One Pot Wonder- Chicken Tortilla Soup

Happy Wednesday and over the hump we go! Just two short days until the weekend. This has been a busy week but I wanted to make certain there were plenty of clean eats on hand to get me through. However, being a little low on time also meant I wanted something easy and no fuss. This one pot wonder fits the bill. And an added bonus? You can easily sub turkey for the chicken making it the perfect post Thanksgiving recipe!

You Will Need:

Shredded Chicken or Turkey

2 Cans Black Beans (Drained)

2 Cups Frozen Corn

1 Large Chopped Onion

15 oz Chopped Tomato (Roughly 2 cans of Rotel)

1 Can Tomato Sauce

1 Carton Chicken Stock

Spices: Salt, Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Cumin

First you will shred your chicken or turkey. I picked up a chicken from Fresh Market today but this soup makes an excellent “second day” type meal to use up left overs!

IMG_2229 (300x400)While shredding the chicken allow your onion to soften in some olive oil. Remember to use a pot large enough for a pretty substantial pot of soup!

IMG_2233 (300x400)Once the onion softens- add your corn followed by your drained beans.

IMG_2230 (300x400) IMG_2231 (400x300) IMG_2235 (300x400)At this point you will apply your first round of seasonings. I dont have a hard rule on seasons- just do what smells/tastes right to you!

IMG_2236 (300x400)Next add your tomatoes and tomato sauce- season again.

IMG_2238 (300x400)Lastly, you will add your chicken stock and bring the soup to a boil. Allow it to remain at an uncovered rolling boil for about 20 minutes.

IMG_2239 (300x400)Your finished product will be a protein packed hardy soup!

IMG_2246 (400x400)Feel free to top with sour cream, shredded cheddar, and (of course) tortilla chips. Garden of Eaten Red Hot Blues are actually my favorite to crumble on top but you can certainly use what is handy!

IMG_2244 (300x400)Enjoy!!

IMG_2245 (300x400)(WW points are 7-8 per generous bowl prior to adding toppings)

Weekend Round Up

Happy Monday!!! I am already 2 cups of coffee in on this COLD morning! All I wanted was to stay snuggled in bed this morning. BUT work and life call so I am up and at it on this fine fall day. Luckily, I will have happy weekend memories to keep me feeling warm and fuzzy.

Truth is, I was NOT in the most social of moods when 8 of us headed out on Saturday for a “tour” of some of Virginia’s breweries and wineries. I knew with my Weight Watchers points in full effect I really wouldn’t be drinking not to mention my work week had left me overtired. BUT I truly was excited to go exploring so I bundled up in my cold weather gear and we were on our way.

IMG_2151 (400x300)I am not sure how I have lived in VA this long without knowing about it but apparently there is a stretch of highway about 30 minutes from my home that is full of wineries and breweries. Mind Blown. I was really thinking there might be a stop or two but no- it was place after place after place. And apparently I was the only person out of the loop on this because every winery and brewery we stopped at was PACKED.

First up on the list was Devil’s Backbone Brewery. To be fair- I actually had heard of this place before. Unfortunately, the bar area was cram packed full and there was an hour’s wait for a lunch table. We were all pretty hungry so we decided to move on.

IMG_2152 (400x300) IMG_2153 (300x400)Luckily our next stop would prove more successful. Next up was Wild Wolf Brewing Company. Also packed BUT we did manage to somehow snag 8 spots in the bar. The hubs (and pretty much everyone else) enjoyed the beer flight offerings.

IMG_2158 (400x300)And yes I was “that girl” who ordered a fruity mixed drink. Sorry. I am not a beer drinker (though I did try a couple sips to be a good sport).

IMG_2180 (400x400)I just enjoyed watching everyone else sample and watching a little football. :)

IMG_2164 (300x400)I also enjoyed busting out my new bag for the occasion.

