Healthfully Ever After

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Healthy Easy Dinners: 3 Soups 3 Ways

Healthy Hostess, Bits of NutritionCarlene ThomasComment

If you are so frustrated by feeling it's hard to eat a healthy dinner after coming home from work or class, I hear you. If I have a day packed with meetings or a photo shoot or I'm at my DC studio, coming home later means I didn't have the 'luxury' of prepping dinner throughout the day. I need something instantaneous and healthy. And since it's winter, I have one word for you: SOUP. Well, THREE HEALTHY SOUPS in three ways.

Let' me just say, I did not make these soups from scratch. Although it's easy to make a big batch and freeze and I truly do that most of the time, these are basically straight from the grocery store and I added extra nutrition on top. It takes so little effort to 'fluff' something from the store, but it can make you look brilliant. 

Healthy Easy Dinners: 3 Soups 3 Ways
Healthy Easy Dinners: 3 Soups 3 Ways

Let's talk about the three soup bases. There are so many healthy soup options these days. It's not all clam chowder with extra bacon and cheese (although there are some really bad ones out there). After a stop at Trader Joe's and browsing the aisles I stopped in the soup aisle where a woman, no joke, came up to me as I stood in front of the soups and said "You need to buy this soup. It is THE BEST." So obviously, I listened to a complete stranger and bought the soups. 

1. Tomatillo Sweet Potato

2. Red Pepper

3. Black Bean 

The three soup bases I bought are just a fraction of the options out there. When you're looking for healthy bases, you've gotta flip over the package and read the label. You cannot trust the marketing. Be wary of health halos. First, read the ingredients list. It needs to be short. It needs to be real food and not coloring or just weird shi*. Look for sneaky sources of calories like cheese, cream, etc. Next, check out the numbers themselves. Is there fiber? Is there a ton of fat? Is the sodium INSANE? Approach it by being wary. What I can tell you is that 'tetra packed' soups (boxes) for some reason (maybe production cost?) seem to be healthier than the canned product options. 

Healthy Easy Dinners: 3 Soups 3 WaysHealthy Easy Dinners: 3 Soups 3 Ways

1. Tomatillo Sweet Potato: This soup needed protein and leafy greens! I added roasted lemon pepper chicken and shredded kale. 

Healthy Easy Dinners: 3 Soups 3 Ways

2. Red Pepper: This soup needed to be bulked up with fiber and some extra protein. I topped it with fava beans (that color!), quinoa blended with hemp hearts and topped it with parsley. You could easily add chick peas to this to make it extra filling. 

Healthy Easy Dinners: 3 Soups 3 Ways

3. Black Bean: This is the one soup that didn't need help with protein or fiber. But it did need interesting textures and bright flavors. I sliced avocado for healthy fats on top, reduced fat feta cheese (big flavor, protein and you only need a little) and fresh corn that I stored in the freezer from our summer CSA. 

Healthy Easy Dinners: 3 Soups 3 Ways

It's that easy! Take this post as inspiration for just a glimpse of what you can do with healthy eating in a convenient way. What combinations are you going to try or what do you do already?

Healthy Menu and Party Set Up: Football Edition

Healthy HostessCarlene ThomasComment

 ///Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GameTimeGrub #CollectiveBias///

We are in a period of football lover mourning in this house. As two fervent football fans, the big game is always bitter sweet. And it's especially bitter sweet this year since neither of our teams made it. But regardless of who's playing on Sunday, we're always up for a party and party food. This year I'm showing you how you can make it a way healthier spread but still having your fill of french fries. Yep, I said it: french fries.

Healthy Menu and Party Set Up: Football Edition
Healthy Menu and Party Set Up: Football Edition
Healthy Menu and Party Set Up: Football Edition

Before you freak out let me just say that having a party with a buffet is WAY easier than you might think. In fact, it's my preference to any seated formal dinner. It lets you pull out pretty platters and linens in a relaxed way without really having to concern yourself with timing of dish one, dish two, dish three. And, come one misses the lame paper plates in your team colors when you use the everyday heirlooms you have in your home. Beautiful things are meant to be used. Pretty much everything in this tablescape is from my grandparents' travels around the world. 

Since I wanted to get this party spread up and done for you all before the big game this weekend I was closely watching the weather. If you're from the DC area, or anywhere South of DC, you'll understand what I mean when I say that any threat of snow will drastically alter your intentions, plans and schedule for the day. One minute it's 'no snow' and the next it's "ALL THE SNOW...nope...YES ALL THE SNOW". So in one of those 'all the snow' situations I ran directly to the first grocery type store on my way home (Walmart) to pick up some party worthy ingredients. If you guys haven't tried Alexia fries before, get thee to the nearest freezer department! These fries never disappoint. 

Healthy Menu and Party Set Up: Football Edition
Healthy Menu and Party Set Up: Football Edition
Healthy Menu and Party Set Up: Football Edition

Crispy Onion Ring Salad

You can have pizza. You can have meatballs. You can have fries. And you can still be healthy. If you want to have those  party foods, the best way to have them is over greens and healthy produce. This is my go to. YES, I like french fries. Pair crispy oven onion rings with soft red and green leaf lettuce, carrot ribbons, cucumber and honestly whatever is in your produce bin at the time. 

