Weekly Meal Plan 2/2-2/8

An exciting week here at the Pantry. We’ve been getting some really great feedback on our E-Book: Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals and we are hard at work on the print version. One reviewer asked how many recipes there were in the book and we laughed because we had no idea how many, and it is very many indeed – 190! We had no idea. We really appreciate everybody’s positivity with this longtime venture. We’ll be posting updates on our new Facebook page if that’s something that works for you (just search for Baby Steps to Better Health).With all this excitement and the tasks that go with it, it’s easy to lose track of the mundane task of eating… okay, okay, I never lose track of the eating part, but sometimes forget that I have to prepare all that stuff.

Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to combine my meal planning with a monster of a chore I have to do… cleaning out the cookbook area. The shelves that I have my cookbooks on are in the kitchen, which is where most of our daily activities take place. As a result my cook book shelves have also become the shelves for anything else that doesn’t have a home. They also house my ancient recipe notebooks, in which I’ve stored many recipes pulled from magazines and such and honestly I’ve not looked at them in a long time. I’m hoping to find buried treasures and do a little consolidating. What’s going on in your neck of the woods? What’s on your table?

Monday: Whole Wheat Rotini with Sunflower Cheez, Spinach, and chopped Pistachios (I will post more about this as I think it will be awesome). And yes, we did have pasta last night, but we’ve got one with a upset tummy and this will be easy to customize according to food tolerance.

TuesdayLentil Casserole, Carrot Fries, green salad

Wednesday: Spinach Chickpea Burgers, Cut Veggies, Green Salad

Thursday: Baked Egg Rolls filled with Spicy Asian Lentils (inspired by a cookbook clean out find), snap peas with oranges and pecans, green salad

Friday: Homemade Pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Roasted Vegetable Chili, Cornbread, green salad

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with Easiest Tomato Sauce Ever

Lunchbox Treats: Nut Butter Bliss Balls

Adult Leftovers: Mr. Little Sis is traveling, so I will have leftovers from all of these dinners for lunch. ;-)

 

That’s all from blustery Mid-Maryland! Hope your week is exciting and full of delicious flavors. Eat well, be well friends!

Healthy Game Day Snacks

I’m not really much of a football fan. I don’t really even like watching all the stupidly expensive commercials, but give me an occasion to sit with a bunch of friends and have some snacks and a cold beverage and I’m in. While I was walking around the grocery store today, I took a look in the much decorated “Game Day Snacks” aisle. It was remarkably similar to the non game day snacks aisle that is usually, strangely enough, in the exact location, but the big banner and fringy tassels really made it seem like a whole new section (yes, that is sarcasm, see my thoughts on grocery store marketing here). I gathered that what we are supposed to eat on Sunday evening, and by extrapolation at every major televised sporting event is chips, canned dip, frozen pizza and a variety of kinds of chicken wings.

Don’t get me wrong. I can enjoy the flavors of some junk food. Really I can. But I can’t eat it all night without knowing it for at least a day afterward, and truth of the matter is that I don’t really want to do that anymore. I’d like some salty crunchy and some savory, some hand held sociable bites that won’t make me feel like crap. What if there were snacks you could eat with friends that were actually good for you?!

But wait… there are! Here’s our roundup of our own pantry snacks that make great game night fare. I will add that on the whole chip thing, if you are a habit buyer and have been getting some kind of chips since the beginning of time, take a look around that aisle. Near as I can figure there are approximately 3,000 different kinds of chips at the grocery store (I’m including all the cheese puffy type things in that estimate although I suppose they are technically not chips). While you’re looking around, see if you can find a chip that has VERY FEW ingredients. I know they’re out there. Potato chips really require very few ingredients, as do tortilla chips. Check out the label. If you really need some chips, know what you’re getting, get what you’re paying for, which I assume is food, not preservatives or a list of words that really only mean sugar and salt. That’s a good question to start with, actually. Do your chips have sugar in them? Some of them do… There… I’m done with my chip thing. We favor these multigrain tortilla jobbies that I get at Costco (see my Costco list here). Okay, now you’ve got chips covered; what else?

