Popular Questions Continued...

I've been asked to post a few of my favorite soup recipes. So I'm going to do that. But as I have stated before, I'm a simple girl so there is no real "recipe" for these. They change from time to time based on what is in my fridge. So I'm not trying to be vague with my recipes I'm trying to leave you room to make it your own. Get creative, add what you like and take away what you don't. Have fun cooking!

If you're thinking it's too stinking hot for soup I would agree with you wholeheartedly. But the beautiful reality is that soon, very soon PLEASE, fall will roll in and cool us off a bit and we'll be looking for our favorite fall flavors. This is us staying ahead of the game. 

I've been making this one for a few years because it's so easy and so good. The original recipe was a Paula Dean I altered a bit and removed the diabetes. (That was bad I know) Oh, and for my Gluten Free friends this is for you too!

Simple Chicken Tortilla Soup (See the Super Simple Short Cut below if you don't like boiling and pulling the chicken)

1 Whole Chicken (Insides and whatnot removed)
2 14oz. Can's of beans (I use white sometimes and black sometimes - check your labels)
1 140z. Can of diced tomatoes (check your label you dont want to ruin your healthy recipe with High Fructose Corn Syrup)
1 jar of your favorite salsa - the fresher the better and this is where you add your heat so remember - hot, medium or mild
1 tsp. Cumin
1 bunch of chopped Cilantro

1. Cover the chicken with water and boil the whole chicken in water for an hour. Remove from heat and allow to cool. 

2. Remove chicken from water, which is now your broth. Strain the broth to remove tiny bits of Chicken stuff, then return broth to your soup pot. 

3. Remove the chicken from the bone and put pulled chicken into the broth. Bring broth and chicken to a simmer. 

4. Add beans, tomatoes, salsa, cumin and about a handful of cilantro. 

5. Let it all simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve with a little crunched tortillas and cilantro on top (my kids like a little cheese) or cool to freeze for lunch (or both). 

Super Simple Short Cut:

Don't want to boil and pull your chicken then just bake 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast at 350 for 30 minutes. You'll have to add your liquid since this method will not leave you with broth. So I usually use 1- 32oz. box of low sodium chicken broth and then fill the same box with water and add that too. Once your chicken is cooked use 2 forks to pull it apart into small bite size pieces (or drop it in your food processor and just pulse a couple times-don't overdo it) and put the chicken into your broth/water mixture, bring to a simmer, and do all the rest starting at #4 above.

If you try it out let us know (especially if you find a fun new way to do it - that is healthy of course).

For a great freezer space saving, soup stashing tip see this post.

Keep it simple!

I've been asked to post a few of my favorite soup recipes. So I'm going to do that. But as I have stated before, I'm a simple girl so there is no real "recipe" for these and they are...surprise - SIMPLE. No fancy here! They change from time to time based on what is in my fridge. So I'm not trying to be vague with my recipes I'm trying to leave you room to make it your own. Get creative and add what you like and take away what you don't. Have fun cooking!

Gluten Free Chicken Noodle Soup:
(I personally prefer this without the noodles but for my kids the noodles are their favorite part so I add them.)

1 Whole Chicken (insides removed of course - yuck)
Your choice of veggies (carrots, onion, celery, kale, etc...)
GF Noodles of choice

1. Cover the chicken with water and boil the whole chicken in water for an hour. Remove from heat and allow to cool. 

2. Remove chicken from water, which is now your broth. Strain the broth to remove tiny bits of Chicken stuff, then return broth to your soup pot. 

3. Remove the chicken from the bone and put pulled chicken into the broth. 

4. Add your firm veggies and boil until veggies are almost cooked. I like to add carrots, onion, celery.

5. Add greens if you wish. I like to add my kale or greens close to the end so I dont overcook the greens. 

6. Season as you wish. I just use Sea Salt and Pepper.

It's that easy. It takes a while to boil the chicken so as I mentioned in the last post I will cook several soups at a time and then store them in the freezer with my freezer-space saving tips in this post

If you do this you'll have a quick lunch to grab and go without all of the metabolism slowing preservatives. Good stuff! 

I will post more soups over the next few weeks. I only post what I have tried and loved so I hope you do too!

