Friday, March 21, 2014

Family Friday - The Paint Mixer

Happy FRIDAY! I am so excited to tell you about the most fun thing I've done in a while. At my work we have a group called the President's Club. It's made up of individuals who are giving to United Way of Salt Lake at a Donor Network level. I choose to give at a Young Leader level because I believe in the work we're doing AND because I truly enjoy the perks it gives me. Networking events, Lunch with a Leader, volunteer opportunities with community oriented individuals, and PRESIDENT'S CLUB!!!

United Way of Salt Lake President's Club (I'm the second from the left in the bottom row.)
When you're a part of President's Club that means you get a fun activity every quarter with a group of truly amazing people who share their commitment to our work. In the past we've done things like had a fancy meal at Ruth's Chris, cooking classes from the owner of Saffron Valley, private bowling, and snow tubing. Yeah, seriously. All for FREE! (Ok, you could argue it's not free because we donate to be a part of it but honestly I would have been donating anyway so this is all just bonus for me.)

Work in progress with some of my favorite people!
This quarters activity was something I'd heard of and wanted to try but never had the guts to do it. We went to The Paint Mixer and painted Van Gogh's The Starry Night. Now, I have NEVER been artistic. I am creative, but not artistic. I can play the piano, I could dance in high school, and could do anything in the arts & crafts realm but anything drawing/painting/sculpture/etc. just never worked for me which is why I've never done a painting class. I can say I was a little nervous. When you're doing something for the first time with a bunch of co-workers I worried that I just might be the only person in the room who would have a total disaster on my hands. Luckily for me that was not the case. I give you my masterpiece.

Russell loved my moon.
It was actually REALLY easy to do and so much fun. I had a blast learning how to paint this piece and obviously it's not totally like the original but it's taken enough from the original work that you should be able to tell what the painting was even if I didn't tell you. I would absolutely recommend this type of activity for a girls night out, date night, or any other reason you have to get together with friends or family. It was such a great time that I honestly think I may have a new hobby on my hands. Now to find time and money to do it more. HA HA HA!

My volunteer team! Amy and Craig. (You can also see Isabel in the background.)
The other great thing about doing this as a class at one of these studios is they provide everything. So for a one time fee of anywhere around $35-45 you can give it a whirl and see if you like it. They do offer some more expensive classes that include food or are larger canvas but most classes fall somewhere in this range. If you end up not liking it, you're not out anything more than your time and you never have to do it again. I am actually interested in doing more painting classes in the future so I may end up buying my own supplies one day. Or maybe I'll just wait for Christmas and ask Santa for some serious painting supplies. This studio is in Sugarhouse but they also have a Park City location. I know there's another studio called Painting with a Twist that operates under the same concept but I haven't been there yet. If you decide to go let me know what you think!

Have you ever accidentally found a new hobby or talent? Is there something you'd tried and failed that that later in life you excelled at? Heads up, you may see other work related posts on my Family Friday's. I figure for the amount of time you spend at work, often those people can become like family so they deserve a shout out as a big part of my life.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wellness Wednesday - Mindful Meditation

Hi everyone! Happy Wednesday! I hope your week is going well. If you read my post on Sunday you know that so far all the medical tests that they've ran on me have came back fine. This leaves me with the continued state of exhaustion I'm in with no physical reason for it. Suspecting some of it may be related to anxiety and stress I've signed up for a 21-day Meditation Experience that starts April 14.


I've done the past two meditation experiences Oprah and Deepak and have enjoyed them so I thought I'd jump on board with this one too. It's totally free so if you're interested be sure to head over and sign up now.


If you're looking for a crazy large amount of opportunities to learn about various aspects of wellness you should head on over to The Chopra Center and check out all they have to offer. There are both free and paid courses, articles, books, and so much more. If you sign up for their newsletter you'll get wellness right to your inbox. I actually saw in their latest newsletter the Discover Your Passion & Purpose 3-part mini series and figured why not check it out. I thought it would be something for me to focus on while I was waiting for the 21-day Meditation Experience. From what I've seen so far their site is beautifully done and accessible for beginners too. I'll be excited to share things I find but if you find something you love let me know so I can check it out too.

