Tag Archive | Meatless Monday

Introducing “Chick Clicks!” with a Cinco de Mayo Recipe


By Mary Ann Filler

Hello, Off The Merry-Go-Round readers! It’s been a while since I have contributed to the blog. I have been back on the Merry-Go-Round teaching 14 credit hours this semester. As a mom of three very active teenage sons, I have had to cut back on extra activities such as blogging. However, I have been brainstorming ways that I can still continue to contribute to the blog without it taking too much time. Fellow OTMGR writer Karen and I came up with a plan… and we are proud to introduce my first installment of “Chick Clicks!”

What are Chick Clicks?

In my new series, I’m going to share online “treasure” with you. Chick Clicks are links to wonderful articles, recipes, projects and more—all online and all (hopefully) helpful to you as a family-oriented mom and wife. I’m looking forward to shining a spotlight on other fabulous blogs and websites written by moms (chicks) just like us, with words of wisdom, helpful tips and tricks that I have personally found useful. Blogs form a great network of resources!

I was telling Karen about an amazing recipe for refried beans that I discovered, and she thought it would be the perfect first Chick Click to share in honor of Cinco de Mayo. So here goes!

Consider: Cutting Down on Processed Foods

Are you familiar with the 100 Days of Real Food website? I have found some really great recipes there.  Lisa Leake started the blog/website when she and her family pledged to go 100 days without eating any highly processed or refined foods including white flour or sugar. They made this decision to draw attention to our society’s dependency on processed food. So, the recipes are very healthy and use only real food ingredients.

Her refried bean recipe is one of my favorites because it’s inexpensive, easy and delicious. In addition, it also freezes well. Beans are super high in protein, iron and fiber, which make them the perfect option for “Meatless Mondays” if you follow that trend. Or serve them alongside your favorite taco recipe for the perfect side dish today, to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Ole!

So without further ado… here is my first Chick Click!

Click here for Lisa Leake’s Easy Slow Cooker Refried Beans


The recipe uses dry beans that are normally soaked overnight prior to cooking. However, according to the recipe, this step may be eliminated. As a side note, I still like to soak dry beans for at least 24 hours and for nutritional reasons that you can read about here, in a bonus Chick Click from the Healthy Home Economist.  

I highly recommend soaking your pinto beans overnight, first.

I highly recommend soaking your pinto beans overnight, first.


Load all of your ingredients into your handy crock pot. It is a busy chick's best friend!

Load all of your ingredients into your handy crock pot. It is a busy chick’s best friend!


This is how the beans will look when softened and ready for mashing.

This is how the beans will look when softened and ready for mashing.


And presto... time for a fiesta!

And presto… time for a fiesta!

Enjoy the recipe!

P.S. Many thanks to Karen for these great pics! 🙂

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with… Carrot Soup!

IMG_6120FB By Karen Hendricks

Amidst all the holiday baking, gooey goodies and indulgence…  I’m going to offer a sweet, healthy—and probably unexpected—alternative: Carrot Soup.

I won’t deny, I enjoy a delicious snack of Christmas cookies at this time of year, but I also like to balance things out, so-to-speak. It’s way too easy to overindulge, over the holidays!

I discovered the best kind of recipe—one that’s both easy and healthy—for Carrot Soup. Actually, I found two recipes on Pinterest and have merged the two into my own unique version. It ties into nearly every current, healthy eating trend:

  • It’s vegan for those who only eat plant-based foods
  • It’s a great option for those on the “clean eating” diet of whole, unprocessed foods (I’ve been trying to incorporate more of this approach into my family’s meal planning)
  • Carrot soup contains cancer-fighting antioxidents
  • It’s a colorful food, for those trying to “eat the rainbow”
  • And it’s a satisfying solution to “Meatless Mondays”

Carrots are sky-high in Vitamin A, with a good dose of fiber, Vitamin C and potassium too. One of my favorite things about this recipe is the taste of fresh ginger… delish!

We have been pelted with early season snowstorms here in central Pennsylvania (and it’s technically still fall!) so warm soup is definitely in order, already. There is something about warm soup that seems to magically warm my soul as well.

