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Fall is the perfect season to enjoy a hot bowl of soup.  I’m used to using a large stock pot and letting the ingredients simmer away on top of my stove, but another option, which is more flexible for busy schedules, is using your slow cooker or crock pot. The great thing about this method of soup making is your can add all your ingredients, set your slow cooker and go about your business until it’s time for dinner.  It’s really that easy.


Let’s start with Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup.  You’ll combine skinless, boneless chicken breasts, salsa, chicken broth, cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, canned black beans, frozen whole kernel corn, and lemon or lime juice.  Cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.  You can serve this soup with a little sour cream, cilantro, or green onions.


Courtesy of Evolving Table


Crock Pot Vegetarian White Bean Soup is a hearty “no meat” dinner option.  Canned white beans, celery, sweet onion, carrots, garlic, vegetable stock, thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, bay leaf, salt, and pepper are all combined in your slow cooker.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours and remove the bay leaf before serving.  You can sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese and green onions before serving.


Courtesy of Running In A Skirt


Minestrone is the Italian version of vegetable soup.  This Slow Cooker Minestrone is packed with healthy ingredients like diced tomatoes, tomato paste, pesto, vegetable stock, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, oregano, rosemary, bay leaves, beans, zucchini, pasta, green beans, and baby spinach.  You’ll start this soup by cooking the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, pesto, stock, spices, celery, onions, carrots, and garlic on low for 6-8 hours.  Add the pasta, beans, and zucchini and cook on high for another 25 minutes.  Finally, stir in the spinach and frozen green beans for another 5 minutes until heated through.  Serve with grated parmesan.


Courtesy of Little Spice Jar


I’m back next Monday with some ideas for healthy comfort foods perfect for cooler weather.


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Now that we’re into football season, you may be spending more time in your local pub watching your favorite team.  Just be careful if you’re also indulging in the standard pub fare–while really tasty, it’s almost always packed with calories and fat.  A healthier alternative is some tweaking of these recipes at home.  So, this Sunday (or Monday/Thursday night), try staying home and giving one of these recipes a try.


Nachos are a favorite and a staple on any pub menu.  The standard recipe calls for tortilla chips covered in lots of cheese, sour cream, chili meat, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa. Sweet Potato Nachos keeps all the basic flavors, adds in the nutrition of the sweet potatoes, plus it lessens the calorie and fat values.  You’ll use sliced sweet potatoes as your base and roast them until crispy.  Sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber, high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and a good source of potassium.  Top the potatoes with lean, ground turkey, taco seasoning, a little low fat cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, chopped onion, olives, and any other veggies you like.  Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and enjoy.


Courtesy of Slim Sanity


The burger is another pub menu must have.  I realize most hard core burger lovers will turn their noses up at the idea of a meatless version, but I really encourage you to try this Ultimate Veggie Burger.  This recipe uses roasted beets and quinoa to give it a nice, chewy texture.  Onion, garlic, chili flakes, and lemon juice are some of the ingredients that add flavor to your burger.  A dressing is made from avocado, tahini, lime juice, garlic, and salt.  Finally, you’ll top your burger with oven fried sweet potato fries.  Serve this burger on a chewy, whole grain bun.


Courtesy of The Awesome Green


Potato Skins are a delicious appetizer, but again, filled with fat and calories.  Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has recreated this dish so you can enjoy it minus the guilt!  Potato Skins with Buffalo Chicken are topped with shredded chicken breast and a combination of nonfat milk, blue cheese, hot pepper sauce, and reduced fat sour cream.  Once the cooked potatoes are filled and baked, you’ll top them with diced tomatoes and green onions.  Serve celery sticks on the side.


Courtesy of Fruits & Veggies–More Matters


Check back next week when I’ll have some easy ways for using your slow cooker to create hearty soups.


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It’s apple season!  That’s right, October is National Apple Month.  Most apple varieties are just coming into harvest right now, so be sure to check out the selection at your local supermarket for great prices and the best flavor.  Apples in season are wonderful for snacking and you’ll want to feast on them as they’re beneficial–apples are fat free, sodium free, cholesterol free, and a high source of dietary fiber.  This week I’ve got five specific ways to include apples to your menus this fall.


Sugar Free Stuffed Baked Apples are the healthy version of apple pie.  All the flavors are there with none of the calories or fat.  Apples are cored and filled with a mixture of whole oats, walnuts, dried cranberries, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, butter, and water.  You’ll cover the apples and bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Serve warm.


Courtesy of Veganosity


No Sugar Added Crock Pot Apple Sauce is a super easy way to make your own fresh apple sauce.  You’ll simply need to use sliced, peeled apples, water, fresh lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and whole cinnamon sticks.  Cook the apples on low in your crock pot for 4 hours and then mash the cooked apples until it reaches the desired consistency.  You can store the sauce in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or freeze for future use.


Courtesy of Goodie Godmother


In a Salad
Spiralized Apple Cranberry Salad is another easy recipe.  You’ll spiralize a red apple of your choice, a granny smith apple, add dried cranberries, golden raisins, crumbled goat chees, and pecans.  Top this salad with citrus poppy seed dressing.


Courtesy of The Creative Bite


As a Spread
No Sugar Added Slow Cooker Apple Butter is delicious on toast or swirled into oatmeal.  Add sliced apples and water to your slow cooker and cook on low 6-8 hours.  Turn off the heat and mash the apples into a chunky sauce. Let cool and blend until smooth. Turn slow cooker back on and cook until your desired thickness, then add in the cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice.  Store in sealed jars in the refrigerator.


Courtesy of Bakerita


For Breakfast
Apple Cinnamon Stovetop Oatmeal is perfect for a chilly morning.  Plus, it fills you up and will keep your energy going all morning.  You’ll need to start by cooking a cup of apples in a bit of butter, honey, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  Add water, heat to a boil and add old fashioned oats.  Reduce heat and continue to cook 3-5 more minutes.  Add walnuts and continue cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Before serving add a bit more chopped apple and drizzle with honey.


Courtesy of Sugar Dish Me


Stop back next week for some of your Pub Food favs minus the fat and calories.


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