Pumpkin Chili


This is one of those posts that says yes, I am a white girl. (I type this as I’m sipping a non-fat, no-whip Pumpkin Spice Latte). It’s fall. Therefore, things turn pumpkin flavored. Though, strangely enough, I don’t like pumpkin pie. Never have. But other pumpkin-y things? Delicious. Like this chili.

Adding pumpkin is a way to increase some of the veggies. It also keeps it thick and stew-like, which is great! This recipe was loosely based upon this blog’s recipe. By loosely based, I mean I pinned it on pinterest and didn’t look back.

One thing I have to say about the Pumpkin Spice craze is this–they make things overly sweet. They add nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar to things that aren’t meant to be sweet. Leave my stews alone–they’re hearty, not dessert, thank you very much. Which is something this chili recipe gets rights. It’s got pumpkin, but it’s most definitely chili. A nice, hearty stew with pumpkin-y hints to make even more fall friendly–as if a nice bowl of steaming chili wasn’t already a fall favorite. It’s basically you’re normal chili, add pumpkin. My husband (who’s with me on the too-sweet thing, but even more so) loved it. And he thought it sounded somewhat terrifying at first. But then he ate three bowls.

Servings: 6 (Hard to judge, like I said, my man ate three bowls in one sitting).

Time: 30 minutes.


  1. 1 large can pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie filling, plain ol’ pumpkin, please).
  2. 1 Tbs oil of choice (I used avacado)
  3. 1 lb ground meat (I used half lean turkey/lean beef)
  4. 1/4 of an onion
  5. 4 Garlic cloves worth of minced garlic
  6. Chili (too taste)
  7. 1 Tablespoon Cumin
  8. 2 cans diced tomatoes
  9. 2 cans beans of choice (I used Chickpeas, but we were out of everything else)
  10. Water to proper consistency (I used 1/2 cup)
  11. Salt and Pepper, to taste
  12. Powdered garlic, to taste


  1. Brown meat, onions, and minced garlic in oil.
  2. Add pumpkin puree, canned tomatoes, beans, and spices. Stir to mix flavors and bring to low boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until beans soft.
  3. Enjoy!

One thing I love about chili is how easy it is. Seriously. Put stuff in a single pan. Cook. Enjoy. And clean that single pan. It’s great, and I love this take on it. Chili can be a great healthy option, just chose the right ingredients!

What’s your favorite take on Chili?

Take Out (the Calories) Pad Thai


Okay, I haven’t posted in forever. I’m really bad about that. BUT! I’m going to be better. The bad was for two reasons: I stopped planning as many healthy alternative meals and I didn’t have time to write the ones I did try. Or so I told myself. My starting up again is for two reasons as well: I am officially a BeachBody coach after having done half of the 21 day fix and losing 15 pounds BUT gaining muscle and I’m making myself do it.

Becoming a coach is motivating me on my health journey. I needed a reason, and joining as a coach gives me that. That’s perhaps the biggest piece of advice for this post (and possibly this blog, definitely the best up to date): Find your reason. Give yourself a reason to stick with it. Not just a goal of getting to  specific weight, being able to lift a specific amount, but a reason to be healthy. I’m selling health products, so I better well be healthy. One of my favorite quotes I’ve found recently is that you shouldn’t work out because you hate your body, but because you love it. If it’s just to get rid of the weight, it won’t stick. What’s your why? Share in the comments!

Part of the reason I like BeachBody is that they don’t market themselves as a quick fix. Reading reviews of the 21 day fix, even on their website, they were pushing 20lbs weight loss in three weeks. That’s doable. That’s healthy. If you lose much more than that, you’re not getting healthy, you’re getting skinny. There’s a difference. One other thing I liked is that the challenge pack came with portion control containers and a plan on how to use them to eat healthy. BeachBody isn’t about a quick fix, it’s not about a pill, it’s not about miracles. It’s about learning how to take care of yourself. It’s about training yourself to eat right and to see what a healthy plate looks like. It’s about training yourself to work your butt off every day (literally). They tell you you’ll sweat. They tell you you’ll hurt. They tell you it’ll be worth it. Quick fixes aren’t fixes, they’re the duct tape holding pieces together until something comes along and detaches it again. A lifestyle change, which is what BeachBody is about, is actually putting that broken thing together and getting it fixed. This isn’t going to turn in to a BeachBody advertisement. The point of this is to say that quick fixes aren’t permanent. Often, they’re not healthy. So don’t fall for them.

