Headed towards back to the basics living.


Living Green AND Eating Well: ‘Food,Inc.’ provides` Food for Thought

This last Thursday DH and I sat down for dinner and what do you think I put on for us to watch? A romantic comedy sure to inspire love? A dark suspense thriller destined for heart pounding with  DH doing his best to scare me at opportune moments? No, those seem rather predictable at the moment. Yours truly, put on a rather shocking and eye-opening documentary that caused spoonfuls of food to stop mid-air.

Food, Inc. showcases the not so glorious path your food travels before it gets to your plate. The information seems unusually protected. If I am a consumer-and I’m  spending my money-then I think I have the right to ask legitimate questions. I was rather surprised I had not seen more eco-minded blogs discussing this movie-perhaps I just missed the big original release date but I don’t think this type of information every becomes irrelevant. After I viewed the last 20 minutes or so of the film, I am rather hesitant to discuss this movie myself hoping the plug doesn’t get pulled on my fledgling blog barely testing its wings.

BUT there’s a part of me that knows I have to talk about this movie. I can’t urge you to watch it enough! If you think you pretty much know where your food comes from-I challenge you to watch this movie. It was originally released last summer and now you can watch it on DVD-we watched it on instant play through Netflix. There’s also an interesting 20+ minute interview/excerpt of the film on PBS.

Please don’t misunderstand me-this is not about being kind or feeling sorry for an animal (although I do love animals). I’ve never had illusions about the fact that eating an animal means a life has ended. I’m thankful for all the various things animals provide to help sustain us. I’m thankful for all the food on my plate-for nourishing vegetables and delicious fruits. I’m just not sure I’m comfortable with some of the means used to get it there.  You just have to watch the movie for yourself and make your own decision.

I’m not sure really what else to say-I don’t actually see DH and I giving up animals products altogether and growing every single last bit of our food. But I think we both now understand why we keep hearing the phrase: “Eat locally and know where your food comes from by supporting your local farmers and ranchers. Get to know them and how their operations work.”  Believe me, I plan on it!  (I’ll be posting more on this as we work on it.)


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Eating Well: (You gotta try it!!!) 3 Bean Chili

With all the recent weather here (10 inches yesterday) and the weather I have heard headed across the country I just had to share this really healthy, really delicious and  easy recipe we had last night. Mmmm, it’s so good! You have to try!!!!I think it would make a really good hearty meal for the Super Bowl if you planning on watching that. With all the unhealthy chips and soft drinks out there this might make a good hearty alternative if served with some homemade crackers/bread.
The recipe comes from Ellie Krieger, a nutritionist on Food Network with a show called Healthy Eating (in case you don’t know). I just love the variety of beans incorporated into the recipe and if you wanted to make it meatless I think that would totally work. I have made this recipe about a dozen times since I found the recipe a few months ago. Seriously-it’s that good!!! And not very spicy at all -a good bet if you have kids. If your kids aren’t into any sort of heat just leave out the adobo chili and if you want to amp up the heat factor try adding some jalapenos. You could also try the infamous red or green chile New Mexico is known for to increase the heat if you’re feeling brave.

**It freezes extremely well. Just add a cup or two of water when thawing-tastes just as good and helps your dollar go that much further!

Here’s the recipe as seen on the Food Network below:

The Goods:

* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 onion, diced (1 cup)
* 1 red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
* 2 carrots, diced (1/2 cup)
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1 pound extra-lean ground beef (90 percent lean)
* 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
* 2 cups water
* 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
* 2 teaspoons adobo sauce from the can of chipotles
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
* 1 (15.5-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
* 1 (15.5-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

The Grind:

Heat the oil in large pot  over moderate heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and carrots, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ground beef; raise the heat to high and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the tomatoes, water, chipotle and adobo sauce, oregano and salt and pepper. Cook, partially covered, stirring from time to time, for 30 minutes. Stir in the beans and continue cooking, partially covered, 20 minutes longer. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Happy eating! And stay warm out there!


Eating Well: Chocolate Chip Cookies!

MMMMM….Valentine’s Day is getting closer and closer everyday. Like one of Pavlov’s trained doggies my mouth is salivating already when I think of those big heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolate-y goodness. I can almost taste those soft chocolate cupcakes with the pink sugary fluff on top and those colorful festive sprinkles. But  that takes some planning, and a trip to the grocery store for supplies. Both of which I had no intention of doing at 9 o’clock at night. So I convinced myself to eat a piece of juicy fruit and call it good.

DH wasn’t buying it. Before I knew it he was in kitchen quietly pouring over our stash of cookbooks just seeing what he could come up with. I honestly think if I hadn’t gone back in the kitchen for a glass of water he probably would have had them mixed, baked and cooling on a plate before I knew what was coming. Now DH being in the kitchen was not the surprising part. He loves baking and actually is very good at it. What was surprising though, was when he asked me, “Do you think I could use whole wheat flour instead of regular flour for these cookies?”