Join me! I've already got one free course I'm checking out!
Overall in the past few days since going to the doctor I've felt like that put my mind at ease that there isn't anything in particular I need to do with my physical self. It's time to do some soul searching and look inside to get out of this place I'm in. I really hope you'll stick with me through this journey and see where I end up. If you're in a similar place and looking to get back on track to living a balanced and abundant life let me know. I keep hearing about mastermind groups and coaching and I know those things can be key to successful long term transformation.

Where are you in your life's journey? Are you on the path to making your dreams come true? Have you already done that and are living the life you've always wanted? Or, are you still at the beginning and unsure of where you want to go? Share where you're at and where you want to go so we can support each other through our journeys.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Slim & Sassy Sunday - The Results Are In

Whew. So if you've been following along you know I haven't been feeling the best lately. I did go to the cardiologist last week where they did a stress echo and found that... Everything is fine. Yep. Seriously nothing physically wrong with me. I guess that's a good thing.

Point 7. I guess I have no excuse not to exercise. HA HA HA!

I can tell you running on a treadmill hooked up to a bunch of wires isn't the most fun thing ever. That and when you feel terribly out of shape it seems pretty hard the longer you go. I walked/ran for 10 minutes and 35 seconds which from what I was told is pretty normal. My doctor said healthy people can usually go between 10 and 15 minutes. People with serious heart problems can end up stopping the test as fast as 30 seconds if things are really wrong.

Anyway, it looks like all is well with my ticker and the only advice my cardiologist had was to try and get more cardio workouts in during the week. I have been practicing yoga as you know but apparently that doesn't count for cardio. HA HA HA! I am happy to have the green light to work out more but finding time is definitely the hardest part of things. I'm going to take some time and try to figure out where I can fit these workouts in but with daylight savings time mucking things up it's been hard not to be totally exhausted every day. I'm hoping my body adjusts soon so I can stop waking up feeling like I've been hit by a truck.

What's next? Well, my doctor said if I'm still feeling bad to come back in 10 days. It's been 10 days but with daylight savings time it's now hard to tell if the exhaustion is just that or if it's still the same stuff that was bothering me before. I'm thinking of giving it one more week to see if things improve and if not maybe I'll go back. Honestly I'm not sure what they'd do but Joe is really worried that I really shouldn't feel this exhausted.

I'm starting to suspect it could be related to long term stress. Someone once said "anxiety, when it becomes exhausted, becomes depression". They also followed up with "what we feel emotionally, we eventually feel physically". I think that about sums it up. I think the next few months need to be filled with things that will help clear the mental clutter and make space for a better and more positive future.

Oh and for those following my weight loss journey, my weigh in for today was 153 even. I've lost about .8 of a pound in the last two weeks. HA HA HA! I guess I've mastered maintaining this weight so it's probably time to shift stuff up if I ever want to lose any more...

What do you do when you're feeling overwhelmed and mentally exhausted? Do you have any rituals that help you clear your mind and feel better? Also, share your tips for squeezing in workouts when you lead an already busy and full life.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saturday's Supper - Super Easy Breakfast Tacos

Today's recipe is not really an official recipe. It's something we whipped up last weekend using what we had on hand to make a fast and easy breakfast. What I like about this is that you could easily do a "clean out the fridge" type day and use whatever you have on hand. I feel you could also adapt this to your individual taste and dietary needs, for example corn vs. flour tortillas or eggs vs. beans or another vegan substitute. The other thing I liked about this was that I typically have some frozen corn tortillas from the last time we made tacos and they totally defrosted well enough for this. Bonus! I am pretty sure I could make a variation of this on most any given weekend. With that said, here we go!