Carrot Soup

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 c sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 T garlic, minced
  • 2 T fresh ginger root, minced
  • 2 lbs carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium potato – try using a russet potato or a sweet potato, your choice, peeled and chopped
  • 6 c vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • Cracked black pepper and Kosher salt, to taste
  • Plain yogurt and honey for garnish

1. Use a food processor to chop all of your veggies. This is time “off the merry-go-round,” after all. Save time wherever you can so you can spend more time with your family! 🙂

2. Cook the onion in the olive oil. Use a large stockpot if you will be cooking the soup on your stovetop. Or, simply use a frying pan for this step and then cook the soup in your crockpot.

3. After 10 minutes, or when the onions become soft, add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

4. If using a stock pot: add all ingredients. Or, transfer onion mixture to crockpot and add all ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer until the carrots are tender. This step could take up to an hour on the stove. Turn your crockpot on low and let it cook all day.

5. Puree with an immersion blender directly in your pot or transfer several batches into your blender to puree.

6. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a drizzle of honey. Don’t skip the honey… it’s a bright note that really brings out the ginger and carrot flavors and ties them all together.

Serves 8

(Abridged from Women’s Health Magazine and Food Network, via PopSugar)


A spoonful of plain or Greek yogurt adds a nice element of creaminess…


Don’t forget the drizzle of honey 🙂

A few more tips:

  • This soup is satisfying, but if the male members of your family are like mine, they would probably appreciate a steaming loaf of homemade bread as an accompaniment. A hearty whole-grain or oatmeal bread works well.
  • I have tried both the russet and sweet potato in the soup and they both work well. I personally prefer the sweet potato flavor. Either way, the potato thickens the soup a bit and adds additional nutrients and flavor.
  • I have doubled the recipe and then packaged up the leftovers for easy-to-reheat lunches or frozen them to send off with my daughter to college, for a stash of “Mom’s Meals” in her freezer.
  • This recipe always reminds me of the first time I tried carrot soup, several years ago, in a New York City restaurant. I was on a weekend trip with my daughter and we ate at a fantastic Italian restaurant for her birthday. As an appetizer, we both tried Carrot-Orange Soup. What an awesome combination of flavors, with the addition of citrus. I haven’t tried adapting this recipe to include the orange flavor, yet… but stay tuned!

Join the conversation and let us know…

Which soup recipes do you turn to over the winter months?

How do you combat over-indulgent holiday eating habits?

Discovering Hidden Opportunities, Every Day in 2013

By Jen Ashenfelter

Happy 2013 everyone! How are those resolutions going so far? How many have you broken already?

Jimmy Choo

oooo… Jimmy Choo’s might be in my future for 2013! (Credit: OhJimmyChoos.net)

Don’t fret, just laugh. It’s a quirky tradition so why not have some fun with it. After discovering my favorite shoe store didn’t close but simply moved to another location, I gleefully announced to my husband, with a chuckle, that I resolve to buy more shoes in 2013. I only bought new flip flops and one pair of shoes in 2012, so I think buying more shoes in 2013 is a pretty good resolution!

Regardless of your thoughts on resolutions, I think they are a good idea if not taken too seriously. I really like my friend and fellow blogger Jenna Schuler’s recent post about creating “value principles” so if you haven’t read it, please do. The only way to move forward is to reflect—not dwell—on the past and make plans for the future. Celebrate the accomplishments—both great and small—and learn from the challenges and mistakes. Writing down desires, goals or value principles should motivate you to start the year off on a positive note. Think of things that excite you rather than creating a laundry list of things to change; however, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.

While reflecting on 2012 and thinking about 2013, I  came across this quote on Facebook and decided this is really the only resolution needed: Approach the New Year with resolve to find the opportunities hidden in each new day. ~Michael Josephson

One resolution…that’s it, you say? I know, where’s the fun in that? In theory, it’s a great resolution but a bit vague. It gives nothing to be excited about or work on. How do you hold yourself accountable to succeed—or not—without any details? So for the sake of a few giggles and something to work toward, here’s my list.