There are questions I get asked so often that I'm guessing most of you are wondering about these things too. So I'm going to try to address some of them on the blog. If you have a question you would like answered on the Simple Girl Blog ask me here. Remember, I'm a simple girl so you may not get the text book answer to your question. What you'll get is the way I've made it work in the middle of my everyday crazy. 

Gluten Free Lunches: 

I have had several clients already that I've put on a gluten elimination diet. It's really not surprising since we tend to attract people like us and I have a gluten intolerance myself. I have been gluten free'ish for coming up on a year now. I say gluten free'ish because I can handle very small amounts of gluten, unlike my friend who is allergic to gluten. She cannot even touch the stuff without incident. I, however, can tolerate very small amounts but in general tend to steer clear. 

Most people don't seem to have as much issue eliminating gluten at breakfast and dinner but eliminating gluten from lunch seems to be more of a struggle. Maybe because it's hard to imagine lunch without a sandwich. And who wants a salad every day...who wants anything EVERY day? While there are GF options for bread most people tend to just steer clear of bread when they go GF.

So, just a few things that keep me from getting stuck in a lunch rut:

1. Leftovers: Be intentional about your leftovers. When I make dinner I make sure that I make enough so that I will have leftovers. In our time crunched lives it just makes sense to make dinner last for two meals. This way, yes you're eating the same thing you had the night before, but you're also eating something new each day for lunch. At least it's not a salad...again.  Which leads into the next tip. 

2. Make the most of your grains: Wether I'm making grains (brown rice, quinoa, etc..) for dinner or making up a batch to use for the week I make more than I need at that moment. I always have rice and quinoa in the fridge ready to be thrown together for a quick lunch. This Quick Quinoa Salad (below) is fast if you have the quinoa already made and it's flexible - you use what you have. 

3. Research before your order lunch out: So you're gluten free and they are ordering lunch out for the office. Almost all restaurants have their menus available on-line and many have gluten free options. Some will list the gluten free options on the on-line menus but if they dont then make a quick phone call and ask. It's not as uncommon as you may think. Most restaurants will have options for you if you ask. 

4. Soup day: It's been hovering around 110 degrees here lately so my soup desire has gone down (as it should when it so hot), but in the cooler months it's a much different story. About once a month I have "soup day" where I make 3-4 soups all at one time. I have every burner going. I'll make some Chicken Tortilla, Chicken Noodle (with GF noodles), Miso Soup, oh and I love Butternut Squash soup. I make the soups and allow them to cool. When they are cool I pour them into quart-size freezer bags and lay them flat on a cookie sheet. They go in the freezer overnight and when they are frozen they can be easily stored in bins in the freezer. So, any day I'm headed out the door and need to bring a lunch but have no time to make it, all I have to do is grab a bag of soup. Done! (I added some pics for you below)

It only takes a quick google to find more recipes than you need for fun and delicious lunch ideas for the gluten free eater and I've listed a few sites for you below. But having a recipe is usually not the problem. Having practical tips and time saving ideas is what we need. So I hope this is helpful. If you're interested in something to keep you cool and taste yummy, grab some odds and ends you have in your fridge and make this quinoa salad. Lunch doesn't get easier than this!

Quick Quinoa Salad: (all quantities are adjustable, make to your liking)
2 Cups Cooked Quinoa 
1 Can Chickpeas (I do mine uncooked to keep it simple)
1/2 Cup Chopped Tomato
1/2 Cup Chopped Green Onion
Then add whatever chopped veggies you have. I like to add cooked veggies so they are softer. So this is a great use of leftover veggies. Pine nuts are also great to add. You can also add chicken.
2 Cap-full's of Apple Cider Vinegar (or whatever vinegar you like. I also like white balsamic...just depends on what I have)
And just mix it all up!

That is just a general guideline. Remember what makes the Quick Quinoa Salad quick is using what you have, and utilizing leftovers (quinoa and veggies).

The photo is mine I made a few days ago. I used quinoa, chickpeas, apple cider vinegar, tomato, and I had just bought some chow-chow at the farmers market so instead of veggies I added the chow-chow which had several veggies in it. Fermented foods are another thing I'm learning about that is great for your digestive system...more on that later. 

