Lentil Chili

It’s fall and starting to feel like winter. That means fall festivals, football, and the beginning of holiday/family gatherings. I have lived in a lot of places around the country. No matter where I go, this time of year is ALWAYS the time for chili cook-offs. I admit I’m not usually craving a big bowl of chili. I prefer chili as part of a meal – on a baked potato, on Fritos, as part of a taco salad, etc.

This chili is different though. The flavors in this are spot on, and it is quick and easy to make (especially if you have a pressure cooker). It seems a little strange to have chili with lentils instead of beans. But everyone will love it. Even my little kids ate it!

Lentil Chili (Serves 8)

1 pound 93/7 ground turkey
½ large yellow onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrot
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 ounce) cans no salt added diced tomatoes
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 ½ cups brown lentils
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Pressure Cooker
1. In pressure cooker, sauté the ground turkey with onions, carrots, bell pepper, and garlic until meat is brown and vegetables soft.
2. Add the tomatoes, broth, lentils, chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, and pepper. Close pressure cooker. Bring to high pressure and cook for 10 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then manually release to open. Serve with ¼ cup shredded cheese per serving.

Stove top
1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, saute the ground turkey (if using) with onions, carrots, bell pepper, and garlic until meat is brown and vegetables soft.
2. Add the tomatoes, broth, lentils, chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, and pepper. Bring to a boil Reduce heat, and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Serve with ¼ cup shredded cheese per serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 378
Protein: 29 gm
Fat: 16 gm
Saturated Fat: 7 gm
Cholesterol: 70 mg
Carbohydrates: 33 gm
Fiber: 6 gm
Sodium: 322 mg

Source: adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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Eiffel Tower Salad

Earlier this summer, I had the amazing opportunity to go to Paris. I went for a few days back in college, so it wasn’t my first trip. But it was fun to go with adults and not with a college mind set. Art and museums and culture were very exciting, but delicious FOOD was high on my priority list. And Paris delivered (of course).

This salad blew my mind away. I got it at a little restaurant right next to the Eiffel Tower. Everything about it was just amazing. This is my best recollection of it. Enjoy!

Eiffel Tower Salad (Serves 1)

Eiffel Tower Salad

2 cups spinach or mixed greens
⅓ cup chopped tomatoes
1 inch of cucumber, sliced thin
½ cup cooked and chilled green beans (see note)
1 ounce blue cheese
1 hardboiled egg, sliced (optional)
2 tablespoons light honey mustard dressing

1. Layer ingredients, top with dressing. Serve immediately.

Note on green beans: While you could use canned green beans, they are among my absolute least favorite foods in the whole world. To be delicious and authentic, you want fresh green beans. Cook these for 2-3 minutes (just until they turn bright green) in boiling water. Then remove and put in ice water to stop the cooking. Chill until ready to use. You want the green beans cold.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 293
Protein: 16 gm
Fat: 17 gm
Saturated Fat: 7 gm
Cholesterol: 207 mg
Carbohydrates: 21 gm
Fiber: 4 gm
Sodium: 694 mg

Source: my memory from a restaurant in France

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Product Review: Quaker Overnight Oats

Hi friends!

With back to school time, we are all trying to get into good routines in the morning. There’s plenty of information out there showing that a good breakfast helps kids at school. But getting that good breakfast in before school can be tricky.

Recently, I heard about these Quaker Overnight Oats cups. They were on sale so I gave a couple flavors a try. This review is unsponsored. I bought these on my own. Quaker has no idea I exist.

We tried two flavors: Toasted Coconut and Almond Crunch; Blueberry Banana and Vanilla.

Overnight Oats

The instructions are very straightforward. Fill to the line in the cup with milk (or non-dairy milk substitute). Close the lid. Let steep in your fridge overnight. In the morning, you get this:

Steeped Overnight Oats

You can eat them cold or the package has instructions for how to heat it up.

Our rating (mine and my husband)? Neither of us were very fond of them cold. I liked the blueberry one cold more than the coconut. Warmed up, they were pretty good. These were very easy and made for a fast morning.

