Spice up your meals with my secret ingredients!

Standard

Hi friends! I hope you are well today. It’s been a crazy week around here but today is fairly calm and peaceful, thus I have a moment to share my favorite meal saviors with you. 

  
 
Ok so yesterday was a frantic day. I had to take Chewie (my little dog) to the vet for tooth cleaning, mouth x rays and eventual removal of his two main chewing teeth on the top at 7 am (one hour round trip). Then I rushed back home to get Danielle’s breakfast before she went to her nannying job, did laundry, straightened the house, took care of Delilah (my golden) and went back to pick up Chewie after his procedure (one hour round trip). Came home, fed both dogs and took them out, gave Chewie his meds, and then thought, “What the heck are we having for dinner?”  

Now my first instinct was that I definitely wasn’t cooking, I mean, I was tired and stressed from worrying about my little dog and all the running around. But I immediately reversed my thinking because I’m trying not to eat out as much these days. Eating out, even when you make healthy choices, results in higher caloric intake from larger portions and things like a basket of bread on the table than eating at home. So, I pulled my secret ingredients out of my back pocket (or out of my pantry and fridge), and put them together for an easy, tasty and healthy meal which I’m going to share with you right now. I made this recipe up one day out of desperation, and it has become one of my family’s favorite meals. It’s easy enough for my college aged readers to make in their apartments too. Come on and follow me, here we go!

  
Valerie’s Chicken, Chorizo and Black Bean Tacos

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 5 boneless skinless chicken thighs and 2 boneless skinless breasts
  • 2 cans organic black beans
  • 1 jar of Herdez Verde Sauce
  • 1 lb Mexican Chorizo sausage
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

First, sauté an onion in a bit of oil in a big pot on the stove over medium heat until softened and translucent. Next, add the chicken, cumin, salt and pepper, and cook until it’s no longer pink. Take the chicken out of the pot and chop it into small pieces. (This step is optional, if you want large pieces of chicken and have no time to chop, skip this step.) 

  

Next, add the chorizo and cook until it is browned. Add the chicken back into the pot.

  
Last, add the entire jar of verde sauce, drain the black beans, and add them to the pot. Heat for a minute or so until warmed. 

  
And that’s it! This is such a flavorful and versatile mixture. It can be served on tortillas, tortilla chips or in burritos. You can eat it by itself too, as I usually do with a little shredded cheese on top. The chicken, chorizo, and beans are an excellent source of protein, and the verde sauce is full of vitamin C. It’s flavorful without being too spicy and it’s SO EASY! Plus I always enjoy a one pot meal because the clean up is a snap. Actually, the pot is chilling in my second fridge right now, just waiting for me to use the leftovers for a few more meals because it makes about 10 servings. AND, all of those ingredients are pretty inexpensive too. I love to save a buck where I can.

   

Since I always have chicken and chorizo in my freezer, and cans of black beans and jars of verde sauce in my pantry, this meal is always on hand for me to make at the last minute, like last night. So try it, you’ll like it! Eating meals like these will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

Eating Healthy Starts with this! Part Deux

Standard

Good day, my friends! I’m now going to continue my healthy eating post by telling you the second thing you need to eat healthily at home. The first as you recall if you read part one, was a pantry stocked with lovely items to help you cook healthy meals. The second essential is a well stocked refrigerator/freezer. Or in my case refrigerators/freezers because I have two, one in my kitchen and one in the garage. They are both important to my healthy cooking strategy so I’ll talk about how I use them both. Again, please don’t judge my fridge organization or cleanliness, just the contents! In addition, all food mentioned is organic whenever possible.

Fridge1

Fridge Essentials

1. Liquids for drinking- We don’t drink soda pop and I don’t have any in the house. Instead, I keep the fridge stocked with filtered alkaline water, chocolate milk, almond milk, healthy juices with no sugar or corn syrup, and half and half for my coffee.

2. Yogurt and hummus- We always have these two items, though I usually make my own hummus, for healthy snacking.

3. Cooking ingredients- I always have minced garlic, olives, parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, Dijon and regular mustard, ketchup, salsa, hot sauces, and pickles to help add flavor to my meals.

Fridge2

4. Vegetables and fruits- The vegetables I usually have on hand are romaine lettuce, asparagus, tomatoes, carrots, celery, and peppers. The types of fruit are grapes, strawberries, blueberries, apples, bananas, and watermelon. Many meals and snacks can be made from these vegetables and fruit.

5. Deli meat and cheeses- Important items here are turkey lunch meat, salami, cheddar cheese- both sliced and shredded, as well as romano cheese and parmesan for pastas.

