Friday, January 29, 2016

The Official Recipe For Fitness Garden!

I'm super excited to share my garden with you! Check it out!! The Recipe For Fitness garden is officially underway! I've spent weeks researching and preparing - what grows when, and with what, where to plant, what soil to use, what kind of beds... it's kind of mind boggling, lol. There's a lot more involved than just throwing some seed on the ground.  Yes - I am a gardening newbie, lol.  I've tried to grow things before. Had a snake plant I managed to keep alive for almost 10 years. Then it died. Had a fabulous basil that lasted 2 years. Then it died. I've planted basil, rosemary, even cactus. They all died. See a pattern?

I was actually banned from purchasing live plants by my family. I think when I place one in my shopping cart, it actually cries, knowing that it's doomed to certain death. But... This time is different. It better be. ;-) And those of you veteran growers - feel free to throw tips my way.

I'm in zone 9b - which means I can plant sooner than most of the country. It also means I'll be hitting the fires of hell in a few months (seriously - there's nothing good about 118 degree heat). My early spring harvest should be bountiful, and I've even put in perennials. If that's not hopeful, I don't know what is. I've got 32 asparagus plants in, that should reach maturity next spring. Four artichoke plants - same deal. Please, oh merciful garden gods, don't let me kill them!

In planning this, I made a list of the veggies I buy the most of. Figured that was a good way to build a practical garden. To that end, I've either planted or have seedlings growing, of the following: tomatoes (early girl, roma, and cherry), peppers, jalepenos, potatoes, onions, green onions, broccoli, lettuce, beets (lots and lots of beets!), cucumbers, carrots,  kale, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, snow peas, eggplant, strawberries, and a ton of herbs. I've also got a blackberry bush planted, and a dwarf grapefruit tree (can't have full size citrus in our HOA).

Knock on the cedar beds I built, this garden is going to rock! ;-)  Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

25 Years Later...

I want to share a story with you today, and it starts nearly 25 years ago (25 years on April 2nd).

There once was a young man, working hard to build his own business. He discovered, alas, that in order to pay bills and feed his young child, he must supplement his income while growing his young company. Not afraid of hard work, he gained employment in his previous profession... plumbing. His 21st birthday arrives, and despite his pleas to get the day off, this young man finds himself in a trench. Working on a sewer pipe. A sewer pipe that must be cut. A sewer pipe that he discovers, too late, is backed up and pressurized.

The hard working young man is now covered in, well, you know, and is quite unhappy with his current situation. As he climbs out of the trench, he hears blaring music and a squeal of tires. Wiping the muck from his face, he looks out across the parking lot to see a cocky young man, climbing out of a brand new 1991 red corvette. The young man is dressed in a suit and tie, and struts away from the car to commence his business.

Our worker stops. And stares. Then he looks down at himself covered in stuff, and makes a vow. One day, he promised himself, I will buy that car. That commitment set him on a path he followed ever after. He worked hard. He built up that fledgling business, sold it, started another. He worked in many trades, always learning, always growing - always striving to build a "better life". He had some successes, had some failures, but never stopped trying.

Many years later, having achieved great success in his endeavors (made the INC 500 twice, in a row!), he shares his corvette story with a friend. The friend is much impressed with what the young man did with that pivotal moment and where it took him in life.

One day, the friend calls.

"Bill, you'll never believe what just pulled into my auction lot. I think it's here for you."

"Hey Bob. What do you mean?"

"I've got a red 1991 corvette sitting here. Primo condition."

The car that started my husband on his journey is now sitting in our driveway. And let me tell ya, it's wicked sexy! ;-)

Congratulations, hubby!!!!! You did it!!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Beneath a Darkened Sky

Last Thursday morning, we lost our Sadie. It was horrible, and unexpected. We thought we had several weeks left with her, maybe even a few months. We didn't. Within just a few hours, she was gone. She died in my arms, at home, knowing she was so very loved.

