#HealthyNewYear

Happy New Year!!!

Did you survive the holiday frenzy?  I will admit that for the first time in a number of years we had a very calm and relaxed holiday season.  Celebrations were spread out enough to not cause a raucous.  The new year was rung in quietly with friends, kiddos and an entertaining evening of cards.

…and the best news…  my pants still fit!!!!!!!

I did it.  I managed to get through the months of November and December, into January WITHOUT gaining any unnecessary weight.  I will admit there were a few pound of water weight gained, but it was somewhat unavoidable with some of the dinners attended.  The water weight is much easier to get back in control of than actual FAT weight gain.

How did you do with #55milesinDecember?  Did you hit the goal?  Were you able to get outside and move that body?  I came close to thinking I wasn’t going to make the mark.  A few unavoidable obstacles, engagements and errands kept me from my treks, but I slid in with just over 60 miles for the month.  PHEW!!!  I’d love to hear how you did.

Remember when I told you about one of my new adventures with the Kansas Health Foundation as a #SpokesMom?  I’m still at it and really enjoy sharing my personal health journey, tips and recipes with other Kansas parents.

Our assignment for the month of January is to share how we’ll be making 2015 a #HealthyNewYear.  What will we do to change or implement new healthy habits into our lifestyles?  What can we recommend to other parents?

Well, I just happen to be long winded enough that our Kansas Health Foundation liaison asked if I would write a blog post about my recommendations and ideas.  LOL!  I was happy to oblige.  So, for those of you who may be new to my page…  WELCOME!!!

Soooo…. What am I going to do to make 2015 healthier for my family….????

Honestly, I’m going to keep doing more of the same things I’ve already been doing, but MORE.

Last month I told you about Barilla’s Veggie pastas.

veggie pastaI’ve been buying these and using them in my own dishes and in just a few family dishes.  A friend just found the spaghetti at one of our local stores and picked up a box for me.  My goal is to completely replace standard pasta with these.  My kids don’t have to know that they’re full of veggies.  All they’ll know is that they’re fun colors.  I LOVE a good fake-out!!!

Speaking of fake-outs… My other tidbit of advice for incorporating more veggies into our diet is by “sneaking” them into meals where they’ll never be detected.  Whenever I make my homemade pasta sauce I always grate a carrot or two and at least a half of a zucchini.  I saute them while I brown my hamburger.  They cook down just enough and blend in well enough to almost be hidden by the red tomato sauce.  My kids never know the difference.  Another great place to add these shredded wonders in in meatloaf, meatballs and any handful of casseroles or soups.  Chopped mushrooms can be disguised in any number of creamy sauces/casseroles.

Salt intake is a constant battle for me personally.  My body can’t process it and in turn holds onto any and all water if I consume too much of it.  I take medication to help control it, but that’s not enough.  I have to be vigilant in monitoring my intake.  In learning about my own challenge with the salty wonder I’ve come to the realization that salt is in EVERYTHING and the amount we consume on a daily basis is ABSURD.  I’m working on converting my family to a lower sodium diet.  This hasn’t been the easiest of tasks because, let’s face it, salt tastes GOOD!

Here are a few places that I’ve started.

salt freeI’ve been using Lite Salt for years.  We’re so used to it that using regular salt is overwhelming.  After doing a little label reading I found that the FIRST ingredient in most seasoning blends is salt.  Not good.  I recently discovered McCormick’s Pinch Perfect Salt Free seasoning blends.  I REALLY like these.  The Garlic & Herb is pretty stellar.  Another place that’s EASY to cut back on salt is with canned goods.  Wal-Mart’s Great Value brand has started making salt free versions of most of the their canned beans, veggies and tomatoes.  “But they don’t TASTE as good…”, you say.  Okay…when was the last time you cracked open a can of beans and just started eating straight out of the can????  I didn’t think you could recall it.  If you’re adding these things to recipes you’ll NEVER miss the salt that they don’t have.  You can more reasonable salt your dishes this way.  By using these instead, I can control the amount of salt myself, in turn, not overdoing it.

Okay, I have the diet part down, so what about fitness???

