Food is Fuel

Green Power Punch

This is the recipe for the juice from yesterday’s post. I do not lay claim to this recipe, and I do not know where I got it from…I suspect that it originally came from the juicer pamphlet that came with my machine, or something equally cheesy. This is sincerely the best green juice I have […]

Farmer’s Market Reboot

This roller-coaster of life has given me many excuses to continue to start and stop my weight loss for the last year. Although I could justify them all, I will preserve some of my dignity by just saying that they were essentially unjustified excuses. I make progress, then backslide, then get back on track…over and […]

Black Bean Soup with Avocado Corn Salsa

Black Bean Soup with Avocado Corn Salsa

This is my favorite recipe for black bean soup. It is a little smoky and filled with rich flavor. The beans need to be soaked overnight so, try to plan ahead, or you could use canned beans, however the flavor and texture will not be the same. If you do not have Sweet Mesquite seasoning (which I buy at Costco), you can substitute with smoked paprika which will lend desired smoky essence. All of these ingredients can be scaled to your own tastes, so experiment away!

Ingredients

1 pound Black Beans, dried, soaked
1 each Onion, chopped
2 stalks Celery, chopped
1 each Red Bell Pepper, chopped
6 cloves Garlic
1 each Anaheim Chile, chopped
1 each Carrots, chopped
1 sprigs Cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 tablespoon Sweet Mesquite Seasoning
Water
1 each Avocado
2 each Corn, steamed and removed from the cob
2 each Scallions, chopped
1 each Lime, juiced
Salt
Ground Black Pepper

Method

1. Soak The Black Beans: Place the dried black beans into a deep bowl or pot and completely cover with water. Cover the container and place in the refrigerator overnight to soak the beans.

2. Prepare Your Vegetables: Chop onions, red pepper, celery, Anaheim chile, and carrot into bite-sized pieces. Place vegetables into a large soup (or stock) pot. Drain the soaked black beans and add the beans to the pot with the chopped vegetables. Chop cilantro and add to pot with the whole garlic cloves, cumin, and sweet mesquite seasoning.

Add water to the pot, just enough to cover the vegetables and beans, but not so much that they begin to float. This is important because it will effect the final texture of the soup, which we want to be thick and rich, not runny or watery.

3. Set It and Forget It: Place a tight fitting lid on the pot and simmer on medium-low heat for approximately 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are completely cooked. When the soup has finished cooking, and the beans are completely cooked, puree the soup using either an immersion (stick) blender or a regular blender. Please keep in mind that this soup is extremely hot, so if you are using a traditional blender to puree your soup, please do not fill it more than half way full for each batch blended.

4. Avocado Corn Salsa: I would recommend that this does not get made very far ahead. The lime juice will help to retard the oxidation of the avocados, however, it is not a perfect solution.

Remove the flesh from the avocado and chop it into tasty little pieces. Steam the corn (or microwave it) and remove the kernels from the cob. Chop the fresh scallions finely. Add the avocado, corn, and scallions to a small mixing bowl and stir to combine, being careful not to break up the chunks of avocado. Squeeze all of the juice out of the lime onto the mixture, season to taste with salt and pepper, and mix gently to combine.

Serve this on top of this soup or many other tasty things.
Servings: 12
Source: Spitfire Strength

African Style Beef Stew

African Style Beef Stew

This stew saved me from a serious case of the food blahs, where nothing sounded good to eat.

This stew is excellent straight out of the crock pot or slow cooker without any embellishment necessary. If you prefer, it is great ladled over brown or wild rice, spaetzle, egg noodles, couscous, or probably anything else you could imagine. It is excellent with some fresh bread as well. This is comfort food of the highest order because it satisfies the need for warmth, flavor, and a full belly without filling you full of fat and salt. ENJOY.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon Olive oil
1 pound Stew Beef, Lean, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 each Onion, Chopped
2 cloves Garlic, Sliced
4 sprigs Parsley, Chopped
3 sprigs Cilantro, Chopped
4 each Carrots, Chopped
3 each Potatoes, Cut into bite-sized pieces
2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
4 cups Low Sodium Beef Broth
15 ounces Canned Garbanzo Beans, 1 can, drained and rinsed

Method

1. Brown the Beef Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the trimmed, stew beef and season with salt and pepper. When the meat is browned on all sides, remove pan from stove, and transfer the cooked beef to a crock pot or slow cooker.

2. Saute the Aromatics Once the meat is removed from the pan, put it back on the stove and add the chopped onion and garlic. Saute until golden brown, then add carrots, cilantro, parsley and spices until aromatic. Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of the beef broth, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula to loosen any tasty bits at the bottom.

Pour this all in the crock pot or slow cooker with the browned beef.

3. Add the Goodies Add the potatoes, garbanzo beans and the remaining beef broth to the crock pot or slow cooker and set on high. Leave the stew to cook for approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the beef and potatoes are both tender.
Servings: 8
Source: Spitfire Strength

Photo: Courtesy julesjulesjules m at flickr through creative commons attribute. Click on the image to see her photostream.

On Healthy Eating

On Healthy Eating

I am a chef. I have been a chef for 14 years. I know what good food is. Since I was a teenager I have had a secret love affair with food. I LOVE food that tastes good…usually a bit too much. ( I suppose that is not much of a secret anymore ) I will refuse to eat if the food does not taste good, therefore, I am not a fast food junky.

My weight issues stem straight from high stress, too little activity and eating too much. There is no secret here. I was fit before and I have allowed myself to get derailed by stress, most of which stemming from the sudden death of my father in the summer of 2010. My self image is poor, yet improving, and I know that this is going to be a battle of rather epic proportions to go from my starting weight of 375 pounds (!) to my goal of 150 pounds.

To be honest, I wanted to do a juice fast this week, but I chickened out. Living off of liquids, with no solid food, did not sound like it was going to give me anything but heartburn and a case of the munchies. But I did juice, and I did like it, and I did come up with some interesting ways to use up what my juicer left behind…I can share some with you next week if you like?

Overall, I ate a lot of whole, plant based food this week. I made to sure to have some protein with every meal, some nuts, beans, lean beef, lentils, quinoa, and some cheeses were on the menu this week. Maybe I should get more diligent about taking photos and sharing some of these dishes with you?

My best advice for anyone who is trying to turn their diet around is to constantly add in vegetables (or fruit) to whatever you are eating. Having pasta? Grate in some carrots, add some caramelized onions, or better yet, some kale or spinach or squash. Your limits are only your own taste preferences. I guarantee you that the more vegetables you put in, the more flavor your food will have, and the less of it you will be able to eat, if not by sheer volume alone! Try it this week. I think you will be surprised.