Okay, so off of the healthy fix band wagon and on to the healthy food!

Like I said, I’ve been using portion control containers from BeachBody. One thing they push is eating your veggies, so I’ve started doing veggie replacements for a lot of things. (Well, what we consider veggie replacements. There aren’t a ton of real veggies in the world). One replacement I did recently was substituting spaghetti squash for rice noodles in Pad Thai. It worked really well. Of course, if you want more traditional Pad Thai, just use the rice noodles instead.



  1. 1/2 Package Cole Slaw Veggie Mix
  2. 2 Bunches Green Onion, chopped
  3. 1 Cup Unsalted Roasted Peanuts
  4. 1lb lean ground meat
  5. 2 tsp Rice Vinegar
  6. 2 tsp Fish Sauce
  7. 2 Tbs Minced Garlic (or to taste)
  8. 1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  9. 2 Cups Crunchy Peanut Butter (You can use smooth, but then add extra peanuts).
  10. Sprouts (optional)


  1. Prepare spaghetti squash in whichever way you prefer. This usually takes quite a bit of time, so feel free to start this ahead of time.
  2. Brown mean with vinegar, fish sauce, garlic, and soy sauce in a pan.
  3. Once mostly brown, add peanuts. Let cook five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add green onion and peanut butter. Keep stirring until the peanut butter is a smooth sauce, evenly spread throughout.
  5. Taste. Add more garlic if needed.
  6. Add in Spaghetti Squash Noodles. Stir until evenly mixed in.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

If you’re using regular noodles, you’ll have to cook them around the same time.

The sauce is also great to make on it’s own. Just mix the peanut butter, fish sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, and soy sauce together in a pot. Keep stirring, or it will burn! You can add the peanuts, but make sure to cook them before adding the peanut butter, so they’re soft. I’ve used this sauce with ground beef as a lettuce wraps. I’ve diluted the sauce with more vinegar and used it as a salad dressing. I’ve added plain greek yogurt and used it as a veggie dip. There are so many possibilities. It’s really tasty and high in protein.

What’s your favorite Thai Take Out dish?

Two (Or Three, Or Four) Ingredient Healthy Cookies that Taste Good


Okay, I have a confession: I have a sweet tooth, and a rather large one at that.

I love sweets. I think they’re delicious. Problem is, they’re not nutritious. Now, there are some great blogs out there about “healthifying” recipes, but the problem with them is that most I’ve found use strange and expensive ingredients. Or “healthify” them in ways I don’t think really makes them healthier. Like making everything gluten free. If you actually need gluten free, then those recipes are great! But, unless you actually are gluten intolerant, then they’re not any healthier. It’s a health craze that isn’t better for you. And it annoys me. There is a very, very, very, small part of the population that needs gluten free. But most people don’t.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten really off topic…

Back to healthy sweets! Most recipes are not my cup of tea. I’ve found some zucchini brownies I really like (which I’ll share later. They’re from the amazing Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog. If you haven’t read her recipes, do so. They all taste really good). The other problem is most of them are simply healthier. Y Many use sugar substitutes, when almost every substitute has been shown to be worse for you in the long run than sugar. Using natural sugars like honey and agave nectar aren’t bad, but if you do a direct substitution, you’re not really cutting out the unhealthy aspect. Yes, it’s less processed, which is a big bonus, but it’s not any lower calorie. I remember when my sister was so proud of cutting sugar our of her diet. Come to find out, instead of adding 3 spoonfuls of sugar to her tea, she added around 4 spoonfuls of honey. Less processed, but not cutting sugar out of her diet. You’re still better off avoiding them. But avoiding them doesn’t help my sweet tooth.

So, when I came across a two ingredient actually healthy cookie in my browsing through pinterest, I was super excited.

Yep, you read that right. 2 ingredients.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • 2 Bananas.
  • 1 Cup Quick Oats.
  • Mix until cookie dough consistency and bake on a GREASED cookie sheet at 350* for 15 minutes.

