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Fast And Easy Chili

This is such a classic cool weather stand-by I almost hesitate to put up a recipe for it. But my version is very fast, very easy, and ultra healthy, so why not! It is also a Perfect Pantry recipe, so chances are you already have everything you need on hand right now (or would if you had my Perfect Pantry shopping list. Download free at: http://lindaliving.com/).

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef/chicken/turkey/lamb/pork/venison – please buy organic, and even better, grass fed/pasture raised.
  • 2 15oz cans organic kidney beans (other varieties are fine too), rinsed and drained
  • 2 15oz cans organic fire roasted tomato with green chillies (available at Trader Joe’s) – you can also use leftover salsa and diced fresh tomatoes if you have some that need to be used up.
  • 1 4oz can of diced green chillies
  • Seasoning to taste – I like the flavors of the main ingredients to shine through in my chili, so I go very light here and use only a dash of Mexican meat seasoning. Ground cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder are the traditional spices used in chili. If desired, use 1 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, and 1 TBS. chili powder. Add salt only if absolutely necessary. The tomatoes and beans will have plenty in them already.

Directions:

  1. Brown the meat in a large frying pan deep enough to hold all of the ingredients. Have the lid or a frying screen handy.
  2. Drain off any fat created by cooking the meat.
  3. Add the tomatoes, salsa, and green chillies to the pan while it is still very hot. Allow to cook at a high heat for 5-7 minutes (covered to reduce splatter). Stir frequently and add seasonings all except for salt.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and add beans. Cook for another 10 minutes covered. Add salt only if required.
  5. Serve over rice, quinoa, or with corn chips, with slices of avocado. (skip the cheese and sour cream; you will never miss it!)

Enjoy!

Burrito in a Bowl

Ok, this is not really a burrito although it does have all of the best components– minus the ones that you would not think you would never miss. It has no tortilla, no cheese, no sour cream, and does not require rice. I LOVE burritos, and this recipe TOTALLY satisfies my desires for the more authentic version. As an added bonus, I feel good after I have this one.

To start, cook up some of your favorite burrito filling (chicken, pork, carne asada (steak), beans, or even grilled vegetables). I usually make a combination of seasoned ground beef (or buffalo) and kidney beans and I always make enough so that I can have a quick lunch or simple dinner without having to cook again.

Burrito in a Bowl – serves 4

Ingredients:

“Filling”:
* 1 lb ground beef (substitute buffalo, elk, ostrich, or even turkey for a lower fat alternative)
* 1 15oz can organic kidney or black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 medium onion, diced
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
* 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder or other Mexican meat seasoning
* 1 tablespoon olive oil

Other components:
* 2 cups cooked brown rice
* non-fat Greek style yogurt
* salsa (make your own or use pre-made)
* 1-2 avocados
* cilantro and minced onion for garnish – optional

Directions:
-Saute onion and garlic in a skillet over a medium heat until it is translucent and aromatic.
-Add the meat and break it up into pieces. When it is about 1/2 cooked, add the cumin and chili powder.
-Continue cooking until the meat is completely cooked. Add the beans and mix thoroughly to incorporate.
-Taste for seasoning, add salt if desired.

To assemble the burrito heat the rice and put 1/2 cup (or desired amount) in a bowl. Top with 3/4 cup of “filling”. Add a dollop of yogurt, salsa to taste and diced avocado. Sprinkle finely minced onion and cilantro on top.

Enjoy!

Keeping Active Kids Hydrated

As the summer wares on, dehydration can be a problem, especially for children.

A number of factors place young children, and especially young athletes, at an increased risk for dehydration and various heat illnesses. First, the higher energy expenditure of young athletes means that they produce more metabolic heat. In addition, young athletes don’t sweat as efficiently as older athletes and thus cannot cool their bodies as effectively. Finally, young athletes are not as diligent about drinking fluids and their core body temperature, during dehydration, tends to increase faster. For these reasons it is essential that young athletes be encouraged to drink frequently even when they are not thirsty.