Even now, a week later, I'm having trouble typing about this. She was my constant companion, and especially in the last weeks, rarely strayed from my side. As she became sicker, my world narrowed - time was judged by medication dosages, and running errands as quickly as possible because she couldn't be left alone for long. We made changes throughout the house and yard to make things safer for her - guarding her from the pool, laying down rugs on the wood floors so she could more easily gain her footing. Everything revolved around her - but even in her illness, she brought so much light. And now I walk beneath a darkened sky.

I haven't cooked since. I can't bear being in the kitchen without her laying at my feet. My morning coffee is bereft without her head resting in my lap. Even the grocery store hurts as I pass the dog food aisles. I know some would say, "She was just a dog," but she was so much more than that to me.

I couldn't have gotten through it alone, and was so grateful Bethy was with me when it happened. I'm still not sure how the two of us got Sadie in my car after she passed. The veterinary hospital staff were incredible. Each of them came out to hug me, and tell me how much they'd loved Sadie. The vet herself sat with me, and held me as I cried. Their compassion was a comfort.

I spent the weekend surrounded by people who love me. The kids drove in from CA, our other kids spent a lot of time here, just being with me. My family all gathered together to mourn with me, and hold me tight as I fell apart. I'm thankful, so thankful for them.

And I'm thankful for the memories, the photos, the years we had with Sadie.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Meatloaf Madness

Meatloaf is one of those comfort foods that cold weather just begs for. No? Hmmm. Maybe it's just me, lol, but I love a good meatloaf, and this is one heck of a great meatloaf! Tender, juicy, bursting with flavor, and packed full of veggies! Plus, it's cooked in the crockpot - EASY!! And - bonus... the recipe makes two loaves! Just freeze one, and cook the other! Serve with your choice of sides... my favorites are steamed green beans and mashed potatoes or roasted potato wedges.

(by the way - you can find an easy printable version HERE)

Easy Meatloaf
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: American
Author: Chelle Stafford
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: serves 4-6
This amazing meatloaf is packed with a boatload of hidden veggies. Gluten free, too. ;-) This makes 2 large loaves, one for crockpot, one for freezer, each feeds 4-6 people)
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 lb extra lean ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup gluten free panko
  • 1 15-oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 zucchini, shredded
  • 2 full cups of raw spinach
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 large red pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 8 oz pack baby-bellas, rinsed, stemmed and minced
  • 2-4 Tbsp mrs Dash Garlic & Herb
  • 2 Tbsp dehydrated minced onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Put all veggies in food processor until they are finely minced.
  2. In a large bowl, combine minced vegetables, meat and seasoning.
  3. Mix until completely combined.
  4. Divide into two loaves, freezing one for another time.
  5. Place remaining loaf in crockpot and top with natural ketchup.
  6. Cook for 4 hours on low.
  7. Serve.
Serving size: 1 slice Calories: 260 Fat: 13 Saturated fat: 5 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 10 Sugar: 3 Sodium: 310 Fiber: 2 Protein: 26 Cholesterol: 110
Tip: use a Crockpot Liner for easy cleanup.
Feel free to swap around the seasonings, and the veggies. The meatloaf is really moist, and very filling.

Monday, January 11, 2016

I'm So Excited...

I mentioned previously, that I had some new stuff coming up. And... it's almost here! I've taken my first tangible (other than planning, strategizing, researching, etc) step toward one of my big Recipe For Fitness goals.  Video. Over the last few years, I've played with the idea of adding videos as a resource on the site and blog, but frankly, it's been daunting - equipment, technique, software... and with all that our family has dealt with in the last year in particular, my dreams of video have faded into the background.

Well, with the awesome guidance of my photographer daughter, a boatload of research, a super supportive hubby, and not a little heart searching, I'm moving forward. And by the way, Amazon Prime is REALLY my best friend, lol.  My gear will be arriving this week and I'm preparing mentally for the battle of learning a whole new skill set. It's going to be fun!!