Gluten Free Lunch doesn't have to be the same every day. There are many options out there. 

Just remember this as you are shopping the Gluten Free Isles...Gluten Free is NOT calorie free! A GF cookie is still a cookie. GF cake mix is still a cake. It may be missing some of the wheat flours that are making us sick but it's not missing the sugar that is making us fat and throwing our blood sugar for a loop. Just keep that in mind. GF eating is not a fad diet. It's getting rid of something that is causing a toxic reaction in your body. Be aware of what you're eating because even in the GF section there is still a bunch of junk.

Here are a few links for GF lunch ideas:




Soups ready to freeze.
Soup stored in bin in the freezer. Fit's much more than storing in containers.
Today's post is Part Two of a two part series on Addiction. Yesterday in Part One I listed 9 statements from Dr. Mark Hyman's book The Blood Sugar Solution about the addictive qualities of foods. Today picks up where that left off. Today I talk about some of what I'm hearing from clients about food. 

Addiction, Part Two

I mentioned this to a counselor friend the other day. I was telling her how much of a parallel I see between my friends at the ministry that are dealing with drug addiction and my clients who are dealing with food addiction and how I find a lot of the research I'm doing is bringing up the same thing over and over; that our brains react much the same addictive ways to food as they do drugs. And she brought up a good point. 

She said this, "But you can live the rest of your life without cocaine or alcohol. You cannot live without food."

And so, for the food addict, this is a problem. Not only do we need food, we are surrounded by it. Companies spend billions to make sure we are tempted by their foods consistently. They hire scientists to make sure that once we take one bite of their food we cannot eat just one.  

It's just time that we cut out the noise. There is an abundance of foods out there that our bodies love to live on. They not only make us feel better but after a while your body will reward you and you'll start to look better! It's true. And some of them you can eat as much as you want. It's not so much about when you eat, how much you eat, or if you're standing on one foot when you eat it; it's about what you eat. 

Oh, I know you've heard it before - You are what you eat - but it's true. If we eat nutritionally empty foods then what would an intelligent person with an ounce of common sense expect to feel like? Empty! But the foods we are eating are hijacking our common sense and our ability to make rational decisions.  

And as I talk to people what I keep hearing is that we just have come to believe that a life on the foods that make you feel better is boring. Boring? Are you kidding me! A life where the food I eat makes me feel energetic, allows me to spend weekends with friends out exercising, running races, being social, dating, being engaged in relationships and life - Is that what you call boring? Is this really what we are arguing? And it is. I hear it all the time as one turns up their nose at the mention of kale. 

And that is what it takes. Eating different foods. No way around it - but not all at once, not in tiny quantities, not boring. We have to say no to the foods that keep us on the hook for more and say yes to the foods that our bodies are screaming for. Those aching knees - that is a cry for better food! Did you know that if you have arthritis you can relieve your body of 4 pounds of pressure by losing one pound? 

So you've yo-yo'd your way to obesity and now don't know where to turn. What diet will do the trick? When will the magic pill be discovered? Should I have surgery? You've wondered why you keep going back and why you just can't get a leg up on this thing. I have one short answer: it's the food. You've been taught what foods not to eat, crazy combinations to "melt fat", starved yourself, then binged, and starved yourself again. Where do you turn?

That is where a coach can help. You cannot live life inside a diet bubble. There is no one book that will work for everyone. We are individuals with different genes, different allergies, different likes and dislikes, different schedules and the list goes on. You need someone to walk with you, teach you what regular foods in your grocery store will help you live a long life of health and wholeness. 

As a coach I offer something else no book can offer - help with the why. Never getting to why you got to where you are is like pulling up a weed and leaving the roots. It will take no time at all for that weed to resurface and take over again. We have to discover why. And that is the hard and courageous work that you will do with your coach. It's not work you'll do with a diet book, or an on-line diet, or even your doctor. I read that the average doctor allows you to speak 18 second before interjecting their thoughts. 