That’s it.

It makes about 16 cookies.

I’m sure you sitting there asking me, “Wait. How are oats and banana’s cookies?” The answer lies in the natual sugars in the banana and other nectars. When baked, a banana sort of caramelizes. (Here’s where the Chemist part of me comes out, because naturally, being a chemist, I had to look up the science of caramelizing fruit. And now I have to share it with you!)

When we think of sugar, most people think of a singular substance. But, scientifically speaking, there are a lot of different sugars, many of them are present in the fruits we eat. (Which is what makes then so yummy and sweet!). When we bake them, we do things to those chemicals. (We’re adding heat). It’s actually a complicated process that’s not entirely understood even though it’s been used in cooking for hundreds of years. Part of the reason it’s so complicated is because of all the different types of sugars. There’s a lot going on when you caramelize something. The main process I’ll talk about here is a dehydration process. For those of you who saw chemistry and got scared, let me tell you something: dehydration is just what you think it is. It’s losing water. Some sugar is losing an H2O molecule to give a different chemical, known as caramelan. This has increased the conjugation (meaning that there are more double bonds in the molecule) which is what gives it the brown color. Cool, huh? It’s a form of pyrolysis, of the breaking down of a compound when heat is added. But there’s more to it than that. (That’s why it’s complicated. There’s simply so much stuff in biological systems! The Chemistry is amazing and complex and beautiful and just so much fun!) The other reason the food browns is called the Maillard Reaction. This reaction is responsible for the browning of meats when they’re cooked, for dulce de leche, for roasted coffee, and many other things. It’s a reaction between amino acids and sugar, which means that there are lots of products because there are lots of amino acids and sugars in foods. The those in turn go through even more reactions.

Long story short, chemistry makes your food taste good.

If you skipped my aside in to chemistry (I didn’t even go that deep, I promise! I don’t think I could do it justice in this blog), then here’s the why it tastes good: the bananas natural sugars caramelize, meaning that the sweet flavors are brought out even more. When I made these, I added a handful of dark chocolate chips, which was delicious. Next time, I’m going to try adding some cocoa and honey to a bit to see if I can make them chocolate, but healthier (because still, mainly oats and bananas). Or maybe peanut butter for the husband (as I don’t like the nutty spread).

These cookies are great.

Best part? I’ve eaten two for breakfast guilt free. It’s basically eating a banana oatmeal, but your brain still thinks it’s a cookie. For breakfast. There’s no losing with these.

Zucchini Pizza Boats


Trying to do healthier pizza is apparently a thing of mine. I think I associate Pizza with quick meals. When you order it or do frozen, it is. When you have to make your own crust to make it healthy…not so much. This recipe, however, has very little prep time and only about 40 minutes of cooking.

I got his recipe inspiration from a lot of things, so I’m not going to link it.




3 Zuchini

  • 1 Package Shredded Mozzarella
  • 1 can Pizza Sauce
  • 10 Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 TBS Garlic Powder
  • 2 Tsp pepper
  • 1 Tsp Lemon Pepper


  1. Preheat Oven to 350* F.
  2. Mix oil, garlic, pepper, and lemon pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Cut Zuchini in half. Scoop the softer, seeded portion out. (You can set it aside to use in other cooking).
  4. Coat the zucchini boats in the spiced oil on all the lighter green, non skin portion.
  5. Slice the Cherry tomatoes as if you’re cutting up a larger tomato for a sandwich. Place those on the cored portion of the zucchini. Cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Get Zucchini out. Put on cheese and toppings, as much as you want.
  7. Broil for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is slightly crispy.
  8. Let cool. Serve and enjoy.

Lemon, Artichoke, and Asparagus Pasta


I was in a pasta mood last week. But all the pasta dishes were different, which made for a varied menu even if 3 out of the 4 meals cooked were pasta dishes.


This one I tried purely because of the name.


Lemon Artichoke and Asparagus Pasta.


It just sounds delicious and amazing. And it was. I actually mainly followed the recipe this website (written by Tiffany), but I also added lemon garlic pepper chicken, lightly spiced with those spices.




