This past year has been a doozy. We bought a house while on vacation in Hawaii. My mom sold her house and moved across country to live with us. I found out I was pregnant. We dealt with numerous house issues. We had said baby about a month early (surprise!). Oh and we snuck in a quick trip to Vegas for some good quality ‘us’ time.
I was in great shape last summer until I got a pretty large benign tumor in my lower abdomen. (That explained why I had issues with flexibility doing squats!). Two weeks after surgery, I started a new job. Then we bought a house. Then I got pregnant.
I actually continued working out as much as I could while I was pregnant. I even lifting weights – with caution of course. However, I was constantly battling blood sugar crashes. I kept my weight under control and lost it all in ~10 weeks through a healthy level of diet and exercise.
Even though I’m exactly the same weight I was this time last year, I still get that sinking feeling that happens at the end of every year. The year before last, I vowed to get in the best shape of my life. Now that we’re coming up to New Years, I reflect on that resolution.
Another year wasted? I’m only 6 pounds away from “my best ever shape”. Regardless, that number is still pretty noticeable to me. I feel like I’m running out of time in life (existential crisis much?).
I started reflecting on last years resolution (and the year before, and the year before that) very quickly after Thanksgiving dinner. I’m taking advantage of the last few weeks in the year to end the year on a high note. This recipe was the start of that – how to do a 180 on Thanksgiving gluttony and get back on track, without sacrificing flavor. Canja is the Brazilian version of American chicken noodle soup. It’s a healthy, simple, and quick option for people under the weather (or a little tight on the waistline as it were).
The traditional version would use a stewing chicken (~3 lb), chopped into several pieces, seared, and stewed to make the broth. However, being right after Thanksgiving, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to use turkey leftovers.
It worked really well especially because of how AWESOME our brined, fresh turkey was. Seriously, it was the best turkey I’ve ever had. Partly because we brined it in a Home Depot bucket (and partly because after a few days of eating this soup, I fit better in my jeans). Let’s do this.
I really like the flavor of canja because it’s simple and uncomplicated, yet more flavorful than a regular chicken noodle. A little spice and something nice from the jalapeños gives it a nice zing and it has a nice earthy element from the uncommon addition of the rosemary. I can already tell this is going to be a winner for make-ahead work week lunches because of how healthy and easy it is.
Brazilian Chicken and Rice Soup (Canja)
Yield: 2 quarts (~4 servings)
- 1 and 1/2 pounds cooked chicken or turkey breast, shredded (~3 large chicken breasts)
- 2 quart chicken stock
- 1/2 oz chopped ginger (thumb size) chopped into a few pieces
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 large rosemary sprig (~8″)
- 1 T extra virgin olive oil
- 3 ea garlic cloves, minced
- 1-2 jalapeños, sliced thinly (1 for mild, 2 for medium spicy)
- 1 pound corn kernels
- 3 oz uncooked long grain rice
- ~1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
- Salt to taste
- Cook the rice separately in a pot or rice cooker. Set aside. (If you have extra chicken broth, use this instead of water to cook the rice. It adds a little more flavor to the rice.)
- In a large sauce pot on medium heat, add the chicken stock, ginger, bay leaves, and rosemary. Bring to a slow simmer.
- Sauté the corn olive oil on medium heat until slightly softened.
- Add the sliced jalapeños and minced garlic, cook for ~1 min (or until it becomes aromatic, but not browned)
- Add the jalapeños, garlic, and corn mixture to the sauce pot and simmer for at least 10 minutes.
- Add salt to taste. It’s hard to suggest an amount because it depends on how salty your corn (fresh vs canned) and chicken broth (homemade vs canned, regular vs low sodium) is. Add a little at a time and taste as you go.
- When you’re ready to serve, add cooked rice, shredded chicken, and fresh chopped cilantro.