Super Easy Breakfast Tacos
by Heather MacDonald

Start by prepping all your ingredients. Eggs don't take long to cook and if you're like me and doing a refrigerator clean up you'll have some stuff that's pre-cooked or just ready to go. My prep included:
  1. Defrost the corn tortillas - I put them on a plate in between some damp paper towels on the defrost setting and it went great.
  2. Prep the eggs - I went with scrambled this morning because I had a tiny bit of bacon bits left so I scrambled the egg in a bowl, mixed in the bacon bits, a little salt and pepper and was ready to pour it in when the pan was hot.
  3. Prep your toppings - I had a whole avocado that was begging to be a part of this. I diced the avocado and also prepped a light "sour cream" type sauce.
  4. Make the "sour cream" sauce - I tend to have plain Greek yogurt around so I use that in place of sour cream most of the time. For my sauce I mix some cumin, chipotle chili powder, pepper, and tiny bit of lime juice to make a flavorful sauce that I dollop on top.
  5. Dice up some green onion - I bought some once and have it growing in my window all the time. Anytime it looks like it's getting crazy big I make something like this for breakfast to use some up. If you have no idea what I'm talking about google or Pinterest "growing green onion" or something like that and you'll get step by step directions on just how to do this. Seriously a huge money saver for me. Most recipes only need a few tablespoons at most and I was sick of wasting the extra I wasn't using so I decided to just grow it. At some point I finally planted mine instead of always having it in the water and it's been great since.
Once you're prepped and ready to go here's what you do next:
  1. Fry the tortillas - I like the taste of corn tortillas when they're lightly fried. I put about an inch of vegetable oil in a small pan (just bigger than my tortillas), heat up the oil until your tortilla starts bubbling the second it's dropped in, and fry them for about 30 seconds on each side. HINT - test your oil! Dip a little of your tortilla in first. If it doesn't start bubbling right away it's not hot enough. If you put in your tortillas before it's hot enough they'll just absorb the oil and get soggy.
  2. Cook the eggs - I threw my eggs into a hot pan, scrambled them until they were most of the way cooked, and then threw in some of the green onions. I saved some green onions to top the tacos after they were assembled. When the eggs were starting to brown I turned off the heat and threw some leftover shredded cheese on top. 
  3. Assemble your tacos - I put the cheesy eggs on top of my tortillas. Topped that with a dollop of the sour cream sauce, the diced avocados, and some pico de gallo. 


Now it's time to eat! You can eat them with a fork and knife more like a tostada or be like me and just pick them up and eat them like a taco. YUM!!! So easy and super delish. Below are some suggestions if you were looking for ideas to modify this recipe.


  • Use corn tortillas, flour tortillas, or even leftover rice if you wanted to make a breakfast bowl
  • Put the toppings on some black or refried beans or add beans to your taco
  • Switch up the meat. I had some leftover bacon bits but you could use some chorizo, breakfast sausage, shredded beef, chicken, or anything else you've got on hand
  • Leave out the meat. If you're vegetarian or vegan feel free to sub a meat substitute product or use something like hash browns or diced sweet potatoes. You could even sub out the eggs for beans or maybe some oven roasted veggies more like a veggie fajita. MMMM... That would be great! We've even sauteed spinach in with the eggs when we've made this before.
  • Use your favorite hot sauce or salsa. We had some pico de gallo that we picked up from Harmons but you could use a homemade salsa or your favorite hot sauce if you need more of a kick. 
  • Slim it up by skipping the sour cream sauce, using egg whites, adding more veggies, skipping the cheese, or even sub out the tortilla for a low carb option.
As you can tell the sky is the limit here. I tend to cook based on what I have sitting around so writing formal recipes is definitely not my thing. I rarely follow a recipe to the letter so if something doesn't make sense please comment and let me know so I can clarify. If you try the recipe please come back and let me know how it went and what you used.

Do you have a go to recipe or way to cook something on the weekends that works for your family? We love most anything in a taco form so this type of recipe works great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Let us know what your favorite recipes are to clean out your fridge!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Family Friday - Follow Along

Hi everyone! Today I wanted to share some new blogs and sites I've found or been referred to recently. I personally LOVE to find new blogs with great recipe ideas. I also love to see successful mama's who are making a living or just supporting their families doing something they love. I know how easy it is for people to judge those who put their lives online but I personally feel it's time to stop judging others and start high five-ing each other when we're finding creative ways to share our passions with the world! I always wonder how jealous, mean, and insecure you have to be to put someone else down who is just trying to share what they love with the world. Especially online when you aren't even face to face with the person. I always wonder if these mean spirited people would be that mean if they saw the person face to face... But, that is not the main point today...

A little zen and some sun from back on our honeymoon trip to Hawaii.
Today it's all about some new blogs, sharing some fun sites, and spreading the love! Feel free to check them out and follow them if you'd like. I'm not getting any sort of compensation for sharing them. I just want to share them with you.

Back to Her Roots - She has a cute wellness calendar for March you should definitely check out. That and all her yummy looking pictures of food she's making. MMMM...

Oh She Glows - She shares vegan recipes that look amazing and some are also GF/soy free/processed free. Cute couple, cute cat (who could use your prayers right now), and she has come a long way. Totally worth checking out her story.

