Hey Ya’ll!! Okay, I know I haven’t written in a while! I’m so sorry 🙁 I’ve been crazy busy and I had a real estate conference in Florida last week. We had so much fun at the conference, we saw some great speakers, met a lot of awesome people, and had an awesome time bonding as a company. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Front Gate Realty ROCKS! Before I got my license, my goal was just to sell my own flip houses. I wasn’t really excited about getting my license, my mom is always so busy and she’s always running around crazy, worrying about not having clients, running off to meet someone, talking on the phone 24/7. None of that was ever appealing to me. I am probably that one girl that hates talking on the phone. Like, I have to really enjoy talking to someone to talk to them on the phone. Call it a generational challenge, because of all the texts and emails and AOL messenger, whatever, I just don’t like talking on the phone that much. Give me a phone and I’ll text you all day long honey but don’t ask me to call. I can’t focus… I’m like that kid with A.D.D. when I’m taking a phone call. I will literally be having a conversation about houses and looking at the TV or computer screen at the same time, not even hearing half of what is being said, thinking about the pretty colors. It gets me in trouble. I don’t like it 🙂 But, once I started getting a couple clients and looking at more houses and spending more time with my co-workers, I  loved it! Don’t get me wrong… I still hate talking on the phone and I’m always busy. I always worry about where my next client and my next paycheck is coming from. I’m always looking for new ideas on how to better my business for cheap. But, the fact of the matter is, I love my job. The pay is awesome when it’s there and it really forced me out of my comfort zone. I’m kind of a weird person. I’m incredibly shy and outgoing at the same time. I will not just walk up to a group of people and start talking to them like I’ve known them my whole life, I get horribly shy in front of crowds and I HATE public speaking. But if there’s a single person, standing alone, looking friendly, I’ll talk to them. And if it’s a group of people I know, you can’t get me to shut up. Seriously… you’ll probably be begging me to be quiet because I also have a tendency to be bluntly honest. Most people don’t take it as insulting because I’m so sweet 🙂 but some people probably should! Haha…. anyways…. This job has forced me to talk more and more to people I normally wouldn’t approach and talk to. It’s also forced me to brag on myself a bit more than I normally would so please excuse me if I get too cocky! 😉 All that being said, I don’t think that I would have made it in this industry, had I not been here at Front Gate. Everyone is so supportive, so much fun, and also bluntly honest. They’re not afraid to call me out and tell me, “Hey, Calah, stop hanging around writing about cooking and food and get to work! You need clients.” I still say this blog is self promotion though… I mean… ya’ll would buy houses from me right? Who wouldn’t? 🙂

So, technically I’m supposed to be done with my AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge BUTTTTT I got off the wagon while I was at my conference. I’m a terrible, awful person with absolutely no will power 🙂 OOPS! But seriously, it’s not necessarily that I didn’t have any will power it was just super hard to conform to all the criteria there. The thing is, I was there with 8 people, we would go to a restaurant and I would search the menu for things that I could eat and I couldn’t find anything that was really 100% AdvoCare friendly. I thought, being close to the ocean and having access to a lot of fresh seafood would help. However, almost every restaurant we went to was more about fried seafood and heavy cream sauces. I did try to stick as close to it as I could. At least for the first couple of days. Eating small portions of anything I could find that was grilled or blackened, snacking on almonds, and drinking my water! But by Day 3 of our vacation, I was exhausted with it! I wanted be like all the other cool kids eating the yummy, fried, stuff! 🙂 So, I fell off the wagon, I stopped eating breakfast, I was more lax with my choices when I was ordering at restaurants and I paid dearly! First, I didn’t gain any weight back, which is good. But I didn’t lose anymore either. Also, after that cleanse phase, your body is so cleaned out of impurities that the first bite you take of something that isn’t pure will make you kind of sick. Also, I was taking the Max C vitamins before I left and for a couple days while I was there. These vitamins have a heavy appetite suppressant along with more than 50 vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, antioxidants and other nutrients that support health and wellness. This means you’re taking 12 pills by lunch time. There’s nothing wrong with taking these vitamins and I think that if you take vitamins before you start the program it doesn’t affect you as badly; however, for me I was so sick that I was miserable. Well, I took these for a couple days and the nausea was finally subsiding when I fell off the wagon. Now that I’m back to it… I feel awful! I take one packet 15 minutes before breakfast and one at breakfast. Around 11:30 I start feeling a little better. Then I take my next packet, 30 minutes before lunch and the packet at lunch and I’m sick again until about 2. It’s not as intense after lunch… it’s just an annoying burning sensation in the pit of your stomach. It’s better when I get up and move around and get to work. But it’s really hard to get the energy to get up and get to work. I know that sounds awful, but after the first couple of days it’s not so bad. I think it would be better if I ate with my breakfast instead of drinking my shake. The only thing is, I really like drinking a shake for breakfast. At lunch and supper, I always feel like I need some real food. Something salty, some protein. Not a sweet, chocolate shake. I may have to change up though! After lunch today, I felt a lot better. And drinking water with lemon really helped my nausea. I’m still enjoying what I’m eating that is AdvoCare friendly and after eating so bad last week I felt a huge difference in how I felt last week and this weekend versus how I feel now that I’m back on track. I know that my weight loss won’t be quite the same since I took those days off and lost all the progress I made in my Cleanse phase but I will still lose a little weight and can start the cleanse again in a couple months.

