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Sweet Potato and Turkey Chili – No Beans!

It’s finally feeling like fall here in the DC area

& I’m LOVING it!

Fall calls for comforting foods – but if you have a busy family and would rather be outside – you need something quick! A meal that can be thrown together in 20 min or so and left to slow cook while the flavors develop and it get’s yummier!

This Sweet Potato and Turkey Chili is the answer! It can be made in a pot from start to finish, or started in a pan then transferred to a slow cooker, or, my preference – start to finish in the Instant Pot.

This is a complete meal in a bowl and my hubby and kids loved it! Nutrition details: packed with protein, fiber and vitamins. Gluten and dairy free as is. Vegan if made with chick peas in place of turkey and veggie broth. Can be topped with shredded cheese or served over spinach for extra veggies!

Photo Oct 10, 4 52 41 PM

Sweet Potato and Turkey Chili

  • 16 oz ground turkey (or beans for vegan)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 c chopped onion
  • 3 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 14 oz canned tomatoes in juice
  • 16+ oz broth
  • 1t Trader Joe’s Chili Lime seasoning or 1/2 t chili powder
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/4 t paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 t salt (or more to taste)
  • 1 medium sweet potato cut into 1/2″ dice
  1. Heat 1/2 T of the olive oil in a pan/pot or Instant Pot on Saute at medium heat. Add the ground turkey and break apart while cooking thoroughly.
  2. Remove the cooked turkey from the pan/pot. Add the other 1/2 T oil and the onions. Cook until translucent. Add the garlic. Cook 1 more minute. Stir in the tomatoes, 16 oz broth and spices.
  3. Transfer to crock pot if slow cooking or leave in the instant pot.
  4. Stir in the sweet potato. Slow cook for 4-6 hr on high – or until potato cooked through. In Instant Pot bring to a boil on HIGH saute setting, then cover and turn to HIGH slow cook 2 hours or until potatoes cooked through.
  5. This chili can cook all day and be even yummier. It can be made ahead, frozen and reheated. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
  6. Optional toppings – grated cheddar or feta cheese. You can serve in a bowl or over greens for even more VEGGIES!

Photo Oct 11, 7 37 14 AM

White Bean Falafel

Typically Falafel are made from chick peas or garbanzo beans. I have a recipe I’ve used for years and made small appetizer sized ones and larger traditionally sized ones. Everyone loves them. We top with tzatziki or my homemade mayo.

Well, we were out of chick peas and a big part of cooking is comfort in the kitchen to know what you can substitute or how to adapt a recipe for what you DO have on hand. I had Great Northern or white beans – so here we go! You could also use Cannellini beans.

White Bean Falafel

  • 1 can of white beans, rinsed and drained, or 2 cups of beans.
  • 1 t cumin
  • 2 T fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 onion grated or fine dice
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 2 T flour (what ever type you like, it’s a binder)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. Scoop out to desired size and bake on parchment lined baking sheet at 375 degrees for 10-12 min/ side to brown. You could also shallow fry them.

Serve warm with tzatziki sauce or mayonnaise. You can wrap in a pita with cucumber and tomato or serve over greens. Refrigerate or freeze left overs.

Color & Crunch: Broccoli Salad

It’s almost summer and there is an abundance of fresh veggies so why settle for the traditional green romaine salad. We all eat with our eyes first and this Broccoli Salad is full of color and crunch! Great to serve with grilled fish as we did, or take as a side to a picnic.

I mixed in broccoli, red cabbage, carrots and a little onion, white because I didn’t have red onion on hand. Get creative with what you have on hand. You could add in bell pepper, green cabbage or cauliflower.


Then I mixed in Craisins and pumpkin seeds, but you could use raisins, sun flower seeds, chia seeds, slivered almonds, fresh chopped grapes – get creative!

For dressing I mixed my homemade mayo, honey, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, poppy seeds, salt and pepper. But you could also use a bottled slaw dressing.


Broccoli Salad

Feeds 6, generous servings. Prep < 10 min.

