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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Super Loaded Chili

Last night I threw together some chili using a bunch of the vegetables I had in my fridge (plus some cooked beans I had frozen in the freezer)  My kids totally LOVED it and asked to have it in their lunch today.  It was a great way to get them to eat a ton of veggies and love them!

Here's the recipe.  Let me know what you think!

Super-Loaded Chili

Ingredients:1 lb lean ground protein (you can use beef, turkey, chicken, or even crumbled up x-firm tofu!  If you are using tofu, be sure to press all the water out first)
1 TBS olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1 or2 2 green peppers, diced
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
1 TBS cumin
2 TBS chili powder
2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
2 large (28 oz) cans diced or crushed tomatoes (for extra spice, use 1 can diced tomatoes with chilis and 1 can crushed tomatoes)
6 cups cooked beans (I used 2 cups black beans, 2 cups kidney beans and 2 cups pintos - if you are using canned beans, rinse and drain them first!)

Brown your protein in a soup pot with a heavy/thick bottom.  Once browned, remove from pot and strain over a bowl so all the fat drains off.  Discard fat, reserve protein.
In same soup pot, saute onion, celery, carrots and pepper in olive oil over medium heat until translucent (about 5 - 7 minutes). 
Add remaining ingredients plus the protein and about 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 30 minutes.
Serve with warm whole grain tortillas or cornbread.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back to School lunches and SLEEP

So, here we are at the beginning of the school year.  Honestly, I don't know if I'm ready to start packing interesting, healthful lunches again.  I mean, how many turkey sandwich/applesauce/cheese stick/chips lunches can a kid eat?   How can I keep it interesting and healthy?  How can I be sure they eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day?

To make it easier to plan and to help my kids make their OWN healthy choices, I made up a chart.  On it, I have three categories:  fruits, vegetables, and proteins.  There are six boxes for each category.  On Sunday, I fill in the chart with their choices.  They then choose their favorite 3 or 4 items from each category (by putting their initial by the items they want that week).  They have now made their own choices and I know what to buy for the week!  I always add a small sweet or salty treat (popcorn, graham crackers, a small piece of chocolate or a few m&m's, pretzels, rice cakes, organic chips, etc.)

If you'd like a copy of my chart and a blank chart for you to use, please send me an email!  I'm happy to send it to you!

 (my filled in chart for this week)

  Here's a blank chart for you - contact me and I'll email a copy to you 
     (click the botton on the upper right side of the page)

Kids and SLEEP!

I'm also a stickler for making sure my kids get enough sleep.  Of course, they go to bed a LOT later throughout the summer and we'll surely have an adjustment period.  Especially since my kids need to be up at 6:20 in the morning in order to get their busses on time.  Sleep problems and disorders are prevalent for elementary age kids. Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems such as hyperactivity and cognitive problems that impact on their ability to learn in school. 

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 10 - 11 hours each night for kids 5 - 12 years old.  That means my kids need to be ASLEEP between 7:20 and 8:20 each night. 

We start bedtime for our almost 5-year-old by 6:30 with a quick bedtime snack, quick bath, brush teeth and read a couple of stories.  We aim for lights out between 7:00 and 7:15. 

My 8-year-old is just behind his brother and reads (a lot!) on his own.  So he's in bed reading while I'm reading to and tucking in the little guy.  Once I'm done, I read to and "tuck in" my older son and the lights are out for him by 7:45. 

That's the plan, anyway.  It's not going to work every night (for instance, my older son's soccer games are scheduled at 7pm during the week!)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

City Chicks!

I recently wrote a story for The Roanoke Natural Foods CoOp's quarterly newspaper about raising chickens in the city. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Millions of peaches, peaches for me!

Peaches! Nothing tastes more like summer to me than a sweet, delicious, ripe, fresh off the tree juicy peach. They are in season RIGHT NOW here in Virginia and they couldn't be any better! So, go to your famer's market and buy a whole crate of them! Eat them now, or freeze them so you can enjoy them throughout the year.

How to Freeze fresh peaches:
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
Wash peaches well and cut them up (you can peel them or not, your choice. If you are going to use them in smoothies, you should peel them before you slice them)
Place the peaches on the cookie sheet in a single layer.
Sprinkle with a little orange, lemon, or lime juice.
Place flat in your freezer.
Once the peaches are frozen, you can put them in a ziplock bag and put them bag in the freezer for 6 months.

Peach Banana Smoothie recipe:
(serves 2)
2 ripe peaches (peeled) (you can use frozen, too!)
2 ripe bananas
large handful of ice
about 1 cup of “plain” yogurt
a dash of milk/apple juice

Combine ingredients in blender and liquify !

Peach Soup / Peach Creamcicles
Makes about 12 popcicles

3 cups peaches (peeled and chopped) (you can use frozen, too!)
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup water
1 cup oj
dash of cinnamon

Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Consider adding a ripe banana, too! Enjoy as soup or Freeze in popcicle molds!

Black Bean and Peach Salad
Serves 4

1 peach, peeled and diced (fresh peaches work best)
2 cups black beans
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
4 -6 leaves basil, chopped
juice from 1/2 lime
salt and pepper

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Serve as a side dish or over grilled fish or chicken.

Peach Crumble
Serves 4

2 cups peaches (peeled and sliced) (you can use frozen, too!)
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
2 TBS vegetable oil
2 TBS brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Arrange peaches on the bottom of an 8x8 glass baking dish
In small bowl, combine remaining ingredients and stir with a fork until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle topping over peaches and bake 15 – 20 minutes, until golden brown