A Recipe for Fall that Even *I* Can Cook

You may not know this, but I have the cooking skills of a fourth-grader. Probably worse. Much to my mom's chagrin and semi-frequent prodding to learn the important life skill of how to cook, I've been spoiled these last ten years.

I ate dorm food during freshman year of college, I lived in a sorority for the next two years (three meals a day), then I lived at home while working at the start-up and benefitted from mom's home-cooked meals, and THEN I worked at Google for 5+ years where I ate three meals a day -- and dated a chef for a year and a half (survival instinct kicked in on that one, I tell you).

So here I am, turning 28 in October, with absolutely ZERO clue how to cook. None, zero, zip. I toast and I microwave, and even that is pushing it on the effort scale.

But alas, I have been on a health kick lately AND trying to save money as a newly-minted solopreneur, so I am PROUD to announce that I've learned how to cook SOMETHING!!!

The recipe, shared by my mom, is a popular chili soup.

It's AMAZING. It  tastes delicious, it's as healthy as it gets, and serves as lunch and even dinner for an entire week!

If I can cook this, a troupe of monkeys can too, which means you'll knock it out of the park! I can't find the exact recipe the way that she makes it, so here it is:

Chili Soup (that lasts all week!)

Meat: 1 pound lean ground turkey or lean ground beef (2 lbs if you're really going for protein) Base: 1 can of pumpkin or butternut squash, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 box of chicken or beef broth Veggies (diced): 2 yellow squash, 2 zucchini, 1 box of butternut squash, 2 bell peppers, 1 box of sliced mushrooms, 1 onion, 1/3 bundle of celery (slice directly across the stalks), optional - 1 can black beans / garbanzo beans / kidney beans (or all three!), and anything else that sounds good! Seasoning: 1 packet of spicy chili powder, garlic or seasoning salt (optional), flax seeds (optional) Directions: On medium, brown the meat, then drain. Add in the base, followed by the veggies and seasoning. Let cook on medium for ~30 minutes -- eat! Turn off the stove and let the soup continue to simmer until the pot cools, then refrigerate. Serves: ~12 bowls Cost: ~$60 if you have to buy all of the ingredients from scratch

Update: click here for a handy shopping list you can take to the grocery store.

Best online recipe boxes:

My friend Ben Tseitlin, whose Tumblr is one of my "must-reads" for awesome pictures, quotes and titdbits, recently reblogged "5 Best Online Recipe Boxes" for those of you who are interested. If not, check-out Ben's blog and gourmet handmade chocolates - he's also hosting a chocolate-making class for any of you living in the SF Bay Area on September 19.


Update on my August Health Challenge:

I'm writing a longer guest post for Forbes Woman on the health challenge that I will share with you soon, but for now, suffice it to say that I feel like a NEW person. I've decided to make my health challenge journal public for any of you who are curious about how things progressed over the last 30 days. Grab the template version here

You don’t have to do a crazy cleanse like I did (though I highly recommend Dr. Alejandro Junger’s Clean Program if you are interested); see what experiments you can run in your own life that work for YOU. Now that I’m in maintenance mode I’m adding some coffee back in (can’t skip those deliciously foamy lattes forever!) and 1-2 cheat days per week, borrowing from Tim Ferris’ Slow Carb Diet and The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet (a GREAT book I just read by Robb Wolf).

Here's an excerpt of my post:

During the first three days, I had complete monkey-mind -- craving coffee, sugar and TV like the addict I was -- unable to focus because I was thinking about them every five minutes. But on the fourth day and every day thereafter, I started noticing something incredible.

I felt clear-headed. Creative. Confident. Energized. Productive. HAPPY.

I was getting more done in one week than I had completed in one month. I was no longer experiencing crazy mood swings or unproductive days. I started sleeping like a rock. I was in a great mood, glowing and energetic at conferences and razor sharp during my coaching and speaking engagements. I was on a roll and I stayed there.

I used to scoff at the countless magazines that preach healthy eating and exercise -- get over yourself! Until I experienced, firsthand, the insanely powerful impact it had on my business’s bottom line (not to mention my actual bottom, which now fits nicely back into my best jeans).

Do you have any health tips or observations to report? Got any so-easy-a-monkey-could-make-this recipes you can share (ideally that will last for longer than one meal)?