Split-Pea Perfection

My Barnes and Noble trip was less than productive. I had planned on reviewing a bunch of videos for a project I’m working on, but realized that I forgot my headphones. Obviously, it would have been very rude of me to listen to the videos out loud at B&N cafe. So, I worked on a few other small things then headed for home. 

On the way home, I stopped at Fresh Market to pick up a loaf of freshly-baked whole-grain bread and some garlic French rounds – both for the awesome split-pea soup my husband and I made for dinner.

Pea soup1

I thought the split-pea soup was fantastic. The ham hock I used gave it a ton of flavor and the sweet potato gave the soup some added color, and an extra boost of vitamins A and C. Even peas themselves offer great nutritional value, because they are packed with protein.

Pea soup2

I’ve loved split-pea soup since I was a kid but only started making it homemade as an adult. To make the soup, here’s what you’ll need…

RWC Split-Pea and Ham Soup 

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 14 oz dried green split-peas
  • 64 oz chicken broth/stock
  • 1 sweet potato, skin removed and cut into small cubes
  • 1 medium ham hock (about the size of a full chicken breast
  • 4 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjorum
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • a sprinkle of rosemary

Heat oil in a large sauce pan. Add onion, celery, and carrots and saute on medium until just softened. Add the split peas, chicken broth, sweet potato, ham hock, and the spices to the sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 60 minutes. Remove ham hock, and slice meat off the bone, cut into small pieces, and set aside. Discard ham hock. Puree up to half of the soup mixture in a blender, then return blended soup to the sauce pan. Add ham pieces, and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with croutons or French bread rounds.

Serves 8 people.

This recipe makes way more soup than needed for just 2 people. But we usually freeze one or two quarts to make as a quick mid-week dinner.

We were especially full from dinner because, in addition to soup, we had baked feta cheese with fresh multi-grain bread.

baked feta2

I’ve had baked feta a couple times before and LOVED it both times. Tonight was the first time I made it at home. Here’s what I did:

Spicy Baked Feta

  • 4-8 oz block of feta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like it hot!)
  • fresh ground pepper

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the feta into large chunks (or leave as one big chunk if you like) and place in a shallow oven-safe bowl.. Mix oil, garlic, red pepper, and ground pepper in a separate bowl and pour over feta. Bake for 10-15 minutes until cheese is slightly brown. Spread warm cheese on fresh bread or French rounds.

Baked feta is so much better when it’s served warm, mainly because you can easily spread it on your bread. Although my baked feta tasted good, I let it cook for nearly 25 minutes because I was preoccupied. This was way too long and the cheese was a little rubbery and hard to spread on the bread.

I have sooo much to get done tomorrow, it’s not even funny. So, I’m outta here. Hope you enjoy the recipes. Chat with you later.

Organic Food Provides No Health Benefits

Before I get into a recap of my afternoon/evening (and an awesome freebie I had), I wanted to share with you the latest scoop on organic food.

Organic Food Is Not As Healthy As It Seems!

If you are one of the nearly 75 percent of Americans who pays extra for organic food thinking it is healthier, you may want to save your money. New evidence suggests that organic foods hold no added health or nutritional benefit compared with nonorganic foods.

Organic Marinara

In a study published this week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from the London School of Medicine found no differences in most nutrients in organically or conventionally grown crops, including vitamin C, calcium, and iron. The same was found for meat, dairy, and eggs.

Some consumers also believe that organic foods provide a significant benefit over ordinary foods because they are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and artificial fertilizers, among other things. However, some experts believe there is insufficient research on the long-term effects of pesticides on humans.

RWC Note…. Although I strive to eat all-natural foods, I don’t necessarily choose organic over nonorganic because it’s better. When I do go organic, it’s because: 1) organic food may be the cheaper option (but this is rare) or, 2) among some all-natural food brands, organic may be your only option (so was the case in my Newman’s marinara seen above.)

So, the next time you’re deciding between organic and non, you may want to base your purchase on cost value rather than health-related value.

Back to may day….

