Diced! Chili Cook-off: Jennifer – White Chicken Chili

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Tis the season for a bowl of chili. I always enjoy a good bowl of chili and I especially enjoy the flavor of salsa verde, or green salsa. The incorporation of tomatillos in chili gives such a different twist in my opinion. I would add coriander and cumin to this recipe, along with cilantro as a topping with a serrano pepper on the side. Thank you to The Ranting Chef for putting together his chili cook off and to Jennifer for this White Chicken Chili recipe.

Rantings of an Amateur Chef

Autumn. Perfect weather for carving pumpkins, watching football and eating chili. The Ranting Chef is excited to host the Diced! Chili Cook-off. We have a number of competitors that have submitted a chili recipe and post for consideration. For three out of five weeks I will post four entries each week. At the end of each week a poll will be opened to vote on your favorite from the week. The poll will be open from Friday to the following Wednesday. The top 3 vote getters in each week will be pitted against each other at the end to determine the winner. Check out today’s post from Jennifer at Simply Fabulous Supermom

I married into a Hispanic family and was immediately given a 2lb jar of caldo de tomate and an avocado garden. I didn’t really get the garden, but I do have to find a way to incorporate…

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

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IMG_20141030_084415_447  Happy Halloween to all! This season is full of the smell of leaves, candy apples, goblin cookies, popcorn balls and yes pumpkin.

We went to the farmer’s market last weekend to brouse through the squash, end of season tomatoes, apples and of course pumpkin. As is tradition, my stepson is allowed to pick the largest pumpkin he can carry, to be carved. This years choice was beautiful.

After the carving was finished, a fine job by the way, I was given the task of preparing the seeds for roasting. After separating the seeds from the pulp, I rinsed and drained them, and then soaked them overnight in salt water.

IMG_20141030_085336_208  This morning I drained them, spread them out on a cookie sheet, sprinkled them with ginger, wasabi powder and a little sugar and gave them a stir to coat evenly. Then into the oven at `200 for at least 2 hours.

IMG_20141030_083914_718  I have got to tell you that the smell of the ginger wafting through the house is fabulous! My father always preferred using Lowery’s Season Salt. Most people prefer just salt, and you can choose what you like. Maybe pumpkin pie spice would be appropriate? Some cinnamon and brown sugar perhaps?

Pumpkin seeds are a source of phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, and copper. There are also small amounts of zinc and iron as well as Vitamin E. Pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, are also a good source of protein. Nutritionally, seeds are a great addition to the diet.

However you choose to enjoy them, they are a part of the fall season, with a healthy benefit.

In fitness, Bob

Chipotle Cornmeal Eggplant Fries

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What a fantastic use of chipotle seasoning, and the crunchy option of baking instead of frying the eggplant is a healthy alternative. Eggplant fries as a snack or side dish, may help you discover a love of eggplant

Eggplantocalypse 2012 continues: according to my farmer, Betsey, eggplants are “just at their peak” this week. Which might explain the 6 pounds that showed up in my CSA bag yesterday, to join the 1 and 1/2 lb monster already lurking in the fridge. I’ve learned, in the preceding 4- and 5- and 6-lb eggplant weeks, that I need to tackle them head-on, before they even reach the refrigerator, in order to have a hope of getting through them all before another massive pile arrives on Wednesday. I’ve already made antipasto, pickled eggplant, roasted tomato & eggplant soup, baba ganoush and even eggplant “bacon.” It was time for something different. And even though lots of folks have been leaving recipe links on my various Facebook eggplantopia posts, there’s a small problem: I don’t like eggplant.

So, I did what any modern cook does…

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Positive Thoughts To Dwell On

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I am a solid subscriber to the belief that we control our destiny to happiness. The choices we make are our own. How we accept our choice and whether or not we learn from the outcome will affect future feelings of satisfaction.

Our Better Health

by Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Psychologist

We spend hours and hours dwelling and ruminating on the negative and fearful things in our lives. We worry about what could go wrong, instead of focusing and paying attention to the rational, the positive and the good.  We should train ourselves to focus on thoughts that will move us forward in the right direction.  Read one of these statements to yourself every day — and dwell on it.  It’s about time we started paying attention to what is rational and right.

If you pay attention to the darkness, you will never find the light.

