Challenge Recap and Looking Ahead

My 6 in 6 challenge is over. Total weight loss after 5 weeks: 6.4 lbs. (Honestly, I didn’t get a chance to weight myself after the final week because my scale is at work, and I have several vacay days off. 😉 But I met my goal! ) At the end of a challenge there all always mixed emotions. On one side, I’m thrilled that I did what I set out to do. On the other hand, my brain is still in challenge mode and wants to know what’s next. That will have to take a little thought.

I hope you were able to gain some encouragement and motivation from my journey and hope that maybe you joined in as well. Maybe this will inspire you to start your own challenge (maybe with the help of a dietitian?)…? You may be thinking that you have more than 6 pounds to lose. The task seems daunting. But challenges like my 6 in 6, or a 30 day, or 60 day, can help break that weight loss into smaller chunks that are more reasonable to think about and easier to achieve.

Hopefully, this will be good motivator for you to pick your own challenge and start in the New Year. I’m excited for what 2013 will bring and the many changes that we go through as people as each day passes. I need to do some thinking about New Year’s resolutions and  reflections on 2012. I plan to do that in the next few days and share my goals with you for the start of the New Year.

I hope your Christmas was Merry and Bright 🙂

Candied pecans!

Homemade candied pecans!

Me and the hubs ready for Doles family Christmas

Me and the hubs ready for Doles family Christmas

Homemade caramel corn

Homemade caramel corn

Sadie in dog toy bliss

Sadie in dog toy bliss


Easy, Cheap, Fast Last-Minute Gift

This homemade jar gift is perfect. You can feel good giving a healthy food gift and know that it will feed an army and taste great! All you need is a quick trip to the supermarket to find everything on the list.

What you need (for 1 jar):

1 Qt. canning jar (I found these in packs of 12 for 10 bucks at the local supermarket)

1/2 C dry split peas

3 reduced sodium chicken bouillon cubes

1/2 C dry lentils

1/4 C dried minced onion

2 tsp. italian seasoning

1 tsp salt

1 bay leaf

1/4 C quick cooking pearl barley

1 C whole grain rotini pasta

Layer all ingredients in the order above starting with the peas. Combine the barley and pasta in a ziploc bag and put in the jar last. Attach the following recipe to the jar. You can change the name for whatever occasion you need it for too! i.e. “birthday soup,” “friendship soup,” etc.

Also, I’ve tested the recipe and it tastes great! I leave plenty of room for more seasoning if someone prefers to add more salt to their own soup. I found it especially tasty with a pinch of red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese.

Kristen’s Christmas Soup


½ C dry split peas

3 reduced sodium chicken bouillon cubes

¼ C quick pearl barley

½ C dry lentils

¼ C dried onion flakes/minced onion

2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning

1 tsp. salt

2 bay leaves

1 C whole grain rotini pasta

Additional Ingredients Needed:

1 lb. lean ground turkey, chicken or beef (I like it with turkey)

1 garlic clove (or garlic powder), minced

1 can – 28 oz. diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can – 8 oz. tomato sauce, no salt added

~3 quarts of water (approx. 12 Cups)

Salt and Pepper to taste


Remove pasta and barley (in bag) from jar and set aside. In large pot over medium heat, brown the meat.  Drain excess fat. Add garlic and sauté about 30 seconds (carrots and green peppers diced would also be a great addition here). Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, and soup mix. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in pasta and barley and simmer or low boil an additional 10-15 minutes, uncovered. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy! Makes approximately 12 cups of a hearty broth-based soup. Freeze the leftovers!

Recipe adapted from

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