Monday, January 27, 2014

Slow Cooker Acorn Squash Stew

Acorn Squash Stew in the Slow Cooker

I shared this recipe first via my January 2014 newsletter. I didn't take pictures at each step in this recipe because I wasn't thinking about my blog - it was during the latter part of the holidays and I had taken a break from writing / publishing. So, here I am writing for my blog. I hope you like the recipe as much as my family of 3 enjoyed eating the stew.

1 pound of ground turkey (or omit)
1 acorn squash (see prep tip below) cut into chunks
1 can of chickpeas (I used one but wanted more, so 2 cans)
3 cups of DIY vegetable stock (recipe here)
2 large tomatoes, diced
14 oz tomato sauce 
1 cup of grated carrots (about 2 large carrots)
1/2 cup of grated daikon radish (can omit) + 1 cup chopped
1/2 cup of diced onions
2 tsp minced garlic
1 T EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1-2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 tsp cumin, divided
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (can do more if you like heat)

Tools: Pot, Skillet and 6 qt Crock Pot

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 6 hours


I. Acorn squash - Cut in half with chef's knife. Scoop out seeds. Boil water in a pot and put the halves in for about 5 minutes. Safely remove and let cool. Peel the skin with a sturdy Y peeler. Cut into chunks. (Boiling the halves helps soften the skin so it's easier to peel.)

II. Ground Turkey - Cook the 1/2 cup of diced onions and the 2 tsp minced garlic in the 1 T of EVOO in the skillet until golden brown. Add the ground turkey and 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp cumin, and the 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes. Cook thoroughly. (Does not need to be drained.)

III. Stew - Turn crock pot on low heat and pour in the 14 oz of tomato sauce, the diced tomatoes and shredded carrots, and if using, diced and chopped daikon radish. Season it with the 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp black pepper. 

Add the acorn squash. When the ground turkey with onions and garlic is cooked, add to the crock pot. Give it a good stir and season it with the rest of the cumin and sea salt. 

Cover and cook on low for 5 and a half hours. Stir every hour or so. 

IV. Add chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). Rinse thoroughly then add to the crock pot in the last half hour of cooking. Cover. 

Notes: If you omit ground turkey, you will want more chickpeas (2-3 cans). Omitting the ground turkey, will make this stew 100% vegetarian. Chickpeas are a good source of maganese, folate, and fiber. Their protein source is low but they're great for steadying blood sugar and aiding in digestion. 

The hints of cinnamon among with the savory ingredients gives it a slight Moroccan or Indian cuisine flare. You can add more spice if desired. Just balance it out with the cinnamon. It is easy to go overboard with the cinnamon so just increase 1/4 tsp at a time. 

You can serve this stew alone, with jasmine rice, or bread. 

As a mom to a 5 year old, it's important for me to provide nourishment through food for his growing body - which I'm sure most of you can relate to. It's also satisfying when he sits through an entire meal without complaint or asking if he can eat only a few more bites. He ate his serving (the size of his balled up fist) and then a little more along with some bread. My husband had two servings and was happy to see how much I made so that we'd have leftovers for a few days. Learn more about the portion control via the L.E.A.N. way here

I must share this tidbit before I sign off. My husband asked, "What kind of potatoes did you use?" I said, "I didn't use any potatoes. It was acorn squash." He said, "It tasted just like potatoes!" 

Choose, eat, and live well! =) 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Garbanzo Bean Poppers

Every Friday is 'share day' at my son's school and he can bring in an item (or a few) from home for the letter (sound) of the week. This particular week, G, was the letter and we agreed on two items that he'd bring with permission from his teacher. 

Our goal was to make our first batch of chickpea (aka garbanzo bean) poppers and serve green smoothies. His teacher agreed that these were nice ideas for share day and that she would help with bringing in half of the ingredients for the green smoothies.

My son helped me make the poppers on the evening before and then the next day, we prepared the green smoothies together in the classroom. 