Crackers and Bread

If you don’t need chips for this to be a game, try subbing out some whole wheat crackers. Heck, you may even want to make your own crackers or bread for those awesome spreads. Maybe make some toast points instead of chips! Try these little numbers:

 

1. Gluten Free Crackers

2. No Fear Homemade Whole Wheat Bread

3. Multigrain Bread

Clearly you must have dip for your chips or crackers or bread!

Dips

 

4. Baja Hummus

5. Sweet Potato Lime Dip

6. Smoky Baba Ghanoush

Done with the mess of chips and dip and now want a handful of something yummy?

Snacks to Eat By The Scoop

7. Movie Gorp

8. Roasted Spiced Nuts

Instead of Frozen Pizza

If the kids have a hankering for pizza when it’s not our homemade pizza night, I often make them a pizza bagel on a whole wheat or sprouted grain bagel – why not make them for a crowd? If you’re looking for a non-dairy alternative to mozzarella – try this one.

 

9. Soccacia Pizzas

10. Mini sandwiches with Sunflower Cheese and cucumber or tomato slices

11. Chickpea Salad Sammies

Sweet Bites
If you simply cannot be tempted with all this savory stuff, how about a few healthier sweet treats?

12. Brownie Bites

13. Good Neighbor Chocolate Chip Cookies 

14. Nut Butter Bliss Balls

So there you go. A bevy of healthier eating options for whatever you’re doing this Sunday evening. Whatever it is, I hope you have a super time. Eat well, be well friends!

(OMG) GF Fudgy Mocha Pudding Cake

Once in awhile we post someone else’s recipe as is – unchanged.  I confess that part of my just taking the easy road and making this by actually following directions was that I was in a hurry.  You see I had to come up with some GF dessert that would make non-GF son feel like his birthday had been adequately celebrated.  Following Little Sis’ lead (see another birthday cake for Bigg Sis), I turned to Angela Liddon.

It is always an honor to point anyone in the direction of Angela Liddon who has a blog and a lovely cookbook that features vegan recipes.  I do believe that her specialty is sweets.  In fact she had a shop where she sold amazing vegan bars and baked goods before becoming a successful blogger and cookbook author.  Give this to-die-for fudgy mocha pudding cake a try and then buy her cookbook because the non-sweets in it are excellent as well!

Back to the cake….. Last night we celebrated our boy, well, young man’s 14th birthday with a bunch of his friends playing football, video games, eating pizza and I’m ashamed to say, a store bought cake.  Mr. Bigg Sis and I ate some and made yucky faces at the overly sweet, oddly gummy concoction with way too much icing.  I vowed to do better the next night when the 3 of us would celebrate family style.  The headache that came soon after (yes, I am a sensitive and delicate creature for sure) was also good motivation to get my tail up and cooking the next day.

So here is the recipe – totally ripped off but heartily acknowledged.

Fudgy Mocha Pudding Cake by Angela Liddon

1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1 1/2 c  oat flour (make sure its GF if you need totally GF)
3/4 c plus 1/3 c sugar (she recommends coconut – I used plain organic cane sugar)
1/3 c plus 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/3 c chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (she uses non-dairy choc. chips)
3/4 tsp salt (she used fine grained sea salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c almond milk
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup hot coffee or boiled water (I used decaf – not very strong)
confectioners sugar and toasted walnuts are optional toppings

Mix the ground flax seed with 3 Tbsp water in a 2 cup measuring cup, mix and set aside

Pre-heat oven to 375 and lightly grease an 8×8 pan (I used coconut oil)

In a large bowl, mix flour, 3/4 c sugar, 1/3 c cocoa powder, choc chips, salt & baking powder

Add the coconut oil, milk and vanilla to the flaxseed mixture and whisk / stir together

Mix the wet and dry together and pour into prepared pan and make even and flat with a spoon or spatula

Mix 1/3 c sugar and 2 Tbsp cocoa and sprinkle over the cake

Pour the hot coffee slowly and gently over the top of the cake

Bake for 27 – 33 minutes or until semi-firm on top and bubbly on the sides – mine was a tad overdone at 27 minutes, so check at 25.

20150125_180529-001Let cool for 5 – 10 minutes and then top if you like with sugar, walnuts or ice cream of your choice.

