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pasta pasta pasta. or anti-pasta if you choose.

25 Apr

photo 1I can’t BELIEVE today is the end of my second year of graduate school! Thank the universe! This is…..A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE! (inside joke, I’m a weirdo, you’d get it if you knew me). Haha. This has been by far the most grueling semester in graduate school and tonight’s last class and the knowledge that I handed in all of my papers, massive papers, and projects and am officially done is really satisfying. Now onto the important stuff, internship, and more importantly, how the H-E-double hockey sticks am I going to afford to live during internship year! Aye yey yey. One more year left, one more year.

Speaking of one more year, I don’t know if you live in Chicago, or the midwest, but can you believe this weather!? Um it’s almost May for crying out loud! We need some warmth! I feel likephoto 3 not many of my recipes have been anything but warm, hot, comforting food lately because it’s so cold. That also is because I have been in graduate school hell, so something warm and comfy always helps. Funnily enough, the recipe I am sharing with you today I am actually eating the leftovers for breakfast this morning! I am a firm believer that you can eat veggies and meat at any time of the day and it doesn’t have to be in the form of a frittata or breakfast hash to be breakfast food. If you want some kale, acorn squash and sausage for breakfast, go for it! Hmm….that may be a new recipe to try and make, kale and sausage stuffed acorn squash….that sounds delicious!

Also, at the end of this recipe, I want to talk about gluten free pasta types and share some articles I found that are useful. I don’t really eat much pasta, but when I do, like the brussels sprouts and bacon pasta recipe from a week or so ago, I like to make sure it is minimally processed, gluten free pasta. BUT, most gluten free pastas are AWFUL. God awful. They get gummy and mushy in about 2 seconds flat while boiling, and just taste disgusting. So I am listing my two favorites, and also a couple resources on gluten free pasta. Now onto the good stuff, the yummy food!

RUSTIC SAUSAGE AND BACON BOLOGNESE WITH VEG AND ACORN SQUASH

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 lb ground italian sausage, if incased, re move casings
  • 5 slices of super thick cut smoked bacon
  • 1 onion, diced
  • one container of sliced portabella mushrooms
  • one container of fresh spinach (or about 3 handfuls)
  • 1 jar of organic tomato sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil, chiffonade and chopped (about 1/3-1/2 cup this equals out to)
  • salt to taste

photo 2Heat an oven to 350 degrees. Cut your spaghetti squash in half and place fresh side down on an oiled cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the flesh is fork tender. Then you can either fork out all of the squash “meat” or you can fork it around so it’s easy to access and leave it in the shell so it can be eaten right out of the shell.

While the squash is cooking, heat a large skillet and add your ground sausage and diced bacon. cook thoroughly until the sausage is brown and the bacon is to your liking. The bacon I buy is pretty thick and meaty, so I cook it down until it is crisp, but also fleshy. Next, add your diced onion and mushroom and cook down until soft. Add your tomato sauce, black pepper, cayenne photo 4pepper and oregano and cook down all together. Then, chiffonade your basil and dice up your fresh spinach and add that. I chop my spinach up so it doesn’t cook into those long stringy spinachy things. Cook the basil and spinach until still bright green, but tender. Taste and add more salt, oregano, pepper or cayenne if needed. That’s it! SO easy!!!! Dish over your squash or into your squash “bowl” and eat up! The squash acts like the noodles. This is such a flavorful dish that noodles aren’t even really needed! You could eat this even plain or over some fresh kale. That’s how I ate my leftovers this morning, I heated up my half of squash, heated up my chunky rustic bolognese and then added some fresh kale to it. YUM!