  • 1 head (~2 lbs) chopped broccoli or prepared broccoli slaw
  • 2 c red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 c carrots, julienned
  • 1/2 c onion, fine dice
  • Toppings: 1 c Craisins, 1 c toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Dressing: 3/4 c homemade mayo, 2 T honey, 2 T apple cider vinegar, 1 t lemon juice, 1 T poppy seeds, salt and pepper to taste.

Toss everything together. Can be made a day in advance and refrigerated. Flavor will just get better! Refrigerate left overs up to 3 days.

Eggplant Caponata

I LOOOVE eggplant! I think part of the reason is that it absorbs the flavor of the olive oil I usually cook it with!

One of our favorites is this double-duty Eggplant Caponata – which can be served as is and/or pureed into Baba Ganoush! Dishes that can be served one way then turned into something else for a later meal save time and money.

Eggplant Caponata

  • 2 large or 4 small eggplants, chopped into 1″ cubes
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 bell peppers, red/orange/yellow, seeded and chopped
  • 2 c tomato, chopped (or 1 can of chopped tomato, drained)
  • 3 T garlic, crushed
  • 1 T dried parsley, or 2 T chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 T dried basil
  • 1/2 T dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  •  2 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 F. Toss all ingredients to evenly coat with olive oil and seasonings and spread in a roasting pan. Roast about 20 minutes or until edges are browned, stirring occasionally.

Serve warm as a side dish or chilled with crostini.

Baba Ganoush: you can toss the left over caponata into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. If you want a creamier consistency you can add tahini paste. Serve as a dip or spread with grilled meats or vegetables, flat bread or on a sandwich.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The baba ganoush may freeze.

Falafel: Baked-not-Fried

Falafel is a chickpea based fritter that is traditionally fried. I tried that and burned them every time so I now bake them to perfection!

We strive to eat a couple of meatless dinners each week. These can be served alone, in flat bread, over greens, as an appetizer, you name it! They’re a crowd-pleaser and easy to batch-bake and freeze – saving even more time!

You can serve them with a Greek yogurt based sauce like Tzatziki, but we love my  Homemade Mayo (recipe follows).


  • 2 cups chickpeas/garbanzo beans (or 1 can rinsed and drained)
  • 1/2 c onion
  • 1/4 c parsley, chopped
  • 1 T garlic, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1/2 t corriander
  • 1 t salt, dash of black pepper
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 c flour of choice (wheat or oat or gluten free)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a food processor with the “S” blade, combine beans, onion, parsley and garlic. Add olive oil to get it moving. Pulse or process until desired consistency – we like them smooth, but some prefer some chunks of beans, you choose. Add remaining ingredients and pulse to combine.


I use a 2 T scoop to portion onto the pan but you can use a spoon. Space about 2″ apart for even browning. Wet fingers and gently press to flatten to 1/2-3/4 ” thickness.  Bake about 10 min until brown, then flip and bake about 8-10 min to brown the other side. Serve warm with tzatziki or homemade mayo. These also freeze up to 2 months.



I have always hated mayonnaise. I thought it was just a big blob of fat filled with junk I didn’t want to eat. With the start of the Paleo and Whole 30 trends I noticed more and more people making their own homemade mayonnaise. I was intrigued and a good friend talked me into trying it and gave me a great recipe!

As with anything homemade, the quality of the ingredients is key. So I used avocado oil, fresh lemon juice and free range eggs….and it blew my mind! My husband’s, too! He didn’t hate mayo the way I did, but knew it as the sweeter “dressing” variety and was still not a fan. He loves my homemade mayo and asks for it as a regular staple in our refrigerator. Our kids love it on fresh tomatoes, in coleslaw, chicken and tuna salad, deviled eggs – and of course to top the Falafel.