IMG_2171 (400x400)After about 40 minutes at the bar we got a table (woohoo)! I was STARVING and everything on the menu looked awesome. One of the coolest things about the trip this weekend was seeing what each brewery had as their “specialty”. So many items were prepared from scratch “in house”. My inner foodie was impressed. Apparently BBQ is the thing to have at Wild Wolf so I ordered some up with some house made chips and possible the best slaw I have ever tried.

IMG_2170 (400x300) IMG_2168 (300x400)Lunch was a lot of fun and I found myself being truly glad I decided to come. You really don’t have to drink or consume all of the calories to have a good time out with pals. :) Sometimes when we are on these weight loss plans we turn to avoidance which is unfortunate. I understand wanting to adhere to a plan but the truth is we don’t live in a bubble. At some point we all have to learn how to get out there and make healthful choices on the fly. If I had stayed home I would have missed a beautiful and extremely fun fall day.

IMG_2181 (400x400)Less importantly, I would have missed an excuse to bust out my new fall boots. I deal with a wide calf situation so I was over the moon excited to have found a cute pair of boots that fit properly. We are going to be very happy together this winter. ;)

IMG_2154 (300x400)Moving on, our next stop was Blue Mountain Brewing company. I just sipped on water and snacked on a cheese plate here. The guys all really liked the beer and I really liked the view. Beautiful.

IMG_2183 (400x400) IMG_2207 (400x400)IMG_2187 (300x400)One last stop at Wild Fox winery (sorry no photo) rounded out the day. The sun was setting as we headed home and I could not have asked for a better Saturday.

IMG_2193 (400x300)Sunday proved much less eventful although I may have started decorating for Christmas!!

IMG_2223 (400x400)I know its early but I feel like I am not the only person out there doing this….. right? ;)

What did you do this weekend??

A Non Scale Victory – And The Story Of Something I Have Never Admitted Before

I hear a lot about “Non Scale Victories” in the weight loss world. I have even had a few myself. I know the point is to acknowledge the little landmarks that let us know we are making progress.

Admission 1: I suppose I don’t usually do this because I feel like these little “victories” are all normal things I should have never stopped being able to do to begin with. I know that sounds terrible and I admit I am my own worst critic. However, I had a pretty major “Non Scale Victory” over the weekend -both mental and physical that I just had to share. It is a little tough for me to admit some of these things but what good is a blog that isn’t honest? Anyway….

Admission 2- There are no “real” pictures of my husband and I in our house. Sure there are plenty of vacation snap shots and ya’ll know we take selfies like a teenage girl before prom but, yeah, there are no real photos of us in our home. When we got engaged 9 years ago I really didn’t know that elaborate engagement shoots were a “thing”- not that it really would have mattered.

Admission 3- I still cringe when I look at our wedding photos. So what about the wedding? I will always look back at those photos fondly in the sense that it was a wonderful and happy day. I had the wedding I always wanted at sunset with our favorite people. The day itself was wonderful. I honestly don’t mean to sound ungrateful or like a brat, BUT all of the happy memories in the world won’t take back the fact that I was on the weight gain up swing at that time in my life. It was really hard to see myself heavier than I ever had been. So much so that it kind of cast a shadow on what should have been a bright and perfect day. Instead of concentrating on this life changing moment I was trying to run damage control the entire day trying to present myself in the best light possible.

Exhibit A:

shoot9But all of the damage control in the world didn’t mask the fact that I had gained SO. MUCH. WEIGHT.

shoot8The weird thing about weight gain is you know it is happening but then you have this “Aha” moment where you say, “Oh Shit- I have really screwed up”. Imagine that moment being your wedding weekend. Imagine looking at yourself during your big white dress moment and barely recognizing yourself. It sucks. Ive talked about denial and I was waist deep in it at the time. BUT, like I said before the day itself was wonderful and happy. For the time being I just tried to push the negativity aside and enjoy marrying my best pal- and I did.