Now this may not look that good, but appreciate the consistency of the pudding like stuff that comes out with the cakey-like stuff.  Really quite something.  Everyone had seconds.  In fact I’m still full….. no room for the snack I usually eat at bedtime to prevent waking up at 2 am so hungry I have to go get a snack.  Okay, so I’m a rather ravenous but sensitive and delicate creature…. but I know a good real food GF cake when I eat one!

20150125_184626-001

 

 

Weekly Meal Plan 1/26-2/1

As we get another week between us and the holidays, the kids’ resolve to detest everyday living is slipping. There have been some admissions of enjoying school sometimes and the occasional act of unexpected graciousness between siblings. As the weeks pass, we are also entering yet another season of activity. Ms. Picky Pants has started a new dance class and the Gentle Giant is poised to start basketball. They are both clamoring for more activities, but I’m holding steady at one. They also get piano at home. And when’s a kid supposed to play with all those great new Legos anyway?! So it’s a contained kind of chaos, which I’ve concluded is the best kind. ;-)

Regardless of what kind of chaos we find ourselves in, however, we still have to eat. At least I do. I’m sure some people can just skip the occasional meal now and then, but unless I’m doing it for a REALLY good reason (and I can’t think of an example), I am not one of those people. So as we sit, waiting for this snowstorm to actually become something, I better get my act in gear and figure out what we’re having. They are out in the centimeter of snow playing. If it does keep up, they’ll be in it tomorrow too, and they will be hungry. What’s the weather doing in your neck of the woods? Are you planning your meals with the weather in mind?

Monday:  a dairy free version of Broccoli Meatballs with Garlic Tomato Sauce (Vegetarian Times), served in whole wheat mini pitas, with sautéed green beans and a green salad

Tuesday: Lentil, Mushroom & Sweet Potato Soup,  No Fear Homemade Whole Wheat Bread, chopped veggies

Wednesday: Chickpea and Cashew Tikka Masala, steamed broccoli, green salad

Thursday: Warm Asian Noodle Salad (a variation on Big Sis’ version), crispy tofu, chopped veggies

Friday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Potato Pancakes (a la Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone), homemade slow cooker applesauce, sauteed spinach, green salad

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with red sauce, green salad

Lunchbox Treat: Date Chewies (I’ll share if this works ;-))

Adult Lunches: Leftover miso soup from last week, leftover homemade pizza (yes, It’s DF)

  

Well, there it is, and I’m pretty sure we even have what we need to do this plan until Thursday or so, so if it does snow more than a centimeter and state of Maryland goes into weather related lockdown we should be alright. Hope the weather is giving you joy, or at least not getting in your way. Have a great week! Eat well, be well friends.

Three Sisters Savory Cobbler – Cuz Baby It’s Cold Outside

As a direct result of my weekly meal planning initiative, when food magazines show up at my house, I actually read them looking for delicious, frugal, easy meals to include in the plan. This little number showed up in a recent Vegetarian Times. Yeah, I had to change it up a little, so I’ll share my non-dairy version with you. This is a winner – if you and your tribe like delicious stews with bread dumplings on top. Is there someone who doesn’t like such things?

This savory cobbler is essentially a vegetable stew that has cornbread baked on top of it. In addition to the ingredients that you will need, you’re going to need a Dutch Oven of some kind (no I don’t mean the horrible smelly thing that your big brother did to you when you were little – wait, was that just us?), but a large pot that can go in the oven as well as being on the stovetop. We received a beautiful La Creuset version many years ago, but this market has really grown and now Cuisinart and many other reputable brands make some kind of enameled cast iron cookware. Lodge makes one without enamel that is very affordable, and if you keep it seasoned, also nice and non-stick. It is far more affordable but, I should warn you, VERY heavy. If you are going to buy a dutch oven, please be sure that handles are also oven safe so you don’t get a melty mess.

We enjoyed our savory cobbler very much. Well, okay 75% of us did – and those of you who’ve been playing along know that this is a winning number for my household. Ms. Picky Pants enjoyed the cornbread dumplings and then stirred the stew around a lot. So, really it’s more than 75% but I’m not going to get too technical. It’s a lovely recipe and has the added bonus of some built in flexibility so you can score at least a 75% at your house too. ;-) Next time I will try to make the stew in a slow cooker – and I’ll give some speculative instructions on how I think that should be done in the recipe itself… shall we get on with it already?