Sprouts n Squats - BA HA HA! Cats, funny pics, hair/fashion, and all sorts of other fun things.

Skinnytaste - SOOOO many yummy looking recipes. Great pics. If you're looking for some food inspiration check it out.

Daily Cup of Yoga - Yoga everything! Living well. Positive thinking. OOOMMMM!!!

A Healthy Slice of Life - Food, family, and fitness. I also wish I had a batch of these delightful looking Broccoli Cheddar Quinoa Bites right now! I NEED THEM!!!

Half Baked Harvest - Found her on Pinterest when I saw this yummy looking bowl. I found more recipes from her on Pinterest so I decided I had to check out her blog. Totally worth it!

The Busy Budgeting Mama - I somehow stumbled upon her content through some social media site and have been following her ever since. At first glance it's easy to think "oh she's one of THOSE mom's that does it all" but if you get into her content and follow her journey you can tell she is so down to earth and such a beautiful soul. Her blog has a lot of pink (and I love pink) so be warned but her content is great and worth checking out.

Please know I'm still pretty new to some of these blogs and have only gone through a few of their posts. If you find anything offensive or that's not family friendly please let me know so I can include a disclaimer.  

Check them out and let me know what your favorites are. If you have a health/wellness/craft blog or have a favorite that you follow let me know. I'll check it out and if I like it I'll share it out. And, if you become a favorite go-to site for me I'll include you in my Links or Favorite Blogs lists. Be sure to click through their sponsors and show them some love! When you purchase through their links you're helping to support their families and that is important!

Would you trade your day job to be a blogger? Ever thought about creating a website and making that your full time job? Or, do you have a successful blog that makes you money either on the side or as your income? I'd love for you to share your thoughts on what makes a great blog that's worth sharing?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wellness Wednesday - Asian Love

Oh yea! This past week my happy place was a trip to Ocean Mart. That place caries a ton of foods and products from all over. Sometimes you can't even read what something is and sometimes products have some English translations on them. This week we went in search of a type of instant coffee one of my co-workers shared with me. It was this packet of Thai coffee that you'd just add water and it had the coffee, cream, and sugar in it. I thought it was a great idea to keep in my desk so we went looking. I couldn't find the same brand but I did find another one to try.


I actually mixed up some on Sunday and really enjoyed it. I'll definitely be keeping it in my desk for afternoon pick me ups when I'm feeling the need for some delightful coffee. At work I do tend to alternate between water, tea, and coffee because I don't want to overdo it on caffeine but I do enjoy a treat every now and again.

The other thing we got while we were there was a boba slush. Just google boba or bubble tea and you'll find a ton of pictures of what it is. We don't get them that often because it's a ton of sugar but as an occasional treat it's kind of fun. If you're wondering what "occasional" means to me I think the last time we got one was around Christmas time. There was a time we'd go get one every weekend but with so much sugar we cut back. Now we get one every few months, if that. Moderation folks! Unless you have a medical need to completely eliminate something from your diet you can still have your favorite treats. Just in small portions and not all the time. Or if you're brave you can look up ways to make your favorite treats in a light/low fat, low/no carb, vegetarian/vegan, low/no sugar, or other modified way.

I picked up this box at Harmon's though you can get them at most Asian markets or specialty food stores.

This week I also enjoyed some mochi ice cream. Again, one of those things I don't have often but as an occasional treat it's good. Plus they come basically portioned out so if you just have one it's not that bad. I typically find if I want something sweet I really just want a few bites of something so these delightful little things are great for me. I've actually made mochi from scratch before and it's pretty easy and fun but one can really only eat so much mochi so unless I had a plan to share I probably won't try that again soon.

Chocolate ice cream wrapped in chewy yummy mochi, YES PLEASE!

I just wanted to share these fun things from this week. I actually have a goal to gain a beginner competency in a foreign language and when I heard some people talking at Ocean Mart it got me thinking about learning Japanese. I know it's probably not as useful as Spanish but I really do have a desire to learn more about my culture and where my ancestors came from. If anyone knows Japanese let me know. I am sure it would be easier to learn a language like that with people to practice on.