  • 8 ounces pasta, cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch asparagus spears, chopped
  • ½ Lemon, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • ½ TBS Butter
  • 2 cups milk (I used skim)
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • shaved parmesan, to taste




  1. Cook pasta and drain.
  2. Spray a large pan or non stick skillet with cooking spray. Add artichoke hearts and lemon juice. Cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add asparagus and garlic and cook another 2-4 minutes until tender, stirring throughout. Remove artichokes and asparagus with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Add pasta and stir to coat. Stir in artichokes and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add Parmesan to taste/creaminess desired. (Less is healthier).



It’s a great recipe. The chicken was cooked to taste and added because my husband is not a fan a veggie meals. It sounds great to me without the chicken, but it does taste great with chicken. The recipe is pretty much the same with that, you just cook the chicken and add it to the pasta and veggie mix dish. That’s it. Hope you enjoy it!

One Pot Pasta


One of the easiest yet healthy recipes I have come across. And there are so many variation. Seriously, go to damndelicious.net. It’s full of great, easy recipes. I don’t know how healthy they are. But they are easy and pretty easily made healthy.


The recipe I’m discussing here is One Pot Pasta. My pasta was a combination of these two recipes: Spinach, Onion, and Tomato and Zucchini Mushroom. And it was really good. It’s seriously a meal done in one dish, which is great. (Unless you want to add extra meat, which I did. Then you need a pan to cook the meat, but still, really simple).



(Really, they’re whatever you like in pasta. But this is what I did.)


  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 Cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 zucchini, thinly sliced and quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • Hot Italian Sausage
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups grape tomatoes (I just used one regular package)
  • ½ Package Turkey Peperoni
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • ½ Cup Skim Milk
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan





  1. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, combine all ingredients except Parmesan and Skim Milk.
  2. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until pasta is cooked through and liquid has reduced, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in Parmesan and milk.
  3. Serve immediately.




That’s it. You can make it as healthy as you like, by using varying amounts of veggies. You can use whole wheat pasta. You can use zucchini as pasta or other healthy pasta substitutes. And it’s done. That’s it. It was really good. It’s also really easy to make enough to have leftovers for lunches with very little effort. All in all, a great recipe.

Sweet Potato Quesadilla


I have a thing for weird recipes. If it sounds like a strange combination, I want to try it. I even have a recipe for a chilled peach tomato soup pinned on my “Food” board on pinterest. I will share details once I try it, but it gets good reviews.


One of my strange combinations is a mix of Mexican and Greek food. Sweet Potato Quesadilla’s served with Tzatziki. The recipe came from here: http://www.bhg.com/recipe/sweet-potato-quesadillas-with-cucumber-relish/. It’s a cheeseless Quesadilla. The sweet potatoes take the place of the cheese. It’s weird. It’s really filling. It’s strangely delicious.




2 Sweet Potatoes

1 Can Beans (Navy or Black. I used Black).

1/3 Cup Cilantro (I didn’t use this, because my husband doesn’t like cilantro).

1 Lime

1 Jalapeño Pepper

1 Teaspoon Chili Pepper

½ Tsp Ground Cumin

Tortillas, 6 Large Ones

½ an Onion

½ Tsp Paprika

Black Pepper

Meat of choice (Optional) cooked to taste (think Mexican)



1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt

1 tsp Dill

2 tsp Garlic

2 tsp Olive Oil

2 tsp Vinegar

2 tsp Black Pepper

1 TBS Lemon Juice

1 Cucumber, Diced



  1. Boil potatoes until soft. Drain. Mash, adding ½ the jalepeno, black pepper, and half of juice from lime to taste, and paprika. Let cool.
  2. In a medium bowl combine beans, 1/4 cup of the cilantro, rest of lime juice, rest of jalapeno and chili pepper; set aside. For Tzatziki, in another bowl combine Ingredients for Tzatziki. Use spices as directed, but do to taste. Add more or less as needed.
  3. Spread mash on the tortilla. Add slices of onion and bean mix. Add meat. Fold and press together. Grill (or cook in skillet).
  4. Serve with Tzatziki (and Guacamole, if desired).


It’s not super complicated, but it ‘s really good. It’s strange. It’s different. But it tastes good.