Healthy Menu and Party Set Up: Football Edition

Mexican Salad Spicy Sweet Potatoes

Pair antioxidant rich sweet potato fries with healthy fats (avocado), fiber (black beans) and a sprinkle of sharp feta cheese to get a more balanced look at your plate. 

Healthy Menu and Party Set Up: Football Edition

Crinkle Fries with Hummus Dip

I really can't upgrade these crinkle fries! They're 98% fat free because of the process they use to make them (roasted baby!). I pair them with a savory hummus dip, topped with fresh herbs to get more protein and fiber. And can totally buy pre-made hummus. No one is going to think less of you.


How To Build A Table Buffet

This basically comes down to three words: layer, congregate and build. A good buffet starts with good linens. These are insane Indonesian linens in New England team red (only because Seattle beat my GB by default we're going for New England Sunday). The linens you stack and drape over each other do not need match! Think coordination not matching. From there, congregate things either in bowls or on platters. And don't forget to add height! Build visual lines by putting things on cake platters or on tiers or even just adding tall vases or candles. But most of all, just don't sweat it. Have cocktails. Eat fries and a salad. Life is good!

What are you eating for Sunday's Game? Remember you can connect with (Alexia on Facebook) and (Alexia on Pintereset)

5 Healthy and Convenient Superfood Snack Ideas

Bits of NutritionCarlene ThomasComment

One of the biggest healthy eating hurdles I hear is 'healthy eating is time consuming and hard'. That there is NOT enough time in the day to make something healthy. And I totally get that. If you're not in the habit of preparing healthy, convenient things for snacks, for dinners, for lunches... you my friend... are screwed. Not everyone finds chopping vegetables meditative and soothing (this has to be a nutritionist thing). The siren call of the not great tasting, but emotionally comforting fast food burger and fries and soda en route home is hard to resist when you're a ravenous wild animal and ain't nobody got time to make salmon and a salad. That's why these 5 convenient super food snacks are the perfect tricks to keep in mind for your busy week. 

5 Healthy and Convenient Superfood Snack Ideas

1. Icelandic Yogurt with Chia Seeds: Meet my new obsession. I kind of hate to say it but I feel 'over' most Greek yogurt. I've noticed a definite decrease in quality of most Greek yogurt brands as they try to scale up to meet demand. The product is more thin, more sweet, and uses thickeners instead of the traditional straining technique. Boo. Then I found Icelandic yogurt which is even BETTER for you. And not to come off mildly hipster, but try this and you'll like Icelandic yogurt before it was mainstream. Get your satisfied protein fill with less calories and add chia for a super food boost. You can learn how to make my more dessert like chia pudding here. 

5 Healthy and Convenient Superfood Snack Ideas

2. Oats or Granola To Go: I'm not sure why I haven't thought of this one before. If you need an instant breakfast or granola or filling any time snack, pre-mixing everything you need for balanced oats in your pantry, in a jar, is BRILLIANT. Kind of like how people are bringing their own tea bags with them and ordering hot water on the go, you can do the same with a healthy blend of oats, nuts, super foods and dried prunes. I know you're like "Hold on Carlene...prunes? Like for old people?" and, yes, I do mean prunes but get over the old people stereotype. They're prunes. They're proud. They're nutritionally awesome. All the cool kids are eating them. One serving of Amaz!n Diced Prunes is a good source of fiber for only 100 calories. Prunes also have a low glycemic index, which means they keep you feeling fuller longer. There are also some studies that show they could be the most bone-friendly fruit out there! So ladies, stock up.  To make an easy blend you can take with you anywhere make a large batch of this to portion out when you're on the run. You can scale this recipe up or down.

  • 1 Cup Instant Oats (not my favorite on the regular since steel cut oats are way healthier, but this is convenience)
  • 3 T hulled hemp hearts
  • 1 T dark chocolate chips
  • 1 T chopped nut of choice
  • 2 T  Amaz!n Diced Prune

Keep in a baggie or small container when you're on the run and order a yogurt or a cup of hot water to make oats on the run or to round out a parfait. 

5 Healthy and Convenient Superfood Snack Ideas

3. Hard Boiled Eggs: It doesn't get more super simple than this. Hard boiled eggs are my high protein go-to at home or when I'm on the run to my Georgetown office. Eggs meet the markers for a beauty food: high protein for building cells, under 100 calories each, and have lutein for your eye health. Even though there's still a 90's mentality floating around that eggs have too much cholesterol, we've got to knock that off! Eating an egg or two is NOT a big deal. In fact, cholesterol in foods does not translate to raising your cholesterol levels in your blood. That's a myth.  

4. Avocado with Lemon and Sea Salt: Open avocado, remove seed. Consume with high levels of happiness. It doesn't get more simple than that. Avocados are packed with healthy fats that help keep your hair, skin and nails glossy and healthy. Eating healthy fats also helps you feel full and satisfied. I love Meyer lemon squeezed over the top to add a bright top note of flavor!

5. Green juice: You guys know my stance on juice cleanses vs juices. This is the perfect example of the perfect time to use a balanced juice the right way. It's convenient. It's hydrating and if you're like most people you certainly need an extra dose of greens in your life. Greens are hands down one of my most important nutrition recommendations. 


What are your go-to healthy convenience foods? 


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

© Healthfully Ever After & Carlene Thomas 2011-2014