What do you know about your heritage? Do you have any cultural treats/dishes that are your favorites? What about secret family recipes or comfort foods that you'd eat no matter how many sticks of butter are in there? Share your favorite things from your culture or that you enjoy from other cultures. I'm always interested to see what others enjoy from different places.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Slim & Sassy Sunday - Tired of Being Tired

Hi everyone. Sorry for missing most of my posts last week. The last week and a half has been really rough for me. I have been exhausted. Not just end of the week feeling tired and ready for the weekend but deep to the bone, barely able to stay awake if I stop moving, can't concentrate, can't focus, just miserable tired. My poor husband was so worried that maybe I was really sick so I made an appointment and went to the doctor.

Tired me and tired Russ hanging out with Panda. I see you kitty!
I've been seeing the same doctor at the IHC in South Jordan for the longest time. If you're looking for a great primary care physician and she's on your insurance I would highly recommend Kim Winegar. She's a Nurse Practitioner but she's great! She has always spent the time with me that I've needed, is never judgmental and asks plenty of questions to try and get to the heart of the matter. She's never made me feel like I was crazy or that something I was experiencing was all in my head. She also will give you options. She'll tell me if something is potentially expensive and give me a couple options of what I can do including her recommendation on what she would do if it was her or one of her family members. I always appreciate that.

Anyway, I went in to see her and they took 4 vials of blood. Checked me over and asked a ton of questions. Physically I looked fine, my lungs sounded fine, heart sounded fine, my EKG looked normal, and ears and throat were ok too. They got the test results for my blood back the next day and everything was normal. They tested for things like a vitamin D or B12 deficiency, thyroid, hormones, all the typical CBC stuff... I didn't know if I should feel relieved nothing was wrong or just feel discouraged that maybe I'm just weak sauce and need to suck it up and push through it.

I did get a referral to go see a cardiologist and have an appointment for Monday. I have seen a cardiologist for years (since I was 12) so this isn't anything new for me. The last time I saw one was sometime after Russell was born so they just wanted to make sure things were still ok with my heart. I have a condition called Mitral Valve Prolapse (click on the link if you want to know more). It's a relatively minor case and seems to have gotten better as I've aged. Most of the time lately doctors can't tell I have it if I don't tell them before they listen to my heart.

So, this week I've eaten ok off and on. I've done quite a few salads which have been tasty but I also had a half a burger with Joe on Friday for dinner. I know I don't eat that bad but there is always room for improvement. I am thinking after the Cardiologist, if nothing is wrong there, I am going to do a doTERRA cleanse and then work off a vegan diet and then slowly add things back in to see what's causing me to be so tired and giving me headaches all the time. I might even ask to see a dietician so I can get on a plan and see if I can shake this crazy tiredness for good. I've felt that I am out of balance big time right now and am not totally sure what's causing it. There are a number of factors I think are playing into it and I may have finally reached the point where my body is giving up. I've got to get back in balance...


With all that being said my weigh in for the week is... Same as last week... I am clearly getting really good at holding steady. HA HA HA! I did do yoga once this week and squeezed in one hour of Power Yoga last night. Joe got me the Power Yoga Collection DVD for Christmas and last night I tried the second session called Power Yoga Total Body. I was really proud of myself for keeping up with Rodney Yee even though I am no where near as flexible as he is. I have enjoyed his DVD's for a while now and just to be able to keep up was great. It was a fast moving yoga and I know I was burning it up. I think if I can fit in a couple sessions of home yoga a week with my yoga class it will start to help.


Have you ever tried a cleanse? What about home workout DVD's? Do you have a home remedy that works for you when you're just not feeling up to par but everything seems to check out ok? Share your favorite workout videos because I'm always looking for my next find!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Slim & Sassy Sunday - Slow Going

Another late update for me but hopefully that's ok. I didn't lose much this week but that wasn't completely shocking to me. This past week I have been completely and totally e_x_h_a_u_s_t_e_d. So exhausted that every day I felt if I just sat still long enough I'd fall right to sleep. I even skipped dinner a couple nights because I just couldn't bring myself to eat anything.

Now, I share this information because I want you to know it's not all rainbows and unicorns all the time. With the 24-7 access we have into others lives it's so easy to fall into that trap of imagining that someones life is so perfect and that they have it all together and that things must be wonderful for them. I can say my life is good but it's not perfect. I have good days and bad days and I don't always feel like I'm the best mom/friend/wife/daughter I could be. I do know that every day is a fresh start and that what's more important than perfect days are working towards the things that mean the most to you.