If you’re new to my blog I’ll tell you about my movement challenges.  Back in September I decided to exercise more regularly.  I needed to bee more accountable for what I was trying to teach others.  I started going on daily walks.  I discovered a monthly mile challenge through an Instagram feed I follow.  I walked over 40 miles in October starting late in the month and completed November with 64.59 miles!!!  I wanted to do a challenge in December, but got impatient waiting for my IG friend to post one so I made up my own and spread the word to my own followers asking and encouraging anyone and everyone to join me.  I challenged myself and everyone else who wanted to join to #55milesinDecember.  December was a tough month.  Lots of hustle and bustle, engagements, parties, errands and a few days of bad weather kept me from my daily treks.

I want to tell you that when I started these challenges I was simply a walker.  I would walk 2.8 miles on my home route.  When I couldn’t fit a walk in at home I would walk on my lunch hour through the neighborhood my office sits in.  I made it a habit of walking AT LEAST 6 days a week, trying for all 7.

I have ALWAYS dreamed of being a runner, but I never felt that it was something my body could do.  I live in the country which means gravel roads for my walks.  I’ve always been preached to that running on gravel is a huge no-no.  …and I never felt like I could get the breathing right.  My lungs always felt on fire and that horrible “irony” taste was always in my mouth.  BLECK!!!  By November I wasn’t just walking, I was POWERWALKING.  I could walk my 2.8 miles in an average of 33 minutes.  That’s right at 5mph!!!  I was doing well.  Randomly, I’d run a small portion of my route, no more than a half mile at a time and certainly not every day.

Then, about two weeks ago I decided to change my route.  It’s a smoother road and more level, no hills.  One evening I just started running.  It felt amazing!!!  I wasn’t stumbling over the gravel.  I wasn’t twisting my ankles on loose rock.  I was OWNING the road.  I broke up the running throughout the trek and when I added it all up I had gone just over a MILE!  A few nights of that and I pushed myself further and ran a SOLID mile, uninterrupted!!!  I couldn’t believe it.  I’m now up to a mile and a half of my 2.8!!!!

I. AM. A. RUNNER!!!!!!

30milesinjanuaryI NEVER thought I’d say that.  If you would have told me in September that I’d run a mile and a half non-stop WITHOUT the awful burning lungs and iron mouth I’d have laughed hysterically!!  I can say without the shadow of a doubt that I have NEVER felt this good!!!  I can’t believe how much these challenges have changed my life.  Setting small monthly goals like these makes getting to your ULTIMATE goal seem more attainable.

MY goal for 2015 is to RUN an entire 5K!!!!  I’m halfway there.  I have a race I’m working toward in May.  It’s MINE!

BECAUSE of how awesome I have felt by doing these, I’m starting my own challenges on my Instagram feed.  ANYONE is welcome to follow me @alishagibb and share in their own journey.  This month I decided to keep it simple for anyone who might be getting started on their own health journey.  You don’t have to run.  You can walk, bike, hop on the treadmill, ellypitcal or any other machine you’d like.  Just MOVE that body. I encourage anyone that wants to join to post their progress using #30milesinJanuary on Instagram or Facebook.  I LOVE to cheer everyone on and encourage changing lives for the better!!!

So there’s my #HealthyNewYear advice for 2015.  Try sneaking those veggies in and I challenge you to cut back on your salt, as well.  I REALLY hope you join me for my movement challenges.

May your new year be blessed with good health and fitness!!!!

 

Peace, love and NEW journeys!!!!

 

***Disclaimer: Barilla, McCormick, Morton and Wal-Mart have NO clue who I am.  I am not paid to endorse their products.  …I just really like them.  I’m sure there are many other brands/options out there offering the same healthy benefits.

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Too Good, But Its TRUE, Spinach Artichoke Dip

How are you guys doing with your #55milesindecember?  Have you gotten outside and enjoyed some fresh, crisp air and exercise?

I had to take yesterday off.

Boo-hoo!

A.) It was raining most of the day, which meant a noon hour trek was out of the question.  Coming back to the office looking like a frizzy, soggy rat just wasn’t in the cards.

B.) I bruised/”injured” my Achilles tendon a few months ago and, while it randomly bothers me and I usually just power through it, this week I noticed that it’s rather swollen.  So, with the impending weather yesterday, I thought it’d be a good idea to give the tendon a little rest.

No, worries, I’ll back out this afternoon.