There was a point to all of the addiction information - to help you understand its not a matter of will-power or all the other things we blame ourselves for when we bomb a diet. It's a matter of putting foods in our bodies that react with our brains positively and allow us freedom from obesity and addiction to food. Because the fact of the matter is, the adverse affects of the extra weight is killing you just like the heroin is killing the drug addict. Most addicts don't do something about it until they end up in jail or rehab, if they are lucky enough not to die before. And most food addicts don't do something about it until they end up in the emergency room having their chest cracked open by a cardiac team, if they are lucky enough not to die before. 

What I'm saying is, it's not your fault...it's the food. The food is made to keep you coming back for more. It's not that way on accident. And you won't walk away from it on accident. You have to make a decision to do something about it today. And if what you need is someone to guide, support, teach and care for you and your health then maybe it's time to see a health coach. 

I offer my 6 month coaching program in groups and individually. You can see the details here

If you have any questions or comments you can comment here on the blog publicly or in private here

And I leave you with this famous question from Mary Oliver,

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Today's post I'm breaking into two parts. Today, throws a lot of facts your way and I'd like you to have some time to ponder them. Then tomorrow I will follow up with more insight on this topic and a little bit about what we can do about it. 

Addiction Part One: 

I have found myself in a very interesting position. 
Several days a week I am coordinating a wellness program at a ministry here in Nashville that helps women transition from prison, addiction, and/or homelessness into a new life. I am in the great company of some women who are fighting the battle of their lives. They are trying, with the help of God and this wonderful ministry, to pry themselves from the grip of addiction. Everything from alcohol to meth. And let me tell you, meth has a hold on more than you think, and it's closer than you think. 

One thing I hear over and over from new volunteers is how they had this idea of how the women they came to serve would look and act. Then they show up and serve dinner, sit with these women and talk to them and they leave...knowing that really they are much more alike than they ever knew. You're face to face with the reality that we are all one bad decision or circumstance from being in the same place. And what I'm finding out is that really is more true than we care to think. 

The other part of my week is spent coaching individual clients on how to live a life of health and wholeness. I sit and I listen to the stories of how they ended up at the weight they are currently and how many diets they have crashed and burned. You know what they call that for an addict? Relapse. 

Some girls start dieting before they are even teens, every time gaining back more weight than the time before. Relapse after relapse. And each time the need gets greater. The craving gets stronger. And self esteem and confidence dive to depressing depths. Why is that? What is it about food that keeps us coming back for more, and more, and...well you know. 

Lets look at a few findings about food addiction that are listed in Dr. Mark Hyman's book The Blood Sugar Solution

1. Sugar stimulates the brain's pleasure or reward centers through the neurotransmitter dopamine exactly like other addictive drugs. 

2. Brain imaging shows that high-sugar and high-fat foods work just like heroin, opium, or morphine in the brain.

3. Brain imaging shows that obese people and drug addicts have lower numbers of dopamine receptors, making them more likely to crave things that boost dopamine. This is, in part, genetically determined. 

4. Foods high in fat and sweets stimulate the release of the body's own opioids (chemical like morphine) in the brain. 

5. Drugs we use to block the brains receptors for heroin and morphine (naltrexone) also reduce the consumption and preference for sweet and high-fat foods in both normal-weight and obese binge eaters. 

6. People (and rats) develop a tolerance to sugar - they need more and more of the substance to satisfy themselves; this is true of drugs such as alcohol or heroin.

7. Obese individuals continue to eat large amounts of unhealthy foods despite severe social and personal negative consequences, just like addicts and alcoholics. 

8. Animal and humans experience "withdrawal" when suddenly cut off from sugar, just like addicts detoxifying from drugs. 

9. Just like drugs, after an initial period of "enjoyment" of the food, the user consumes it not to get high but to feel normal. 

So here I sit, like I am at the base of a Y in the road and in one direction I see women fighting the addiction from alcohol and drugs and in the other direction I have clients who are fighting addiction with food. And they are scary the way they mirror one another. Then I read these findings above and I know why.

Tomorrow - Part Two

What are your thoughts about the 9 statements you have read above? 

Food addiction is a hot topic these days, do you believe food is addictive? 

If not, did any of Dr. Hyman's statements above change your mind?

Visit JenMulford.com for a free Nutrition Book

Are you living your life like a human pinball?