Research studies have shown that providing a cooled and flavored beverage produces greater fluid consumption among children and helps prevent dehydration. Parents should make sure that athletes arrive at practice sessions, games or competitions fully hydrated. Coaches should enforce drink “pauses” every 15-20 minutes even when athletes do not feel thirsty. Parents, coaches and the athletes themselves should watch for the “warning signs of dehydration:”

* Thirst
* Irritability
* Headache
* Decreased performance
* Weakness
* Dizziness
* Cramps
* Nausea

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) provides the following guidelines for the maintenance of optimal hydration:

Before Exercise: 16 – 20 full ounces within the 2-hour period prior to exercise

During Exercise: 4 – 6 full ounces

Post Exercise: replace 24 full ounces for every pound of body weight lost during exercise.
** As a matter of practice, most people do not weigh their children before and after exercise. Rather than measuring pounds and ounces, it is better to just create a routine habit of drinking 12-24 oz after exercise, depending on intensity.

NOTE: While Sports Energy Drinks taste good, the best source of hydration is still good old fashioned water. Sports drinks are designed for strenuous activity that lasts longer than 2 hours. A regulation soccer match lasts only 90 minutes (at U19 and above). As a compromise a 50/50 mix of sports drink and water can be used. Temperature and humidity are factors, as well as initial hydration levels, so it is a good idea to be prepared with a replenishing drink for shorter efforts as well.

Furthermore, a sports drink, which consists of electrolytes (salts and minerals), sugar, and water, ideally is NOT full of artificial color, artificial flavors, too much sugar, and preservatives.
For a truly healthy, and very easy to make recipe for a sports drink, read the post “The Ultimate Sports Drink” in Electrolytes category.

Verjus (green juice). Gourmet all the way

For those of you who know me, this is not the kind of green juice that probably pops to mind; full of wheat grass and algae. This unusual culinary delight is the juice of green grapes. Its acidity makes it an ideal and rather interesting alternative to lemon juice or vinegar. For those who avoid vinegar for health reasons, this would be a spectacular addition to the flavor repertoire, and an interesting spin on lemon to flavor dishes. Find out more at www.terrasonoma.com.

I Just came across this unusual product tonight by happy accident. I was running some errands with my son and he had to use the restroom. I took him to the nearest spot I knew (Shelton’s in Healdsburg, which is also one of my favorite natural food stores). There, was a woman demoing what I thought was olive oil. Since I was waiting, not shopping, I started talking to her about her products, which were not olive oils, but VERJUS. I have never heard of it until tonight, but it tasted familiar. I may have had some in fancy French restaurants and not known, but I will recognize it now. My first thought was that I wished I had had some the night before. I made a tomatillo salsa that was very good, but a bit too sweet. This would have been perfect to cut the sweetness. There was also another unusual grape product I had never heard of, but the flavor was also familiar. It was a sweet syrup made from wine grapes called SABA. “Sugar sweetens, but saba flavors”. It is true. I can hardly wait to try cooking with them!!

Goat Korma Curry

Last week, when I was at farmer’s market, I stopped in at the Sonoma County Meat Buying Club’s table. They had goat, which I have never cooked before, so I decided to try it. This is one of the easiest recipes I have made in a while, and it was spectacularly delicious. The meat was tender and sweet, not gamy at all, and the kids loved it too. We ate it with Brown rice. Some nan would have been nice. Good ole Trader Joe’s sells that too. Next time I get goat, I will be sure to remember to buy some nan.

Ingredients:
1.5 lbs stew meat (in this case goat, but lamb or beef would be just fine)
1 jar of Trader Joe’s korma curry simmer sauce
1/3 jar water
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 TBS ghee (butter or olive oil would work fine)
1 TBS peanut butter
1 tsp soyaki (a trader Joe’s condiment)
1 more small clove of garlic, smashed

Directions:

1. Sautee onion and garlic in 1 TBS of ghee until translucent and soft. Remove from pan and set aside.
2. Add remaining 1 TBS of ghee to pan and brown meat on high heat.
3. Add jar of korma simmer sauce and water. Put onions back in with the meat. cover and simmer on a very low heat for at least an hour. (I left it just barely simmering for 2 1/2 hours – I heard goat was tough)
4. Mix peanut butter, soyaki and small garlic clove together into a paste. Thin it with some of the liquid in the pan so that it is easy to incorporate into the rest of the sauce, then add it back in and stir. – That is it. It is ready to serve!