Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fast Curried Chickpeas


This might be my new favorite quick comfort food.  I just love a good curry and this one I have been serving over veggies and adding more veggies to like sweet potatoes and bell peppers. It is a great recipe base to begin a lot of fun experiments with.   



Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 med yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
2 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 20 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro


Directions

Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook the onion and garlic in a large pot with olive oil over medium heat until softened (3-5 minutes).

Drain and rinse the canned chick peas and add to the pot. Also add the tomato sauce, water and curry powder. Stir the pot until everything is evenly mixed. Bring the mixture up to a simmer over medium heat.

While the chick peas are simmering, rinse the cilantro and pull the leaves from the stems. Roughly chop the leaves and add them to the pot. Give everything a stir and continue to simmer until the sauce has reduced to a thick consistency (about 20 minutes total).

Stir the pot every few minutes to prevent the sauce from burning and sticking to the bottom.

Serve over rice, or with Naan bread




Monday, December 11, 2017

Exercise Moves that You can do Anytime, Anywhere


I have been talking about the benefits of getting your body moving. Especially if you have been leading a sedentary life. The USDA recommends that the average adult get 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. 

We got a new dog at our house and so we have all been doing a Lot of walking! I have been so surprised at how easy it has been to get moving (and trust me! I am not a mover - especially when it is 20 degrees outside).  Jett, Ezra and I have been taking turns during the day walking the dog. We try and be gone for at least 40 minutes to give him time to go to the bathroom and get all his dog wiggles out.  It has been really easy to do it ---  and that is really saying something, because I have the 6am shift. 

But if walking isn't your thing, and you are really wanting to start "working out" I have found some GREAT exercises that will have you building muscle and getting healthy in no time. 

You can do these during commercials, you can do them for 10 minutes in the morning and at night. Really anytime, and they require zero equipment, so all you need to get started is your body. 




The Plank -  As simple as this looks, it works every single part of your body - and to make it harder, you just do it longer. This exercise is a good way to begin your workout routine as a warm up and also to tighten your abs, back, thigh, and butt. To do a plank, get down on all fours and position your hands directly below your shoulders, shoulder-width apart. Straighten your legs so that your body is in a push-up position, with the weight on the balls of your feet. Engage your core muscles and lift your torso so that it forms a straight line with your body. Make sure to keep your butt down. Hold this position for about 10 seconds. Do 8 to 10 reps of this exercise and one to two sets to start


 --  if you are not quite ready for this.  I found this amazing video to share. 





Squats - Squats are one of the best exercises you can do for building the muscles in your legs — glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves — try and make them an essential part of a workout routine.

Here’s how: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Your toes should be facing straight ahead, but can be angled outward slightly. Then, keeping your torso straight and your abs engaged, slowly bend your knees and lower hips toward the floor. Rise slowly. For your workout plan, start with 8 to 10 reps and one to two sets.





Lunges - Lunges, like squats, exercise the muscles in your legs. Stand with one leg forward and one leg back. Bend your knees, lowering your body into a lunge position. Be sure to keep your front knee and back knee at 90 degree angles. Push on your heels and return slowly to your starting position. Beginners should do 8 to 10 reps and one to two sets as part of their workout plan. As you gain strength, add back lunges and side lunges to your workout routine.

need them modified for a beginner ? 








Push Ups - Good Old Push Ups,  they are a great workout for the upper body. But the key is using proper technique. Keep your feet together and parallel to each other. Tuck your toes under your feet. Try not to arch your back as you push up. Be sure to exhale as you straighten your arms. Do 8 to 10 reps. Increase the reps as you gain strength. Start with one to two sets and work up to more.

But if you are new to push ups, or like me, you just have the arm strength of wet noodles....  




Crunches - I have a hard time even thinking about crunches without having terrible elementary school PE flashbacks.  I think we had a minute to do as many as we can, and I probably maxed out at about 5 -- total.

