Super Bowl Party Time!

Super Bowl - DipWho’s watching the Super Bowl tomorrow?  Mark and I don’t catch every pro game during the season, but we love watching the top teams battle it out on Super Bowl Sunday…and we love the commercials! Food is a big part of the party atmosphere and EVERYONE should enjoy socializing with some tasty treats, right?

One of my favorite all-time SB party foods is Buffalo Chicken Dip.  I still remember the first time I had some.  My friend Keith brought it to a school party and it was love at first bite!  It took some searching, but I finally found a recipe that has all the FLAVOR of Buffalo Chicken Dip, but without all of the heaviness.  In fact, THIS recipe packs an extra protein punch!  Pair it with some baked corn chips, or cut up some whole wheat pita bread into wedges and toast them.  Delicious and guilt-free!  Enjoy!

Skinny Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip       Serves 8

Ingredients:

2 cups low-fat cottage cheese

1 tsp. dried dill weed

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. salt and pepper

2 cups roasted or poached chicken

1/2 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce (or your personal favorite!)

1/3 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Put the cottage cheese in the food processor and pulse until smooth.  Add the seasonings and process until mixed well.
  3. Transfer ingredients to a bowl.  Add the chicken and hot sauce.  Mix well.
  4. Spread into a pie pan or oven-safe dip bowl.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.
  6. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on the top and heat again until melted.  All done!

Recipe from Jeanette’sHealthyLiving.com

2016 – Setting a New Course

canoe

Welcome to 2016!  In these first few days of each new year we tend to reflect on our lives and use the newness as an opportunity to get focused, start over, or make big changes.  I’ve made my share of resolutions.  I’ve also BROKEN my share.  When that happens, it feels so bad and I end up just throwing it all away.  Breaking a resolution is like breaking a promise to yourself.  Maybe that’s because resolutions seem so specific and strict and finite.

Reflection and planning at the beginning of a new year shouldn’t be a huge expectation of change and perfection.  Rather, think of it like paddling a canoe.  You know you want to get to a specific place on the other side of the lake, so you point the bow in that direction and start paddling.  It’s a great feeling, watching the boat glide through the water, seeing the little whirlpools that spin off of each paddle stroke.   Everything feels fabulous and in-sync!

CanoePaddleUnderwater

But then, you realize the bow isn’t pointed at your destination anymore…it has drifted to the left.  So you start paddling on the other side and straighten out your course.  Then, after a few strokes on the left, you find you have drifted a little to the right.  What do you do?  Go back to the dock?  NO!  You switch sides and paddle some more.  Your track across the lake is always a series of little corrections…over and over.    Even if you are canoeing with someone else, there is no straight line from Point A to Point B.   There is encouragement, frustration, practice, and then synergy!

Sometimes, when you are paddling along, you do something dumb…like stand up or reach too far to one side…and over you go!  You go into

fall out!the water, your paddle, and your stuff are now soaked.  Sometimes this happens because you have someone else in your boat, and THEY don’t know as much about canoeing as you do.  Isn’t this SO true about health and nutrition?  You are going along with your new healthy eating, and your coworkers want to go out to lunch, or they all dig into the cake someone brought in.  And you may cave because of the pressure you feel from those who haven’t come to understand the importance of eating nutritious foods.

As you move into this new year, be kind to yourself!  Think about where you want to “go,” and set a course in that direction.  If healthy living and fitness is on your mind, imagine where you would like to see yourself this time next year.  Make some changes in your eating that will push you in that direction.  Make a plan for getting in exercise and start doing it.  If you miss a day (which you will), don’t be a self-hater. Don’t go back to the dock!  Make corrections and get back on your course.  If you eat some crap (which you will – old habit), don’t throw it all away. Learn from it.  Reset your course.   Remember your overall goal, for that will be your compass…your beacon…and keep steering yourself in that direction.  All year long, keep adjusting and correcting…resetting your direction.  When you reach your “destination,” you’ll find that you still want to paddle, so you’ll create a new direction and follow it.  Don’t let this year be about broken promises.  Let it be the year you never stopped paddling!  Happy New Year!

– Wendy

 

Slow-Cooker Black Beans in a Taco Bowl

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You may wonder where the black beans are in this picture…look closely…they’re in there!  The slow-cooker picture was uninspiring…black beans in a black pot…so I chose to show you what I DID with the beans once they were cooked…in our deconstructed taco bowl.

I’m not sure what my hold-up has been, but I’ve only recently started soaking and cooking my own beans.  It seemed like such a pain in the neck to me…and time consuming.  That was before I started thinking about using the my resources more wisely…namely my time and my crock-pot.  I love the idea that, while I’m at work, the dinner is cooking!

What you’ll need:

1 16-oz bag of dry black beans

1 tsp. dry oregano or Italian spice

1 TBSP salt

4 cups water

2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

1 onion (I love sweet ones)

1 bell pepper (any color)

 

Here’s how to do it:

The night before you want to eat them, put 16-oz of dry black beans into a pot and cover them with water.  Put the lid on and leave it sitting on the counter.  Go to bed.

The next morning, chop one onion, one bell pepper (any color), and 2 cloves of garlic.  Put 2 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil in a pan and cook on medium heat until the onions are translucent.  Dump this into your crock-pot.