Three Sisters Savory Cobbler (adapted from this version in Vegetarian Times) 

The Stew

  • Olive oil for the pan
  • 2 medium/large onions chopped to whatever fineness you like in stews
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced or mashed
  • 1/4 c flour (I used WW pastry)
  • 2 cups beans (I used kidney and black because I prepped them for another meal, so they were already soaked
  • 6 c veggie broth or stock
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 sprigs fresh or 1 t dried: thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram
  • 1 medium butternut squash, chopped in about 1 inch pieces
  • 3 T dijon mustard
  • 6 oz (about 4 c) deep greens (we used kale)
  • 1 1/2 t smoked paprika (you could use a hotter alternative such as chipotle pepper or even a hot sauce if that works for you – I was attempting to get 100% approval)

The Topping

  • 1 c coconut milk (or whatever kind you like)
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour (or GF flour)
  • 1 c cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder (I am realizing as I type that I left this out and it was still great, although the dumplings were a little dense and would have been more biscuity)
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1 egg (I used flax)

Procedures

For the stew, if you are working from dried beans, you will need to soak them overnight before hand (and you will not need the full 2 cups as they expand) AND precook them a bit so you don’t have to cook the stew for a terribly long time. Warm olive oil in a dutch oven. Add onions and a sprinkle of salt. Saute until they are just starting to brown. Add red pepper and cook for another minute. Add garlic and give it a couple of stirs. Then sprinkle flour in and stir to coat the veggies in flour. Cook for a minute or two but stir constantly so flour doesn’t burn. Add water, beans, tomato paste, herbs and paprika (If I were going to use a slow cooker, I’d do it here and add the squash and mustard, leaving the greens to add at the end). Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes or until your beans are tender (time will vary according to canned vs. dried, how long you precooked if dried, etc.). Remove herbs if you used fresh. Add squash, mustard and greens. Return to simmer until squash is tender.

  

While simmering, preheat the oven to 425 (arrange racks so there’s enough room for the Dutch Oven). Combine dry ingredients for topping in medium sized bowl. Whisk milk and “egg” together in smaller bowl. Add wet to dry and stir until just combined. Remove filling from heat. Use cookie scoop or soup spoon to drop topping on top of the filling. Bake uncovered for 12-15 minutes or until topping is browned.

Serve a few dumplings with a hearty ladleful of stew and be warm head to toe. We enjoyed ours with a green salad. Delish!

Triple Dose of Well-Being

Do you remember Venn diagrams?  Those pesky overlapping circles in which you had to place sets of things that had some but not all things in common depending on wherein lay their similarity?  I have been using a Venn diagram to discuss well-being with patients who are in recovery from substance abuse and I have found the concept to be helpful to myself as well as I consider my own wellness and well-being.  I would like to share it with you as part of our new series that explores aspects of well-being and nourishment beyond the very important attitude towards well-being represented by what we eat.

It is not everyday that you get to use the term ‘triumverate,’ but now you know how many circles are in my Venn Dance.  In fact it is 3 circles that you will recognize.  Body, mind and spirit as a group have been used so lightly and frequently that I hesitated to use the terms with patients as a way to organize well-being efforts, but after making some attempt to define the 3 umvirates (???) in terms of function, I found the whole approach less banal and more helpful.

Why do so many things come up with 3 parts or portions? Past-present-future; red-blue-yellow; rock-paper-scissors; Harry – Ron – Hermione; and there is this wonderful meditation on 3 from the fine people from Schoolhouse Rock:

3 is a Magic Number

On a more serious note, the number 3 has significance in all of the world’s major religions.  It seems to come down to balance.  Systems divided into even numbers of participants, parts or factors have the potential for the creation of sides and 2 teams.  Either/Or, This or That, Black or White are notoriously narrow views of the world!  Three is the smallest odd whole number that is greater than one, and therefore represents  a simple array of pieces that can not gang up but have to work together in order to work.  If one leg of the stool is shorter than the others (or longer) it will provide a short sit.  And life is not really a short sit.  This is lucky for me as I seem to require repeat lessons on some basics of living despite having received a myriad of blessings.  Bring on the second chances…… please and I’ll try to keep my stool balanced so I make it through all of the lessons.

