Beef and Barley Soup

In the spirit of No-Eat-Outober, I made soup last night instead of ordering it in. I consider it a win! I seem to have caught the ridiculous bug going around our office and have something between a cold, the flu and allergies. Yuck! And the first thing I wanted to do was thrown in the towel and order in buckets of Matzah Ball soup.  But, I stuck it out and made a healthy version of beef and barley soup. I’m not talented enough to whip up fresh matzah ball soup in a 40 minute peiod, but this  was cheap, and easy!

YUM YUM YUM

Check out the recipe – It was delicious!

Ingredients

¾ a pound of extra lean ground beef

3 cups of water

1 clove of garlic

1 cup barley

5 cups beef broth

1 onions, chopped

1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn and green beans)

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

2 (10 ounce) packages sliced mushrooms

1/2 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon of black pepper

Couple sprays of Pam

simmering on the stove

Directions

Tip: Brown the beef, and cook the Barley at the same time for a quicker soup

Brown the garlic and beef, stir in the onions, mixed vegetables and celery; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, and cook 5 minutes more.  Bring the barley and water to a boil in a saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes, or until tender.  Pour in beef broth, and bring soup to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, and continue simmering 15 minutes. Stir in barley, and season with salt and pepper before serving

Enjoy!

What’s your favorite soup to eat when you’re sick?

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Healthy Party Snacks

Good morning! This post comes after a number of people emailed me to find out the great recipes behind Colleen’s health-i-fied engagement party snacks… Not only have we been friends since we were 12, but she’s an awesome cook, and a great comedian (and if you want to see a great proposal, check out how her husband proposed to her on stage )

 

Colleen and I at her Wedding 🙂

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Congratulations Shoshana! I’m so unbelievable happy for my good friend Shoshana Davis….mostly for her engagement, but also because now I have one less friend living the happy single life. If only I could get my friends to start having babies then when we all go out I won’t be the only one pretending to still function after 8:00 pm. 🙂  (I have a 18 month old)

I threw Shoshana a “mini-engagement” party after Adam proposed to her here in Arizona, and I am sharing some of my mini-party tricks.

I am a hard-core calorie counter, and when I was in the store searching for mini party foods, I just couldn’t bring myself to have disgusting high calorie full of fat party food at my house! Mostly because if it’s in the house I loose all sense of self control and eat until I look like I’m pregnant again (no joke).

My first trick was to serve vegetables and hummus for two reasons

 1. They are a healthy way to fill up quickly and avoid party snacking binges

 2.  I have no problem with left over vegetables in the house.

My next trick was to serve finger sandwiches, that way I could eat more than one (which I almost always do at a party) without over eating!

Colleen's Tasty Finger Sandwhiches

I start with whole grain bread, the kind we use here at my House is Natures Made Honey Wheat, it is whole grain but not overly grainy and offensive to people not use to eating whole grain food. I also make a few different kinds of sandwiches so everyone has something they’d like to snack on. Here were my choices for Shoshana’s Party

  1.  Light Swiss (using laughing cow cheese)  and turkey
  2. Cucumber and fat free cream cheese (with dill)
  3. Grilled Mini-Paninis, made my using havarti cheese and I Can’t Believe It’s not Butter spray on my George Forman grill.  

 Lastly I needed desert, I thought Carrot Cake cupcakes would be cute, but Carrot Cake although sounds healthy, (carrots, right?), is absolutely the calorie devil from calorie hell.

 

health-i-fied carrot cake a la Colleen (with hand drawn rings!)

But, I remembered a recipe from my very favorite calorie countress The Hungry Girl! Here is the recipe:

Colleen’s Notes:

You can buy the 15oz can of pumpkin and use half of it.

Pumpkin works great with chocolate cake mix as well!

Ingredients

1 box of carrot cake mix

8 oz  of pure pumpkin

Directions

  1. Pre-Heat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place cupcake wrappers in baking tins
  3. Add 8oz of pure pumpkin to the mix (do not add any other ingredients)
  4. Mix the batter until smooth
  5. Bake for 19-21 Minutes

 

My number one trick is that you NEVER tell anyone that what they are eating is healthy until AFTER they eat it!

Easy Healthy Ideas for Cake Mix!

Earlier this week, I was left to fend for myself when Adam ventured off with friends to Jones’ Beach to see White Snake. While, I’m a huge Journey fan, I chose to take a pass on White Snake and bake …. a diet coke cake!

A friend of mine mentioned that you can add a can of diet coke to any cake mix, bake it as per the box directions and you get healthier version of an easy dessert. I didn’t believe and decided to try it out for myself. 

Mix it all together!

I really love yellow cake mix, but was concerned that adding a dark-colored soda to the mix, would make the color less than inviting. I decided on adding some ginger ale, a four-ounce container of  apple sauce from the Healthy Living Summit  and a sliced apple to the mix. It was delicious!

Literally this is too easy to type out the step by step instructions. I trust if you’re reading this blog, you can read the instructions on the box. If I can do it – you can do it, I promise!  Slice the apple in bite sized piece, mix in 8 ounces of the soda, and four ounces of the apple sauce and bake (follow instructions on the box)

Looks just like a "normal" yellow cake, pre-oven

 
While the cake was baking, I made a variation of my veggie pizza by using a sandwich thin, and mixing chopped spinach with garlic gold nuggets that I also got in my Healthy Living Summit Swag bag (my diet has been very HLS swag oriented this week). I will definitely be purchasing these nuggets – We love garlic,and while fresh is the best, they were so potent, that it felt like I was getting a real garlic flavor!
 

Spinach and Garlic Gold Pizza YUM!

 
 
The cake turned out great – I’m dreaming up my next diet soda adventure …maybe it will be a chocolate cake with a diet Dr. Pepper – Can’t wait!