NOW onto pasta. Gluten free pasta is a real pain sometimes. It’s taken me many messed up mac and cheese and spaghetti recipes to find the right ones that actually work. I try and make spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles, but sometimes I eat pasta, and my friends ate this bolognese over pasta, so I want to make sure they are getting healthy food in them as well! Spaghetti squash is super easy and zucchini noodles are made via the link below. These pastas are minimally processed and more importantly, I’ve found that they do NOT turn into a mushy mess like other gluten free and brown rice pastas do.

photo 1Trader Joe’s brown rice penne, is THE only brown rice pasta I have found that doesn’t crumble into a mushy mess when you cook it. This is great because it can be used for mac and cheese recipes or baked vegetable ziti, or whatever have you. Pasta salads with fresh veggies, I mean any place where you would use normal pasta as a shape. Trader Joe’s corn spaghetti is also not bad. I have found that corn pasta tastes exactly like regular pasta and it also does not cook up into a mushy mess. Trader Joe’s and Archer Farms Organics at Target are the easiest ones to get. I’ve tried brands from Whole Foods and most of them are mush.

DO NOT BUY TINKYADA pasta. That stuff is crap. Pure crap. It goes from not cooked to complete gummy mushy nastiness in literally 3 seconds. So if you need and want to eat pasta, get these brands! BUT my ALL TIME FAVORITE gluten free pasta is the Quinoa brand blended pasta. It is in an aqua box and there are a large variety of shapes. It is a quinoa blend and they sell it at Whole Foods, Mariano’s, I’m sure other grocery stores as well. It is absolutely the best tasting and best made pasta.

I’ve heard Cappellos gluten free pasta is good and even a couple people in the paleo world havephoto 2 tried it and liked it. It’s crazy expensive, though, and I’ve found in Chicago that nowhere sells it so I’d have to order it online. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve heard it’s fantastic. Below are links to some gluten free pasta options, a guide to cooking gluten free pasta and the Cappellos website. Eat well, healthy and enjoy! We all indulge sometimes, so make sure it’s at least gluten free and healthy! Eat up, buttercup!

http://cappellosglutenfree.com/home

http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/consciouscook/2010/01/top-3-gluten-free-pasta-brands.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/67786-glutenfree-pasta/

http://nomnompaleo.com/post/5695132949/zucchini-spaghetti-zoodles-meatballs

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healthy smoothie and leftover ham stewy soup

18 Apr

photo 1I can’t believe this semester is almost over. if you have ever been in graduate school, you will know how grueling it is. The term “poor graduate school student” really is true. Even if you are working full-time and going to graduate school, like I am, you still spend every dime you have to make sure that you can pave your way. With being in Hell, oops, I mean class, 3 nights a week, and trying to fit in homework and working out (which dangit, isn’t happening as much as I would like lately) in, and working full-time, I try and make meals that I can eat for a few days, or even for a full week. I prep all the berries I want to eat for the week, and any veggies, and make meals that I can eat throughout the week on Sundays when I can. This may not be the funniest post I’ve written, but it has been QUITE the semester. I just turned in two papers and am waiting on edits for my last paper. Then I can break lose and have fun again. SO….as I was saying, in order to make sure I have healthy, or relatively healthy food for the week, I make meals that are easy to eat for the week. That was the inspiration for this stewy soup! I also had saved the ham bone from Easter (this recipe was made closer to Easter than I am posting it now) and wanted to make sure to utilize all of that delicious meat and flavor from it! This soup is super yummy, I hope you like it and it makes a ton!

SPINACH COCONUT OIL AND BERRY SMOOTHIE

  • 2 handfuls of fresh spinach
  • 8 strawberries, tops removed, use more if you’d like
  • 2 cutie tangerines or 1 large orange
  • 1.5 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh, local honey
  • you can add frozen blueberries or another frozen fruit if you like

This is SUPER easy. Add it all to the blender and blend away! You can add more coconut oil, or even coconut water if you need more liquid. This is aphoto 2 super fast, easy and yummy snack. The benefits of coconut oil are numerous. You can use it not only to eat, but as a conditioner for your hair, you can take a spoonful by mouth a day to aid digestion and skin and hair growth and strength, you can use it as facial lotion, body lotion, really you can use coconut oil for anything! LOVE it!