So back to body, mind and spirit.  Basically the approach was to think of oneself as the center of the Venn Diagram of 3 circles representing body, mind and spirit.  All body, All mind or All spirit tend to lead to problems.  Thinking about the 3 realms in terms of functionality helped me think about why it was important to sustain them.  You may not agree with the functions, and of course there is overlap (being a Venn Dance after all)…..

I am so thankful for my Body which provides
transportation & sensation

I am so thankful for my Mind which provides
instruction & construction

I am so thankful for my Spirit which provides
identification and perpetuation

So I challenge my patients, myself, and you, to draw yourself a diagram and think of a few Baby Steps for each realm of your life.

Venn

Body, mind and spirit – all that function and all that you working together to create world view – perspective – character – approach – life.  A unique human tale.

Here’s to taking Baby Steps to Wholeness and Well-Being and celebrating life in 2015.

If you need help with the Baby Steps to Better Health concept, please check out our book.

 

Weekly Meal Plan 1/19-1/25

Don’t know if you’ve noticed… or if I’ve even mentioned it, but my meal plans rarely go entirely as planned. Truth be told there’s a lot around here that doesn’t go entirely as planned, but I think this has more to do with our family culture than with some sort of underlying deficiency with the plans themselves. I CAN report that even though plans have often required at least one last minute modification, since I’ve been planning our weekly meals there has been 1) a huge reduction in the number of trips to the store which means 2) lower spending on food, and 3) less stress in the critical after school timeframe. I already know what I’m cooking and can work on that while nagging (I mean advising, yeah that’s it advising) about homework and piano practice and hang your coat up and whose sock is that… You can imagine that making a decision in the middle of all that advising could be a little daunting.

This past week, as a result of invitations we could not refuse, our regular Sunday night pasta has not yet been made and eaten. So, the planning and cooking for me is a little lighter than usual as we will return to our regularly scheduled pasta next Sunday. We could eat pasta every night with great pleasure. If this is not true for your family and you’d still like a plan, feel free to peruse plans from past weeks or to scroll through some of our recipes in search of a replacement. Me, I’m glad to be eating it, and even more glad that Mr. Little Sis will be playing chef for all that pasta. I will be taking on some additional paid work this week, so we’ll be relying on a slightly different division of labor, and putting our bare bones 15 year old CrockPot to good use. And so without further ado…

Monday: Homemade Pasta with the Easiest Tomato Sauce Ever

Tuesday: Miso Soup with Rice Noodles (leftover from last week)

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Herbed Beans and Barley

Thursday: Slow Cooker Burrito filling in taco shells (they’re in love with tacos), chopped veggies and green salad

Friday: Homemade Pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Three Sisters Savory Cobbler (from December’s Vegetarian Times) 

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with Pesto, green salad

lunchbox treats: Dark Chocolate Dipped Wheat Pretzels

Adult lunches: leftover Nutshroom Burgers from last week

 

In other news for the week, I will continue to attempt to get more sleep as part of my Year of Well-Being, which may be extra hard (and extra necessary) with a loaded schedule. Big challenge ahead. I’ll let you know how it goes… unless I blow it and I’m too tired, in which case I’ll post something like brm;kjasdkhjfklja;hzzzz.  Eat well, be well friends. If you need help with that first one, check out our e-book: Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals. Have a great week!

The Power of the Family Meal

Well-BeingThe Sis sisters have long been advocates of the family dinner, and no I’m not referring to the meal that adds biscuits and mashed potatoes to your bucket of chicken. We believe there are benefits to the family eating dinner (more or less the same dinner) at the same time, at the same table, preferably not from the same plate – but to each his own (ha!). It turns out that science supports the benefits (or at least the correlation with good things) of eating dinner together. Anne Fishel, a psychology professor at Harvard, very eloquently describes these benefits and correlations and offers some insight into why they just might be a little more than correlation here. Fishel feels so strongly about the power of family dinner that she often tells therapy clients that they’d be better off eating dinner with their families than talking with her for an hour. Wow. So, what’s so great about it anyway?