Don’t forget to follow me on instragram @alishagibb to see how I’m doing.  Tag me in your IG posts so I can see how you’re doing, too and and use the #55milesindecember to share with everyone else.  Everything is better together with a great support system!!!

In my time away from you I discovered a few recipes that are not only GOOD for you, but absolutely DELICIOUS!!!!

I don’t know about you, but all the holiday gatherings can be extremely overwhelming when it comes to trying to make the right choices on what we should and shouldn’t put in our mouths.  For those of us trying to be extremely vigilant with our calorie intake and/or salt intake this season is a real pain in the TUSH!  Last year I GAINED over 8 pounds just in the holiday season because I wasn’t paying enough attention to how much and EXACTLY what I was eating.  Too many calories and WAY too much salt and ZERO exercise.  By the time Christmas rolled around and I had indulged in MULTIPLE party foods I (HONESTLY) couldn’t fit into my jeans.  I was ANGRY with myself for letting this happen.  I had completely blown the good things I had done for my body and had to undo the damage.

This year I have vowed that I am NOT going to let that happen.  I WILL continue to COMFORTABLY fit into my clothes AND learn now to enjoy the parties/gatherings eating in moderation and bringing HEALTHY foods/snacks for everyone to enjoy, all the while FOOLING the party-goers into thinking my good-for-you contributions are really NAUGHTY indulgences.  (Envision me throwing my head back and cackling like the Wicked Witch of the West. “AH-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!”)

Today I’m going to share with you my first (and so far, FAVORITE) not-so-naughty treat.  One of my co-workers makes a RIDICULOUS crock pot Artichoke Spinach Dip that she just throws together with some store bought Alfredo sauce, cheese, artichokes and frozen spinach.  It’s ALWAYS one of the first things to disappear on our foods days.  As much as I LOVE it I know that I can only have one or two chips worth because of the salt levels in the jarred sauce and the fat content.  I mean…it’s Alfredo sauce…rich, creamy, decadent NAUGHTINESS!!!

Remember the skinny alfredo recipe that I shared with you?  We’re going to kick it up a notch and make a SKINNY, HEALTHY and DELICIOUS version of my girlfriend’s dip.  Trust me, this has been rough and tumble, burly cowboy APPROVED.  I served it at a card party a few weeks ago and one of the pickiest dudes at the gathering bellied up to the crock pot.  SCORE!!!!

I apologize for the crappy picture, but in my haste of getting this made for the party I ran out of time (and good light) to take a pretty picture of it.  But this what it looks like.

Artichoke Spinach DipReady?

Too Good But It’s TRUE, Skinny Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 tbsp olive oil
4 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 bag baby spinach chopped
1 1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1 jar artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
In a small mixing bowl combine cornstarch and chicken broth, whisking until any lumps are gone. Set aside.

In a large saute pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken broth and cornstarch mixture. Bring the sauce to a simmer, whisking every few minutes. Allow to thicken slightly. Reduce heat slightly and add in Parmesan cheese and continue whisking until the cheese is completely melted. After the cheese has melted add the chopped spinach and artichoke hearts and stir until the spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and stir in the Greek yogurt. Mix until well blended and smooth. Add the mozzarella cheese and stir until melted. Salt and pepper to taste.

This can be transferred to a small crock pot to keep warm for serving. Serve with tortilla chips or pita chips. Reheats VERY well!!

The skinny: 1/15th of recipe = 1 serving
113 calories, 4g carbs, 6g fat, 10g protein, 413mg sodium and 1g sugar.

Of course you can substitute the fresh spinach with frozen if you have to, but I really prefer to use fresh everything when I can.  Look at all the protein in that one serving!!!

The leftovers are EXTREMELY versatile!  I doubled the batch when I made it not really knowing how much it would yield or how much would get eaten.  I certainly couldn’t let it go to waste.  I put two servings worth on top of a plain baked potato and added a 1/2 cup of fresh steamed broccoli and a few bacon bits.

Let’s just say the heavens opened up and the angels started singing.  I was rendered speechless while I ate.

Don’t want to eat a potato?  Barilla Pastas come in VEGGIE pastas now!!! APPLAUSE!!!