I think overall I give them a 3 out of 5 stars. Maybe I would have liked a different flavor cold more (it does come in 6 total flavors). The biggest downside is I don’t really see the purpose or cost effectiveness. It is very easy to make your own cup of cold overnight oatmeal like this. I have recipes here for that. But even on the webpage for this product, Quaker gives directions of how to make your own.

As for cost, each of these cups cost me $1.50 on sale. Normally they are $1.79. A big container of oats is less than $5 and will give you 15+ servings of oatmeal. You save a little time on measuring the oats themselves. They have thought out the fruit for you.

So in the end, I’m not going to judge you if you like these and use them. You are getting a healthy breakfast. And they are tasty (although in our family’s opinion more tasty if warm). But if you like the idea, you can make them pretty easily on your own for much cheaper.

Cold oatmeal not your thing? Oatmeal in the crockpot is also super easy and makes your house smell delicious when you wake up: Slow Cooker Overnight Oatmeal

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Back to School Refresher

Hi all,

Sorry to have gone on hiatus again. Summer has been crazy around here. Lots of travel, lots of home repairs, lots of cleaning from said home repairs…. My oldest started school this year, and I’ve honestly been looking forward to an enforced schedule to regulate our days.

Many people feel like this time of year is almost like a New Year’s, a time for resetting and making goals. Hopefully, you are trying to get into a groove with menu planning, eating healthy, etc. Here are a few tips that have been helping me lately.

1. Find something you WANT to cook. We all need lots of quick meals in our arsenal. But, I think it is a good idea to find something that you really want to cook/make that maybe takes more time. For example, I recently grew my own sourdough starter. I’ve used it to make bread, waffles, pancakes, and pizza crust. Does it take time? A little, but actually not that much active time. The key was I WANTED to make it. So I didn’t mind the time. Think outside the box: homemade nut butters, jam, curing/smoking meat, bread, sauerkraut. Maybe it is taking time to stock your freezer with items. But think of something you’d be willing to spend time cooking. I bet you’ll find the time.

Sourdough Bread

2. Think through all the food you need when making your grocery shopping lists. Most kids need to take a snack to school. Maybe you’d have a better day if you took a snack with you to work. Make sure you have accounted for these in your shopping. If you don’t buy healthy snacks, they won’t magically make it into bags. It seems like a no brainer, but it’s important to think about it. One box of crackers and one package of string cheese isn’t going to keep you all going for a week.

3. Try to eliminate decision making. Planning a menu can be a lot of work. Try to streamline or simplify where you can. We always eat breakfast for dinner on Wednesdays. Tuesday is leftover night. Maybe every Tuesday can be taco tuesday. Pizza Fridays. Meatless Monday. These systems either remove or simplify the decisions when planning your menu. Help yourself out!

4. Pick one day for a fancy dinner. Our family recently started having a more formal dinner on Sundays. We sit at our nicer table, use a tablecloth, kids get real dishes, use cloth napkins, etc. We are hoping to break out candlesticks. I try to make sure food makes it into serving dishes rather than putting pans on the table. I often try to have a special drink. Taking this time to enjoy food as a family has been great for our relationships. My kids love it and are SLOWLY improving in table manners. And even if the dinner isn’t super complicated, it feels fancy because of our surroundings. Try it!

Hope these three tips help you as you go back to school. I’ve got some fun recipes coming soon!

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Spring has sprung

Spring has finally arrived! It’s so nice to have more regular warm temperatures and sunshine. I was able to plant some of my garden last week. I put in strawberries this year. Fingers crossed it works out.

The great news with changing seasons is that new fruits and vegetables are in season. You often can spot what is season based on the price at the store. And depending on where you live, that may vary. For example, corn on the cob won’t be ready around me (in Colorado) for months. But fresh corn on the cob was deliciously cheap coming in from California. Thank goodness for different climate areas within the US.