If you study and relive your past experiences, analyzing them, and “getting in touch with your feelings”, you will only reinforce those feelings.  If you want to get away from a problem, you should not focus on it.  Focus on what is rational, the positive, the beautiful, and the…

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When the Walls Start Closing In…

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As a personal trainer, it comes as no surprise that I motivate others to seek their potential. My wife has overcome many obstacles, both physical and mental to continue to see her goals. When she stumbles, as we all do, I read this and remind her of the tiger that yearns to claw and fight its way out. Whatever your goal, or struggle, continue to push forward and believe in yourself.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

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I always look forward to fall, due to the squash harvest. I honestly have to say my favorite vegetable falls into this category. We just came home with an abundance of Butternut and Delicato squash from the farmers market. My wife canned some and we will use some as sides and soup. Winter squash is a great source of alpha carotene, beta carotene, minerals and Vitamins A, C, B 2, B 3 ,B 6, and K. A rich source of fiber, plant based omega 3, and antioxidants, it is also an insulin regulating starch, much like sweet potato. It is said that winter squash was of such importance in Native American culture, that it was buried alongside the dead for their journey.                                                                                                                                                                                   I substittued almond milk for the cream and also added 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 1/2 tsp each nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon. I am out of sunflower seeds, but I roasted the squash seeds in the oven to serve as a garnish.

Fabulous Fit Food

LOVE THIS RECIPE THAT USES YOUR FALL HARVEST AND WARMS YOU ON A COOL DAY!

roasted butternut squash soup

 
INGREDIENTS
  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash (I bought it already cubed in the produce department – you can also buy frozen to avoid the hassle of peeling and cubing)
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored and diced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (I used 1% Milk)
  • 1/2 cup roasted and salted sunflower kernels as garnish
INSTRUCTIONS
Place vegetables and broth in Crock Pot and cook on  LOW 4-6 hours (HIGH 2-3 hours).  Add salt, pepper and cream and mash with a potato masher until somewhat smooth.  Serve with sunflower kernels on top.
VERY EASY VEGETARIAN AND GLUTEN FREE DISH!
Adapted from…

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Chocolate please!

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IMG_20141021_164239_405                                                                                                             The health benefits of chocolate are an excellent reason to indulge daily, not to mention the numerous ways that you can use it while cooking. In it’s purest form, it is bitter. It is only after a fermenting, roasting and mild sweetening, that the raw form of cacao becomes cocoa and then the luscious chocolate that we know and love.

Cacao is a bean the comes from the cacao tree. The beans are found inside football shaped pods that grow on the limbs and trunk of the tree.

Cocoa has been used medicinally for it’s health benefits throughout history. Even more recently it has been shown to decrease blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of stroke, and improve blood vessel health. Decreasing your LDL (bad),  and increasing your HDL (good) cholesterol level, helps improve your cardiovascular health. Cocoa is rich in flavonoids (antioxidants), which has also been found to lower the risk of diabetes.

Mood is elevated by the anti-depressant properties when an increase of dopamine and seratonin are released. No wonder marketing professionals make chocolate seem so seductive, It is!

Chocolate in it’s healthiest form has little to no sugar or added ingredients. When you buy chocolate for your health, try to stick to 70% dark or above.

IMG_20141021_164304_912                                                                                                            One of my favorite ways to indulge in 100% pure cocoa, is to mix 1/2 Tbsp into 8oz plain Greek yogurt, sprinkle in some cinnamon powder and sweeten lightly with honey or agave and serve. Sprinkle pure cocoa on top of banana slices, coated with  peanut butter for a snack. If you are looking for a way to change up a pot of red chili, try adding a couple tablespoons of cocoa in for some extreme depth. This goes well with a touch more heat from your choice of spicy seasoning as well.                                                                                   In fitness, Bob

Weight Loss Plateaus

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Have you ever started a diet or weight loss plan, only to hit a plateau or hump that you just couldn’t get over? Were the goals that you set for yourself reachable in the time frame you allotted? Did you find yourself cheating occasionally or skipping workout days.

Some of you may know that in order to lose weight you must expend, or use, more calories than you take in. You will need to workout a little more to get rid of the extra weight that you have put on as well.

When beginning an exercise routine, most people experience their best results, however the body adapts to the exercise routine and is no longer challenged the way it was before. If all you monitor is the scale, you may not even see the results. This is due to the fact that you are burning fat and losing mass. You may even see an increase in your weight because you are building muscle. This new muscle growth will help you achieve the results you want.