The benefits that Ms. Fishel highlights in her article are largely those experienced by the children in a family. I’ll sum them up for you and then reflect a little on what I think the implied benefits for parents, spouses, and folks who choose to live by themselves might also be in thinking about dinner as a sacred time.

For kids. Family dinners seem to hold benefits for children of all ages. The youngest children increase their vocabulary faster, which in turn makes them more proficient and earlier readers. School aged children who eat family meals tend to perform better in all academic measures. Teens who eat family dinners get better grades than those who do not. Teens who eat dinner en famille are also less likely to engage in high risk behaviors than their peers, less likely to be depressed, and more likely to have a positive outlook about the future. All children who eat family dinners tend to eat more healthfully and experience fewer chronic health problems (such as asthma and obesity).

Okay, so if you have children, I’ve got you… I mean, right? So all you need to do is just eat together. Simple… Yeah, simple. I confess that for me right now, this one is pretty simple. My kids are 8. The only activities and play dates they are involved in are the ones I set up for them. I have pretty good control over what they are doing when and being sure they will be home in time for dinner, or making dinner work around the occasional thing so we can all still eat together. I am well aware that this trick can get a lot harder as they get older.

SacredDinnerGiven that reality, I think it’s important to note that the article doesn’t say that everyone must have every dinner with the family to experience benefits. Nor does it say everyone in the family should stop doing everything they care about outside the home immediately so all meals can be consumed together. Eating dinner as a family might be a great thing to baby step up on. If it never happens, maybe a commitment to once a week would be a great place to start. If it happens three times a week, maybe there’s a way to add a fourth. Checking our reality, making some adjustments, asking everyone to shift a little creates a space and in this space we can find a sacred moment or two to create and savor some nourishment. (She said it agin: “sacred.” Why does she keep saying that?”)

So here’s where it seems to me that the benefits that those researchers are finding for kids who eat family meals might be a little more broadly understood as benefits for anyone who treats their meal as a sacred time. Researchers talk about the family meal as a time to set aside the hustle bustle of the day, to interact with people whose experiences are both different and shared, to reflect on and share our individual experiences, to become grounded and relaxed, to gain perspective before we enter the next phase of whatever it is we’re doing. Now I’m not a scientist, but I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that children aren’t the only ones who could use a little of that kind of dinner. Part of the beauty of family dinner, or couple dinner, or individual dinner without a laptop, is our insistence on it, our creation of that space for a sacred hour that allows us to distance ourselves from all that is outside and to check in with all that is inside.

Well-BeingIt is only through our insistence that the sacred space is both created and maintained. It is with our insistence that we honor ourselves and the need for a time that is not shared with the television, with advertisers, or with our employers. It is with our insistence that we say that we as individuals and as groups are important enough to nourish fully, to occupy a sacred space, and reap the benefits therein. As my own children age and our family schedules shift, I hope to continue to insist on this sacred event, even at the expense of the occasional activity, at the expense of the occasional professional opportunity, and at the expense of convenience. I hope to continue to find that the benefits outweigh the sacrifice and to feel the nourishment that we create together.

Tabil Spiced Chili over Roasted Potatoes

I am still on a quest to share uses for Tabil spice mix with the world – particularly the subset to whom I gave home roasted Tabil as a Christmas gift.  The presence of cumin and red pepper flakes speak to chili, and the rest of the tabil ingredients (coriander, caraway and garlic) seemed different enough to twist the chili up a bit.  I also thought that a different base than rice would be nice.  We do fall back on rice a lot around here, and although I’m glad to have it (and my son could probably eat it 3 times a day), nutritionally speaking, variety is indeed a spicy and healthy thing.  Enter the much maligned potato.  Potatoes have been bred into giant, dry, starchy behemoths that are meant to be smothered in fattening dairy products.  However, the little colored potato with all of it’s positive nutritional status is turning up in all kinds of places.  I recently got 5 lbs. of organic little red taters for 4.99.  That’s cheaper than the rice I use.  Woo hoo!