To do one correctly, lie on your back with your knees bent. Put your hands behind your head and pull your elbows back. Exhale as you slowly curl your torso toward your thighs until your upper back is off the floor or mat. Hold for a count of three — add more time as you get stronger. Inhale as you lower your body back down to the mat. Your workout routine should include 10 to 12 reps and two to three sets to start.





You don't need any equipment to get started, and if you are wanting to modify any of the exercises, all you need is a wall and a sturdy chair or the side of your couch. 



Friday, December 8, 2017

My Favorite Foods to Always Have on Hand


I have a few foods that I always try and make sure I have in my pantry. I thought I would share some of them with you, because I ran out of one the other day. Joseph and I were shopping at Costco and he asked, do we have peanut butter. I replied that of course we had peanut butter and so we didn't get any.  But last week, I used up the last of the jar of peanut butter and went to the pantry to get a new one....  and I couldn't find one.  I went downstairs into storage to get a jar, there wasn't one there either. Not to be deterred, I went back upstairs and began to search the pantry for peanut butter, I just couldn't imagine that I had actually let us run out of my go-to ingredient. But no, there was no peanut butter. 

I got me thinking, I need to clean up the mess that is my pantry, so I can actually find things, and I needed to share with you my favorite foods to always have on hand. 


Peanut Butter -  You bet we eat a lot of peanut butter sandwiches around here. But peanut butter is the main ingredient in my favorite Thai peanut noodles.  It is my go-to pantry meal, everyone in my family eats it and it isn't spaghetti, so I can serve it the same that I serve spaghetti (WAHAHA evil laugh)  To make this ingredient as healthy as possible. check your label for added sugar. Ideally your peanut butter should have peanuts and a little bit of salt. 

Brown Rice -  We love rice at our house. Some people are much bigger fans of white rice than brown rice, but we are trying to slowly make the transition to just eating brown rice. We aren't there yet.  I love rice because it goes into and with nearly everything. You can add it to soups, casseroles, skillet meals. You can cook it and saute up some veggies and have a delicious stir-fry. And my family finds rice very non-threatening. When I say that dinner is chicken and rice. I have a sure hit on my hands, no matter the form that I have made it in. 


Quinoa -  I wasn't that big of a couscous fan until I began toasting it. That changed everything for me. I know that a lot of people use it as a swap for rice or grains, but it is too expensive for me to do that. When I make quinoa, I always use it as my protein.  That makes some quinoa and frozen veggies an amazing for you dinner, packed with nutrition and very filling. 

Lentils - these are another one of my favorite cheap and quick proteins.  I love beans, but cooking them from dry honestly takes more time that I have 90% of the time.  Lentils only take 20-30 minutes and since they don't look or taste like beans, the bean haters at my house eat them. 


Pasta and Jar Sauce -  This is one of my dinner emergency kits. My kids love noodles and white sauce, and they love spaghetti, so on those nights when practice runs late or I forgot to get food out of the freezer, this is our backup plan. We have found a few prepared sauces that we really like and I feel good about eating and feeding my family. And a jar of sauce and a package of pasta can feed a family for less than 3.00$. It can feed me entire family for less than 6$. 

This is a wonderful list from Food $ense that has quite a few pantry foods that are great to have on hand.  


And they have put together a list of what you can eat and make with those foods you have on hand.  Enjoy!!


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Sweet Potato and Chorizo Skillet Meal



I just love meals that get made all in one pot (or skillet)  My kids do a pretty good job of doing the dishes each night, but the pots and pans always seem to stack up along the side of the sink ... for days, until somebody (me!) finally just washes them all by hand.  Sound Familiar?

That makes meals that get made all in one pan even more appealing, because that means less work for me. 


You are going to love this recipe. Aside from chopping the sweet potato there is almost no prep-work and while dinner simmers away on the stove, you have lots of time to prepare a green salad, or read a good book. 