Now, for the recipes! Since the weather has been kind of cool, I’ve been in a soup/chili making mood. I’ve also been pretty busy so I’ve been using my crockpot a LOT! So this week and part of last week I made Chicken Chili, Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos, and Veggie Soup. So those are the recipes I’ll be giving ya’ll today!

I love the fall, as I’m sure I have mentioned before. Mostly I love the way it makes me feel. For some reason, I’m happier when it’s colder outside. Plus, all the holidays are so much fun. When I was growing up, my mamaw’s favorite time of year was Fall too and I guess I get it from her. Her favorite thing in the world was for all of us to be together as a family. As she and my papaw got older, they had to move from their home in Jackson, to a place closer to us. We have a good bit of land so my dad just built them a little one bedroom, one bathroom cabin type of house on our property. My mamaw would be so upset if we didn’t come over for dinner every night. It had to be at her house, we could never do it at our house, even though ours was bigger. Around 6:30 every night, we would all crowd around her little dinner table and have a family meal though. One of her go to recipes for this time of year, was Beef & Veggie soup. We all love it and it’s definitely something that makes us feel nostalgic. Now, Mamaw liked to use stew meat or chunks of sirloin; but my mom, as always, only likes hamburger meat in hers. So Mamaw would make a little pot with hamburger meat in it for her and for the rest of us, she would make it with big chunks of stew meat. It’s been a long time since I  had it with stew meat because I always try to do things the easiest way possible. It’s made even easier in the crockpot. Yea, I know… I’m lazy! Haha! Now, I have several versions of this soup but the easiest and quickest version is to use canned or frozen veggies. Using canned is my favorite way because all the juice that is in the vegetables creates a beautiful and delicious stock and broth for the soup. I also add some French Onion soup or beef broth as well. However, for my AdvoCare purposes, I used organic canned veggies and organic chicken broth. I wanted to use ground turkey but I knew my mom wouldn’t eat it so I just did very lean, 90/10 ground beef. This is how I do it and some variations are underneath the recipe.

Beef & Vegetable Soup:

2 lbs. lean ground beef,

1 can golden sweet corn,

2 cans French style green beans,

1 can diced tomatoes,

1 can crushed tomatoes,

1 can beef broth, French Onion soup, or Chicken broth (low sodium),

3 medium red potatoes, quartered,

1 small onion,

1 bunch fresh carrots, washed & sliced, (optional),

2 beef or chicken bouillon cubes, depending on which broth you used. (If you used French onion, go with beef)

Garlic salt and pepper to taste.

Brown ground beef and drain off grease, set aside. Dice onion and set aside. Open all cans and pour into crockpot. Add seasonings, onions, carrots, potatoes, and beef. Stir well and cover, cooking it low and slow for about 10 hours. If you do this in the after noon you can cook it on high for 4 hours. I try to do mine in the mornings and just let it cook while I’m at work! You can do this with any type of vegetables that you like. Butter beans, spinach, zucchini, squash, English peas… anything! You can even add elbow noodles or black beans… For the meat, if you want to you can use chicken breasts, turkey breasts, ground chicken, ground turkey, or lean ground beef. If you choose to use stew meat, they sell it packaged as stew meat at the grocery store, sirloin chunks, or even cheaper roast is ok to use to. I recommend cooking any ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground beef prior to putting it with the other stuff… It gets kind of mushy if you let it cook in the crockpot… You can also do this on the stove top with a lid, allowing it to simmer for about 45 minutes.