I ran more errands this afternoon but did manage to get out to a local park to stretch my legs a little more. I also made an awesome sausage-pasta dish for dinner:


I call this dish my Italian Sausage-Pasta with Leeks. It is absolutely yummy and has become a standard in the RWC household. Here’s what you need to make it:

RWC Italian Sausage-Pasta With Leeks Recipe

  • 3 links Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 small carton of button mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 large leeks (white parts only, sliced length wise, then crosswise into 1-inch half-circle pieces – rinsed)
  • 2 bell peppers (any color you like, cut in long thin strips)
  • 8 oz of short pasta, cooked and drained (rotini, shells, or campenelle)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cup chicken stock/broth

Add the oil to a large saute pan. Add chopped Italian sausage and mushrooms to the pan and saute until sausage is thoroughly browned and mushrooms are cooked through, stirring constantly so meat does not burn. Add leeks and bell peppers and saute until veggies are tender (but not mushy) about 8 minutes. Add butter, shallot, and broth, and cook on medium-high for 5-8 minutes or until some of the juice has evaporated a little. Add cooked pasta (that has been drained) to the sausage mixture and mix thoroughly. Serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

Serves 4 people.

If you like Italian sausage, I can almost guarantee you will make this dish more than once! I have used turkey Italian sausage before and it tastes just as good (although my husband would argue this point). I also like to change up the color of my peppers to give the dish a little variety. You can really add more than 2 peppers if you like, because they give the dish so much flavor!


My husband and I were pretty full, so we decided to head up to the local outdoor mall to walk off some of our dinner. We also decided to get a little treat for ourselves – ice cream!

Cold Stone

We went to Cold Stone Creamery – which we love but don’t go there very often because it’s so expensive. I had a kid’s size French Vanilla with chocolate cake – fantastic! And, to make things even better, our ice creams were free because they made a mistake on our bill (overcharged us by more than $4.00 – how does that happen?) The manager said it’s store policy to comp the order if they make a mistake on your bill. I was very impressed by this great customer service and especially appreciate that I didn’t have to shell out $10 for ice cream.

Now, I’m off to bed. Yoga starts at 8 AM tomorrow!

Nuts and Bowls

Hello All. Hope you had a wonderful day. My day was crazy busy with meetings. I also sat in our office library for about 4 hours reviewing more video footage for a tribute video I’m working on.

Even though I was heads down for most of the day, I did take a break for lunch. I had planned on going out to eat but I honestly was not very hungry. I decided not to waste my money and calories on restaurant food when I knew I really wouldn’t enjoy it. Instead, I had another yogurt-fruit bowl.

Lunch Bowl2

My yogurt bowl was made with a base of Trader Joe’s Organic Greek Yogurt in vanilla flavor. I just want to clarify that I do not eat organic food because it’s better tasting or better for you (more on this topic in another post). I try to choose foods that are all-natural (organic food falls into this category) and sometimes organic is the only choice at the time.

To my yogurt, I added a ton of chopped walnuts (great source of omega 3’s!), a few flakes of coconut, dried pineapple and bananas, and a handful of fresh blueberries (love those antioxidants). It was awesome and looked very cool in the new bowl I scored from the concert a few days ago. The bowl even came with a matching spoon.

Lunch Bowl4

And that my friends was the only thing I ate for the rest of the time I was at work. That’s how filling it was! 

When I finally arrived home from work around 6:30 PM, I still wasn’t that hungry. I made a simple and small taco salad bowl. I threw in a a bunch of lettuce, some turkey taco meat from Monday’s dinner, cheddar cheese, and grape tomatoes.

taco salad2

It was just ho-hum, but satisfying. But, now that my stomach has settled a little, I’m off to do some yoga.

Night everyone!

Italian Dinner and Gershwin

Good evening (or should I say good morning?) everyone! It’s just after midnight here and I just arrived home about 30 minutes ago. My husband and I went to an outdoor concert to hear Lang Lang and Herbie Hancock (quite an odd pair) play Gershwin and Mozart. The weather was beautiful and the music was very relaxing. So relaxing in fact, that it added to my already tired nature. That’s what I get for waking up at 5:30 AM to run!

Prior to the concert, my husband and I went to a local Italian eatery for a little dinner. We started with a chopped salad….

Chop salad

made with lettuce, bacon, tomato, scallions, pasta, and fresh mozzarella cheese. It was good, but the dressing made my stomach a little queasy so I had to stop eating it. No problem though, because my husband stepped in and ate my portion.

Italian sausage dish

For my entree, I had the country-style rigatoni made with Italian sausage, mushrooms, roasted peppers, tomato, and fresh basil, all in a garlic cream sauce. It was D-Lish and I ate it all!

Italian sasuage close

My husband had something that he normally does not eat in our house – shrimp. I don’t care for seafood – any kind of seafood at all. And, I especially don’t like the smell of seafood in the house. So when we go out to eat, he tries to order something that he wouldn’t normally have at home – so in this case it was spicy garlic shrimp with angel hair pasta.