  • 1 fresh egg
  • 1/2 t dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 c light oil (I use avocado)

In a high speed blender put the egg, mustard powder, salt and lemon juice. Slowly blend to combine and warm the ingredients slightly. SLOWLY, and I mean s.l.o.w.l.y stream in the oil while the blender is running. Gradually increase the speed as the mixture emulsifies and becomes white and creamy, until all the oil has been added. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks.



Oat & Berry Bake

I was making breakfast-for-dinner for the fam last night and I’m on a use-up-what-we-have-on-hand kick so I tried out this new oat and berry bake and it’s amazing. Oats, nuts, coconut in the pantry. Berries in the freezer, milk and eggs in the fridge – check!

I was slammed yesterday and didn’t eat lunch until 3pm so I wasn’t hungry when I had to leave for a meeting at 6:30. Just wanted to have dinner ready for the fam. But when I came back at almost 9 I totally ate this for dinner!  Oops.

Oat & Berry Bake

(great out of  the oven or cold next day – can double for a 9×13 dish)


  • 1c nuts, roasted and chopped (I used almonds)
  • 2 c oats
  • 1 1/4 c unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t baking powder
  • ¾ t salt
  • ¼ t nutmeg

  • 1 ¾ c milk
  • 1/3 c maple syrup
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 T melted butter

  • 2 ½ c fruit (can be fresh or frozen, blueberries or mixed berries – I tossed in frozen berry blend and it was fine)
  • Topping: coconut, berries, nuts


  1. Preheat oven to 375, grease 9×9 square pan, toast nuts.
  2. Combine dry ingredients (nuts, oats, coconut, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, nutmeg) in a medium bowl.
  3. Combine wet ingredients (milk, maple syrup, eggs and butter) in a medium bowl.
  4. Reserve ½ c fruit and ¼ c nuts and ¼ c coconut for topping.
  5. Place berries in bottom of dish. Top with dry ingredients. Slowly pour wet ingredients over top and press down so all oats are covered.
  6. Top with berries, coconut and nuts.
  7. Bake 40- 45 minutes or until hot through and bubbling.


You can serve as is or with Greek yogurt.

I was in too much of a rush to snap a pic before I left. This is what it looked like after I got a hold of it!

Oat &amp; Berry Bake

3W to Wellness Challenge

3W challenge flyer

Week 1: Details.

We’re 21 days, or 3 weeks from spring break. They say it takes 21 days to create a new habit or break a bad one. Now, with spring just 3 weeks away, is the perfect time to create new, healthy habits!

This is a FREE challenge with a HUGE reward, a healthier YOU! Research shows that healthy lifestyle changes are more successful with social support. Take the challenge with your team, family or friends; motivate each other and keep everyone accountable.

Healthy lifestyle change is a process, you don’t have to be perfect every day to be a success!

Water: 8-10 8oz glasses a day, or take your body weight in pounds and divide by 2, and that’s your specific goal in oz. If you work out or take medication that may cause dehydration, add 12-16 more oz. Does it HAVE to be just water? Nope, sparkling water, decaf iced tea are good alternatives. No sugar, artificial sweeteners or caffeine.  Adding a “splash” of juice or a few slices of fruit to flavor the water are ok, but a glass of fruit juice has a LOT of sugar.

Walk: 10,000 + steps a day. Use a pedometer or smart phone app, most phones come with one preinstalled. Aim for at least 10,000 steps throughout the day. If you take an hour-long fitness class that counts for 6,000 steps.

Watch: Practice mindful eating and drinking. What does that mean? Eat only when you’re truly hungry, not when it’s “time for a snack,” or you’re bored. Eat sitting down at a table, not standing at the counter, sitting on the couch or watching a screen or other distraction. Choose whole foods and minimize processed foods, sugar, snacking, and sweetened drinks.

Hydration Timing

Does your job limit your access to the restroom? A teacher or doctor, for example, can’t leave their class or patients any time they need a quick potty-break.

Here are some suggestions for hydration timing that can make proper hydration work for you during your day.