HAM AND BEAN STEWY SOUP WITH FRESH SPINACH

  • mirepoix (this is onion, celery and carrot diced up small. you can cut your own or trader joe’s and other stores have containers of it now!)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • your ham bone with all that yummy ham left on it
  • 2-3 quarts of chicken stock or vegetable stock (I had my own frozen that I had made, but any organic would do well)
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 1 can of cannellini beans
  • 1 can of black beans or another can or cannellini beans
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (if you don’t like thyme, omit this, but you can’t really taste it in the soup, it just adds something special)
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

photo 3This may be the EASIEST soupy stewy yummy dish to make. It smells and tastes AMAZING. In a large pot, add your coconut oil and melt on medium to high heat. Next, add your mirepoix mixture and cook until the veggies are soft. Add 1 tablespoon of black pepper. Next, add your ham bone, then add your stock. The stock should cover the ham bone completely. Use your discretion. you may need two quarts, you may need 3, I needed 2 and a half to do this. Next, rinse and drain all of your beans and add them to the soup. Add all of your spices and bring to a boil. NOTE: do NOT add your salt and pepper to taste yet, the ham is salty, so you very well may not need more salt. Cook this down for 3-4 hours. You’ll notice it is done because all of the ham will be off the bones, and you will have to take the bones out. The beans will also make this soup rich and thick. It’s really delicious. Lastly, add your spinach. Now if you are like me and was putting this in the fridge right away for a later meal, add the fresh spinach and just stir it in, let the soup cool and put it in the fridge. No need to cook the spinach because it’ll get wilty and yucky. The fresh spinach will cook nicely when you reheat it. If you ARE serving this right away, then cook the spinach in the soup until it is bright green and a little wilty, but not mushy and gross. Serve up your soup and bowls and enjoy!

it’s been awhile. eat your veggies.

12 Feb

photo 3omg. It’s amazing how much has changed since my last post. I mean…it’s clearly been like 3 months. I have NOT been on top of this whole blogging thing, sorry dudes! A lot has happened in my life over the last 3 months and all for the better! It’s amazing how when you think one massively crazy big change in your life is detrimental, that it isn’t and it can actually open up the door to new experiences, new people, and finding your happiness again. Life is crazy that way. I am pretty happy with the way my life has been going (but don’t tell anyone that ha!). I feel like I am myself again. I’ve met a lot of people in my life lately that have opened all kinds of doors for me and have made me come out of my shell, in more ways than one, and that’s extremely important. I may be extremely hard on myself sometimes, but you have to feel special, wanted, pretty, important, and inspired in this life and sometimes it takes meeting new people and changing parts of your life for the better! Let’s hope this trend continues and I eventually arrive to having what I want in life.

Speaking of crazy, I can’t believe this Disney 1/2 Marathon that I am doing is in a week and a half! I leave for Florida in ONE week from tomorrow! It seems crazy that I have been training so hard for this thing and here it is! Running is a metaphor for a lot of things in life and I’m a runner. In every sense of the word. I will put myself out there and put my heart out there, go after what I want and love everyone on this earth, but when it comes down to it, I’m a runner. I run when I need a break, when I need to trim up, when I need time to think, when I need to literally RUN from something, it’s amazing how one little word, running, can mean so much to one person. I use running for everything.

photo 2Speaking of running, since I’ve been running, my diet has changed significantly. I mean don’t get me wrong, I definitely indulged in some completely bad for you hot wings during the Superbowl, among some other crappy food I’m sure, but it was totally worth it. You only live once. Cheesy, but so dang true! I’ve been trying to be smarter about my diet and thankfully, the people I work for have not only jumped on the kale wagon (thank GOD, I mean my work there is clearly done now), but have given into my “eat your veggies” mantra. They are who inspired me to make such a simple recipe tonight because it was not only easy, but seriously tasty!