Shrip Angel Hair

Here shrimpy, shrimpy…


Our meals each came with a huge garlic breadstick…


It was really a nice dinner for two – and all under $20. Not bad at all! 

OK, it’s off to bed with me. No running tomorrow – it’s my off day. But, I don’t think I’d be able to get up at 5:30 AM anyway!

A Healthy Mexican Fiesta

It’s a hot one this evening. It doesn’t help that my hot laptop is sitting on my legs and that my husband and I are too budget-conscious to turn on the air conditioning. Instead, we open all the windows and turn on all of the fans, which helps a little, particularly if you are sitting directly under the fan.

I originally brought leftovers for my lunch – 1/2 a turkey burger and couscous, but it just didn’t sound appetizing. I opted for plan B….

Chobani yogurt

Chobani All-Natural Greek yogurt, vanilla flavor. I bought this yesterday during a quick trip to Fresh Market. This was the first time I had ever tried this brand of  yogurt and I really liked it. To add a little more nutritious value to my yogurt lunch, I threw in a handful of blueberries, two strawberries, and a 1/4 cup of RWC Tropical Granola mix. Yum and so filling! I was seriously no where near hungry after I ate this. And, in spite of not having meat or veggies, my lunch had plenty of protein and fiber, as well as vitamin C.

I left work later than usual – about 5:40 PM – and arrived home to a fully prepared Mexican fiesta…


Mexican food doesn’t have to be loaded with calories and “bad” fat to taste good. Instead, we make a lighter version of our tacos by using lean ground turkey in place of ground beef for the meat, and we add tons of fresh veggies and a little guacamole and cheese to top it off. 

Guac bowl

Holy guacamole! Can you say Ole?

Guac on chip

I just love this stuff. I remember a time when I didn’t like guacamole. I think it was because I had never really tried it, but thought anything that color green would not be appetizing. How wrong I was!

Now that I am fairly content with my awesome and light Mexican dinner, I’m debating on whether or not homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies could be considered part of the Mexican diet. I think yes.


So pass the cookies (and skim milk) please!

Night everyone!

It's Summer Grilling Season

Hello All. Hope you had a great afternoon. It was gorgeous outside, but, unfortunately, I spent most of the afternoon inside – working – blah! I headed to Barnes and Noble’s cafe to plug in and use the free WiFi. I was able to crank out at least 2 hours of work there, but was still bummed that I wasn’t outside. To cheer myself up, I treated myself to a tasty frozen beverage….


It was yummy and so refreshingly cold – I loved every sip of it. I headed back home around 5:00 PM. My husband fired up the Weber Grill to cook our stuffed chicken breasts. My husband got his baby last year and we grill on it a ton, especially in the summer. It makes dinner and clean up a snap, which I love of course.

Weber Grill

Stuffed Chicken

We bought the chicken breasts from our local all-natural Fresh Market. My chicken was Venetian chicken, stuffed with goat cheese and roasted red pepper. My husband’s was stuffed with ricotta and spinach. We paired the chickens with a side of fresh cut green beans and some Trader Joe’s couscous made with chicken stock, and sprinkled with feta and grape tomatoes.


Stuffed Chicken Breast


Couscous is a great alternative to rice or potato dishes and it’s high in fiber. It’s also a little high in calories (220 calories per 1/3 cup) so I try not to eat too much at one sitting.

And for dessert – fresh and juicy watermelon!


This was truly an awesome summer dinner. Now, I’m off to do more work.

Have a great night everyone!

Feta Makes Everything Taste Better

Hello All. Hope you had an awesome day today. We’re having quite a few meetings at work this week, of which I’m only involved in one. But in our office, where there is a meeting there is always FOOD! And today was no exception. 

I originally brought leftover chicken stir fry for lunch, but was actually glad when I discovered we were having a catered lunch today. Hmmm…so many choices…what did I have?


Surprisingly, I chose a make-your-own sandwich over the salad. For some reason, a sandwich just sounded better today. I packed my sandwich with oven-roasted chicken, huge beefsteak tomatoes, and a couple of thin slices of cheddar cheese, all on rye bread (it was the best option available). I also added a few veggies as a side dish…Roasted Veggies

Char-grilled veggies to be exact. The veggies, including red and green peppers, asparagus, and carrots, were extremely flavorful. The sandwich was also very tasty but I ended up only eating half. I was starting to get pretty full so I thought it was best to stop.