WoW – Water on Waking. Drinking 12-16 oz FIRST THING in the morning will hydrate you after 8 hours of sleep and helps cleanse and detoxify your organs and glands that have been doing their job cleaning house overnight. Plus proper hydration first think in the morning has been shown to help you with mindful eating and drinking by reducing cravings and stabilizing blood sugar levels.

Sip on 24 oz throughout the day. For teachers aim for 3 rest rooms breaks, one before lunch, one during and one after lunch. Work with other teachers to cover your class for a couple of minutes if needed.

After school before heading home drink another 12-16 oz and then 16 – 24 oz over the course of the evening.

Sipping throughout the day with the majority of your hydration in the afternoon and evening will enable you to manage the day time restroom breaks while still getting your 8-10 glasses in.


Getting up to 10,000 steps a day can seem like a daunting task. At first you may think, “oh, it’s no big deal. I’ll just take a lap at lunch.” Then you realize how long it actually takes to get in 10,000 steps.

How far is 10,000 steps? An average person has a stride length of approximately 2.1 to 2.5 feet. That means that it takes over 2,000 steps to walk one mile; and 10,000 steps would be almost 5 miles. A sedentary person may only average 1,000 to 3,000 steps a day. If you have a job that keeps you on your feet, you’re lucky! Those steps add up and will help get to your total.

A few tips to help reach your goal:

  • Park farther away at work, running errands, and the gym. I just love watching people circle for a closer parking spot at the gym just to head in and hop on the treadmill!
  • Get up 10 minutes earlier and take a lap around the block before leaving home or get to work early and lap the lot or building. Same at lunch.
  • If you’re eating out – chose a restaurant you can walk to.
  • Walk the kids to school instead of driving and w.a.i.t.i.n.g in the carline.
  • The clocks have sprung forward meaning more light in the evening. Go for walk after dinner.

Remember, an hour-long fitness class counts for 6,000 steps.

If you are stuck in meetings and fall short one day, try making it up with extra steps the next day. Lasting and effective lifestyle change is about progress, not perfection.

What, When and Why are you eating?

This third week we focus on the 3rd W, “Watch”, for practicing mindful eating and drinking. That can and does mean a number of things.

  • Avoiding sweetened beverages and minimizing juices. It’s easy to consume extra calories and sugar – even natural sugars, through drinking. Juices lack the fiber in whole fruits so they don’t fill us up, while they have the same, or more, calories and sugar.
  • Drink more water to stay hydrated and in tune with true hunger. Often in our busy lives we don’t drink enough water (ahem, week 1) and will feel hungry between meals and reach for a snack, when we’re not really hungry. We’re thirsty. So, try this: if you find you’re hungry between meals, drink 8-12 oz water and wait 20 minutes. Still hungry, then maybe a small snack.
  • Minimizing alcohol – try cutting back to only on weekends or avoiding all together. Besides the obvious effects of alcohol such as excess calories, impaired judgement and motor skills – it effects our sleep and organs. You don’t sleep as well and your body processes the alcohol instead of sugars so that actually increases blood sugar and fat storage.
  • Mindful Eating: eat sitting down at a table. Cut your food. Chew, one bite at a time, before taking another. Aim for appropriate portion sizes, making ½ your plate fruits/veggies at every meal, avoid second helpings. Eating in front of screens or other distractions can lead to over eating.
  • Focus on whole foods, those with out packaging or labels. When you do eat packaged foods look for the fewest ingredients particularly added sugar, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors.

Home Made Carry Out: Pad Thai

Trying to use what we had on hand – ground turkey, thin spaghetti, carrots, onions, cilantro…. to make something other than spaghetti with “meat” sauce. I came up with this super yummy Pad Thai! Start to finish under 30 minutes.

If you need to modify for grain/gluten free, see my plate on the left, just pull some out before adding the noodles and toss with greens instead.

Don’t have carrots? You could use thin strips of bell pepper, summer squash, even packaged broccoli or coleslaw mixture.



