Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup Recipe

kale-potato-soup-web

It’s been cold and rainy this winter (well, at least for California), and because of this I’ve found myself reaching for my Dutch oven to cook soups and stews at least two or three times each week.

The one I keep making again and again? It’s this spicy sausage, potato, and kale soup that I fell in love with a couple winters ago. This paleo, gluten-free, and Whole30-approved recipe is hearty, nutritious, and so flavorful, plus it’s easy to make and comes together in about 45 minutes.

I think that adding kale to soup is one of the best ways to enjoy lots of this leafy green, the spice from the Italian sausage goes so nicely with it, and the potatoes make this a filling, well-rounded meal.

And did I mention how delicious it is? Because it is. My boyfriend and I seriously battle over leftovers of this stuff.

Oh, and if you’re not already familiar with the wonderfulness of the Dutch oven, and you also make (or want to make) lots of soups, chilis, braised dishes, and such, I highly recommend adding this thick-walled cooking pot to your cookware collection pronto. Otherwise you can just throw everything together in a regular ol’ soup pot.

SAUSAGE, POTATO, AND KALE SOUP RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 lb potatoes, chopped into 1/2″ cubes (I use Dutch yellow baby potatoes)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp chili pepper flakes (omit if you want less spice)
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Heat a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and, once hot, add the sausage. Break up the sausage with a wooden spoon and cook until slightly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Once browned, remove the sausage and set aside.

Add the onion to the Dutch oven and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, less than 1 minute. Re-add the sausage, as well as salt, pepper, chili pepper flakes, potatoes, chicken broth, and the bay leaf, and stir to combine.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer over low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf, add in the kale, and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes, until the kale is tender. Season again as needed, serve, and enjoy!

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What is Whole30? + Whole30 Meal Plan – Week 1

whole_30_program_rules

There’s a good chance you’ve heard a friend mention Whole30 while they pass up a drink at happy hour, or a coworker talk about the program while munching on a grilled chicken salad in the breakroom.

If you don’t quite know the details of a Whole30, it’s basically a 30-day reset where you eliminate certain foods from your diet like added sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, soy, processed foods, and anything not “real.”

Foods to be enjoyed during the month are meat, eggs, seafood, vegetables, fruits, and natural fats. Whenever possible, it’s recommended to opt for sustainable, ethically-treated, grass-fed, pasture-raised, and/or organic fare.

The goal of the Whole30 is to make intentional, mindful food choices, feed your body well, and hopefully shift your emotional relationship with food. It’s NOT a diet.

There’s no calorie counting, portion limits, or weigh-ins. You nourish your body by eating real food when you’re hungry, and that’s about it.

Completing a Whole30 isn’t necessarily a walk in the park. It can be challenging, even for those who tend to eat on the cleaner end of the spectrum. But I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to change their relationship with food for the better. And you’ll learn A LOT while going through the program (check out what I discovered from last year’s Whole30).

Plus, the food you enjoy on a Whole30 doesn’t have to feel limiting or sacrificial. Some of my favorite recipes that I make year-round are Whole30-approved (or can be with simple modifications).

Need a little help getting started? Here’s my Week 1 Whole30 Meal Plan. It includes leftovers and a few repetitive meals, but I find that relying on repeat meals prevents me from wasting time making food decisions and allows me to batch cook, which is a huge timesaver. Keep in mind, I’ll also add in a pre-workout snack if I need one (a banana or apple + almonds is a good go-to).

Week 1 Whole30 Meal Plan


Monday

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs + raw sauerkraut + 1/2 avocado + glass of green juice

Lunch: Chicken and vegetable soup

Dinner: Homemade bolognese sauce with spaghetti squash + roasted broccoli


Tuesday

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs + roasted broccoli + raw sauerkraut

Lunch: Grilled chicken + kale salad

Dinner: Salmon + sauteed kale + roasted sweet potatoes


Wednesday

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs + 1/2 avocado + raw sauerkraut + green juice

Lunch: Leftover chicken and veggie soup

Dinner: Roasted chicken + delicata squash + roasted broccoli


Thursday

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs + roasted broccoli + raw sauerkraut

Lunch: Grilled chicken + roasted potatoes + kale salad

Dinner: Leftover bolognese sauce with spaghetti squash + roasted broccoli


Friday

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs + 1/2 avocado + raw sauerkraut

Lunch: Roasted chicken + leftover veggies + bone broth

Dinner: Burger patties + sauteed onions/mushroom + avocado + kale salad


Saturday

Breakfast: Brussels sprouts with bacon and eggs + green juice

Lunch: Leftover burgers and veggies + bone broth

Dinner: Carnitas + sauteed bell peppers


Sunday

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs + sauteed kale + bone broth

Lunch: Leftover carnitas + sauteed bell peppers

Dinner: Shepherd’s pie (cooked that afternoon with meal prep)

 

 

 

 

New Year, New You – No Way

New Year New You

“New Year, New You.”