Excuse me, what?!? Wow, I guess sometimes we do influence people even when we think we don’t  think so. After I picked my jaw up off the floor I managed a rather high pitched and curious affirmative answer. Then I pretended no further interest in his endeavor until he brought me a plate of  relatively healthy chocolate chip cookies that you see on the right.

And they we’re so delicious! Especially served with a tall glass of cold milk. I would share them with you if I could. But since I can’t, I did copy the recipe down below. It’s from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that we have had forever. I marked through the original ingredients where DH made healthier substitutions. Honestly, you could not tell the difference-except I think they may have tasted a little bit better-just more natural somehow and I’ve heard that whole wheat lends a slightly nutty taste to things. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much-I do tend to be a little nutty sometimes (=

The Goods:
1/2 c. shortening vegetable/canola

1/2 c. butter,softened

1 c. packed brown sugar

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (DH used 2 c. whole wheat flour and 1/2 c. all-purpose)

1 12.oz pkg. (2 c.)  semisweet chocolate pieces

1 1/2 c. chopped nuts (I prefer walnuts because of their Omega 3 content)

The Grind:

In a large mixing bowl beat oil & butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar,granulated sugar, and baking soda.Beat until mixture is combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour.  Stir in chocolate pieces and nuts.

Drop dough by rounded tsp. 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. (If you can wait that long!)

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The Little Loaf that Could

…well, almost. It tried really, really hard. Poor little guy, he rose a little on the counter and then had some oven spring but he just couldn’t quite get over the mountain.  The  flavor was pretty good and thank goodness my husband’s a sucker for fresh bread-pretty or not. As you can see, this is all that’s left of my poor first feeble attempt at bread making. We each had a couple of pieces with dinner- for one reason -because that’s pretty much all the bread there was (ha ha) and the second because it was so dense that they probably would equal to about 4 normal pieces of bread if it had risen properly(eek!) …oh well, better luck next time…right???

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Eating Well: Using up Leftovers

I’ve been making a lot of soups lately-classic chicken noodle, white bean & bacon, 3 Bean & Beef Chili, beef stew-you get the idea. With there being just the two of us at home most of the recipes make up a batch of the good stuff that is just a little too much. So that means leftovers for the lunch the next day. But often times there is still some leftovers. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. So into the freezer they go. Normally I pop them into a microwaveable bowl, grab a sticky label and call it good. Unfortunately, I’m out of those labels. So…I came up with a different type of label using these little round stickers and popped them on those plastic ties that come on all sorts of food these days-usually bread or fruits/veggies.  Then I attached them to rubberbands and wrapped them around the plastic container. Simple and quick and reusable.

***Another great way to store soups: resealable gallon sized plastic freezer bags. Freeze them flat and then you can stack them. It saves a lot of room. Too bad I was out of those too (=

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Eating well: Warm Chicken Posole

Happy birthday, New Mexico!  In honor of the great state I live in (not to mention random good timing) I made a big batch of spicy chicken posole. YUM! All the ingredients are easy to find in most supermarkets. If you live in the southwest where fresh green chile is available you might also want to add some of  that just for a little more local southwest flavor. It would also cut down the sodium content and up the Vitamin C.  But I must say I made this batch without it and my husband made no complaints. (He had seconds! Success!) We served it with a tall, cold glass of iced tea to turn down the heat factor. You could also throw in some tortilla chips, lime wedges or even some warm buttery homemade bread on the side (oh, I can’t wait to try out my Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day book! I gotta get the baking stone still.) If your feeling really festive I’m sure some icy margaritas would not be out of place. Enjoy!

Oh and the best part: It’s made in the slow-cooker! Toss it in, set the timer, and forget about it!

Warm Chicken Posole

The Goods:

1 can (15 oz) yellow or white hominy, drained

1 can (14.5 oz) Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies

1 can (10 oz) mild/medium green enchilada sauce (if you know how to make homemade green chile sauce all the better-recipe coming soon!)

2 carrots, diced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 tsp cumin

3-4 chicken breasts (Cook them whole, then shred just before eating.)

Chopped Cilantro (Completely optional. You either love it or hate in my experience.)

The Grind: Combine all ingredients except cilantro, lime wedges and chips if using, in a 4-qt slow-cooker, making sure the chicken breasts are completely covered. Depending on your slow cooker this will take anywhere from 2.5 to 3 hours. I usually cook it on high for the first 2-2.5 hours and then if the chicken looks pretty well done I turn it down to low for the last half hour or so. Even if the chicken is done and vegetable are just about there I recommend leaving it at least on low for a while because it’s that last half hour or so that the posole really starts to thicken up. That’s it, set the timer and your off!

Happy eating!