  • 8 oz noodles (wheat, rice, etc.)
  • 1/2 c lime juice
  • 1/3 c soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
  • 1/4 c coconut sugar
  • 2-3 T sriracha sauce (adjust for heat)
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 2 T avocado oil
  • 16 oz ground turkey or cubed chicken breast
  • 2 t garlic, minced
  • 1/2  yellow onion, julienned
  • 3 large carrots, julienned
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 c cilantro, chopped
  • 2 T peanuts, chopped, optional

In a medium sized bowl combine the lime juice, soy sauce, coconut sugar, sriracha and fish sauce.

Boil water to cook the noodles. Cook according to package directions.

Heat 1 T oil in a large skillet on medium/high heat and add the onion, saute for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the turkey or chicken and cook until no longer pink. Stir in the carrots and saute another 3 minutes. Make a well in the center of the pan and add 1 T oil, then the eggs and scramble 2 minutes. Stir eggs in with turkey and vegetable mixture. Once combined, add the sauce and cilantro, stir to combine and remove from heat.

Serve over greens or drain the noodles and toss in the skillet. Top with chopped peanuts.

When Philly gets Goosey…

Mom Mom taught me years ago that one difference between baking and cooking is that in baking you better stick to the recipe, or at least close to it or your cake will be left on the plate. Won’t rise, too crumbly, tastes like dirt… The science is crucial in baking.
But cooking allows, actually often requires more creativity. For that reason I find cooking more fun! The more you experiment the easier it is to find ways to test out new foods. That’s not to say, even for someone like me that LOVES to cook, it’s always a success.
Example – My sweet neighbor gave us a goose. Thankfully de-feathered and prepped. When it comes to feathered creatures, I’ve done turkey, duck, chicken (though not all together as in the infamous turducken), guinea hen…but never attempted Wild Canadian Goose before. I turned to Google for a recipe that seemed simple, didn’t take a ton of time or fancy sauces and had good reviews. I found a recipe for roasting, seasoned with herbs, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. When the timer went off it appeared just as in the picture. So pretty! 
2018-02-06 18.52.55
So, how’d it taste?  Not so pretty. It was…ok. Gamey. Goose is a very dark meat poultry. Kids took their obligatory bites. Hubby and I just a couple more. But I am Mom Mom’s granddaughter and I refuse to waste so much perfectly good meat. I put it in the fridge determined to find a way to transform that ugly gosling into the swan of another meal!
A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a recipe, you know one of those super edited cooking videos on social media that look like they take a handful of ingredients and 2 minutes of work? It was for Cheesesteak stuffed peppers.  BINGO! I had the ingredients on hand.
So dinner the following night I sliced up the left over cooked goose, really thin. Tossed it in to the recipe in place of the steak and voila!
No the best pic, but that’s what was left in the pan of goose, onion and mushroom after I filled the 6 pepper halves. And it was divine! Entire family thought it smelled amazing…obviously Pip included. Hubby and daughter loved it. Son has a thing against onions and mushrooms…at least where he can see them so he wouldn’t touch it.
The Cheese steak stuffed peppers is definitely a recipe saved to my keeper collection.
Dietary notes: Definitely gluten, grain and nut free. You could omit the cheese, but it wouldn’t be the same. Not vegetarian, don’t even go there.

Hello Stre—-tch: How to make the most of this particular meal prep service.

First, I LOVE to cook.

I do.

I love to shop for food, picking out fresh produce and looking for deals. I love to use the veggies we grow in the garden and get in the Great Country Farms CSA bins. I love finding ways to make a meal from what we have on hand in refrigerator, freezer and pantry.

It’s fun to me – and yes, I’m aware that I may seem crazy to you. But I’ve learned we all have our things that we enjoy and are good at, so please don’t ask me to decorate or do your hair.

It’s because of this last fact that I know many friends and clients are looking for help when dinner time rolls around. You want to make a tasty, home cooked meal, that doesn’t require searching for recipes, organized shopping lists and hours in the kitchen.  There are a TON of these meal prep services to choose from so I tried a few out to see which, if any I would recommend to clients or friends.