Barilla pasta(Again angels singing!!!)  As I like to say…. This pasta is just STUPID good!!!  Grady tried it just plain (not knowing what it was) and thought it was ALREADY “dressed” with something.  He loved it.  It’s VERY flavorful and packs the same health punch as it’s whole wheat cousin WITH the added bonus of giving you a full serving of veggies!!!  (Yes, I’ve already faked my kids out with it and they didn’t know a thing.)  I topped some of this goodness with the leftover dip, added a few ounces of chicken breast and had an extremely filling meal.

So, there you go, a great dish you can take to any one of your holiday parties that you can feel GOOD about sharing and eating.  I PROMISE you won’t be sorry.

 

Peace, love and dip de-LIGHT!!!!

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo

Yesterday, another foodie friend/co-worker, aka Amy, shared with me a recipe she found for a skinny fettuccine alfredo.  She sent me a text message the night before raving over it and promising to share in the goodness.  I’ve always been a skeptic of skinny alfredo sauces because they’re either not really skinny or they don’t taste anything like alfredo sauce.  But… she and I have VERY similar tastes so I trusted her gut (literally, LOL!).

She gave me the recipe and a few pointers on things she would have changed.  I followed her advise and made it for supper last night. fettuccineAre you ready?

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo

8 oz. whole wheat pasta (use any shape you desire)
8-10 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
4 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 tsp. olive oil
3 tsp. corn starch
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
3/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 handfuls baby spinach, roughly chopped

In a large sauce pan cook pasta to al dente.

While pasta is cooking, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray. Cook chicken and 1 clove garlic until almost done. Before chicken is fully finished add mushrooms and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through and mushrooms are softened. Remove from pan and set aside.

While chicken is cooking stir together cornstarch and broth to make a slurry.

After removing the chicken and mushrooms, return the pan to the heat and add the olive oil. Saute remaining garlic for about 30-40 seconds in the oil until it becomes fragrant. Add the slurry to the pan and bring to a bubbling simmer. Whisk occasionally while it thickens. Add cheese and stir until melted and smooth.

Remove the pan from heat and add the yogurt. Stir to combine completely until smooth. Add spinach and and chicken and mushroom mixture. Stir until the spinach wilts. Add pasta and toss until completely coated.

Serve!!

This stuff was OFF THE HOOK!

I loved it.  Grady tried it and he even thought it was pretty amazing.

I really like that you can EASILY make this a vegetarian meal by switching to vegetable broth and subbing in other fun veggies instead of the chicken.  …and if you’re on a low/no carb diet use a spaghetti squash instead of the pasta.

Want to know something funny?  I messed up a few measurements, adding 2 TBSP of oil and cornstarch each rather than 2 tsp like the original recipe called for.  I had to thin the sauce out with a little extra broth, but in the end the calorie count was still at 439 with the extra fat.  TOTALLY reasonable.

Here’s the skinny on the CORRECT measurements.  The recipe yields 4 (LARGE) servings, each serving is as follows: 389 calories, 9g fat, 43g carbs, (5g fiber), 39g protein and 871mg sodium.

I absolutely LOVE how protein packed this dish is!!!  The combination of the yogurt and chicken give this meal its power punch!  It will keep you satisfied and full.  The best part… no butter, no heavy cream and ALL the flavor!!!

Give it a try.  You won’t regret it.  …and get crazy and creative with your veggies. (I’m adding steamed broccoli next time!!!)

 

Peace, love and alfredo heaven!!!

Progress Report

I’m eight days into my sugar detox.

This has NOT been easy.  I have had MAD cravings for Sour Patch Kids, brownies, cookies and anything covered in frosting.  The weekend was, by far, the worst.  Boredom makes me want to reach for the candy jar or whatever baked treat we may have laying around.

I am happy to say that I WON!!!!  I resisted the temptation and am still on track.

Have I noticed any differences?

Yes.

I keep hearing about “puffiness” being directly related to not only sodium levels in our body, but also sugar intake.  One thing I was struggling with was a general “puffy” feeling in my midsection.  After eight full days I feel like this has definitely been reduced.  It’s not totally gone and I’m sure will take some time, but I HAVE noticed a difference.  My energy level has also increased.  I don’t have the mid-afternoon crashes that I was experiencing.  I can power through my day and not feel like I need a nap.

