out with Mr. Speedy in our new bedroom for approximately 3546322 hours.

Sincerely,

Lily

Book Giveaway: Run Like A Girl

I’m giving away one (1) copy of this amazing book:

Run Like A Girl: How Strong Women Make Happy Lives

runlikeagirl

I fell in love with this book over two years ago, just after it was published in March 2011. The author, Mina Samuels (read about her here) writes from various voices- her own, famous female athletes, every day female athletes, sport medicine experts, and much more. Previously, she was a lawyer and then realized she wanted to write and needed to publish. I love authors who are from a completely different field of work. I think it adds some variety to their writing. She writes in a very factual, entertaining way that is full of statistics and interviews that will keep you reading.

She dives into WHY there is a pull, a need, to run or perform some sort of physical exercise. How does this exercise differ when females run solo? In a group? With a partner? What does training together do to a relationship? What does having an active lifestyle do to a person? How are they physically stronger in the end? Happier? Logical? There is a science to those endorphins released and Samuels hits the nail on the head explaining every little body benefit.

I love it.

I could go and on but the bottom line is that this book is a truthful read- perfect for any female (or male- guys can get some perspective too) athlete.

Because I love it and running and being a strong, healthy girl, I am giving you a chance to win a copy- all you have to do is comment below, answering this question:

What are yours plans for this weekend?

Are you going somewhere fun? Have any races planned? Are you planning to drink wine and read books and relax? Just leave your comment (be sure to be logged in or enter email) and you are in the running (no pun intended) for this wonderful book!

Winner will be announced Friday, July 19th by 8pm Eastern Time. Only one comment per person!

Half-Marathon: The Terrible Mistake

DSC_0311Prior to getting engaged, I ran a half-marathon.

I love half-marathons. They are my favorite distance. Except this race, I made a very terrible, awful, painful mistake.

Read on…

Prior to racing, I like to indulge on dry, crispy toast:

TOAST NOM NOM NOM

TOAST NOM NOM NOM

Once at the race, I like to walk around with an odd face that only Mr. Speedy can understand:

WHO FARTED???

WHO FARTED??? It smells like Rasputin’s armpit.

Then, I like to calm my nerves by talking to all my sweet running friends:

Me and my stellar running friend, Jessica. She is pretty fierce. And I am a giant.

Me and my stellar running friend, Jessica. She is pretty fierce. And I am a giant.

I always like to run into my running Uncle (aka the CUPID that matched me and my betrothed up!):

He is always smiling. And my mother is his friend.

He is always smiling. And my mother is his friend.

My fellow Yellow Team members:

My pink shoes are slightly obnoxious.

My pink shoes are slightly obnoxious.

The race was about to start.
I was feeling excellent despite my lack of sleep due to nerves.
I had used the potty approx. 56 times already.
I had 2 gels tucked safely into my sport bra.
My mother, Mr. Speedy, and Louis were watching me because they had nothing better to do.

What could possibly go WRONG?

DSC_0308

I did not discover that something was wrong until after I finished and felt a sharp pain in my chesticle region.

This was way after the winner, my friend tall Fisky, crossed the finish line and I trailed far behind:

He is the winner!

He is the winner!

Why do my legs look weird?

Why do my legs look weird?

This was way after I got interviewed due to being 3rd female overall:

I like to act like a bear prior to a race. RAWR.

I like to act like a bear prior to a race. RAWR.

This was way after I found my favorite other running couple (THEY ARE MOVING TO HAWAII SOON BECAUSE THEY ARE ADVENTUROUS AND COOL):

I shall miss them! So cute!

I shall miss them! So cute!

This was way after I discovered Louis lurking by me, with his inspirational attire:

I really like his headband.

I really wonder what he is trying to achieve in life.

This was way after I discussed running tactics with the winner and realized that my legs will not grow longer:

So.... how do you run so fast? TELL ME YOUR SECRET.

So…. how do you run so fast? TELL ME YOUR SECRET.

Yes, after all this-

After all the smiles and visiting-

I went home, stripped my bra off, and was horrified to see a bloody mess. Probably the last thing a girl could possibly want to see when she is about to journey on a romantic getaway with a man who makes her melt. I mean, how do you explain a bloody-cut underboob? In the midst of rolling around together, do you just say, “Oh, stay clear of that one! It is out of order. But the other one is fine!”

Ew. Never mind. Forget I asked.

NOTE TO SELF: Do not store goo in sport bra. The corners are sharp and will cut you up like a carrot stick.

Ouchie. It really hurts. Seriously.

Ouchie. It really hurts. Seriously.

Almost two weeks later, I am still healing.

On a positive note, despite my boob being eaten alive, I did not run too shabby:

Someone does not know how to spell OVERALL.

Someone does not know how to spell OVERALL.

Not my best, but I am happy and it was a fun race.

Minus my chest incision.

Sincerely,

Lily