What’s For Dinner? Slow Cooker Chili Spiked with Veggies

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I love chili on a cold winter night, coated with gooey cheese and steaming in the bowl. After I graduated from nutrition school I began to see the potential in adding more nutrition to everyday meals. Hence, “Chili Spiked with Veggies” was born. It’s the perfect marriage between comforting, warm, tasty chili and healthy veggies. Even better, you can make the whole thing in the crockpot and it only takes about 15-20 minutes (depending on how fast you chop!)

Slow Cooker Chili Spiked With Veggies

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 15-20 mins Prep + 3-4 hours on high OR 6-8 hours on low in slow cooker
  • Difficulty: easy
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Equipment: Slow Cooker, 7 quart

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pounds ground beef, buffalo (grass-fed) or turkey
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 10-12 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup chili powder (use 1/4 cup for kids or those who don’t like a lot of “heat” to their chili)
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (again, use less for less spicy flavor)
  • 2 cans (each 28oz) diced tomatoes with juices
  • 2-3 small zucchinis, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped in small pieces
  • 1-2 carrots, diced
  • 4 cups (32oz) beef, chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cans (each 14oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Serrano or jalapeño pepper, minced (optional)
  • sour cream or grated cheese and chopped green onion or chives optional for garnishing

Directions

Brown the ground meat over medium-high heat either in the slow cooker insert (if it is OK to be used on stovetop – mine is and I love this function!) or in a skillet. Season with salt and pepper while cooking. If using a high fat content meat you may want to drain off some excess fat.

Reduce heat to medium, add the garlic and yellow onions to the meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, and cayenne and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, zucchini, bell pepper, carrot, and kidney beans. Add the broth and stir to combine.

Transfer the slow cooker insert to the base, or spoon the ingredients from the skillet into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.

Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper and more spices if desired. If you want even more of a kick to your chili, add an additional Serrano or jalapeño pepper (minced) to your chili for the last 15-20 minutes of cook time. Ladle the chili into bowls and garnish with your choice of sour cream, grated cheese, green onion and/or chives.

https://therealisticlunchbox.wordpress.com/

 

How to Make Simple Moong Daal


In this blog post I’m going to lean heavily on the fact that this blog is “realistic”…as in A) my kitchen is not large, commercial or perfect, B) my videographer is a 6 year old using my iPad (no fancy equipment or lighting here!) and C) I often have to cook with my kids because I’m the only adult at home with them and they have recently decided that they want to be a part of everything I do and can’t play by themselves anymore 😕. Although, I am happy when they are interested in cooking with me, it just adds an extra element or two. So, if you are possibly thinking that you can’t cook with kids, think again! It might be a little bit slower, messier and require a bit of prep beforehand but you will also be giving your children the gift of “real food awareness”. That cooking real food can be fun, yummy and healthy. They may not eat everything you cook at first….or much of anything, but the skills and memories they observe and acquire in the kitchen will stay with them forever. (Thanks for that Mom!) 

Ok, on to the reason you opened this blog post. If you don’t know what moong daal is (also known as mung daal), then it’s time I introduce you. Moong beans are legumes and are rich in fiber and folate. They also contain high amounts of protein, iron, magnesium, and Vitamin K. (1)  Moong daal is easily digested and therefore a great food for people recovering from illness.

Where to find moong beans? I shop at a local Indian market. Many “health food” stores and co-ops also carry moong (or mung) beans. This recipe uses the yellow kind (not the green ones). Often grocery stores can special order it for you as well. 


The Ingredients

1 Cup uncooked yellow Moong beans (also known as mung beans)

3 cups Chicken or Vegetable stock 

1 tsp sea salt

1/2-1 Onion – chopped finely

4 Garlic Cloves

2 tsp Turmeric

2-3 tsp Cumin seeds, toasted (toast in pan lightly on stovetop)

2 tomatoes chopped finely

Chili – totally optional (I leave it out when making this for my kids)

1/2 cup – 1 Cup Cilantro – chopped (more or less per your taste)

Ghee, or butter for frying


Directions

Soak the moons beans for 1-2 hours covered in room temp water with a spoonful of salt. If you are doubling or tripling the recipe, remember how much moong beans you started with because it will expand! 

Drain and rinse soaked beans. Based on how much moong daal you started with, triple the vegetable or chicken broth, add this and the turmeric and the sea salt with soaked moong beans to a large pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. 

—Here is a video – totally “realistic” of this step. https://youtu.be/Uh9_JYIGZ1g  3min 58sec long

While the broth/bean mixture is heating up, pan fry the onion, garlic, and cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes and fry a little more (3-4 minutes). 

—Here is a video – again, I’m in my post-yoga workout clothes 😳 – of this step. https://youtu.be/PEEraokdXLU. 4min 37sec long

Add this pan fried mixture to pot and let it all simmer together partially covered for about 45-60 minutes.