I do have a dilemma.  I have a wedding to attend this weekend and am debating on allowing myself the indulgence of wedding cake.  I talked with a good friend who I called on for my support through this. She supported me in either decision telling me that regardless of what I choose I need to decide BEFORE I get there.  (Good point!)  If I decide to stay strong and NOT partake in the cake that’s great, but if I want to have a treat that I should make the decision ahead of time and enjoy the piece guilt-free.  In her words, “you’re eating one piece, not the WHOLE cake”.  Very true.  I’m really leaning toward NOT indulging and powering through it.

My goal in this detox wasn’t just to rid myself of the puffy feeling I’ve been experiencing, but to whip this addiction in the Heineken!!!  I am not a person who likes the feeling of being helpless to an addiction.  I do NOT like feeling like I’m not in control of this.  With all of that in mind, if I can make it through a wedding without giving in to the temptation it would be such a HUGE accomplishment.  The only way to rid yourself of a habit or addiction is to NOT give in to it.

I think my answer is probably pretty clear, but I still have a few days to make it concrete.

I will say this.  As each day passes, it gets a little easier to say no.  Yesterday was a great example.  We had a food day for a co-worker’s birthday.  I didn’t eat a single cookie, bake goodie, piece of candy or Rice Krispie treat.  Not even a tiny taste.  …and the reality of it was that I didn’t have that hard of a time saying no.

It was a good day.

TODAY will be a good day!!!

…and tomorrow will be another.  I’m keeping positive thoughts!

 

 

Peace, love and sugar free!!!

I Think I Must Be Crazy!!!!!

candyI’ve decided to put myself on a sugar DETOX for the month of October.

“Why?”, you ask.

Well…

I’ve kind of, fallen off the wagon in the sweets department.  Sugar is truly, my drug.  I reach for it when I’m bored, sad, happy, hungry, ummmm…. pretty much any time.  It’s bad.  Really.  Really.  Bad.  While I do extremely well with low-calorie, low-fat, well balanced meals, I have a BIG problem with dessert and candy.  I need to get it reined in.

While I was in the biggest part of my weight loss battle, fighting the sugar seemed easier.  I KNEW it was the enemy.  I KNEW it was totally off limits.  I wouldn’t LOSE the weight if I didn’t abide by that rule.

Things change when you get to the maintenance phase of your healthier lifestyle.  You’re “allowed” to let a few things back in, but in small, moderate amounts.  Here’s the problem.  If those things that you’re allowing back in in small increments were the things that were detrimental to your whole healthy state of being in the first place then you probably shouldn’t really allow them back at all.

…and that’s where I’m at.  I know my sugar habit has a tendency to get out of control.  I need to quit the stuff all together for a while and relearn how to get the cravings under control.  I know I’ll feel better.

Now, I will say that I am NOT cutting out ALL sugar.  I WILL be eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.  They are crucial to my own digestive health.  I am NOT cutting out natural sugars.  I am eliminating the processed sugars.

So, why do I think I’m crazy?

Two reasons:

A.) For whatever INSANE reason, I thought it’d be a good idea to start this during the WORST time of the month for any woman.  My cravings are OFF the hook!

and

B.) Who in their right mind would start a sugar detox in the month of OCTOBER, when more candy is bought, given and consumed than we can fathom?!?!  Me, that’s who does that.  ME!

These two factors make me, legitimately, OFF MY ROCKER!  This will surely be a challenge.

This is day two.  This is SUCCESSFULLY day two!  It was a tough one.  I REALLY wanted something sweet this afternoon.  I opted for a cup of coffee instead.  (My second biggest weakness, but a “legal” one.)  It worked.  Craving satisfied.

I have called on several dear friends to hold me accountable and I know they will.  I’m relying on it.  I’m hoping to rely on all of you to hold me to it, too.  I’m going to keep you updated on my thirty-one days.  I’m hoping that all the updates will be good ones, but even if I fall I’m going to be honest.

Accountable.

Wish me luck!!

 

Peace, love and sugar FREE!!!

Completely Made Up and Not-So-Authentic Texas Style Chili

I have another FOOTBALL party recipe to share.  Who doesn’t think chili and football go hand and hand?  Pretty much no one.