I’m thinking that all of you are as ready for simple as I at this time of year, and the Tabil helps keep this simple.  If you don’t have any Tabil, it is pretty easy to make* and once you have it…. next time will be really easy!  (Or you can buy it here).  If roasting potatoes does not seem simple, then by all means make some rice – but the rest of this recipe is really quick and easy.

Tabil Spiced Chili

About 2 lbs. red potatoes cut into small chunks for roasting or rice
Oil for sauteeing onion
1 Red onion, diced
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Tabil spice mix
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen because the cans do not have BPA in the liner)
1 6 oz. can tomato paste (Muir Glen again – same reason)
1 bunch swiss chard (or other hearty green) washed and cut or torn into pieces
1 – 2 colored peppers cut in chunks
1 small can (15 oz. ) black beans, rinsed and drained

Potatoes:
If roasting potatoes – allow 30 – 45 minutes at 400, depending on how small you cut the potatoes.  I made these bite sized because they are the base of the chili, therefore they roast faster and get crispier.  We snuck some before adding chili and I think I will roast potatoes this way always :-)
Either toss it all in a bowl with oil to coat (I prefer avocado because it withstands high heat), or just stir oil in right on the roasting pan.  Add some salt to taste and stick in the oven.  Stir after 15 or 20 minutes.

20150113_174450-001Chili:
Saute onion until becoming translucent
Add spices and stir until fragrant
Add tomatoes & paste, stirring occasionally over medium low for 10 minutes to heat
Add swiss chard and cook until wilted
Add peppers and beans and let simmer for another 5 or so minutes

Steamy!!

Steamy!!

Serve over the potatoes

The peppers were crunchy, everything else soft and spicy.  We all enjoyed this very much.  My son, who is a charter member of the no-food-touching club chose to eat his potatoes on the side.

20150113_175305-001

My husband and I mixed it all together and then argued – gently discussed – who would get the leftovers for lunch.  I won!

20150113_175352-001Stay warm friends – soon it will be time for seed catalogs and dreaming of warmer days.  For now, I’ll try to heat up my insides a bit with food and laughter.

* If you do decide to make your own Tabil, I have since made it in my Vita Mix which was faster and an easier clean up than my coffee grinder.  In addition, I recommend not adding garlic powder until after grinding to avoid sending a cloud of garlic dust into the air ;-)

In addition – we are starting a new series on Well-Being which Little Sis opened a week or so ago.  I’ll be posting the second soon.  If you or someone you know is wanting to eat better and feel better check out our e-book, Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals.

Weekly Meal Plan 1/12-1/18

Eight years ago today the sonographer asked if I thought I could cry when the obstetrician came in to examine me. Being 38 weeks pregnant with robust sized twins I squeaked out: “You betcha,” before I started crying right then and there. An hour later we were headed to the hospital and our lives were changed forever. Today as we celebrate an “ice day” here in mid-Maryland, which for those of you in different climates means the roads were deemed impassable early this morning and are now simply wet, I am also attempting to wrap a present or two, bake a cake, salvage the brownies I made to take to school and plan our meals for the week, all of these with a lot more company than I had planned to have. :-) Ice day aside, we shall celebrate, and celebrate well as we always do. And I will watch in amazement as these little creatures become more and more like big independent people… who need to eat, so let’s get on with this thing, shall we?

Monday: Zucheesy Noodles, green salad, and birthday cake made using this cupcake recipe

Tuesday: Nutshroom Burgers, roasted potatoes, green beans

Wednesday: Butternut Squash Soup, homemade bread, spreads (hummus, baba ganoush), green salad

Thursday: Rice Noodles with wilted Asian greens and chopped veggies

Friday: homemade pizza

Saturday: Mung Bean Stew, brown rice, green salad

Sunday: homemade pasta

lunchbox treats: birthday leftovers

Adult lunches: leftover soup and nutshroom burgers (double batch for freezing)

 

I hope your week is full of healthful food, joyful days, and plenty of rest. I have been putting myself to bed earlier for the last week or so and have noticed a big difference. In addition to thinking about better food (like in Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals), we’re turning our attention to a broader notion of well-being in our new series A Year of Well-Being. Join Us!