IDEA member Cappie Geis has had a lifelong passion for exercise, fitness and healthy cooking. She has been teaching group exercise since the age of 20 and is also a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor.

As she began raising her own family, her fitness world collided with a commitment to seek out ways not only to prepare and cook fabulous, delicious food but also to make that food healthier by adding more nutritious ingredients and reducing unhealthy ones. “In an effort to keep or even improve the flavor, I started ‘swapping out’ the ingredients typically used in our favorite dishes with healthy alternatives,” she says. “My mantra is, ‘You don’t need to forgo flavor to enjoy
healthy, nutritious food.’”

Now a certified clinical nutritionist and cooking school instructor, Cappie makes it her mission to teach others how to make healthy food taste great. This recipe, from her first cookbook, Healthy Food Gets Fabulous (Cappie Geis 2014), is a comforting dish that’s perfect for a cold winter night. Consider making a batch on Sunday so it’s ready and waiting for a quick reheat on a frenzied weeknight. Makes eight servings.

To find more delicious recipes featuring Cappie’s “swapout” secrets, check out her book at

  • 3 T olive oil, divided use
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, diced small
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
    salt, pepper and chili powder to taste
  • 1 full chicken breast and 2 chicken thighs
    with bone in (about 2 pounds total)
  • 4 C hot water
  • 2 C hot chicken broth/stock
  • 2 C diced ripe tomatoes or 1 (15-ounce) can
    diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 3 T olive oil, divided use
  • 2 C chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for
  • 2 C shredded cheddar or Cotija cheese for
  • 2 ripe avocados, sliced
  • 1 dozen corn tortillas

Recipe Key:
T = tablespoon
t = teaspoon
C = cup
oz = ounce

In Dutch oven, sauté onion and jalapeños in olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add garlic and heat through.

Remove skin and all fat from chicken. Score thickest part of breast a few times. Season and add chili powder to all
pieces, then brown chicken on all sides. Add water and broth and bring to boil (chicken should be covered in liquid; if not, add a little more water). Simmer 45–60 minutes until chicken falls off bones. Remove chicken from broth to a plate.

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and 1 cup cilantro to broth, and cook for another 15–20 minutes.
After chicken is cool, shred meat into bite-size pieces and add back to broth.
Heat oven to 400°F. Cut tortillas in half and cut halves into 1/8-inch slivers.
Put in bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Add chili powder to taste, and mix well. Put seasoned tortilla strips onto cookie sheet and bake 10–15 minutes. Stir and bake 5 minutes longer (should be crisp but not burned).

To serve: Spoon soup into bowls and top with tortilla strips, cheese, cilantro and avocado.

  • Vegetarian option: Omit chicken, and use one can of black beans (or 2 cups of fresh cooked beans) instead. Swap out vegetable broth for chicken broth.
  • Shortcut: Use 2 cups of leftover cooked and diced chicken, and omit step of preparing chicken for the soup.

Source: Reprinted with permission from Healthy Food Gets Fabulous by Cappie Geis.

Cappie Geis

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