Write – Possibly the most important item on this list since I’m writing content for 3 blogs—this one included. Past resolution lists have included steps to reach my goal of writing more—personally and professionally. I recently landed a job as a marketing coordinator for an animal hospital and lodging facility where my primary responsibility is writing—yay me! Now the focus is to improve my writing and learn more about content marketing and social media.

Read – Good writers spend a lot of time reading too. 2012 was a good year. I read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, definitely did not ride the 50 Shades bandwagon but did enjoy a romance novel written by a good friend, and finally bought a Kindle where Gone Girl is waiting to be finished.  Reading for pleasure might prove more challenging in 2013 now that I’m working, but I have a healthy reading list to work on.

In 2012 I read my friend Kelly Jameson's novel To Tame A Rogue. And her novel What Remained of Katrina, is on my list for 2013.

In 2012 I read my friend Kelly Jameson’s novel To Tame A Rogue. And her novel What Remained of Katrina, is on my list for 2013.

Eat – This one is easy; I love to eat! Ok, too easy…let’s call this resolution Healthy Eating. Listing “lose weight” is pointless because I automatically get defensive. I will not give up bagels! I prefer to continue with my quest to eat better and provide healthier meals for my family. I believe in the real food approach and reducing the amount of foods with a long list of ingredients and preservatives in our pantry. I plan dinners before my bi-monthly trips to the grocery store, so creating Meatless Mondays and Seafood Saturdays will be fun. Besides creative menus, 2013 will be the year of the vegetable. My youngest actually announced his new-found love of brussels sprouts and asked that I make them more often—wow!

Pray – And let’s call this resolution Wellness—in mind, body and spirit. I thought maybe I’d join a 5K training class at the YMCA and blog about the experience. I have completed the training and 5K race in the past; it’s definitely a good way to jumpstart an exercise program. However, it requires training outside in extreme winter weather conditions from January to March. Been there, done that—I don’t live in Florida. I’m quickly changing this to a focus on yoga—easily done in a warm, dry setting without having to wear 20 lbs of clothing. Remember, resolutions should be motivating and not include “crazy.”

I’ve taken restorative yoga classes and loved the experience. I’ve tried aerial yoga—hanging upside down from a silk suspended from a ceiling is definitely challenging but exhilarating once you get the “hang” of it. But what I’d like to spend more time on in 2013 is learning and practicing more traditional yoga poses as a form of exercise and meditation. This one will be tough since committing to time for exercise and quiet prayer always seems to be at the bottom of my To Do list. But I’m excited to try a basic exercise plan I found in a recent issue of Prevention which combines yoga exercises with journaling—two resolutions with one stone. If all else fails, I’ll sign up for another round of restorative or aerial yoga classes. Namaste.

Love – Of course my first priority is to my family. I’m extremely lucky to have a loving family as well as wonderful friends. As the saying goes, anything worth having is worth working for. So this resolution is my commitment to continue working on being my best so I can give back to the family and friends who mean the most to me. Whether it’s achieving milestones with my husband, celebrating the accomplishments of our sons, sharing special weekends with girlfriends, or simply telling family and friends how they’ve touched my life, I resolve to live each day with no regrets or words of love and appreciation left unsaid.

Committing to resolutions—or whatever you decide to call them—is like reviewing that class syllabus at the beginning of the year—a bit overwhelming at first, but if you take it day-by-day, step-by-step, while diligently working through challenges and celebrating the accomplishments, reaching the end is not so difficult. Maybe some resolutions will fall by the wayside quickly but if you find the positive lesson and the joy in each, then nothing is lost.

Maybe I’ll only read one book in 2013, but I will enjoy every chapter of the adventure. Maybe Seafood Saturdays won’t last past February because the family absolutely hates it, but hopefully they will appreciate trying something new for a few weeks. Maybe you won’t lose 10 lbs, run a marathon, or mend a broken relationship but consider the hidden opportunities to be discovered in simply trying.

Whether it’s a resolution or a value principle…or maybe just one thing you want in 2013, I encourage you to write it down. Yeah, post it on the refrigerator or share with your social peeps, just keep it handy and see how far you go. If you find a dead end, then create a new path to whatever makes you happy and brings health, happiness and harmony to you in 2013.