I meet so many women who are living their lives like they are the ball inside a never ending pinball game. They have spent so many years bouncing at lightning speed from one demanding obligation to he next that they no longer have any sense of self. They have lost who they are along the way and they want the old self back (even though some don't even know that is what she is longing for). At one time she was creative, fun, funny, sexy, energetic, passionate, and now it seems her days are just one hurried blur. When you talk with them they don't see the link between the loss of self and the pinball feeling. You know what they are calling it? Depression.  And you know what you get if you head to the doctor and tell him you're depressed? A quick fix in the form of a pill. When really the diagnosis should have been boredom.

I wonder if as you read this you can relate.

Motherhood hits and it's as if the parenting universe pulled back the pinball peg as far as it would go then with one quick release we are propelled from zero to motherhood in the blink of an eye. We are no longer the the name our parents gave us we are now and forever - Mommy. And it's a wonderful name. An honor. A joy. Don't get us wrong we love being moms and we are thankful to God for the honor of raising children. 

But it's overwhelming as we fly through the game unaware of what we will hit next. 

Now here we sit 10-20 years later and we've spent a lifetime bouncing off life and we forgot to live.

If I am being honest I have at times felt like God himself was the little paddles that flung me back into the game. As I bounced off yet one more obstacle, tired and bruised, I saw the exit, it looked good, that little place of escape. I could quit. I would quit. Then...Bam! God says no. And I go flying at warp speed back into the game waiting for the next obstacle. Like some innocent bystander, I would just brace myself for what I would hit next. 

And I bet you thought I would tell you that life is not like that. That you should just buck up. Take control. Play your own game. But actually I am learning just the opposite. Life is a lot like living inside a pinball game, and often, I think, God is the paddles that knock us back into the game. 

But the difference in how we perceive the game is wrapped up in our understanding of God and how much control we allow Him. Have you ever seen a pinball turn off course of the paddles? No, they fly full force, every single piece of the ball, completely committed to where the paddles send them. Do they know where they are going? No. They don't care, they don't hesitate. (Your thinking, of course they don't they are balls, I know, but just go with me here.)

If we believe that God is the ultimate, divine "pinball wizard" then we have to know He knows what He is up to. Yea, sometimes we are dizzy from all the rolling, tired from all the bouncing around, but we are right where we are supposed to be. Even the times it hurts to bounce off of something could be right where we were sent. I know that is a hard one for many. I understand. It is for me too. Really hard.

What has changed most for me is the quality of things I bounce into these days. It used to be things that didn't fill me, and people who constantly drained me. Chasing a career that didn't fit who I was or who I was made to be. I had lost me.
I was bored. 

It's as if God said to me, in a very Mr. Miyagi type voice, "Become the ball, Jenielson." 

I gave up trying. I gave up deciding that I would bounce off of what I wanted to bounce off of.  I asked God to steer me. No matter what. Really hard. Even when I don't understand. Harder. I asked Him to put things on my heart, loudly! I'm not a great listener so I needed Him to speak loudly, to help me be in the places he wanted me and help me stay there. I went places I just had a "hunch" about. I tried new things. I went by myself. God was not calling me and my friends to this...He was calling ME. There was no waiting until I had a group to go with me. No one to hold my hand but Him. 

Heart-pounding is what it is! Uncomfortable!

I had no idea what I was doing but somehow God kept showing me he was in it and to stay the course. I did. I am...as best I can. Some days still feel like a total fail.

And, honestly, I feel no less like a pinball but I am enjoying the game. I am exhilarated by Gods whimsy, by how he lets me think I am doing something when really its Him. You know how you let your kids win at a game they clearly had no chance of winning...that is what it feels like He does with me all the time. Things happen and I get all excited because I did something, and immediately I know I didn't. God let me win. You can't tell me that's not fun.

Something I've been thinking about a lot lately, and will probably write a lot about, is this link between boredom and depression. I think, and this is just my opinion, there are women all over this country on anti-depressants not because they have depression but because they are flat out bored! Please don't hear me say I am against medication. I am not. They do have a place, I just wonder if they are really necessary for all. Could some of us just use a big dose of purpose? Of Passion? Of life?

This is what I'm wondering. And I wonder if we often don't talk about our boredom because that would make us bad moms. Aren't we supposed to be completely fulfilled raising our children. Shouldn't we greet our husbands with a smile when he enters the door...not smiling. Shouldn't we get all the happiness we need within our families? And if we're not, isn't something wrong with us? Is our "mom gene" broken? 

