Fit(…ish)

Food seems to be the theme of my postings lately, which is just fine as I really love food.  At the same time, I do feel guilty posting so many unhealthy recipes and meals out when I try to maintain a fairly healthy lifestyle.

I often refer to it as living Fit…ish.

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The question I’m asked most often is have I kept off the 100 pounds that I lost over the last several years, or like many who undergo such a drastic transformation, have I put it back on?

The truth is, I’ve gained and lost the same 20 pounds multiple times over the last two years, staying fairly consistent with someone in maintenance.  I know very few people that don’t fluctuate with their weight over time.   The key is maintaining, knowing when to make changes and catch yourself when falling back into bad habits.  At this moment I am on the heavier side of that 20 pounds.  While I know how to eat and how to exercise, I am still am emotional eater, so when stress sets in (moving, owing taxes, transmission going out in my car, having a car accident….) I eat.

{And y’all, I do love food.}

The gym is still my best friend, which really helps with maintaining my weight, and I do eat pretty healthy throughout the week.  Recently though, maintenance is not enough and I really want to finish the journey that began over four years ago.  I’ve not posted on a healthy lifestyle in quite a while and with summer right around the corner, there is even more desire to feel great as well as a desire to look good before vacations and weekend adventures.

Even though the calendar announced spring, winter and dreary weather seems to be lingering around.  When the weather is dreary I love a flavorful soup for my lunch!

Using simple, but fresh ingredients, this quick recipe for one makes a delicious and filling meal full of healthy benefits!

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Add to your shopping list, organic chicken bone broth, baby kale, yellow bell pepper, purple potatoes(just because they are so pretty!), garlic, lemon, baby bellas, and avocado oil.

 

Purple-Potatoes | Fiddle Dee Dee

First, you’ll make a lemon based chicken broth for your soup, then add the veggies (starting with the potatoes so they can soften), simmering for the flavors to blend and the kale to wilt.  Baby kale is not as bitter as traditionally served kale, so I really like using it.

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I top my soup off with a little avocado oil for the addition of a healthy fat.

Avocado-Oil | Fiddle Dee Dee

Season with black pepper and you have a savory soup that leaves you filled with energy instead of feeling lethargic and bloated.

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You can print off the full recipe for Simple Kale & Potato Soup here.  Just double it if you want to share.

Here’s to kicking off a healthy spring and reaching all of our goals!

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Italian White Bean Soup

Winter suddenly decided to make an appearance in the South this week!  After a warmer than normal season it was quite a shock waking up to lows in the 20’s-30’s with the highs barely making it over 40!

{I know y’all up north laugh at our cold weather whining…}

When the temps drop I love nothing more than a bowl of warm and comforting soup, even if it is mid-March and everything is in bloom!

This week I whipped up a pot of Italian White Bean Soup for the family.  This scrumptious soup was so easy to prepare and is healthy as well!

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I used organic and low-sodium white beans, chicken broth, carrots, onion and spinach to create this soup.  I chose low-sodium ingredients to counter the salt found in prosciutto. It made for a totally filling supper without adding side dishes as well as a little extra for the hubby’s lunch the next day.

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What I liked best about this soup was that it was a convenient one pot (don’t you just hate a sinkful of pots & pans on a busy night?) dish.  Start with diced prosciutto in a little olive oil, then add the veggies to sauté, adding the beans and chicken broth to simmer a few minutes before throwing in freshly chopped spinach.

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Are you hungry yet?

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Click for the printable version of Italian White Bean Soup ….

and Buon Appetito!

What’s your favorite winter comfort food?

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A Traditional French Gumbo

What a fabulous whirlwind Thanksgiving weekend was!

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Between Wednesday and Saturday we made time to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family (especially enjoying the time we had with all four of our kiddos & the son-in-love) and the in-laws  in Tennessee, then finally attending my mother’s family 40th annual family reunion just south of Birmingham.  It was so much fun, but I have to be honest with you I am totally over rich, heavy foods, casseroles and desserts, and I am most definitely over turkey!

Looking for something different yet tasty, I looked back over my notes from a cooking class I took part in at the New Orleans School of Cooking a couple of weeks ago and decided a pot of chicken and sausage gumbo was just what we needed to break the monotony of the holiday.