PORTABELLO MUSHROOM FAJITAS

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of organic, sliced, cleaned portabello mushroom slices
  • 1 red bell pepper and 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • taco seasoning (Penzey’s is the best, but whatever you have will do)
  • arugula
  • good quality sour cream or greek yogurt
  • organic corn tortillas (which are generally gluten free)

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. On a sheet pan, toss your mushroom slices in the olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, pepper and a little of the taco seasoning. photo 1Spread them on the sheet pan and toss the in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until they are tender and juicy. Chop your onion and deseed and chop pepper into strips. While the mushrooms cook, toss that amazing coconut oil in your skillet. Add your onions and cook them until slightly soft. Next add your peppers, more salt and pepper to taste and some taco seasoning. I like my onions still a tinge crispy and I REALLY like my peppers crispy so it’s why I don’t add them until the onions are pretty much done cooking. This takes about as much time as the mushrooms do to cook. Next, take out those tortillas, load them with onions, peppers, and top them with the cooked portabello mushrooms. I top mine with arugula, and sour cream or plain greek yogurt. You can add whatever you want. Avocado would be amazing, but I didn’t have any, so…wah, wah, waaahhh….. EAT UP!

sage and thyme

14 Nov

Sage and thyme are probably my favorite herbs. They are amazing and very “fall.” Thanksgiving is coming up next week and I wanted to make something that incorporated my favorite flavors. So I made thyme and sage stuffed chicken breast and a relish/compote to go along with it. Also, a nice and easy recipe for chicken stock. It’s getting to that season where everyone and their mother is sick, so make this, freeze some, use some for soups, stews, whatever have you. It’s really awesome to just make your own stock. It’s full of calcium, vitamins, minerals and lots of good for you yumminess!

Thanksgiving is pretty much the BEST holiday ever. All you do is cook and eat. AND remember what you are thankful for, which for me is so much. How could anyone go wrong, really? This year, I don’t have any Thanksgiving plans. Since my family lives on opposite sides of the country and I’m in grad school, I think it’ll just be me and Dexter Doodles the poodle chilling this year. But don’t worry, I’ll spoil that dog rotten with a Thanksgiving feast. Don’t think that just because it may only be me and the dog that I won’t cook a massive Thanksgiving. If you think that’s the truth, you don’t know me very well! I like cooking big meals, and more importantly, cooking for others. I cook like my Mom. Growing up it was my Mom, my brother and I and she cooked like we were a family of 20! I tend to be the same way. If someone that was cute, could make me laugh and would let me cook for them all the time came around, I’d be a happy girl! (and that boy would be stuffed to the gills with yummy food  haha!) Here’s to cooking!

SAGE AND THYME STUFFED CHICKEN BREAST WITH HERBED COMPOTE

  • 2 large bone-in chicken breasts
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (yes, 1 stick, deal with it), softened to room temperature
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 10 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1.5 tablespoons fresh sage leaves
  • 4 sage sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste for chicken

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Take both chicken breasts and reach your hands under the skin to loosen it. Take 2 tablespoons of butter and slide it under the skin, rubbing it into the flesh of the chicken. Salt and pepper your chicken and then slide 2 sage twigs and 5 thyme twigs under the skin. Salt and pepper again in necessary. Do this for both chicken breasts. Drizzle with olive oil and put in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes or so until the skin is golden brown and then flesh temperature is at 162 degrees. Then let the chicken rest to cook to an even 165 degrees. NOTE: Kerrygold Grass Fed Butter is AWESOME! You can find it even at Trader Joe’s!

While the chicken is cooking, dice your onion and celery. Add 3 tablespoons of butter, or whatever is left from your stick, into a large skillet. Melt the butter and add your veggies. Cook until soft while adding your salt, pepper, fresh thyme, fresh sage, chopped and diced, and your dried sage. Taste to see if you need more seasoning. Add your raisins and cook until warmed through and the veggies are soft. NOTE: This could be an AMAZING start to a cornbread, glutten-free or non-gluten free stuffing of your choice; or gravy for your chicken.