About a month ago we had some amazingly cool Fall-like weather on a Saturday and I was CRAVING chili.  We weren’t watching football, but it was the perfect day for it.

I’ve always wanted to try a Texas style chili, using roast or steak rather than ground beef.  On this particular day, I dug through our deep freeze and found a lovely arm roast.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I seized the moment, or rather the whole day.

As it thawed I devised a plan.

My plan was that I really had no plan at all.  I was going to wing it.  This was going to be MY creation, 100%.

…and that’s how Completely Made Up and No-So-Authentic Texas Style Chili came to be.

DSC_0027 copyGrady LOVED this!!!  His exact words were, “Make it EXACTLY like this every single time.  Don’t change a thing.”  While I was completely flattered I had to race to a note pad and write down exactly what I did.  I couldn’t afford to forget this one.

I will start by stating that this isn’t exactly on the low-calorie list of foods.  Don’t let that frighten you though.  It IS full of healthy things.  The roast I used WAS trimmed of all fat and on the rather lean side.  So, while the calories may be higher than the typical 300 calories per serving that I like to stay in, the 488 calories for a one cup serving is still completely acceptable.

My second statement of disclosure I feel I need to share with you prior to diving into the recipe is that this is an all day/all afternoon process.  It’s certainly not something that be whipped together after work.  I will say that it consists of two distinct steps.  The first can certainly be done the evening before and step two CAN be completed the next evening for supper.  …and just a little secret about this recipe.  It’s “kind of” a dual recipe.  Step one can be completed, frozen and used as the base for STEW rather than chili if you like!!!  I’ll go into that in a little bit.

Without further wait.

Completely Made Up and Not-So-Authentic Texas Style Chili

Step One Ingredients:
2 lbs. arm roast, fat trimmed and cubed
3 TBSP flour
1 1/2 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP cumin
1/2 TBSP garlic powder
1/2 TBSP onion powder
1/2 TBSP dried oregano
1/2 large onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon beef base
3 cups hot water

Step Two Ingredients:
2 cups tomato puree
2 cans stewed tomatoes, chopped
2 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP cumin
1/2 TBSP garlic powder
1/2 TBSP onion powder
2 tsp onion salt
1 TBSP dried oregano
Fresh ground pepper
2 cups black beans
1 can chili beans

Step One:
Preheat oven to 275°. Add beef base to the hot water and set aside. Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in large dutch oven style pot. In a bowl mix flour, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried oregano. In another medium bowl add cubed roast. Liberally coat the meat with half the flour mixture. Add the meat to the hot oil. Let the meat brown, untouched, for 3 minutes, or until it achieves golden color. Turn and brown additionally until all the pieces have reached a golden brown. The meat may not be completely cooked through, this is okay. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Repeat the above step with the remaining half of the meat. DO NOT remove or scrape the cooked on bits from the bottom of the pot. You want this there. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and add the onions, peppers and garlic. Saute until onions are slightly translucent. After the veggies are softened add the beef base/water mixture to the pot. Gently scrape up the lovely bits of flavor from the bottom of the pot. Add the meat back to the pot and bring to a simmer. Once it simmers cover and put in the oven. Let it slow cook for 3 hours. Remove the lid for the last 30 minutes. Step one complete.

Step Two:
Remove the pot from the oven and return to the stove top over medium heat. Add tomato puree, stewed tomatoes, beans and all seasonings. Simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Half way through the process taste and adjust seasoning according to your liking. Don’t judge the flavor at the beginning as it WILL change as it simmers. Cover if you like soup-like chili. Simmer uncovered if you like your spoon to stand up in your chili. We prefer the latter.  Serve with grated cheese, sliced jalapenos, sour cream and crackers.  …or however YOU like to eat chili.  Just make sure you have a HUGE appetite.

The second time I made this I used t-bone steaks that we had.  I truly thought the steak version would be over the top and better than the roast version.  Surprisingly, I was wrong!  While I trimmed 95% of the fat off the steaks there was so much marbling throughout the meat that I had to skim a ridiculous amount of fat off the meat mixture after step one was completed.  The meat from the roast seemed much more tender and decadent than the steak.  I know.  I know, it seems it should be the other way around, but Grady said he even preferred the roast version.  So….roast it is.