Growing up in our house, chili was Papaw’s thing. My mom would always say, “Papaw makes the best chili and cornbread.” And it was true… he taught her and she taught me. I know you’re thinking that there is no way to make chili healthy but there is a way to make AdvoCare friendly. I used Organic canned tomato sauce and added black beans. I also used No Sugar Added Diced Tomatoes and made my own chili seasoning, I also used chicken instead of beef… In hind sight, I probably should have cut that chicken into cubes; however, I just put the breasts in whole, cooked it, then shredded the breasts before I served it. Papaw always poured a little beer in his and he always served it with cornbread… I like it with Fritos… With AdvoCare I limit myself to a couple crackers though. If you’re looking for a good cornbread recipe, you can find mine here. I also use a crockpot for this; but, you can use a big stew pot too. I made some a while back in my Dutch Oven and just let it simmer most of the day. If you’re looking to do it pretty quick, you only have to let it cook for about 45 minutes.

Calah’s CrockPot Chicken Chili:

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts,

1 medium onion,

2 garlic cloves,

1 can Tomato sauce,

1 can Petit Diced tomatoes, (16 oz. can),

2 cans Dark Red Kidney beans,

2 cans Black Beans,

1 can corn,

3 tbsp. chili powder,

2 tsp. cumin,

1 tsp. paprika,

1 tsp. garlic powder,

1 tsp. salt,

1 tsp. red pepper,

A dash of cinnamon.

I know, I know, I know, that looks like a lot of stuff… It’s really not as much as it seems. You can also use a chili seasoning packet… my favorite is Wick Fowler’s 5 Alarm Chili… It’s pretty much the same thing I just gave you except, they add a packet of Masa Flour. Which is good, I just hardly ever have Masa flour on hand at home. They also don’t put cinnamon in it. I think it adds a little depth to the flavor though! Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of your crock pot, add the tomatoes, beans, and corn. Dice up the onion and garlic cloves and add that in. You may have to add a little water. Now, add all the seasonings except the red pepper. Stir it all up, cover it, and let it cook low and slow for the rest of the day… You can chop up those chicken breasts too but I kinda enjoyed it shredded. I also added a little dill weed in mine… About 20 minutes before you’re ready to serve it, add your red pepper and pull out those chicken breasts. If you didn’t cut them into chunks of course… Shred them, add them back, and stir them up really good.

chicken chili 1 chicken chili 2 chicken chili 3

You can do lean ground beef or ground turkey with this too. Or do it vegetarian style with no meat. Another option is to soak dry red beans instead of using canned but it may take a little too long. If you want to make a quick version, not using the crockpot, I would boil the chicken first!

When I first started AdvoCare, I asked Stephanie what her favorite recipes were and her immediate response was Cilantro Lime Chicken! Our office manager, Jeanette, overheard us talking about it and asked for the recipe too. That was on a Friday and by Monday Jeanette had made it her new favorite! So, of course, I had to try it! It’s super easy to make and something you can throw all together really quick and leave cooking in the crockpot all day or for just a few hours. I forgot and put mine on around lunch.

Cilantro Lime Chicken:

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts,

1 jar chunky salsa,

1 medium onion, sliced,

2 cloves garlic, minced,

2 limes,

1 packet taco seasoning,

1 cup water,

1 tbsp. chopped cilantro, you can add more if you’d like.

Just like with the chili, place the breasts in the bottom of the crockpot. Cover with the rest of the ingredients, I added a little garlic salt to mine. Let it cook for at least 4 hours…. once the chicken is done, gently lift it out of the sauce. I say gently because it will fall apart in a matter of seconds. Shred it with a fork and put it back in the crockpot. Stir it all up and serve! I served it with some tortillas, lettuce, black olives, fat free sour cream, and fat free cheese. You can serve it over rice or have it by itself with some kind of vegetable. Even with a salad. This was something that even my nephews liked, which is what I was worried about. They always want soft tacos, meat and cheese only, rice, no beans! Haha but Judd was actually scooping this up with tortilla chips. Which brings up a new idea of lining muffin tins with crescent rolls or tortillas, putting this in the middle, and topping it with cheese. Let it bake for about 10 minutes, just until the tortilla gets a little crunchy and the cheese melts. Or roll it up into a tortilla, cover it with cheese, and bake it. Or put it inside a crescent roll and bake. Very versatile and very good for everybody!!

All these recipes are super easy and super versatile. It’s easy to just stick all the ingredients in a crock pot and let it go while you go about your day! It’s nice to come home to a cooked meal and a clean kitchen! Plus, it’s all AdvoCare and kid friendly. And it’s perfect for these cold, winter nights! I hope ya’ll enjoy them as much as we have! I know I will be making them all again pretty soon! Ya’ll have a good night!!