—Here is a short video of this step – the kids are almost over it at this point…are you? https://youtu.be/qnwmkQjgvuM  1min 08sec long 

When daal has achieved the desired consistency (which is tough to describe exactly but the beans will be starting to get “mushy” but still retain some of their shape) remove from heat and stir in chopped cilantro. 
Now you can enjoy the daal by itself or over rice to make it a complete vegetarian protein (assuming you used the vegetarian broth). Serve with naan or paratha (optional). This dish is also great as a side dish to compliment other Indian dishes.  




NOTES

*This dish is gluten-free, dairy-free (if you use ghee most people with diary allergies are fine with this but if you have an extreme allergy use coconut oil), nut-free, and vegetarian (if you use the vegetable broth).

**In the videos we quadrupled the recipe and froze most of the leftovers in 16oz freezer safe mason jars (great for an individual serving!) This is a great way to cook once for many, MANY meals. 

***If you are cooking with kids, remember to SOAK the beans 1-2 hours before you want to start cooking them, PREP EVERYTHING, and make sure your kitchen workspace is clear and clean. This will make it a much more enoyable experience!

****Video Credit to Tejus Vachani, age 6 and the Sous Chef is Kai Vachani, age 3


Sources

1 NutritionData.com


Broccoli Pancakes

I am SO sick of my 2 year old (almost 3 year old) NOT eating veggies! His brother eats anything raw, and some cooked veggies but this little guy is a different story. I know I’m exaggerating, he does eat some veggies…smoothies, smoothies, Popsicles….wait, maybe he doesn’t eat that much? Well, we try, and I think we are doing OK, but just “OK” in my mind isn’t going to cut it. I mean, I KNOW the importance of veggies, both long term and short term. How intake of antioxidants and immune boosting nutrients can help him, how calcium can affect long term bone health, how….well, I could go on and on. This is the age old battle with toddlers, is it not?

Tonight I decided to take a stand. I WILL figure out a way that he LIKES to eat veggies. The force was strong with me tonight. And succeed I did. With the 2 year old. The 6 year old proceeded to critique the experimental broccoli pancakes like he was one of the “super tasters” (He’s NOT).

This was how it all unfolded.


I looked in my fridge and had lots of leftovers. These were the main veggies (plus the carrots which were getting old). I was wondering what to do with them….so I decided pancakes were a good idea.


I put it all in a bowl and mixed it together.


Then I pan fried it. Who DOESN’T like pan fried anything?!?


Finished product. The picture doesn’t do it justice. It is actually really amazing. But since my 6 year old “complained” I added some shredded cheese to batch 2….AH-MAZING. These will be in their lunches tomorrow.

 

Broccoli Pancakes

makes about 8 pancakes


Ingredients

1 cup finely chopped cooked broccoli

1 cup shredded raw carrot

4 eggs, whisked

4 Tbsp coconut flour (I’m pretty sure you could do any flour)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup rice (pre-cooked), the one pictured here was leftover cilantro lime rice from Make Your Own Burrito Bowls

Dash of cardamom (because I can)

Salt and pepper to taste

Coconut oil for pan frying

(1/2 – 1 cup shredded cheese is optional)
Mix everything together, smack it into balls and squish in the pan to form pancakes. Fry on low-medium for 4-5 minutes each side.

That’s it. Now you and your kids are eating veggies.
This recipe is gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free if you omit the cheese!=

Serve cold in lunches or freeze and toast when you want some more!

What’s For Dinner? Quick & Easy Chicken Tikka Masala

Yup, it’s the timeless question heard throughout every home on a daily basis. And by timeless, I mean that there is always LESS TIME than you need in a day to accomplish everything you need to/want to and THEN you have to make dinner too? Jeez. Why do the kids have to eat every day…multiple times?!?!

I have come to really appreciate the time I USED to have in the kitchen. Now that I have two young children, I’m having to change my ways and figure out new methods of survival on a day-to-day basis. Here’s a no fail, easy, relatively quick and HEALTHY meal you can throw together on a weeknight. Even better, you can keep most of the ingredients in the freezer and the rest in your pantry so you don’t even have to go to the grocery store (with kids…this can be a challenge in itself at the end of a long day – or anytime of day). Winning!

Ingredients: broccoli, chicken thigh meat, Maya Kamal simmer sauce, brown basmati rice, coconut oil (or ghee for browning the meat).

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All three ingredients pictured above can be stored in the freezer to have readily on hand. They also thaw pretty quickly in a bowl of warm water if you forget to take them out in the morning. You can find Maya Kamal at various Whole Foods markets and various Costco warehouses (in a 3 flavor pack). I’m sure it’s found elsewhere as well. I love this simmer sauce because it has really great authentic flavor and really healthy, all natural ingredients.