Now, about that stew thing I mentioned earlier.  The flavors of the meat after step one are SO incredibly rich and deep, yet NOT distinctly chili-like yet, that you could easily add tomato puree, diced tomatoes, diced potatoes, peas, and carrots and cook down like step two of the chili recipe.

Ready for the skinny?  Don’t be too scared.  It’s weekend indulgence.  RIGHT!!

The skinny: 10, 1 cup servings. Calories: 488, Fat: 21g, Carbs: 40g, Sodium: 336mg, Fiber: 9g

Well… there you have it friends.  I hope you love this chili as much as we do!!!

 

Peace, love and chili feeds!

 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Football season is here!!!  I know this is exciting for SO many of you.

Football equals tailgating and watch parties.

Tailgating and watch parties equal FOOD!!!  …and LOTS of it.  In typical tailgate fashion, this usually includes lots of hot dogs, brats, burgers, potato chips, jalapeno poppers and other HEAVY foods in general.  Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE all of those things.  Who doesn’t enjoy a good brat or a seriously juicy burger?  …but, it’s always nice to throw a few healthy options in the mix to help offset the heaviness AND to give those seeking a lighter eating lifestyle a great choice.

I have the PERFECT solution!!

DSC_0131 copyROASTED RED PEPPER HUMMUS!!!!!

Have you gotten on the hummus band wagon?  I was introduced to this lovely, lovely stuff within the last year.  Co-workers would bring the store-bought variety into the office as a healthy snack.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the pre-made version I wanted to find a recipe and make it myself.  I knew I could make it from scratch and omit preservatives and unnecessary salt.

I researched a few recipes finding a solid basic hummus recipe and a roasted red pepper recipe.  Each were a tad different.  I played with both, combining aspects of each, changing and tweaking parts of each to achieve my very own version.

Alisha’s Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

3 cups garbanzo beans, cooked and drained (see technique below)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp light salt
4 TBSP fresh lemon juice
2 TBSP water
1/3 cup tahini, stirred well
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 roasted red peppers (prepare first, see technique below)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (this quantity will NOT make the recipe spicy)
Fresh ground black pepper

Homemade Garbanzo beans: soak 1 lb. of dried garbanzo beans overnight in approximately 6 cups water. The next morning transfer beans AND soaking liquid to a crock pot. Add an additional 2-3 cups water to cover beans. Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon light salt. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or until very soft. (Extra beans can be frozen for future use.)

Roasted Red Peppers: Preheat oven to 450°. Carefully cut around the stem of two peppers and remove trying to leave as much pepper as possible. Cut eat pepper in half lengthwise and removed seeds and white membrane. Line a baking sheet with foil and liberally spray with non-stick cooking spray. Place peppers skin side up on the baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the skins blacken and loosen and bubble from the flesh of the pepper. Remove from the oven and let cook for 5-10 minutes. The peppers will wilt slightly. Remove the skins and discard. The flesh is ready to use. (Any un-used portions can be frozen for future use.)

Now that we have those two simple techniques under our belt let’s get started.

In a food processor add beans, garlic and salt. Process for 2 to 3 30 second intervals, scraping down the sides between each one. Add the lemon juice and water. Process again for 30 to 40 seconds. The beans will begin to become smooth. Add the tahini and process again to incorporate completely. With the processor on, gradually drizzle in the olive oil.

Congratulations! You now have basic hummus.  If you like plain hummus you can certainly stop here.  But we all know that I LOVE lots of flavor so…

Let’s turn it into roasted red pepper hummus. Roughly chop 3 halves of the red pepper you roasted and add to the food processor. Add cumin, crushed red pepper and fresh ground black pepper. Process again until the peppers are completely incorporated. Chill for approximately 30 minutes to firm the consistency and serve with pita chips and fresh veggies.

This recipes makes a lot! Any extra can be frozen for future use.

I took this to a friend’s house last night for a gathering.  I was pleasantly surprised and extremely excited when her kids were REALLY excited that I brought hummus.  They LOVED it and gobbled it up.  Now THAT’S the seal of approval!

The skinny (10 1/4 cup servings): Calories: 169, Fat: 11g, Carbs: 13g, Protein: 5g, Sodium: 108mg, Fiber: 4g

Happy, healthy tailgating my friends!!!!

 

Peace, love and figure friendly football!!!!