Drain your beans and rinse them in the strainer.  Dump them into the slow-cooker.  Also add:

  • 1 tsp. dry oregano or Italian spice
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • You can also play with the flavor and add cumin, coriander, or chili powder.  We went simple for the kids.

Pour in 4 cups of water and stir it all up.  Put the lid on the crock-pot and cook on low for 8-10 hours. When I got home, the house smelled great.  I then pulled out my rice cooker and did some brown rice while Presley and I worked on homework.  Might as well let Homework Time work for you, right?

Butternut Squash, Kale, and Quinoa Stew

Butternut Kale Quinoa stewThis is a stew recipe a friend shared with us, and it contains ingredients that we love. The recipe came off of a website called Love & Lemons @ http://www.loveandlemons.com We tried it and absolutely love it! I would also recommend looking at their website. They have a huge selection of incredible looking vegetarian/vegan recipes.

Butternut Squash, Kale, and Quinoa Stew
Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (or more) teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (or more) teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon red chile flakes
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • splash of white wine vinegar (1-2 tablespoons)
  • 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 32 oz. vegetable broth
  • ½ cup dry quinoa (or 1.5 cups cooked quinoa)
  • generous amounts of salt & pepper
  • a few big handfuls of chopped kale

Instructions:

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until they become translucent. Add the butternut squash cubes, another few pinches of salt, and stir again.

2. Let the butternut squash cook for a few minutes, then add the garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika and chile flakes. Stir, then add a splash of white wine vinegar to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, broth and quinoa. Cover and simmer until the butternut squash is tender and the quinoa is cooked through (about 40 minutes). Halfway through, I like to taste and adjust seasonings. Add additional spices if you like.

3. When the soup is nearly done, add in a few handfuls of chopped kale. Stir and let it cook until wilted (about 5 minutes more). Taste, and adjust seasonings again.

4. Store leftover soup in the fridge for 4-5 days or freeze.

Zucchini Noodles with Grandma’s Tomato Sauce

zucchini noodles, tomoto sauce, vegetarian meal ideasThe basic idea of this plate has been made many times in our house, but this time we used a different tomato sauce recipe. We love the idea of zucchini noodles, and they are really delicious in place of actual pasta noodles.  The texture is actually similar to that of al-dente pasta!  When we were looking through Autumn Calbrese’s cookbook FIXATE, we were very happy to see her using these in her recipe. The difference here was Autumn included her Grandmother’s tomato sauce, and it really was very tasty. We will certainly make it again. (Actually since first starting this post we have made a double batch and canned it!) Autumn’s recipe included turkey meatballs, but we chose to use sauteed portabella mushrooms instead to make it vegetarian. This is a delicious recipe that you are sure to enjoy.

If you would like to try this recipe, visit our website.

Traditional Hummus

20150802_142757Today, I did something new…I made fresh hummus.  Usually, we’ll buy it when it’s on a Buy-One, Get-One deal, but since one of the biggest parts of clean eating is knowing the ingredients in your food, I decided to give it a shot.  It was easy, and I’m happy with the flavor…GARLIC!!!  What’s not to like?  To see the full recipe, click HERE to visit the page on our website.    -Mark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gazpacho

20150801_120151Last week Mark and I came across a recipe for Gazpacho that we hadn’t seen in years.  A chef from the Ritz Carlton Naples shared it with us. Talk about good timing!  Our garden is producing tomatoes like crazy, not to mention zucchini, yellow squash, and cucumbers!  This is a delicious way to use that extra produce from the garden or make something tasty with the inexpensive in-season summer veggies!  Click HERE for the full recipe!

Edamame and Roasted Corn Succotash

Edamame and Roasted Corn SuccotashDuring my Ultimate Reset, I was introduced to many vegan recipes…all of which were delicious (this coming from someone who has a freezer full of deer meat)!  This was a favorite with me, Mark and the Girls, and our friends.  You can eat it as a complete meal, or share it as a side dish.  Now that it’s summer, corn and bell peppers are inexpensive and in-season!   Enjoy!

This recipe makes 1 serving, so I would always make MUCH more!  Then I knew I’d have a quick, nutritious, go-to meal for lunch or dinner.

Edamame and Roasted Corn Succotash (Recipe taken from Beachbody Ultimate Reset)

1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (approx. 1 ear)

1 cup water

3/4 cup shelled edamame (I buy them in the freezer section with shells OFF)

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 medium shallot, diced

1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced

1/4 medium onion, diced (I prefer Vidalia, others like red)

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar (I used Balsamic or Apple cider vinegar….sub your favorite)

1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Himalayan salt to taste (optional)

Herbal seasoning blend to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Arrange corn in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until caramelized and beginning to brown, but before kernels harden.  (My mom thawed frozen corn and roasted it.  My sister buys frozen roasted corn at Trader Joe’s.)  While the corn is in the oven, boil the edamame;  cook for 5-7 minutes.  Remove the oven from the oven and let it cool.  Drain the edamame and set aside.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add shallot, bell pepper, and onion; cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until soft.  Add corn and edamame; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, salt, and seasoning blend (if desired).  Mix well.