And, I wanted to leave room for an afternoon treat…

Choc chip square

A chocolate chip square! It was about the size of a golf ball (3-4 bites) and had mini chocolate chips, finely chopped nuts, and even caramel mixed in. It was a cross between a blondie and a chocolate chip cookie. Super yum, and super sweet! I enjoyed it with some peppermint tea to balance out the sugar.

After viewing video timecodes for most of the afternoon, I decided to call it quits around 5:15 and head out. Tonight was a fast dinner. One that doesn’t take a lot of preparation or thought. But, it was still homemade and still quite tasty.

Sausage and Risotto

I prepared Italian sausage on our indoor grill (I still can’t seem to figure out how to use our Weber grill- my husband’s pride and joy). I also made a side of spinach risotto and threw in a few cherry tomatoes for myself. My husband does not care for chunks of tomatoes (yet he likes salsa, so that’s just weird) so he gives them all to me.

I added a little Trader Joe’s feta cheese to my risotto which really gave the dish some tang. Feta, a popular Greek cheese, has a ton of flavor so you don’t have to add very much to enhance your dish. And, I have to hand it to the Greeks. Feta seriously makes everything taste better. I add it to just about anything I can – salads, pastas, rice, veggies, and more. It’s also loaded with calcium which is very important for a runner – especially one who has osteoporosis running in her family.

Ok, enough with my feta fetish, I have a few more things to accomplish before bed. See you in the AM!

Enjoy Dessert In a Martini Glass

I was really on a roll this afternoon – but I still have a ton more to accomplish this week. 

A few hours after lunch I was feeling a bit hazy from staring at the computer screen. I woke myself from the trance with a little snack. I nibbled on a few thin pieces of Tillamook’s Vermont White Cheddar Cheese. As “block” cheeses go, this is one of my and my husband’s favorites. I put the cheese on this baby!


You might think this is just a cracker but really this is no ordinary cracker, it’s a Dr. Kracker flatbread piece – Sunflower Cheddar flavor. If you’ve never had Dr. Kracker flatbreads, they are organic crackers made with spelt flour (wheat-free flour) and all-natural ingredients. The crackers are huge, so at 105 calories-3 g fiber, one is sufficient.

Dr. Kracker

Although they are expensive, I prefer this cracker over all others because the flavor is amazing. And, the cracker is so sturdy you can load just about anything on it, from cheese to dips, and from meats to salsa. They also have to be the crunchiest cracker I’ve ever eaten.

Dr. Kracker Ingredients

I’ve seen Dr. Kracker products at Whole Foods Markets and Fresh Market, but I’ve also heard that Costco sells them – I’m still searching for them in their miles of aisles! Plus, if you’ve ever been to Jason’s Deli, they have individually wrapped Dr. Kracker crackers in their salad bar. I always snag one extra for a work snack the next day.

For dinner, I finished the homemade chicken and rice soup that I made on Saturday. It was probably a little too warm out for soup but who am I to let good, healthy food go to waste?

Chicken soup

I enjoyed the soup with a side of 12-grain artisan bread from Fresh Market, with a little of the dynamic duo – Trader Joe’s olive oil and balsamic vinegar. So yummy!


With just a small bowl of soup and a little bread in my belly, I left plenty of room for dessert. I finished off the chocolate peanut butter ice cream in the freezer (about 1/2 cup) and had mixed feelings about seeing the bottom of the carton. I was sad to see it was gone, but happy that it would not be in my house anymore!

Chocolate PB ice cream

This time, I enjoyed the ice cream in a martini glass. That may seem a little eccentric, but my husband and I have a load of glassware that we received for our wedding that has basically gone untouched since we put it in our cabinets. I often wondered why we were waiting for a big dinner party or the president to come for dinner to use our fun glassware. So, I decided to live on the edge a little and use our fancy stemware –  martini, margarita, and wine glasses –  for everyday use during meals. Also, these glasses are typically smaller than regular drinking glasses and much smaller than bowls (such as those for ice cream). So it’s really difficult to overfill them, a technique that helps you eat less but enjoy what you do have to the fullest.

Besides – chocolate ice cream in a martini glass – now who wouldn’t drink to that!

Quick and Easy Stir Fry Rescues Dinner

Hello All! I had a very productive morning and afternoon at work, getting things ready for a big meeting I have in the next month or so. But, I wasn’t too busy to enjoy a nice, wholesome lunch! Unfortunately, I ate lunch at my desk – I was just too busy to leave my office – ugh.