We jetted off immediately on our honeymoon (also no photos) and when we got home from Mexico we went to pick up our official wedding photos. That day we sat down to decide on one to hang in our home. There were probably 100 photos of us and I hated all of them. My arms, my face, my general size- I was beside myself. It sounds really dramatic and stupid now (even I am rolling my eyes writing this) but trust me- 7 years ago it felt so huge and it really did impact me in ways I didn’t even realize. We finally decided on a shot that left most of the body out. While my arms, shoulders, and face still give me pause- I really only look at the happy expressions in the photo now. However, I never stopped being a little disappointed that I never got my white dress moment to feel beautiful. I know a lot of that was mental- but we will get to that.

shoot10For YEARS I felt like I never stopped running damage control. The clothes I chose, ways I would position myself in photos, activities I would agree to do, and even people I would agree to see. It was all an elaborate trick to (in my mind) minimize the impact of my weight gain. It sounds totally insane now but at the time I felt like it was the only control I had.

As you know it would not be until several years later when I actually started to do something to change my weight and fitness. In the meantime life went on. We purchased a home and settled in to being a family. It was really important to me to have a home that felt like “us” so, like in most homes, there are lots of things on the wall with one glaring exception. There are no real photos of us. In fact, there has been a blank 16×20 frame on my living room wall for FIVE years. For real.

Admission 4- I always worried I had not “done enough” or “lost enough” to warrant having our photos done. I always put off scheduling a family session for “next season” or “next year”. I never really admitted why- but I think I was afraid I would see something I wasn’t prepared for like during my wedding weekend.

This year in particular I dedicated myself to health and fitness. I have a long way to go physically but mentally I think I am starting to finally recover. I have lost 40 pounds and, more importantly, I have lost that girl who thought her weight was all that mattered. My family, friendships, interests, and life I lead are far more important than a number on a scale. I can not only say that with a straight face but I BELIEVE it which has lifted a weight far worse than any I carry on my body. With that said, I am absolutely going to keep moving forward with my weight loss goals but not because I want to look perfect in a white dress but because I want to be the healthiest version of me.

Admission 5- Even though I have not seen the photos yet (at the time this blog was being written)- I finally had my white dress moment. Over the weekend the hubs and I finally scheduled some family photos. Luckily one of my best girlfriends and her husband run an amazing photography business in town. It was no coincidence that I picked an off white dress and red cardigan (my wedding colors) even though I didn’t admit this to anyone.

Kristen and Jason came over, gear in hand, ready to shoot downtown.

shoot2 (300x400)Not only did we have fun but I literally only had one small moment (during a pose where I was seated) where my weight in even entered my mind! I just enjoyed walking around downtown, posing with my favorite, and watching Jason, our photographer, get into all sorts of crazy positions to get the shots!

shoot3 (300x400) shoot1 (400x400)At one point I was snapping a photo of Kristen who was snapping a photo of Jason who was snapping official photos of Bryan. :) Fun times!

shoot5 (300x400)It just felt good to feel “normal”. It felt good to feel like any other family would on family portrait day. Realizing we are so much more than a number frees up so much energy to focus on things that matter. I am so happy to have learned this valuable lesson- even though it came the hard way.

*******

That was supposed to be the end of this blog BUT in a crazy twist of fate- our photos arrived today. And in true “practice what I’m preaching” form I am thrilled with them. I can acknowledge that my weight loss and fitness journey is far from over. But, this is where we are today and its okay to be happy.

Admission 6: You can still love yourself while working to change. Learning that has been my golden ticket. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

ViersFamily-02 (266x400) ViersFamily-01 (400x266) ViersFamily-03 (400x266) ViersFamily-04 (266x400) ViersFamily-05 (400x266) ViersFamily-06 (400x266) ViersFamily-07 (400x266) ViersFamily-08 (400x266) ViersFamily-09 (266x400) ViersFamily-154 (400x266)

 

*Final 10 images by Simple Times Photography. Photos have been scaled down in size to fit the format of this blog. And because I know it will be asked….The session was purchased with my own funds and no compensation was given for mention in this post. Opinions expressed are my own. We just happen to love them and enjoy giving a shout out to local businesses when we can. xoxo