I tried Blue Apron – clif notes: WAY TOO MUCH WORK. Even for me. 100 tiny packaged ingredients and 20 steps to every recipe. When I saw I had to “bloom the saffron” that was the deal breaker for me. Yes, I LOVE to cook, but I also don’t have 2 hours a night to get dinner from fridge-to-table. Conclusion: Blue Apron is meant for people that love to cook and appreciate gourmet dishes, aren’t feeding kids and can eat at 10pm, or start cooking at 3pm. Not that the food wasn’t enjoyed by my kids, but the processes didn’t work for our family schedule.

Hello Fresh sent me multiple different discount mailers before I finally decided to give it a whirl. The offer was $40 off my first 2 orders and free delivery. The $40 splits to $20 off each. There is a Classic, Family and Veggie menu option and you can choose how many you’re serving and how many / week. They offer different meals each week and have a pre-selected set.  The ingredients aren’t guaranteed Organic, but many are Organic or Non-GMO. You can log in before your scheduled delivery ships (***IMPORTANT ***) and change your meals or cancel for the week. It is a recurring subscription service and unless weeks are canceled individually, or you cancel your membership, they keep coming. BUT once you miss that delivery day you can’t change a thing. Even if you won’t be home and it’s going to be 100 degrees outside and the food will rot on your doorstep. Nope, they can’t cancel an order “shipped” an hour ago. This is the reason many decide to not continue past their first order or 2. I was able to negotiate my way into an extended $20 discount so we tried 3 deliveries. 9 meals total- see the meal cards.

What do you get?

The insulated box contains each meal ingredients packed in a paper bag with a thick ice pack and the meats are at the bottom. They’re cold and fresh on arrival. Use with in the week as the produce is fresh. Check out the site for specifics, but the meals were great. Most (we did the Classic option) contain a meat protein, starch (rice, potato or bread) and -A- veggie. Daughter (8 years old…about) helped me make most of them. Simple preparation ready in <30 min. Hubby really enjoyed the variety and was happy we had the detailed recipe cards so we could re-create the recipes.

Now- we ordered meals to feed 2 people. We’re a family of 4. And, if you know me, you know dinner usually has 2-3 veggie servings.

Current guidelines for adults are 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Do you eat that? 

The Stre—-tch!

To stretch the meals to feed 4, my preference is to add to the veggies in the meal.

  • More of the same like additional roasted carrot sticks, more cabbage to the pork tacos, kale to the salad or peppers to the stir-fry.
  • Or totally up the veggie servings by making a separate simple veggie side dish using what you have on hand. Like a side salad, steamed broccoli or roasted squash.
  • “Beef Up” the turkey or pork burgers with grated zucchini or yellow squash. Turkey and pork burgers can be dry and the grated squash prevents that.

Multiply the meat – this is where it pays to know what you have in the freezer and chose meals that make use of what you have.

  • More of the same for ground meat like tacos, chili or burgers or mix it up with a different variety. Throw in an additional chicken breast or pork chop.
  • Slice pork tenderloin, chicken breasts or steak into smaller pieces so it goes farther and cooks faster – so modify cooking time to avoid over-cooking.
  • Hello Fresh provides 10oz of ground meat for 2 burgers – which is a lot! So make smaller burgers and get more out of it. Especially when feeding kids. Smaller burger and more veg.

Supplement Starch – again, if you have extra potatoes, rice or tortillas, this is a good filler.

  • More of the same using ingredients from your pantry.
  • Switch it up to boost nutrition by supplementing with whole grain or brown rice, whole wheat tortilla or sweet instead of white potato.
  • Cut it down – the buns are huge…have you heard that before? hehee. So, cut them in half for kids, I always skip the bread anyway.

All of the meals we’ve had come with more than enough seasonings and sauces so it’s easy to stretch the spice too!

Final verdict, Hello Fresh get’s a thumbs up! Once you learn the process and can choose the meals to your taste and stretch-ability it’s economical and fun and a time-saver on busy weeknights!