This version of gumbo I learned to make in class is the traditional French, before the Italians and Haitians added their touches to southern Louisiana cuisine, so it does not have tomatoes or okra.  I won’t give you the full cooking lesson, but you use an old-fashioned dark roux for the base which is the traditional French way!

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INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup lard or 1/2 cup bacon grease (strained)

1/2 cup flour

1 pound chicken, cut up and deboned

1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced

2 cups onion, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

1 cup green bell pepper, chopped

1 TBSP Garlic, minced

6 cups chicken stock

1 cup green onion, slivered

Tony Chachere’s to taste (I prefer the unsalted version)

ASSEMBLING THE GUMBO:

Season (salt & pepper) and brown the chicken in 1/4 cup of the lard or bacon grease over medium high heat in a large pot.  Add sausage to pot and sauté with the chicken.

In a skillet make a roux using equal parts of lard or bacon grease (must be strained &  without particles) and flour to desired color. Heat the grease to medium-high prior to adding the flour to aid in an easier breakdown.  Whisk continually and strive for a dark roux.

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You want your roux to look like dark chocolate … this was buttery color still

You must pay attention to this step because a scorched roux smells horrendous and you’ll have to begin again.  Reduce heat and add your onions, celery, and bell pepper (also known as the Trinity of French cooking) to the roux.  Add the garlic to the mixture and stir continuously.  After vegetables reach desired tenderness, add to pot with the chicken and sausage, continuing to stir frequently with a strong wooden spoon.  Gradually stir in chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer to cook for an hour or more.  Season the gumbo with the Tony Chachere’s to your taste.

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About 10 minutes prior to serving, add green onions.  Serve gumbo over rice or French bread if you choose.

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We LOVED this gumbo and it’s even better heated up a second day after the flavors have had more time to mesh.

What is something you like to serve to break up the rich foods served over the holidays?

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Spring Showers & Shrimp Chowder

I can think of nothing more that I enjoy than puttering around the kitchen on a rainy spring day.  We have had several days of spring showers, which has given me plenty of occasions for dicing, chopping, sautéing, and setting the table; taking the time to make my little family feel special instead of rushed through the supper hour.

Last weekend as the weather was not only rainy, but extremely cool, I decided a chowder was the perfect fix for our family supper.  It was also the perfect solution of something fabulous to make with some fresh coastal Carolina shrimp I had acquired at the market.

As you know, chowders are heavy and fattening and absolutely delicious, but would you believe that this Shrimp Chowder of mine was light, healthy, filing, and still oh-so-delicious?!

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I couldn’t wait for the leftovers it was so good.

The recipe is actually one that I slightly altered from “Strong” magazine; a magazine dedicated to living a fit life.  It’s one of my favorite reads as it focuses on strength training and working out from a variety of trainers and role models from Figure models to Olympic Ice Skaters.  It’s not filled with make-up, fashion, or sex articles like a variety of other “health” mags, but articles that will educated you and help you lead a continuous fit lifestyle!

If you are keeping up with your protein, and focusing on a lower sodium & fat diet, this is perfect as it has 28 grams of protein per serving and under 300 mg of sodium.  The entire chowder came together in under 45 minutes which makes it a good option for a week night meal as well!

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INGREDIENTS:

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1/2 cup celery, diced

1 Large Vidalia onion, chopped

2 Tablespoons minced garlic

12 smallish red potatoes, diced into small bites

6 cups fat-free evaporated milk

2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp (just pay the extra to have the grocer do it for you)

1 Tablespoon black pepper

couple of twists of a pink Himalayan salt shaker

fresh dill for garnish

PUT IT TOGETHER:

1.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan

2. Saute the celery, onion, and garlic until softened on medium-high heat, about 5 or 6 minutes.  While the celery mixture is sautéing, dice the red potatoes into bite-sized pieces, leaving the skin on.

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3. Add the potaoes and milk to the celery mixture. Cover and simmer on low, stirring often, until the potatoes are tender; about 20 minutes.

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4. Stir in the shrimp, pepper and twist of salt. Simmer until the shrimp is pink; about five minutes or so.

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And serve up your scrumptious chowder in pretty bowls, garnished with dill.

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It’s easy, perfect, and without a doubt so delicious.  It’s simple enough for a weeknight family supper or perfect for entertaining guests.

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It does make a pretty dish.

Your company will think you’ve spent hours on it as they enjoy it at your table, and your family will feel like they are in a fancy restaurant.

You can’t beat that kind of satisfaction!

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