2 cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbs of oil of choice 
2 tsp of coconut sugar (you can use organic cane sugar) 
1 tsp of cinnamon

1. Heat oven to 450*. Make sure the garbanzo beans are dry before roasting in the oven or you'll find that they'll burn (as a few of ours did that weren't completely dry). Lay them on a cookie sheet in a flat layer and roast for at least 30 minutes. They should brown. You may need to shake the pan a few times to ensure even roasting. 

2. When they're done browning and are somewhat crunchy, drizzle the oil of choice over the garbanzo beans and shake the pan to evenly coat. Place the coated garbanzo beans in a bowl. 

3. Mix the cinnamon with the natural sugar of choice then dust the garbanzo beans with the mixture tossing the beans in the bowl for even coating. 

4. They should be cool enough to eat now. Store in an air tight container or eat them right away!

Notes: This was my first time making these and I will be experimenting with different recipes. I'd like to recreate the poppers I had once that were made with cayenne and lime juice. Someone mentioned a rosemary and sea salt flavor. There will be two other popper recipes on my Let's Get Snacking post in February. Stay tuned (and subscribe to never miss a post)! 

Bonus: The cost to make this real food snack is nominal at best. Two cans of garbanzo beans cost about $3 and then the other ingredients you probably already have on hand. The snack will feed 3-4 people. Easy math. Less than a dollar per serving. 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Got leftover chicken? Let's make a meal in under 20 minutes!

It's been a long exhaustive day and you've got dinner to make for your family. You don't eat out and you've already had sandwiches for dinner this week, what do you make? 

If your ingredients look something like this, you can make a meal in under 20 minutes. [Be sure to save this recipe for future use.] You can use any leftover lean protein for this recipe. Using leftover lean protein is the time saver in this recipe. 

Leftover (or new) jar of spaghetti sauce
Pasta (your choice)
Veggies on hand (I used onions, garlic, and zucchini.)
Fresh or dried herbs 
Heart Healthy oil (olive oil is an Omega 9)
Leftover chicken breasts 

1. Boil water for your pasta. 
2. Dice garlic and onions and add to a skillet on medium heat with 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil and herbs of your choice (I used fresh basil and dried oregano). Cook onions until slightly golden brown. 
3. While onions and garlic are cooking, cut up the chicken breasts and prepare your veggies. 
4. Add chopped veggies to the onions and cook for a few minutes stirring occasionally. 
5. Pour the spaghetti sauce over the vegetables in the skillet. Stir. 

6. Add the diced cooked chicken to the sauce, stir and cover. Let marinate on low heat while pasta is boiling. 

7. Drain pasta. Plate it and if you like, top with some butter (we do). 
8. Top with chunky sauce. 

9. Buon appetito! 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Friday, January 17, 2014

How to Make Chili Like a Boss

Southwestern Butternut Squash Chili

Vegetarian, gluten and dairy free options

You can find the full recipe over at Conveying Awareness blog. Thank you for dropping by! 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Updated January 2023.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Spinach Pesto Balls

Who doesn't love green veggies? Wait, let me rephrase that. Is there anyone else out there that loves green veggies as much as I do? 

I could eat my veggies prepared the same ways over and over but I know my family would tire so I try to come up with new dishes (or side dishes in the case of this recipe) so they'll be more apt to eating more of the good stuff daily. 

Spinach Pesto Balls

3 cups of fresh spinach, prepared (see step 2 below)
1 tbs of EVOO 

1 cup of plain Panko bread crumbs 
2 eggs
1/2 cup diced onions
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp cracked pepper
1 heaping tbs of basil pesto (get recipe here or store-bought (label read))

1. Preheat oven to 360*.

2. Prepare fresh spinach with the 1 tablespoon of EVOO in a Vitamix or similar processor for two minutes.  If using a Vitamix, push leaves down towards blades with the tamper.  The leaves should be smashed and slightly wet when done. Place aside until ready to add.

3. In a bowl, add all ingredients and mix thoroughly by hand. It will be a dark green color. 

4. Use one tablespoon of spinach pesto mix per ball then roll in the palms of your hands. Bake in a mini-muffin pan for roughly 20 minutes. 

5. They will be done when the tops are slightly brown. Cool in pan for 10 minutes as they'll continue cooking. Remove. Eat! 