This message is being pushed on us from all around this time of year. So many of us hear this and are left feeling guilty for our “sloth-like” and “gluttonous” behavior over the past season. Suddenly those celebratory glasses of champagne enjoyed with friends, cookies baked and joyfully eaten with family, and mornings spent sleeping in and resting rather than hitting the gym are criminal. All of a sudden, our lifestyle choices just aren’t good enough – we’re too lazy, too fat, and in dire need of fixing.

So we write long lists of 20+ new habits we’re going to instantly adopt as soon as January 1st rolls around to shed ourselves of our old, deplorable identities. People who haven’t used their gym membership since last January are vowing to hit the gym six times a week, complete a monthly juice fast, become a super yogi, and finally achieve the body they’ve always wanted – thigh gap and all, of course.

I’m all for working out, eating well, and trying to live a healthy life. However, I also strongly believe that one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself is to practice self-love and self-acceptance. You don’t need to try to become a new person this year, because who you already are is good enough.

That being said, I’m not averse to setting goals. Participate in the January Whole30 if you want, or sign up for your first marathon, but don’t do it because you think you need to do these things in order to be a person of value. The diet industry and media are constantly trying to sell firm abs and toned triceps as true happiness – that without those things we’re just not enough. It’s just not true.

My goal for this year is be happy with myself right now. We are all enough as is, and we need to stop trying to be someone else. Let’s focus on what makes us special and wonderful right now. Let’s empower each other to practice self-love all year long. Let’s lovingly create goals and intentions that honor our bodies and spirits.

Rather than trying to be a “new you” this year, I urge you to respect where you are at this exact moment and all that you’ve gone through this past season of your life, embrace how it’s shaped you, and live a life that is shaped by love and joy, rather than self-hate.

You don’t need to be a “New You” in 2017. Just be you.

xoxo,

Melissa

Weekly Workouts – Week of October 31st

running lake merritt

I love seeing what other people do for their weekly workouts, so I thought I’d also start sharing my own on a regular basis. My hope is that someone out there finds this useful or motivating. At the very least, it’s a good way to hold myself accountable and track my progress.

Sunday – Ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Los Angeles

Monday – Active rest day (I walked 11.5 miles)

Tuesday – 2-mile jog + foam rolling

Wednesday – 1 hour of BODYPUMP

Thursday – 4-mile run

Friday – 25-minute home HIIT ladder workout (included kettlebell swings, kettlebell sumo squats to high pull, kettlebell bent rows, and burpees, all with a 25-lb kettlebell), followed by some ab exercises

Saturday – 10-mile run + foam rolling

Sunday – Rest day

Overall, I felt positive about what I accomplished this past week. Completing a long run the weekend after a half marathon was a big win for me, since, historically, I haven’t run much at all in the week or two following a 13.1 distance. It feels nice to keep the momentum up.

In addition to this, my Friday HIIT workout was AWESOME. I did 20 kettlebell swings between each rung of the ladder, which kept my heart rate elevated throughout the entire workout, and my whole body was pretty exhausted by the end of it. It’s definitely a fun one!

I’m looking forward to getting in some speedwork this week, as well as several good sessions of resistance training. I’ll let you know how it goes next week!

For now, please enjoy this photo of me standing with a Mario Lopez cutout from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles pre-race expo.

standing with a mario lopez cutout

Happy sweating!

Melissa

Discovering the Mendocino Coast

Sunset over the Mendocino coast

Sometimes you just have to push the pause button on your work life and remember how humbling it is to stare into the vastness of the ocean. Or recognize how extraordinary it is to feel really tiny standing among and being swallowed up by a bunch of gigantic trees.

Fortunately, I was able to enjoy this splendid feeling recently as I celebrated my boyfriend Michel’s birthday with a two-day trip to Mendocino, a tiny, charming coastal town in California about three hours north of San Francisco.

Celebrating Michel's birthday along the Mendocino coast

The drive up to and through Mendocino boasts some of the most beautiful stretch of coastline I’ve seen. If you’re looking to get away from the Bay Area bustle for a day or two for some R&R or quality time with Mother Nature, I couldn’t recommend it more.

There are so many things to do in Mendocino and the nearby area. For the active types, there is hiking, kayaking, and tons of trails to run along, and for the gourmands in the house, there is some truly delicious food available here. Plus, sunsets. Everyone needs to stop moving and just sit on the beach and watch the sunset every now and again.

Here are some of my favorite recommendations for spending a couple days in Mendocino.

Eating breakfast tacos and a burger at Circa '62 restaurant in Mendocino County

Food

We enjoyed breakfast as Circa ’62 at the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek, which is just a few miles south of the town of Mendocino. And when I say “enjoyed,” I mean enjoyed. I had the Mexican tacos, which included pork carnitas, scrambled eggs, caramelized onions and jalapenos, a cherry tomato salsa, and cojita, served with corn tortillas and spicy papas bravas. Michel had the breakfast burger, which is the largest burger I’ve ever seen. And by biggest burger, I mean it was taller than his head. The ingredients were fresh and the flavor was hard to beat.