I want to share my horrendous week just because I want you to know that you can be captive to your circumstances or you can work to change the things you have control over. I was listening to The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and was reminded of E + R = O. This equation translates to an Event + your Response = the Outcome. I was reminded that I shouldn't just dwell on how exhausted I've been this week but I should change my response to this situation and do what I can to change the outcome.

Towards the end of this week I started to change my response to being so tired all the time by doing a few simple things:
  1. I stopped checking Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc. while lying in bed before going to sleep. I found I was easily burning 30-45 minutes just looking at nothing when I could be sleeping. 
  2. I started taking different vitamins. I decided to try the doTERRA Lifelong Vitality Pack. I have heard from a couple of folks that it has helped them feel better and have more energy so I figured why not. Worst thing that could happen is I'll be really healthy but still tired. 
  3. I decided to get up and move more on my days off. I know that being sedentary doesn't help when you're already tired but sometimes trying to muster the motivation to get up and move when you're already beat is hard. Today I decided to just get up and run back and forth across our house with Russell. It wasn't much but it got me moving and helped to increase the number of steps I have taken today. I figure if I can keep working to take a few more steps each day it will eventually add up.
This coming up week I am hoping to do a few more things to help feel better and have more energy:
  1. Work out more. Yep... It's still the goal. Get active more days during the week.
  2. Go to bed earlier. I honestly feel best when I can get 8-9 hours of sleep so I need to adjust my routine to be in bed earlier at least until I can get through the week without feeling like I'm going to fall asleep at work.
  3. Get into a positive frame of mind. Things have been far too stressful lately and I need to get out of this funk. I need to do things that will help me be happy and thinking positively so I can feel more in balance.
So for those of you following my progress, this week I weighed in at 153.8. A tiny bit down but hey, it's all about the baby steps. The little things add up to big things one day. :)

Tell me, how do you work on creating a positive attitude every day? What helps you feel energized and excited just to be alive?

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Saturday's Supper - Chile Chicken Posole

Today's recipe is one of our families favorites. We found it when we were looking for new ideas to make and this has quickly become a staple in our lives. When in doubt we throw this recipe together. It's SO easy and SO tasty and it makes enough for a couple good sized meals. It's also really simple because you can toss most of the ingredients in a pot, blend them up, add the last few ingredients and simmer until everything is warmed through. Super fast and easy. Just what we like for a week night dinner.

Chile-Chilcken Posole
by Food Network Magazine

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, diced
1 tsp dried thyme
kosher salt & pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lg white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 6-oz cans whole green chiles, drained
1 cup fresh cilantro
4 c. low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
2 15-oz cans hominy, drained

Sliced avocado, radishes, and/or baked corn chips for garnish (optional)

Directions:
Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and salt and pepper to taste; set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, jalapeno and garlic and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a blender, then add the chiles, cilantro and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme and puree until smooth. Return to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sauce thickens and turns deep green, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth, hominy and chicken to the saucepan. Cover and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 10 minutes. Garnish with avocado, radishes and/or corn chips, if desired.

Per serving: Calories 385; Fat 10 g (Saturated 2 g); Cholesterol 91 mg; Sodium 1,591 mg; Carbohydrate 43 g; Fiber 8 g; Protein 36 g

Modifications
* Joe has used a variety of peppers in combination with the jalapenos. Whatever he picks out he dry roasts them in a pan to give them a little char before chopping them up and tossing them into the pot.
* We don't blend everything in a blender because ours broke. Plus it's just as easy to use our immersion blender instead. 
* If you have leftover roasted chicken or chicken on the bone you could just as easily use that by cooking the chicken on the bone and then shredding the chicken. 
* We have added additional seasonings like cumin, garlic salt (instead of regular salt), onion powder, or your other favorite Mexican spices.
* You could easily use vegetable broth and omit the chicken if you're vegetarian or vegan. If you did that I would recommend considering something like zucchini to bulk up the soup and add good flavor and texture.
* We have topped ours with queso blanco or shredded cheese.
* For more heat buy hot whole green chilies or add other fresh hot chilies with the jalapenos. 

Do you have a favorite Mexican dish? We love Mexican food and would love to try your families favorite recipes if you'd like to share them. You can share them in the comments or email me at macmotosworld {at} gmail {dot} com.