I found myself praying, "God, please either help me to be happy with what I'm accomplishing here within the walls of my home, or please, and I beg of you please, take away this desire to make a bigger difference. The frustration between the two is killing me!" 

This week is a big week. This was the first week of the new Wellness Program at The Next Door. The Next Door is a place I started volunteering at over two years ago after I started praying this prayer. I am coordinating a new Wellness Program for them. Two years later, and many disappointments in between, but this week, in this place, God let me win. Women who are fresh out of prison, fighting addiction, and searching for new life will get to train to run a 6k on September 15th, tomorrow we start circuit training, Friday is yoga. 

It was happening. God had all of the volunteers in place. The East Nasty Running Club was wanting to do this run training for the girls. Yoga teachers at Lululemon in Green Hills were considering a place to give back and The Next Door was on their list. They just needed a contact person. And God inserted me. 

God was moving. I didn't do anything but make myself available, live out my passion for health and wholeness in the place God put me. He let me win! 

One thing I have learned is that God rarely answers my prayers until I am honest with Him. He waits until see the situation for what it is. He waited through several years of frustration, boredom, striving and tears with me. But when I cried out with what was really on my heart, honestly, He rescued me. Not before. And even when He did, my "win", this thing that is so small to most but huge to me, was still two years later. And I'm sure this is just a "ping" to the next "bing" he has in store for me. Because this too shall pass, it will run it's course and I'll roll back down the pinball table, take a deep breath, and wait for Him to send me flying through the game to the next thing. 

In short. :) My advice: Be the ball. The Guy in charge of the paddles loves to let you win!

What do you think about this link between boredom and depression? 
Have you experienced it? 
How do you deal with it?

I'm a couple months into my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) deliveries so I thought it would be a good time for an update. If you haven't read the old posts this was my first try at a CSA. We chose to sign up for two, one veggie and one meat. 

The veggie CSA is going great! I love getting the variety fresh from the farm. I have tried new foods and new recipes more than ever, and that's saying a lot for me. I like to try a new recipe at least once a week. At some point in this clean eating process I connected with my inner chef and we're having a blast in the kitchen, something that no one who knew me would have ever believed. But I do, I love it! And here I am trying new things and new recipes. This Saturday I am taking a canning class that my CSA farm is offering for FREE. Yea free!

So I would urge you next season to try the veggie CSA - be adventurous with your food! If you don't make this healthy eating thing fun you won't do it. One thing I'm learning in working with clients is that we get too uptight about our food. It's just one dinner, how bad can it be if you mess it up. We've got to learn to play with our food again.

So, that was the good news. The not so good news is that I'm not really loving my meat CSA. I do love knowing that the meat is healthy for me but if I'm being honest I really cannot taste a difference and I guess I expected to. In fact, I have learned along the way that you have to be very careful with grass-fed beef. If you overcook it, at all, it will get tough - quick. You better have yourself a great grill master (which I do).  :) 

But really it's not the taste (or lack of) that is what is not working for me, it's the portioning for my family. I have a family of 4 and the only thing that comes portioned enough for my family is the massive, whole chickens of which we receive two each month. Rob is putting one on the grill tonight. Yummy. I'll share my whole chicken on the grill recipe with you tomorrow, it's so good. 

If you saw what we got for the first meat CSA, then you've seen what we got for the second. It's the same. We get two steaks (which means I have to buy two more), a pork shoulder that we have been using to make awesome pork tacos, etc...it's all here.

The meat CSA is good but I think I would rather go back to my old way of selecting meat. I made one trip every other week to Whole Foods and loaded up on the meat I needed for those 2 weeks and I had everything I needed. And, I love their meat, it actually tastes wonderful and the price is comparable to what I'm spending for the farm. 

So, when the meat CSA ends I may go back to my old Whole Foods ways, but the veggie CSA will be missed. I really love always having some greens in my refrigerator for my morning shakes. We have enjoyed the variety and there is certainly enough to feed my whole family - and yours. 

I know there are a few of you out there getting CSA deliveries - How is it going for you?