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Super Simple Green Smoothie Recipe

super simple green smoothie

You know how sometimes you’re running reallyyyy late in the morning, but still want to start your day off with a healthy breakfast?

If you don’t know this feeling, I deeply admire you and wish you could teach me your ways. For the rest of us who tend to hit the snooze button hard and often, I want to share my super simple green smoothie recipe that only takes a mere 4 minutes to make. Yes, 4 minutes!

From gathering your ingredients, to twisting the lid on your mason jar before running out the door, this green smoothie is easy, nutritious, and so quick to make you’ll have no excuses for not having a healthy start to your day.

Four ingredients are all you’ll need: spinach, banana, almond milk, and chia seeds.

Spinach is one of my favorite greens to add to a smoothie, because it’s not very bitter. Plus, the sweetness of the banana mellows the spinach out so that it doesn’t taste like you’re drinking a salad. I promise, this drink is super tasty!

Also, this smoothie is loaded with fiber, which will help keep you full until lunch. #ALLthebenefits

SUPER SIMPLE GREEN SMOOTHIE RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup organic almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cups loosely packed organic baby spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients together in a blender, cover, and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy, or into a mason jar for an on-the-go breakfast.

San Jose 408K Race Review

Posing with our medals after finishing the San Jose 408K Race to the Row

I ran my third race of the year on Sunday morning (what, what!), the San Jose 408K. It’s also my third time running this particular race. It’s so good, I just keep coming back!

El Niño hit hard and it poured rain ALL day and evening the day before the race. It was so bad, Oakland had rolling blackouts and my neighborhood was affected…while all of my running clothes and socks were in the washer, mind you. Fortunately, power came back on within the hour, I was able to finish washing and drying my running gear for the morning, and we woke up to a gorgeous, sunny day.

The 408K is a quick 5km run (4.97 miles) that starts at the SAP Center in downtown San Jose and ends in Santana Row, the perfect setting for enjoying a post-race mimosa or two. It’s an incredibly flat course sprawling the suburbs of San Jose, with only two minor hills along the route.

408K_Map

I ran this race with my sister Mikayla, who has made it her goal to run more this year. We arrived early so that I could take a few photos with the Represent Running ambassador team (which I’m excited to be a part of this year!), get warmed up, and take in the race day energy.

The San Jose 408K starting line in downtown San Jose

We crossed the start line at 8:19 and headed down the Alameda, then down neighborhood streets lined with beautiful blooming trees.

Around Mile 4 we hit Memorial Mile, which always gets me all emotional. Veterans and active military line the street to cheer on the runners, and it’s such an awesome opportunity to thank them for all that they do. It’s also a great tie-in since the 408K benefits the Pat Tillman Foundation.

The San Jose 408K Memorial Mile Sign

Then it’s onto Mariachi Mile, the last stretch of the race. At this point, the sides of the route are dotted with various mariachi bands, all playing music and cheering you on to the finish as you pass by Valley Fair Mall, down Stevens Creek Boulevard and into Santana Row where you can collect your finisher’s hardware.

2016 408K finisher's medal

Reasons Why I Love Running the 408K:

  1. It’s SO well-organized. Shout out to all the volunteers and Represent Running staff!
  2. Veteran’s Mile and Mariachi Mile are great.
  3. The shirts and medals are always unique and well-designed.
  4. It’s fun, easy, and flat, which makes this race inviting for new or non-runners.
  5. I think I really realized how much I love running as I waited to cross the start line at last year’s run. I even wrote a blog post about it.
  6. The 408K is one of three races in the Run the Bay Challenge. If you run all three races (one in San Jose, one in San Francisco, and one in Oakland), you’ll receive a super medal.

After the run, we drove out to Willow Glen to enjoy a post-race Swirl at Aqui’s, followed by brunch at Bill’s Cafe. Truth: frozen margaritas and crispy hash browns are all you need after crossing a finish line.

Swirls from Aqui Cal-Mex and an omelette and hashbrowns from Bill's Cafe in Willow Glen

Overall, it was a great way to spend Sunday; plus, the 408K got me all kinds of excited for my upcoming races in 2016!

The next race that Represent Running is hosting is the Across the Bay 12K and 415K, held on July 10th, 2016 in San Francisco. (If you run the 12K, you’ll get to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, which offers amazing views of the city!)

If you’re interested in signing up for the Across the Bay 12K and 415K, use REPRESENT2016ML to get 10% off registration.

Let me know if you’re going! Hope to see you there or out on the pavement sometime!

Until then, I’ll be working on upping my weekly mileage so that I’m ready to run a half…and dreaming of the next time I can brunch in San Jose. 🙂

xoxo,

Melissa