Now, because ya'll know me, and how I'm always so cautious about jumping into a new project (yes, that's a joke), I'll be learning all this new stuff along with two major Continuing Ed courses, a few enormous projects around the house (hello kitchen blinds - can't wait to use my pinup fabric!), and of course our continuing battle to get Sadie healthy, our family's other struggles and goals... it'll be a lot. But, it's a lot that I'm exited about. Remember, I'm refusing to have 2016 bring us the same pain as last year. So, I'm forging forward with my usual gusto (blinders on and all!) and very excited to bring you all new resources for your own Clean Eating journeys. This will be fun!!

In light of that... in the coming weeks you'll be seeing some changes on the website. I'm eliminating the "custom meal plan" service. In it's place, I'll be offering consultations and evaluations (more to come on that), and of course - lots and lots of new recipes. I'm going back to my roots - creating easy fresh new recipes that taste amazing while helping you (us) reach goals, and remaking old familiar dishes to help our families eat healthier while still enjoying the "comfort" we've always expected with our meals.

I've got a whole slew of recipes I've created and/or fixed over the last year and I'm excited to finally bring those to you. You're going to love them! :-)

I'll leave you today with my current favorite recipe video - as you watch it, I think you'll see why it's my favorite. Nailed it!! Happy Monday, folks!!

Creamy Lemon Butter Chicken.. Give it a watch!

Creamy Lemon Butter Chicken
Posted by Tasty on Saturday, December 19, 2015

Thursday, January 7, 2016

What's For Dinner?

Here we are, seven days into the new year. How's it going for you?  Still a bit wobbly around my house - Sadie either has "ok" days, or bad days. Yesterday was bad. So far today, all she wants to do is snuggle - I'm ok with that (but not much else is getting done, lol - hence tonight's dinner, see below).

Bill is battling bronchitis (told him he should have gone to the doctor sooner!), Bethy is fighting a cold, and (drumroll please....) I'm back in menopause.

Seriously. After nearly 10 years of hormone freedom. Ermergerd!!!! Hot flashes, night sweats - all the fun stuff. Turns out that over the last year, my hormones have taken a dive. My testosterone levels didn't even register. Oops. Guess I should have been paying closer attention, huh? So... I'm on hormone replacement therapy. Joy. Wish it'd kick in, though, because sweating like a pig in 40 degree weather isn't much fun. We're waiting for some more bloodwork to come back, then I'll get a new supplement routine in place. The usual supplements I take are all on hold until we get my numbers.  Fun times. Lol.
Now, back to dinner... ya'll know how much I love my crockpots (I have 11 now), and with the rainy weather, sick dog, and well, let's say I'm experiencing a lack of high energy (go ahead, laugh), dinner tonight is via my trusty slow cooker. It's also a favorite recipe, so kinda counts as comfort food (even though it's totally healthy - just don't tell your family that part).

Right at this very moment, the smell of Chicken Verde is filling my kitchen - yummy! And since the hubby has meetings that go until late tonight, and Bethy has her own plans, I've got it all to myself! No one needs to know if there's no leftovers, right? ;-)   Before you think I've gone glutton, I did only make a half batch. Still - it's mine, all mine! Bwahahahaha!!!!

You can find the printable recipe on my main site HERE.

Chicken Verde Tostadas

"These chicken tostadas come together in a snap when you've prepped the chicken earlier - dinner's ready in 12 minutes!!"

Gluten Free Chicken Verde Tostadas
Serves 4
Prep Time: 
Cook Time: (2 hours in crockpot, plus 15 minutes to get dinner served)


  • 1 lb chicken breast 
  • 1 jar (16 oz) green chili salsa
  • 8 gluten-free corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup refried black beans (or mashed black beans)
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup plain fat-free greek yogurt
  • shredded lettuce or shredded cabbage (like this)
  • onion, diced
  • tomato, diced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • hot sauce


  1. Place chicken and 1/2 the jar of salsa in crockpot.  Cook on high about 2 hours, or until cooked through. Drain off liquid, shred chicken, then add the other half of the jar and mix together. Place in serving bowl or return to the crockpot (power off or on warm).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a cookie sheet with foil. Place 6 corn tortillas on sheet, and bake about 12-15 minutes, turning halfway, until crispy.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat refried beans over medium heat, adding the chili powder and smoked paprika, stirring well.
  4. While your beans heat, chop your toppings and set them out.
  5. Serve.