Once your chicken is ready, top with the compote and eat! YUM! I made this with a side of steamed, then roasted, broccoli and candied carrots which are both super easy. For the carrots you peel and dice up your carrots into large chunks. Then you boil them until tender. Drain them and as they drain, take 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of black pepper and let it all melt into a sauce. Toss your carrots back in and there you go! I used to call this “carrots with chicken juice” when I was a kid for whatever reason so sometimes I make them alongside chicken! For roasted broccoli, you just steam broccoli until it’s nice and bright green, al dente. Then drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on a sheet pan, roast under the broiler until still bright green, but a little crispy and done!

While eating, count what you’re thankful for as well! I am thankful for my friends, my dog, my health, my job, my family, my ability to go back to school, NATURE, trees, gardens, love, and knowing that anything is possible if you set your goals high!

CHICKEN STOCK

  • 1 whole chicken carcass, or whatever bones you have left from roasting bone in chicken breasts
  • lots of water, to cover, depending on the size of your stock pot
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • sprigs of fresh thyme
  • sprigs of fresh sage
  • 1 onion
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 1/2 bag of baby carrots or whatever carrots you have
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper

Roughly chop your veg, so basically, cut your onion in half, your garlic head in half, and your celery stalks in half. Place all of the ingredients listed in a stock pot and cover with water. Place on high to boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer for 8-24 hours (I leave mine on overnight), skimming the fat off the top for the first couple of hours.

Once done, drain through a mesh strainer into another large stock pot or a couple large bowls. Then put in mason jars, or another container, and freeze! You can use this for anything and it’ll have amazing flavor!

for bean’s sake and some life lessons

23 Sep

Who is ready for FALL!? This girl. I love cold weather. I like big fluffy vinyasa scarves, hoodies, pumpkin EVERYTHING, runs that you aren’t dripping with sweat, walks in the leaves…..I love everything about Fall. I love that soups, stews and baking are now the thing and yummy warm food coating your tummy. Fall is where it’s at in my book.

This week has been amazing, hard, fun, eye opening and crazy all at the same time. I’ve learned a lot of life lessons this week and honestly. I’ve had a GREAT week with the little ones I nanny for and they are the joy of everyday, that’s for sure. I have no qualms about my childcare and cooking abilities! But, it’s those little other things in life that I sometimes am too hard on myself for. Take running, I’ve kind of taken a step back from it so I need to get back at it in full gear for the 15K and then the Disney Half so….basically…get it, girl! It’s amazing how a surgery can change your life. I used to be a eensy weensy teeny little runner and gymnast, now I am trying to get back there after being not able to workout for 6 months due to my surgeries last year. Oh well…. I LOVE running, so it’ll happen!!!

I am reading a new book, that you all should, called DARING GREATLY by Brene Brown. She is amazing. It’s all about vulnerability and how to basically love ourselves and not worry about being vulnerable or too hard on ourselves. This book totally came out at the right time.

With that being said, curling up in bed, with a hot bowl of stewy soup and this amazing book with brownies cooking in the oven….I mean sounds like heaven right!? So here goes, some yummy, gooey almond butter swirl brownies, navy bean, spinach and bacon soup and then kale salad. I wanted to post this kale salad because it is simple and I eat it quite a few times during the week. It’s a great way to get lots of vitamins in and just some yummy veg!

KALE CARROT BEET AND PEA SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups kale, washed and patted dry with a paper towel
  • beets, however many you’d like (I have about 3)
  • 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

This is SUPER easy! In a small bowl, squeeze the juice from your orange, add your olive oil, salt and pepper and wisk to emulsify. Set aside. Take your kale and toss with one tablespoon of the olive oil and orange liquid, set aside. Then, take your frozen peas and run them under hot water until defrosted. Take your shredded carrots from your fridge, or shred your own carrots, about 1-2 carrots will be great. Next, either you can roast your own beets, or buy them, already roasted, peeled and cut from Whole Foods.

To roast your own beets:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the tops and the roots of the beets and peel each one with a vegetable peeler. Cut the beets in 1 1/2-inch chunks. (Small beets can be halved, medium ones cut in quarters, and large beets cut in eighths). Place the cut beets on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, turning once or twice with a spatula, until the beets are tender.

