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Its Monday again!


Everyone is sort of getting back to the grind after a long holiday weekend – however with my new routine and today being the first day I officially have like 3 jobs. I have no sense of day or Monday. Everyday now is sort of an extra cup of coffee day – but I’m thrilled with the changes so far. Too many great opportunities. 

So what is marvelous today!

Elf for Health Holiday Challenge started!


Lindsay and Elle came up with this great idea to take motivation to a whole new level this holiday season. The challenge runs through today to the first week in January. There are daily tasks, prizes, and newsletters to inspire you to set goals and live well this holiday season. The best part is you are assigned a partner, or elf if you will, to help you challenge yourself and encourage you throughout the 6 weeks. 

My own personal cheerleader for 6 weeks? Yes please!! Plus, I get to be there giving tips and inspiration for my elf in return. Taking the holiday spirit and giving it a health spin. I love it!

My elf, Maddie, is from Australia and we have already emailed and tweeted like 12 times! After her first email, I knew we were going to have a great two weeks together. She has great taste in food sending me a recipe for saag paneer. And telling me about how she recently paired halumi cheese with pumpkin – brilliant! I really enjoy these two ingredients separately – so together must be wicked. 

She also sent me this quote based on my recent life change.


Don’t settle – that is huuuuge! I love this quote. I had the biggest smile when I was reading this. So perfect – thanks Maddie!!

We both have the same goals to use better time management to pack lunches (which we both did today!!!) and increase core strength. I know doing some light core exercises each day will help with my back pain and make my continued weight gain go better.

Maddie is also if working on her running and cardio. Last year, this was my forte so I am excited to live vicariously through her and send her some routines I loved.

I am working on mediating daily, which is a new thing for me. And remembering to take care of me with some yoga, writing, and relaxation added everyday. 

Another big thing is continuing to get Freckles & Spice back and on track, and really being the blogger/inspiration that I want to be. The elf for health challenge with its daily tasks will definitely help with that. So far – and it is only day 1 really – I am in love with this holiday challenge.

You can still join if you want and it is open to everyone – blogger or not! Your elf pairing changes every 2 weeks so there is still 2 more opportunities! 

On to more marvelous – 

A marvelous friend was going out town last week and showed up on my door step with farmer’s market produce that she did not have time to use : leeks, jerusalem artichokes, and a bunch of potatoes. The potatoes had mashed written all over them for bb. But as for the sunchokes and leeks – I knew exactly what I was going to do with them!

I tend to go farmer’s market crazy – so since my recent financial situation has changed I’ve been trying to cut back. But there had been a recipe rolling around in my head for weeks. My lovely friend has no idea how grateful I am!! All I had to do was pick up 3 parsnips, and I could get cooking today!

It was also perfect, because today’s Elf for Health task was a meatless monday recipe. And it is marvelous because this is my best soup yet

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Roasted Parsnip, Leek, and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

Besides a good bowl of oats, nothing warms my heart more during winter than soup. Especially that of the vegetable puree variety. This time of year I cannot get enough root vegetables – I became obsessed with parsnips 2 years ago. And this year jerusalem artichokes are my new discovery! They remind me of jicama – crisp and kind of like a cross between a potato and an apple. Also called sunchokes because they are from the sunflower plant – they are rich in carbohydrates, potassium, and fiber. The parsnips are another great source of fiber, as well as vitamin c, k, and folate. So this fiber packed soup will help you start off meals with a big healthy kick this holiday season!

Yields – 4 cups (1 quart)

Time – 1-1.5 hours


  • 3 medium to large parsnips
  • 5-6 medium sunchokes
  • 1 leek
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic; depending on preference
  • 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups of water 
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube (or no water and 3 cups of vegetable broth)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary 
  • 1 tsp dried thyme 


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Wash, peel, and chop parsnips. Coat in 1 T of EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, wash and peel sunchokes.Dice and place in cold water with lemon juice to keep them from yellowing.
  4. Wash and chop leek
  5. Heat the second tablespoon of olive oil in a sauce pan on medium heat. 
  6. Add the leek and sauté for a few minutes until tender.
  7. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes longer
  8. Next, add water and bouillon cube (or vegetable broth).
  9. Add parnsips and drained sun chokes
  10. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until all vegetables are tender.
  11. Season with rosemary and thyme
  12. Carefully puree to desired consistency using either a regular or immersion blender. 
  13. Optional – Pour back into sauce pan and simmer for a few more minutes.

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FInally, never forget to enjoy your creation!!


Here’s to getting into the holiday spirit the healthy way! Good food, small indulgences, and motivating those around you to challenge themselves!


On a side note – I’m trying to plan a christmas party for the coffee peddlers at the shop. Any good theme ideas, or great work parties you’ve had?? I thought a pj party with snacks and a christmas movie could be cool. Or a naughty or nice theme. Maybe the traditional ugly sweater or gag gift exchange. I get too paranoid trying to make a large group of people happy. But I know good food and holiday cheer are ultimately all the matters. Still ideas are welcome!!

In happiness and health,