6. Wine- no explanation needed here! 🙂

7. Eggs- Eggs are one of the things we eat often in my house. I make hard boiled eggs, fried, scrambled, poached, and egg salad. There are so many awesome dishes that can be made with eggs. Eggs are a great ingredient in other dishes as well, making them one of the most versatile items in my fridge.

Fridge5

8. Leftovers- My outside fridge is mostly for leftovers, drinks and yogurt. I love leftovers and have written about that in many past posts. I eat them for lunch the next day or repurpose them into future meals. They are one of my favorite things in my fridge so don’t throw out the leftovers, this is your chance to be creative!

Fridge4

Freezer Essentials-

1. Frozen vegetables- I always have frozen mixed vegetables on hand, mostly to make soups and stews, but I do like to have them for lunch sometimes.

2. Breakfast meats- We love breakfast in this house so I stock my freezer with bacon, breakfast sausage and chorizo to thaw for delicious breakfasts.

Fridge3

3. Leftovers- Sometimes we don’t eat all of the leftovers in the fridge, despite my best attempts to polish them all off, and I definitely don’t want them to go to waste. I put them in the freezer, making sure to label the type of food and the date on the freezer bag, so I can ensure that when I defrost them I know what it is and how long it’s been in there. It’s so handy when I don’t have anything planned to cook. I just thaw the food item, and dinner is served!

Fridge6

4. Meat- This is the heart of my outdoor freezer. I have different cuts of chicken in one section, beef in another, and lamb and pork in a separate area. I use the outdoor fridge to thaw the frozen meat a night or two before I am ready to cook, and then it’s ready to prepare.

5. Frozen fruit- I have frozen blueberries to make blueberry pancakes, and strawberries for smoothies.

Well, that’s what I consider essential for storing in the refrigerator and freezer. I hope you will stock what you like to eat and serve to your family and friends in your fridge/freezer. Eating at home is the best way to eat healthily. Eating healthy foods is the best way to live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

Italian Chili? You Betcha!

Standard
Can you make an Italian chili? I think you can!

Can you make an Italian chili? I think you can!

Hi Friends! Well, it’s still officially cold outside. I was hoping it would go away after a few days (every year I think this even though I’ve lived here all my life!), but it’s still hanging around. When it’s cold like it is here in the Midwest, I mainly want to eat warm, comforting food. I served this dish to my family the other night and my Honey asked me where I got the recipe. I told him that I sort of combined a couple of recipes and used what I had available to make up something new. He was amazed, pleasantly of course, so I’m really glad it was a successful experiment. It was easy too so I’m excited to share it with you today. I call it Italian chili because it has the beans, ground beef, and vegetables like a chili, but the taste is more like a thick minestrone. It’s flavorful and healthy too!

Here are your ingredients!

Here are your ingredients!

Italian “Chili”

1. Ingredients, 1 chopped onion, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), 2 lbs grass fed ground beef, 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, 1/4 cup red wine, 1 can white or red kidney beans, 1/2 package organic mixed vegetables, 1/2 cup gluten free elbow noodles, 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Garlic and onions in olive oil smells soooo good!

Garlic and onions in olive oil smells soooo good!

2. Sweat the onions- First add your EVOO and warm it up a little, then add the onions and garlic and cook them over medium heat until the onions are soft- about 5 minutes.

Where's the beef? In the pan of course! :)

Where’s the beef? In the pan of course! 🙂

3. Brown the beef- Add the beef into the pan and sauté until browned. This should take about 10 minutes.

Throw the rest of the ingredients into the pot and that's it!

Throw the rest of the ingredients into the pot and that’s it!

4. Now here’s the fun part- This is the best step in the process, you just put all the rest of the ingredients into the pot, the frozen veggies, wine, crushed tomatoes, beans, water, pasta, and spices, clap the lid onto it, reduce the heat to simmer, and let it go! Just stir once every 10 minutes so the ingredients don’t stick to the bottom. After 20 minutes the pasta should be soft enough that you can serve it, but if you’re not going to eat until later you can leave it on simmer and it could sit on the stove for an hour or so. Just remember to stir every 10 minutes or most of your ingredients will be stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Voila! The finished product!

Voila! The finished product!

And that’s it! It’s a super easy recipe and it’s delicious too! With the beans, tomatoes and all the veggies it’s really healthy so you can feel good about what you’re eating. As always, buy organic ingredients whenever you can so that you can ensure you’re putting the best food possible on the table for you and your crew. This recipe makes plenty for a family of four with enough leftover for a lunch or two- yay! When you reheat the “chili” you may have to add a cup of water because it thickens upon standing. You can also add tomato juice or tomato sauce instead of water for a more tomato-y flavor. Make this recipe because I promise you’ll enjoy it! Eating these kinds of meals will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!