Yummy Vegetable/Minestrone Soup!

I know, I know I have a really great track record for blogging on average once every 2 months. How do y’all manage the anticipation between each post?! (For the 5 of you that might actually still follow my blog- Thanks for sticking around and… hi mom!) In all seriousness, I am going to make more of an effort to start writing more frequently and get you up to date on what’s happening in my life (ex: as far as you know, I am still single in the good ol’ BR. Boy, are you in for a surprise!) …and what I’m cooking/baking/eating…because let’s be honest, that’s much more interesting than most other things I might have to say.

ANYWAY, I’m back at it today because I wanted to share an extremely easy recipe that I made for lunch recently that I thought y’all might enjoy. It’s packed with lots of veggies, protein, and was pretty cost efficient which made it taste even better in my opinion. I’m not one to ever totally throw the grocery budget to the wind, but I have also been known to get caught up in a good grocery shopping session when the produce stands are set up just right. (Am I the only one who finds grocery shopping therapeutic?)

After too many inconsistent weeks of spending and saving, Β I finally broke down and made a meal plan with a set budget in mind. I even gave myself a challenge by setting the budget lower than what I could have allowed for. Do I know how to have fun, or do I know how to have fun? I ended up spending a bit more than my ‘challenge’ budget, but I also got some super deals on lobster, sirloin, and several staple items we use regularly in our house.Β Both lunches and dinners were set up and executed perfectly. I don’t think we had eaten that balanced in a long time and everything was delicious! It allΒ was going according to plan…until Sunday night arrived and I had completely forgotten to meal plan again…fail!

When it came time to prepare lunch on Monday I only had one option: get creative. I wanted to get the most out of the previous week’s grocery trip expenses and avoid letting any food go to waste, so I surveyed the kitchen and pantry and whipped up this recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as James and I did! It was/is perfect for a cool Fall day πŸ™‚

IMG_2254Β  Β  Β IMG_2252

VEGETABLE/MINESTRONE SOUP

What’s needed:

  • 1 28oz can of Whole Peeled Tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh cut green beans
  • 1/4 cup frozen or fresh yellow squash
  • 1/4 cup diced frozen or fresh green peppers
  • 1/4 cup fresh spinach (I would have used more, but this was the last of what we had!)
  • 4 stalks organic celery chopped
  • 4 whole carrots chopped
  • white or yellow onion chopped (amount to your liking. I cut a slice ~ 1/2 inch thick)
  • Optional: pepperoni slices cut up. I used about 1/4 package of Applegate Farms Natural Pepperoni. Yum!
  • 32 oz chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp bacon lard or grassfed butter
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp basil
  • 1 Tbsp garlic
  • 1/2 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper to liking

*James brought home a rotisserie chicken, so we ended up carving the chicken and adding it to the soup. You could do the same, prepare your own whole chicken, or even use cubed or shredded chicken breast.

Instructions:

  • In a large pot melt lard over medium heat. Add onion and cook 5-7 minutes.
  • Add chicken stock, followed by remaining vegetables and pepperoni if using.
  • Add olive oil and spices
  • Cook for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Finally, add in pre-cooked chicken, reduce heat to low medium, and let cook for 5-10 more minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

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Without the added chicken

With the added chicken :-P

With the added chicken. YUMMY!

With the added chicken. YUMMY. :-P

With LOTS of Β added chicken. YUMMY πŸ˜›

We were able to get 4 meals out of this soup (including second helpings for dinnertime because this pregnant lady currently has the appetite of a high school boy-watch out!) I love how a little creativity helped us to make the most of our budget AND allowed us to have delicious meals. I definitely will be making this again!

Here is the breakdown of what I spent, so y’all can see if this works for your grocery budgets too! Keep in mind that I used only a portion of each package of vegetables, pepperoni, and chicken, so the price would be even less than what the receipts will reflect πŸ™‚

PUBLIX:

  • Fresh Organic Baby Spinach: $3.99
  • Fresh Jumbo White Onion: $1.18
  • Fresh Organic Celery: $2.69
  • Fresh Organic Carrots: $1.29
  • Frozen Cut Green Beans: $3.19
  • Frozen Diced Green Pepper: $1.59
  • Frozen Yellow Squash: $1.89

COSTCO:

  • Organic Chicken Stock (32 oz): $14.11/6, so approx. $2.35 for 1

EARTH FARE:

  • Applegate Pepperoni: $4.99
  • Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes: $1.89

TOTAL: $25.05

Approx. Cost per serving (2 servings for 4 meals): $3.13

Again, this reflected cost is actually even a high estimate because the receipt price doesn’t reflect the amount of each ingredient actually used. WOOP WOOP! Gotta love shopping smart! Clean eating CAN be affordable! πŸ™‚

 

 

Baked Coconut Chicken Nuggets

One thing that I have really come to appreciate as I’ve matured into my mid-twenties is discovering my passions. Some have been slower to develop than others, but one passion that just feeds my soul is cooking. (Try telling me I’m not your punniest friend) It wasn’t until I moved to Baton Rouge that I really began to experiment with cooking and fell in love. Don’t get me wrong, Louisiana has some of the BEST food you’ll find in the U.S. of A., but when it comes to healthy eats it doesn’t quite take first place. As I became more aware of what I was putting into my body I realized I had the most control over my health in the kitchen. And so, I began to cook. I definitely have a long way to go, but I’ve been testing out my skills cooking for James (Shoutout to the best guinea pig er, husband out there)Β and he has yet to find a recipe that I’ve preparedΒ that he doesn’t like. Say it with me, winning!

One of the very first recipes I prepared after we got engaged was this Baked Coconut Chicken recipe, adapted from paleodietmentor.

I’m a sucker for flavorful, but relatively simple paleo versions of some of my old favorites. This recipe fit the bill and has since become a staple in our house. Here is my James approved and 24 Day Challenge friendly version:

BAKED COCONUT CHICKEN NUGGETS

  • Β 1lb. boneless, skinless, hormone-free Chicken breastsPaleo Chicken Nuggets
  • 1/2 cup almond flour/meal
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • *1/2 tsp paprika
  • *1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • coconut oil
  • cutting board
  • pan/cookie sheet with foil

*Depending on my tastes for the day I will swap out the paprika for cinnamon as a fun/sweeter twist.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl or on a large plate combine almond flour, shredded coconut, paprika, sea salt, and black pepper.
  3. In a separate bowl beat egg well.
  4. Cut chicken breasts into 2 inch ‘nuggets’ then dip into bowl with egg until well coated.
  5. Roll chicken nuggets into dry ingredient mixture, coating all sides evenly.
  6. Coat pan with coconut oil, or lightly coat cookie sheet with coconut oil.
  7. Place chicken on pan and bake for 25 minutes, watching for them to turn golden.

That’s about it! I serve these bad boys with honey, organic dijon mustard, or organic ketchup, but the sauce is up to you.

Enjoy!