Fruits and Veggies More Matters is a great resource for seeing what is in season and how to cook it. Here are some fruits and veggies they list for “spring”:

Aspragus
Peas
Snap peas
Lettuce
Artichokes
Apricots
Fennel
Strawberries
Rhubarb
Honeydew
Corn
Green Beans
Broccoli

Granted you can get most of these all year round. But prices and flavor are usually best when they are in season. Rhubarb in particular is hard to find out of season. Asparagus is much thinner and more tender (and much cheaper) when bought this time of year. So go enjoy some spring produce. My lemon vegetable risotto is one of my favorites this time of year. Happy eating!

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Fig, Pig, and a Goat Pizza

I’ve been reading a lot about decision fatigue, particularly related to meal planning. Do you struggle with meal planning? I’ll admit it is not my 100% percent favorite activity. I do try to follow a few rules that make it easier.

1) We always eat leftovers on Monday.
2) We always eat breakfast for dinner on Tuesday.

Boom! 2 out of seven days are done and I didn’t even have to think about it. Usually. Breakfast for dinner at our house is usually clear out random ingredients in the fridge into a hash or omelets. Or just pancakes. Because my kids like it, and one night a week with no arguing over dinner is AMAZING.

Beyond those hard rules, things are more nebulous.

3) Mix up the proteins (not eat chicken 3 times).
4) Mix up the ethnicity (no tacos, burritos, and quesadillas in one week).
5) Weekend food on Fridays and/or Saturdays.

That last one may seem strange. But I went on an awful streak of planning big elaborate meals on Saturday night. The last thing I want to do on Saturday night is cook. But if I’ve planned pizza or burgers, I much less inclined to want to go out (since that is what I’d likely go get).

This pizza has been a HUGE hit for the adults in our house. The kids, I’ll be honest, stick to cheese or pepperoni. But I’m 100% ok with that. This sounds a little odd, but trust me. It’s delicious and simple. Perfect for this upcoming weekend. Enjoy!

Fig, Pig, and a Goat Pizza (Serves 4)

(Sorry for no picture this time. We ate it too quickly)

1 pizza dough (I use half of this recipe)
¼ cup jar fig jam/preserves
6-8 thin slices of prosciutto
4 ounces goat cheese
4 cups arugula
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425. Prepare pizza dough according to directions, including parbaking for 7 minutes.
2. Spread jam evenly over pizza. Crumble goat cheese over the top. Drape prosciutto slices around the top.
3. Bake until done, about 8-10 more minutes.
4. Whisk together lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Lightly dress arugula with dressing. Serve on top of pizza slices or on the side. (avoid lots of dressing getting on the pizza).

Recipe notes: I’ve used a couple different brands of fig jam. My new favorite has been a balsamic fig paste. If your jam is very chunky, you can cut up the figs to spread them out. I’m too lazy. In searching online, there is a lot of division over putting the prosciutto on before or after baking. We honestly didn’t taste much difference. If you have a preference, follow your heart on that.

Source: adapted from several sites online

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Q&A: Ketogenic Diet

Q: Is the ketogenic diet helpful for brain health, remembering, clear thinking, etc?

A: Thank you as always for questions. I love hearing what nutrition topics are concerning everyone. With so much in the media, it is very hard to know what “real” people are focusing on.

The ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet. Our body actually wants some level of carbohydrates for energy. Some organs, such as the brain, actually greatly prefer carbs to fats. If there are not enough carbohydrates, the body will burn fat and produce something called ketones. The brain can then use these ketones as a source for energy.

The ketogenic diet has been part of the treatment for epilepsy for many years. There are proven benefits for people whose epilepsy is not controlled well with medication alone. However, the diet needs to be closely monitored by a dietitian to ensure overall nutrient adequacy.

The ketogenic diet most people using it under generally “healthy” circumstances is really just another low carb diet like Atkins or South Beach. There are no proven benefits for weight loss or mental health or clarity. Many people do succeed with weight loss, but as with most diets, it is not sustainable when they go back to their traditional eating pattern.

Sorry this won’t give you the memory recall you hoped! Thanks again for the question.

Don’t forget you can always ask questions in the comments here or email me at kimberlykmarshgmail.com!

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