The exterior is slightly crunchy while the middle is nice and moist. This recipe makes an excellent appetizer, side item, or a green-yellow light snack item. See Traffic Light Eating for more information on L.E.A.N. healthy eating. 

Yields: 24 spinach pesto balls. 

Choose, eat, and live well! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My Top 13 from 2013

From January to December 2013 - I'm sharing the posts that gained the most views and +1s from my community -- YOU! I'm thinking these will still be popular into 2014, what do you think? Please click on the links to visit the original posts. If you learn something new, leave a comment.

From January 2013: Raw, Unadulterated (unfiltered) Honey from a beekeeper in Temecula, CA. John and Laura Doughty offers honey (filtered and unfiltered; 3 flavors: Sage, Buckwheat, and Orange), bee pollen (call in advance because this may change), and beeswax. Outside of bees, they offer firewood in the Fall and Winter months. They're located at 34385 Cooperman Circle, Temecula, CA 92592.

Still in January: Watermelon Radish (recipe). If you've never had this kind of radish before, you can see above why they're called watermelon radish! So pretty!!  Fun fact about me: I once said that I would never eat a radish! At that time, I had NO idea that there were more varieties than the red bulb kind. I can now say I enjoy Daikon and Watermelon Radish!

From February: Cleaning Your Vitamix (Naturally). As an owner and almost daily user of the Vitamix 5200, I find that the simple dish soap with water tends to add build up or gunk to the inside of the container over the course of several washes. So, I've come up with a cleaning solution and it's all natural. Click on the title to learn more! 

From April: Cleaning with Natural Products like baking soda and vinegar. From mattresses to grout and deodorizing rooms and body are all in this one! Several Facebook pages are recognized in this post. 

From April: My Experience with No-Poo. My hair is long (middle of my back), is thick, and is naturally wavy. I have never dyed my hair (yes you read that right! A licensed cosmetologist whose never dyed her hair!!) and before moving to the dry desert my hair was very healthy; never a split end, radiant, and soft! 

From May: Why We Need to Eat More Vegetables. Recipe included. Besides tasting great, they are nutrient dense – they pack a lot of nutrition in one bite with very few calories! A half cup of vegetables offers the best health building substances: nature’s vitamins and minerals also called phytonutrients. 

From June: Zucchini Lasagna. Zucchini lasagna with six other vegetables. No pasta. No beef. Very little dairy (can omit). 

From August: YUM-O! Pesto in the Vitamix. This happens to be one of the most pinned images on my Pinterest account too. Are you following? Get the pin here. One of the best ways to make pesto is in a Vitamix (im my humble opinion). It only takes a few minutes from start to finish. Visit the link to first learn about the benefits and storage then try the recipe. A bonus: Dish options will follow. 

From August: Score! Homemade DF (dairy-free) Pancakes made with plant protein. Serve with pure maple syrup and buon appetito! Tips: *I used 100% plant based protein found in the Juice Plus+ Complete. The protein is chickpea, pea, rice, tofu (non-GMO). You can substitute milk of your choice. If you do buttermilk (**make your own) it is the same measurement or you can use 1/2 cup plain yogurt with 1/2 cup cow's milk; however, they will no longer be dairy free. ** For a cup of buttermilk, squeeze 1 heaping tbsp of lemon juice into measuring cup then pour milk to the 1 cup line. The rest of the ingredients are found in the link. 

From October: Roasted Veggie Chicken Bake. Includes recipe and herb preservation tip. 

From October: Clean Transformation Challenge #ctransc Accountability Group. 
Do you want a healthier outlook?
Do you want a clearer complexion?
Do you want more energy?
Do you want stamina to boost your fitness levels?
Do you want to lose inches?
Do you want to reduce sugar cravings? 
Do you want to drink more water? 
Do you want to sleep better?
What do you want?

From November: DIY Powdered Sugar (with one ingredient). 

From December: Make Your Own Body Butter (only 4 ingredients). Information about preservation of ingredients and rancidity. Also included in the link are small businesses who make EOs. 

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Choose, eat, and live well! =)