I enjoyed a nice size sandwich made with all natural 12-grain bread from Fresh Market, a high-end grocery store near my house. I absolutely love shopping at high-end markets and grocery stores like Fresh Market, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s. It feels a little like shopping in a quaint market in Paris or London. But, what’s even better about these stores is that they specialize in high quality, all natural foods and their products just seem to taste better. You can also find a wider variety of specialty foods, like gourmet cheeses, meats, and super fresh produce. But a HUGE caveat is that these stores tend to be more expensive than a typical grocery store, so I can’t shop there as often as I like.

Anyway, I enjoyed the bread – it was very dense but you could still see all of the seeds and grains popping out – can you say holy fiber? My sandwich consisted of lean ham and a slice of peppered turkey breast with a smear of French brie. Of course, I had to throw in some raw veggies on the side.

After my stomach settled, I went for a 30 minute walk. I know, I know, I have work to do, but all work and no walking makes Jen a grumpy chic. I headed out with my cell phone which doubles as a radio and walked just fast enough to not break a sweat in my “work” clothes. It was just the thing I needed to clear my head and face the afternoon. I also burned a few calories which doesn’t hurt either.

Although my sandwich seemed filling at the time, I could tell that it just wasn’t enough to get me through the afternoon. About 3 PM, my stomach was growling like crazy, even though I had plenty of water and tea after my walk. I’m so glad that I brought an emergency snack – a homemade blueberry oatmeal muffin. It was pretty small, but hit the spot with some green tea with lemon. 

Blueberry muffin

Sorry to say, the recipe was not really my own recipe – it was an adaptation from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Although my father-in-law has an awesome blueberry cake recipe that I’m dying to try. The recipe was handed down from his father who actually won awards with it. I think it’s safe to say, I will not be sharing that recipe anytime soon!

I raced out the door about 5:15 and made it home around 5:45, not bad for a Monday. I started preparing a little dinner – it was a stir-fry kind of night.

Stir fry

This stir-fry recipe is homemade, courtesy of my mother-in-law. I won’t give away the super secret sauce, but the stir-fry itself included boneless chicken breast, red bell peppers, celery, carrots, onions, and broccoli (added at the very last minute). My husband and I put this on a bed of brown rice for a super Monday night meal. By the way, if you haven’t already heard, brown rice is a more nutritious choice than white rice – it has more fiber which fills you up more so you eat less.

I had about 1/2 cup of rice and about 1 1/2 cups of stir-fry, which ended up being a pretty low-calorie, very filling dinner. But, I had enough room for dessert!

Chocolate peanut butter

Alright peeps, it’s off to bed for me. I have a jam-packed day at work tomorrow and need to fit in a run in the AM or else I won’t make it through the day. By the way, Starbuck’s is offering a free pastry tomorrow with the purchase of any drink from open until 10:30 AM. Starbuck’s states that it’s pastries contain no trans fat, no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial dyes, and no artificial flavors. I know where I’m going tomorrow morning!

Trader Joe's Guacamole and Fajitas: A Perfect Duo

Oh boy, was dinner ever good! I had some awesome chicken fajitas courtesy of my husband. Fajitas are one of my husband’s specialties. He actually gets requests for these babies when we have guests. There’s just something about the way the chicken is marinated – not too spicy, not too bland.


As you can see, I packed my tortilla so full that I could barely pick it up! But, the tortillas were small, not the supersize ones for burritos. I’m not a huge fan of tortillas anyway, especially the ones made with white flour – they have very few nutrients. Tortillas made with wheat flour offer more bang for you buck, but we had none on hand.

In building my fajita, I first put down a layer of green leaf lettuce, followed by a few slices of fajita meat. I topped off the meat with grilled veggies – red peppers, cherry tomatoes, and onions – monterrey jack cheese and a big dollop of guacamole.

TJ Guac

Typically, I prefer to make my own guacamole with fresh avocados. But in the essence of time, Trader Joe’s guacamole does very well in a pinch. TJ’s guac is so yummy and it’s made from all natural ingredients – a huge bonus. Avocados are so good for you too – loaded with antioxidants and good fat, so I never feel guilty when I have an extra few spoonfuls of the green stuff!

Guac ingredients

I ended up having two fajitas with a few all natural corn tortilla chips and more guac. I was satisfied, borderline full, but not stuffed, which is just how I like to be after dinner – because it gives me enough room for a little treat! I waited a couple hours after dinner to partake in dessert – about 1/2 cup of chocolate peanut butter ice cream from an old-fashioned ice cream parlor near my house. The ice cream literally has chunks of peanut butter in it – love it! 

Now, it’s off to bed for me. I have an early date with my running shoes in the morning!

Have a great night everyone!