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I highly recommend investing in a rice cooker if you plan on making a fair amount of meals at home. I can get the rice ready and set the timer in the morning and forget about it until it’s dinner time.

 

Method: If you don’t have a rice cooker, make sure you start the brown rice about an hour before you wan to eat. This only takes a few minutes and you don’t have to tend to it after it’s simmering. Cut the chicken into bite size or slightly larger pieces, brown in a pan with coconut oil before adding the simmer sauce. I usually let simmer about 15 minutes. Just make sure the meat is thoroughly cooked. While the chicken is simmering, steam your broccoli (I find 6-7 minutes depending on how you cut it is perfect). That’s it. Serve and enjoy.

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and yes….it is enjoyed by all ages.

DSC_0525**This meal is gluten-free

 

 

Muffin Tin Lunch

This is going to be short and sweet.

Sometimes it’s hard to get toddlers to eat what you want them to eat (i.e. healthy foods!) but you can’t force them to eat anything. In fact, encouraging them usually backfires, so I took another approach. Change up the presentation! It’s a pretty simple solution to a chronic problem. I’m not saying it will work every time, but your toddler will think it’s really fun to have a “new” lunch.

All you need is a half-dozen size muffin tin and some imagination.

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You can fill the cups with just about anything. Pictured here is turkey, clementine, carrots, hummus, crackers and cucumber. Have fun with it!

Day 1 Sugar-free

I’m back. I’ve taken quite the hiatus from my blog for many reasons. I’m not yet ready to talk about all of the personal reasons, the time for that will come. But other reasons include the holidays. Why is it that this time of year causes so many of us to fall back on bad habits and experience a regression in pursuing our goals? I guess taking a break from our normal patterns of life is not entirely a bad thing but in my case, it was. I started to slip on my dietary goals and just a bite or just one piece of dessert turned  into everyday. Yikes! Before I knew it I was having sugary desserts or treats every day and sometimes more than once a day. Enough! It’s about time I get back on track, so here I am on Day 1 of going sugar free. I have no intention of cutting out all the vices in my life (at least not at this moment) so I’m just focusing on sugar, which some say could be the worst evil of all.

Here is my healthy eating plan for today:

Breakfast: whole milk yogurt + sprouted grains granola, raisins, nuts, a dash of honey (not a refined sugar and healthy in moderation) and my coffee (I said I wasn’t cutting out all vices!)

Lunch: Green Smoothie + 2 fried eggs

Snack: green tea + wasabi flavored seaweed + pistachios + mandarin

Dinner: Homemade chicken noodle soup with kale

What are you doing for your health today?

What’s For Dinner? Quinoa Pesto Pasta

Have you cut-out pasta from your meal plans because you are afraid “of all the carbs” or because you are eating gluten-free? Well get ready to make a date with this pasta recipe. Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Organic Pasta is gluten-free and naturally high in protein (all quinoa is) and therefore lower in carbs so you can enjoy a well balanced, nutritious, quick and easy meal with PASTA again!

My favorite is the “Garden Pagodas” by this brand but any of the varieties will work for this recipe.

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What’s for Dinner? Spring Quinoa Salad

Are you tired of ordering pizza, subs, or Chipotle (yes, that’s me!) as your default meal? Are you looking to eat healthier this spring but don’t want to compromise taste in the process? Are you a novice in the kitchen but want to cook more, starting with “easy” meals? Well, if you answered yes to one or all of these questions than don’t stop reading! Continue reading

What’s for Dinner? Spicy Black Bean Soup

Yeah, ok…so I’m into soups right now. It’s February in Michigan. Need I say more?

While planning my meals this week I stumbled upon a picture of black bean soup and I knew I just HAD to make it. Plus, we are trying to reduce our grocery bill a little by adding in at least one vegetarian meal each week and this fits the bill: it’s filling, nutritious, has adequate protein, warms the body and it’s vegetarian.

In search of a good recipe I came across many online, but nothing quite seemed right (I felt like Goldilocks and the 3 Soup Recipes…one was too bland, one was too labor intensive, etc, etc.) until I found this Black Bean Soup recipe from The Novice Chef blog. The beautiful picture drew me in…

Spicy Black Bean Soup from TheNoviceChefBlog.com

and the recipe seemed totally doable on a weeknight AND sounded like it would taste good…and when she said the soup was even ass friendly I KNEW a chef with a sense of humor was worth a try! Continue reading

What’s for Dinner? Miso Soup

This is a daily million dollar question everyone faces (parent, or not). I hope to revisit this question with future blogs containing seasonally relevant recipe ideas for busy families like ours. Look for this series of blogs starting with the same question…”What’s for Dinner?”

Tonight I’m whipping up a quick and easy one-pot meal – Miso Soup. Not only is Miso Soup easy, but it is the best dish for when you are feeling chilled to the bone, have an upset tummy, or feel a cold or flu coming on.

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