You must hold yourself accountable with every bite you take. If you consider how much movement is required to burn the food energy you ingest, you may achieve greater results. This is not to say that you should starve yourself either. In a starvation mode, your body will adjust by storing the food it takes in as fat, so that it does not burn it as fuel. You will actually begin to lose muscle mass.

Try to keep an honest journal of what you consume and how you were feeling at the time you ate it. Were you angry, happy, with other people or alone? Condiments and drinks will add to your intake of “invisible” calories quickly. I love eggs, but at 70 calories each or 17 for the white only, sometimes I sacrifice a yolk or two. This helps my cholesterol as well.

Change up your workout routine. As I said, the body will become accustomed to the exercise, and your nutrition needs will change. Do you fidget? Maybe you should. Movement uses energy. Sing to yourself and tap your foot, or get up for a quick walk to a friends cubicle, the restroom even if you don’t need to use it, just start moving more. And if you increase your water intake, (hint hint), you will have the need to get up and move.

Don’t fall for for rapid weight loss pills, gimmicks, machines, or diets of whoever is famous at the time. If you do not make this a lifestyle change, then you won’t have a life changing event. Consider hiring a Certified Personal Trainer that will help guide you through your journey. Stay motivated, accept that you may have setbacks, and overcome them.                                                                          In fitness, Bob

5 TIPS TO STAY ON TOP OF YOUR HEALTH GOALS

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This is a solid approach to meet your goals in a healthy, fun and timely fashion. To create a lifestyle change, you must make it a habit. Avoid binge food purchases or rewards, and stick to your plan. Your body and health are a long term investment. Give it the respect and time it deserves.

Fabulous Fit Food

1. DON’T TRY TO CHANGE EVERYTHING AT ONCE – LIFESTYLE CHANGES TAKE TIME

HEALTHY LIFESTYLE 2

  •  SET TWO OR THREE GOALS TO START.
  • EACH WEEK REVIEW HOW YOU HAVE DONE AND EVALUATE THE AREAS THAT NEED IMPROVEMENT.
  • AFTER TWO TO THREE WEEKS OF A CONSISTENT CHANGE, YOU HAVE MADE IT A HABIT AND YOU CAN BEGIN TO ADD ON TO YOUR GOALS.

2. SET “SMART” GOALS

SMART-Goals

Instead of I’m going to lose weight try:  In the next three weeks I will lose 2 pounds

3. MAKE EXERCISE PART OF YOUR DAILY ROUTINE

  • ACTIVITY SHOULD BE FUN AND THINGS YOU ENJOY
  • YOU DON’T NEED TO GO TO A GYM OR HAVE SPECIAL EQUIPMENT – WALKING IS GREAT
  • EVEN HOUSEHOLD CHORES COUNT AS ACTIVITY – VACUUMING, DUSTING, RAKING LEAVES, WASHING THE CAR, SHOVELING SNOW
  • SHOOT FOR AN HOUR OF EXERCISE A DAY (YOU MAY NEED TO BUILD UP TO IT)

4. WHEN GROCERY…

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Oven Roasted Spicy Chickpeas

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This recipe is a great, healthy snack. Chickpeas, or Garbanzo beans, are a fantastic source of protein. Those of you with dairy (whey), or soy allergies, or anyone wanting an alternative to animal based protein may want to consider pea protein. It contains a well balanced profile of all the essential amino acids, particularly; arginine, lysine, and phenylalanine.

Chickpeas can be made into hummus, added to salads, mixed with vegetables or purchased as a protein powder and mixed into smoothies. The two brands I use for shakes are Now Sports or Truenutrition. These mix well and are less gritty than most. Pea protein digests well and leaves you without the ‘bloated‘ feeling that some lactose or gluten based proteins may cause. If you are looking for a fat free, cholesterol free, gluten free or vegan freindly substitute, this may be for you. IMG_20141014_102719_309

For this recipe I used (1) 29 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained and gently patted dry                                                                         2Tbs olive oil                                                                                      1tsp ground cumin                                                                             1tsp chili powder                                                                                  1/2tsp ancho powder (or substitute cayenne)                             1/2tsp sea salt

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Heat oven to 400F and place rack in the middle. put chickpeas in mixing bowl and gently toss with all remaining ingredients until evenly coated. Spread the chickpeas in an even layer on a cookie sheet and bake until crisp, about 40 minutes, depending on desired crispness. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Experiment with different variations. My next batch will be Ginger/Wasabi. From there I think I’ll try brown sugar and mustard, smoked paprika and chipotle….ah the joys of a large spice variety.

In fitness, Bob