After this is done, put them in a large bowl and add the orange juice and olive oil vinaigrette you just made. Let them sit and soak up the goodness!

After the beets have cooled, assemble your salad. On a plate, Put down your kale down on the salad plate. Next add your shredded carrots, beets on top of that, then your peas. DEVOUR the goodness!

FUDGY YUMMY GLUTEN FREE BROWNIES WITH A NUT BUTTER SWIRL

  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, or extremely dark chocolate, or super natural bitter chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce, unsweetened and not the cinnamon kind
  • 1/2 cup nut butter of choice

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8×8-inch metal baking pan across the bottom and up two opposite sides with parchment paper or spray it with olive oil cooking spray or grease it. I greased my pan with a little coconut oil. You can use whole almonds and add them to a food process with the rice flour and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. If using almond flour, mix it with the rice flour. Set aside.

Place the chocolate, butter and salt in the top of a large double boiler over barely simmering water. Stir frequently until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the honey and vanilla. Stir in the applesauce. Add the almond and rice flour mixture and stir until moistened, and then mix briskly until really well combined.

NOTE: You can make these without the nut butter. You can add nuts, more chocolate chips, the sky is the limit!

Take your nut butter of choice. I use almond butter or a nut butter that has a bit of sea salt in it. You can find GREAT nut butters with sea salt at Trader Joe’s. That way these aren’t overly sweet. This is a peanut butter and almond butter mixture, but feel free to use just almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter, sun butter, what have you. Place it in a microwave safe bowl and microwave it for 30 seconds so it gets a little gooey and creamy. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Spoon dollops of the nut butter onto the brownie batter. Using the spoon, swirl the nut butter into the brownies. This is done the easiest by taking the spoon and bring it down the length of the batter, then across and keep doing it until you like the swirl. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the brownies are slightly puffed all over and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out moist but clean. Cool and get your EAT on!

NAVY BEAN AND SPINACH SOUPY STEW

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 lb grassfed pork bacon, about 8 slices of thick cut (or regular if you prefer and don’t care about where your meat comes from)
  • fresh savory herb
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cans organic navy beans
  • 1 can organic black beans
  • 1 quart of homemade chicken bone broth or organic free range chicken broth
  • 2 handfulls of fresh spinach (or KALE!!!!)

Slice and cube your bacon. In a dutch oven, place your bacon in on medium high heat and cook until brown. While the bacon is cooking and browning and smelling lovely, you can cut your veggies. You want to have uniform cuts so that the mirepoix (fancy French word for carrots, celery and onion, the base of LOTS of dishes) can cook together and soften. Add your onions while the bacon is cooking and let them soften in the bacon fat. Add your carrots, celery, chopped savory herb (if you do not have this or can not find it, just use fresh thyme, rosemary, another type of savory tasting herb), dried thyme and the black pepper and cook until the veggies are soft, but that the carrots and celery still have a little crunch.

Drain and rinse your beans. You want to rinse off the starchy liquid that they come canned in. Add your beans and cook for about 2 minutes so the beans are warm. Add your chicken broth and simmer until bubbly. Add your salt and pepper to taste and continue to simmer. With soups I’ve found that adding the salt last, and letting it cook a bit before tasting, helps out a lot. If you add too much salt, there’s no going back. So add a little at a time. Plus, for this recipe, the bacon adds a bit of a salty smokey flavor (DELICIOUS), so you want to hold off on the salt until you’re ready and the flavors have simmered. So basically, add about a 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt at a time, let it simmer, taste it, then add more if needed.

Take your spinach and put in as much as you want. I used about 2 large handfull, maybe 3. Let is cook down  a bit in the soup. Bowl the soup up and eat nice and hot on a cold blustery day!

You could also add KALE to this. And for those doubting kale, and my love for it. Here’s a great infographic!

http://nutribulletblog.com/all-hail-kale/

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