The sweetness of the potato mixed with the spice of the chorizo is an incredible compliment and I use green salsa in my recipe, because I think that combination with the tartness of the tomatillo salsa just brings everything together like a spicy gift in a skillet. 


I made this on a Saturday and it was such a HUGE hit with my family that I put it on menu plan for the upcoming week and bumped the spaghetti. It was incredible. 


Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil 
1 medium sweet potato (1 lb.)
1/2 lb Mexican chorizo 
15 oz can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 cup uncooked long grain rice (whole grain brown rice preferred)
1 cup salsa (red or green) 
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup shredded cheese
2-3 green onions, sliced



Directions

Peel and dice the sweet potato into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes.

Sauté the sweet potato cubes in a large skillet with olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes have softened about half way through.

Squeeze the chorizo out of its casing into the skillet with the sweet potatoes. Sauté the chorizo and sweet potatoes together, breaking the chorizo up into small pieces as it browns.

Once the chorizo is fully browned, pour off any excess grease if needed.


Rinse and drain the black beans. Add the beans, salsa, and uncooked rice to the skillet. Stir them into the sweet potatoes and chorizo until everything is well combined.

Add the chicken broth, stir briefly, then place a lid on the skillet. Allow the contents of the skillet to come up to a boil, then turn the heat down to low. 

Let the skillet simmer on low for 30 minutes. Make sure it is simmering the whole time (you should be able to hear it quietly simmer away). If it is not, turn the heat up slightly.

After 30 minutes the rice should be tender and have absorbed all of the liquid. Turn off the heat, fluff the mixture, sprinkle the cheese on top, then return the lid to trap the residual heat and help the cheese melt. Slice the green onions while the cheese is melting, then sprinkle them on top and serve.






Monday, December 4, 2017

Maple Roasted Pumpkin and Veggies


When I first started trying to follow My Plate I had no idea how I was going to feed my family all those vegetables. I didn't know how I was going to eat all those vegetables.  Trying to achieve half a plate at every meal seemed like a nearly impossible task. 

But as I have learned through Food $ense classes and just putting the things I have learned into practice, it isn't as hard as you might think - and actually can be really really delicious. 

I began first by adding a green salad to lunch and dinner. It was easy, the kids could help me prepare it, and my bigger kids could easy do it on their own. Everyone could choose their own dressing and so I never had to face any, "but I don't like salad" complaints.  It quickly became habit and I felt really good about the changes we were making. 


Something else that I have recently started doing, is roasting up all the veggies that I have left in the fridge on Saturdays during my meal prep. I always add a great big onion to them, toss them in a little bit of olive oil spread them out on two baking sheets (because I make a LOT) and then sprinkle them with a little bit of salt and pepper.   I used these veggies as a go-to side dish all week until I run out of them. 

That means that without even having to think about it, I have added a green salad and then a side of roasted veggies to my plate without even having to think about it.  Then when I make dinner during the week, I can plan much smaller portions of protein and grains because I already know we have lots of vegetables to fill up on.  I don't even worry about "do roasted veggies go with this" because you don't think that for a second about a green salad, it just goes with everything, I feel that way about roasted veggies. 


Ingredients

2 lbs cubed pumpkin (sweet potatoes or winter squash)
1 lb brussels sprouts 
2 red onions, peeled and each onion cut into wedges
1/4 cup walnuts (or other sturdy nut like almonds or pecans)
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp dried chili flakes, adjust to taste 
1/2 tsp salt
Black pepper


Directions

Preheat oven to 400F.

Peel and dice the pumpkin into 1“ cubes, If your brussels sprouts are large, cut them in half.

Place the pumpkin, brussels sprouts, onion and walnuts onto a large baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup, then mix with your hands until it is evenly coated.

Sprinkle the veggies with the dried chilli flakes, salt and pepper.

Roast for 25 minutes, or until the pumpkin is browned and cooked through. 

Toss once at around 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, Serve immediately.