TIPSToppings galore!!! My family likes using shredded cheddar, I prefer crumbled feta; they like shredded lettuce, I prefer the mix from those coleslaw bags (just the veggies); they like sour cream, I prefer fat-free greek yogurt... feel free to add sliced black olives, chopped or jarred jalapeño, etc.

NOTE*Quick and Easy Chicken Verde: Place chicken breasts in crockpot, add 1 jar salsa verde (or green chili - This is what I use), cover and cook about 2 hrs on high. Shred. If you don't have time for the crockpot, simply place both ingredients in a baking dish, bake at 350 until cooked through (about 25 minutes) and shred.


Nutritional Information

Amount Per Serving (2 tostadas)  Calories: 316 | Total Protein: 35 g | Total Carbohydrate: 27 g | Total Fat: 0 g | Total Fiber: 6

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

And The Winner Is...

Remember that Transformation Challenge I told you about back in September? Well, it finished up on Christmas Eve. And it finished up with a BANG!

Isn't that incredible???? WAY TO GO, KYLE!!!!
And, not only did Kyle receive mega bragging rights, he also won... $1,000.00 is proud to congratulate Kyle on his amazing transformation!!


Goodbye 2015

Yes, it's been awhile. I'm sorry.  To be perfectly honest, I just haven't had the heart to blog. But... I'm back. And I am so glad to see 2015 in my rear view mirror.

Last year was rough. Don't get me wrong - there were a lot of really great things that happened in 2015 (like my amazing GoDaddy New York trip!!), but under and over it all was wrenching heartache. Literally from January through the last day of December, our family was hammered. Disappointments and tragedies - seemed like a new one arrived each month. We'd get get through one, only to get knocked back by the next. We'd receive good news, only to have it taken away soon after. The dreams we had as a family going into 2015 were never realized.

The challenges we faced showed us just how little we control in our lives. And just how important the things we can control are. Joy and Grace were my keywords throughout the year. I held tightly to my joy - not happiness, which is dependent upon circumstances, but joy which is something much deeper. I define joy as the knowledge that no matter what happens, there are always things to be grateful for. I try to focus on the joy, even in the midst of pain & sorrow. I've been learning, over the last year, to coexist my joy with my grief - to live in grace. Hard to do when I want to throw myself to the floor and have an epic 3-year old's tantrum.

As 2015 came to a close, it brought a few final punches, including nearly losing our Sadie. She very quickly deteriorated, and coming back from our family Colorado trip, we ended up driving straight to the veterinary hospital. She spent several days there, receiving great care, before coming home just before Christmas. While she isn't as bad as she was, she's not great. And we have no idea how much time we have with her. She's been diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, as well as severe arthritis in her spine and hips. One hip is labeled "catastrophic arthritis". My kitchen counter looks like a pharmacy with all her meds. Thankfully, the vet says she's not in pain, just uncomfortable and frustrated.

Apart from all that, we had a wonderful family vacation in Colorado - sledding wars, hot cocoa in the snow, we even went snowshoeing! What a blast! It was fabulous to have us all together - Bill, me, all the kids, my parents, Bill's dad & his wife - plus our fur babies :-) So much fun! We stayed at the same property we rented last December, though this year no one drove off a cliff, lol.  We got snow on our very first day, and throughout our trip. It was beautiful, and the trip is one of the memories I treasure from 2015.

As we move into 2016, we do have several things up and coming - particularly in the first quarter. Barring a repeat of last year, we will have much to celebrate - and I'll have much to share with you, soon.
The Family