Slow Cooker Ham and White Bean Soup [Recipe]

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on December 18, 2014

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It’s been a crazy last week of school before vacation so I was glad to have this soup on hand for a quick meal. I have been looking for a slow cooker white bean soup recipe and finally found this one on Budget Bytes. I made some changes, like adding ham and broth, but it’s a keeper for sure.

Here’s all it takes.

First, rinse the dry navy beans in a colander and set aside.


Chop the carrots, celery and onions. Add this to the slow cooker along with the garlic, spices and oil.


Incorporate the beans, water and broth cover and turn on low


About half way through add 2 cups chopped lean ham (this is optional — or you can add at the beginning too). Add more water if you need to.


When it’s done add the salt.  While some people say adding salt too early results in beans that don’t cook fast enough, I do it at the end because you get more flavor with less.

Enjoy! Happy Holidays!

Slow Cooker Ham and White Bean Soup [Recipe]
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 8-10

  • 1 bag dried navy beans (1 lb)
  • Half pound carrots (about 4 large) sliced
  • 4 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • Fresh cracked pepper (10-15 cranks)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 7 cups liquid (half water, half chicken or vegetable broth)
  • 2 cups cooked ham, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt (adjust as you taste)

  1. Rinse beans and set aside.
  2. Chop veggies and add to a 6 quart slow cooker.
  3. Add spices (except salt), oil and liquid to veggies and cover and cook on low for about 8 hours or until beans are soft but not mushy.
  4. Halfway through cooking, add the chopped ham. When soup is done add the salt and serve.



Why Exercise is Important to Me

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on December 12, 2014

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I rush to get to kick boxing class at 9:30. Heidi, the teacher, keeps our heart rate up for an hour and she fits in strength training exercises. On the days I can’t make it to class, I run or go to the gym.  Saturdays, I meet a friend at the nearby lake and we run the 5 mile loop.  Sunday I rest.

I’ve been a lover of physical activity my whole life.  Likes most kids in the 70′s, I played hard after school and spent summers living at the pool.  At age 9, I discovered softball and played year round until my sophomore year of high school when I switched to cheer.  After high school I made a pact with a friend to go to the gym since we had no planned activities.  After my first aerobics class I was hooked.  Whether it’s running, classes or the gym, I’ve maintained regular exercise my entire adult life (except for a 6 months hiatus after Big A was born).  But I know this is not the norm for everyone.

The wrong why

In my career, I’ve found that people often initiate exercise for health and weight reasons.  But those reasons aren’t enough to carry them through life’s tough spots.  And by that, I mean the typical life stressors — the kids get sick, work gets more demanding and to-do lists grow.  It seems motivation can easily wane when the scale doesn’t move or the doctor’s scare tactics wear off.

If just knowing something is good for us was enough to make it a habit, everyone would be doing it.  Instead, these good-for-us activities get in line with all the other things we need to do. It’s not that people don’t enjoy them, it’s that this important tidbit gets buried underneath the nagging sense that we should be doing it. Unfortunately, something that comes naturally to all human beings, such as moving our body, becomes a burden instead of a joy.

A different why

So why do some of us maintain regular exercise while others don’t? I think it has more to do with the reasons for doing it than discipline or willpower. While I value health, the real reason exercise is important to me is it makes everything in my life better.  I am in a better mood, have more energy and patience with kids and get better sleep.  And when I’m actually exercising I love how moving my body feels — it’s like I can feel the stress work off me.  Every time I start working out obsessing about an unsolvable problem, it transforms into a doable challenge by the time I’m done.  Exercise is the best sounding board I know — and it can keep a secret.

That doesn’t mean my mind doesn’t try to trick me into making this great love of mine a burden by reminding me of all I have to do (especially this time of year).  That’s why I try my best to stay mindful and remind myself what I gain, today, from exercising.  But some days I make the conscious decision to skip it when I know it will just be too hard to fit in or I feel my body needs a break.

You know it’s December when the gym loses its crowds and parking spaces open up at the nearby lake. As I go for a jog, I make eye contact with the other runners and we nod that knowing nod.  We’re not there to drop pounds or because we have willpower of steel.  We show up — even during the holidays — because this thing called exercise has become so tightly woven into our lives, we can’t imagine life without it.

Is exercise is important to you?


Book Review: Mindset

December 8, 2014
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I stumbled on Mindset: The New Psychology of Success while looking up books on education. And I’m so glad I did. This book has changed the way I interact with my children and even how I view myself. The message is very simple, but profound. Carol Dweck, psychology professor at Stanford University, details the difference [...]

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Why We Need Radical Honesty About Family Meals (Yes, From You Too)

December 1, 2014
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Family dinners. Everyone knows they need to make time for them. And, of course, that includes planning them. But life has a way of getting in the way. Often times, this ritual can take a hit and the guilt parents face hits a record high. There’s been a trend of honest articles where parents admit to [...]

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5 Ways Kids Are Conditioned to Hate Vegetables

November 28, 2014
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Ever wonder why vegetable intake is notoriously low despite the constant news reports and advice about how much we should be eating them? Why do so many people say they don’t have time to eat vegetables? And why does research point to kids’ believing vegetables just don’t taste good? Well, I think it starts with [...]

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Roasted Vegetables: Sweet Potato & Zucchini [Recipe]

November 21, 2014
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When I first started cooking, I experimented with roasting veggies and quickly became hooked. I like making a huge batch for dinner and then using the leftovers all week putting some in packed lunches, pasta dishes or scrambled eggs. Lately, I’ve been making this colorful combo of veggies I found on My Recipes. The original recipe [...]

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Why I Take Notes When My Kids Play

November 18, 2014

My kids are bored, begging for TV or computer time.  After saying no, and point out their screen time is done for the day, they each go play. Big A usually goes in her room and plays with her dolls or draws.  She’s always had an artsy flare.  Little D will usually stay in the [...]

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Meat and Veggie Lasagna [Recipe]

November 14, 2014
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It dawned on me that I didn’t have a “go to” recipe for meat lasagna. I mean, I had recipes I tried but none of them really stuck. So I messed around and came up with this combination. What I like about lasagna is that you can make it ahead of time and then just [...]

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End Your Child’s Candy Obsession with This Simple Technique

November 10, 2014
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On Halloween, my kids went trick or treating, came back to the house and ate until they were satisfied.  Big A ate more than her brother, although he’s picky when it comes to candy.  Two days later, my kids’ bags of Halloween candy sat on our couch untouched until I offered some of it for [...]

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Introducing My New E-Book: From Picky to Powerful

November 5, 2014
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After a weekend of formatting, staying up late and acting cranky to those around me, my first e-book is published: From Picky to Powerful: Transform Your Outlook on Picky Eating and End Food Battles Forever! I’ve been writing about picky eating since I started this blog over 5 years ago. It’s a topic near and [...]

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