Have you all realized that I get a lot of ideas from magazine and newspaper articles I read? This Saturday’s Rochester D and C was full of information that I wanted to comment on! The front page headline was: Poor Health Trends Call For New Habits. Then inside was an article about a convention in town for school lunch providers. Lastly there was an article in the USA Today section about how restaurants are starting to serve more vegetable options. Where to start? I’m diving in!
The main article spotlighted an older couple who saw photos of themselves and realized they needed to lose weight. They were not feeling good about themselves and decided to do something about it. They said they knew it was now or never. They got started and four years later they have maintained a combined loss of 45 pounds. They, unfortunately, are the exception. The article was about a study that shows the rate of obesity and people who are overweight continues to increase (the survey was done in Monroe county). The diseases associated with extra weight have increased as well. No surprise. What I want to point out is that the couple reached a breaking point and decided they needed to change. For them it was seeing their photo. For me it was seeing a number on the scale that I did not want to accept. I spent a lot of time making promises to myself about eating better and working out more, but I needed to reach that low point before I could start keeping my promises. I, like the couple, had to accept that only I could make it happen.
On to the school lunches! Turns out every year there is a convention held for people who are responsible for deciding what to serve in their school cafeteria. Vendors come and serve samples of their food to try to win a contract. This time the focus was on meeting the new federal food guidelines in a tasty way. To me I think it is a bit sad that kids are rejecting a lot of the food because it isn't fried, full of fat or loaded with salt. The upside is that the younger we can start teaching children about healthy eating and provide them with balanced nutritious meals the better. We set them up with better habits which will hopefully keep them from falling into the obese category listed in the first article!
Lastly, restaurant meals. Hooray! I can go to LongHorn Steakhouse and get Brussels sprouts or butternut squash! Cheesecake Factory has an asparagus salad. There is going to be a new vegetable pasta choice at Olive Garden. The reason for this change is Americans are demanding more vegetables! Especially parents. (Could be all that good food the kids are eating at lunch?) Of course their is a downside. In order to make these dishes “tasty” restaurants are loading them up with cheese and butter. One step at time!
My recipe choice this week is Chili! One of my favorite meals because it can be thrown together so easily and be so healthy! I made this version last night and will be enjoying it for the next couple days for lunch. I used dried beans that I soaked over night and cooked in water seasoned with chili spices. When I went to make the chili I realized I had no canned tomatoes! Thankfully my neighbor had a small can. After the beans were done cooking I reserved two cups of the water and used that to supplement the liquid I would normally get from a larger can of tomatoes. Delicious! The best thing about chili is you can add whatever you have on hand. This would be great with corn, zucchini or even meat added in.
Three Bean Bourbon Chili
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup bourbon
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
2 peppers, your choice (red, green, poblano, etc) chopped
1 hot pepper (cherry, jalapeño) chopped (optional)
1/4 cup orange juice
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
1 can each, white, black and red beans, rinsed and drained
Your favorite chili spices, such as chili powder, paprika, chipotle pepper powder, smoked paprika, oregano, etc.
Salt to taste
Your favorite chili toppings (green onion, shredded cheese, Greek yogurt, etc.)
Warm the oil in a large soup pot and add onion. Sauté until translucent and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until most of the water has evaporated, about 5-8 minutes. Add bourbon and cook until liquid is reduced by about half, about 5-8 minutes. Add the peppers and and cook until they are softened, about 5-8 minutes. Add rest of ingredients, bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. If it seems too dry, add a cup of water. Cook for half hour. Keep tasting to adjust seasonings to your preference. Serve with favorite toppings.