Another Sunday, another chili recipe!

You know I love my chili! Nothing sounds better to me then a big bowl of chili once football season rolls around and Arizona evenings start to catch a little chill. The crockpot becomes my best friend once the fall weather starts to trickle in and helps my meal planning and preparation get a bit easier!  This chili is easy, filling, and packed with protein. Pour yourself a bowl and top with some of your favorite chili toppings (my favorites are sharp cheddar cheese, avocado, or a dollop of Greek yogurt!). Make for a tailgate or just to feed your families hungry mouths during a relaxing weekend. For a little extra spice, add a squirt of tabasco or a pinch of red pepper. Enjoy!

Football Sunday Crockpot Lentil Chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans Hunts no salt added petite diced tomatoes (15oz cans)
  • 1 can dark kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 medium sweet yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup sweet corn
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup lentils
  • 1lb 93% lean ground turkey (extra seasonings for turkey)

In a crockpot, add all ingredients except the ground turkey and lentils. Let your chili cook on high for about 2-3 hours; then add in your lentils. Allow your chili to continue cooking for about an hour or so.


 In a large skillet, brown your turkey using the same seasonings (garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, chili powder) using a little cooking spray and some water. Add your cooked turkey to the rest of your chili. Reduce your heat to low and allow your chili to simmer for at least another hour (it can go longer) to allow the flavors of the turkey and base to mix and mesh. Keep the lid on unless you feel it is a bit too watery, then you can prop it to the side to allow some steam to exit.

Serve your chili warm with various toppings of your choice. Save any extras in the refrigerator for 4-5 days or in the freezer for 2-3 weeks. Happy football watching! 


Unleash Your Inner Nut!

When it come to snacking, I’m the queen of all things crunchy and delicious, but always with a healthy twist. Chips? Not for me, but give me a bag of homemade trail mix and I’m a happy girl.

Recently, I have been absolutely nuts about nuts. What’s not to love? Crunchy and delicious on their own, or they can be jazzed up with something salty, something sweet, roasted to bring out a smokey flavor, or coated in seasonings, a little dark chocolate, or something that makes you reach for just 1 more. Not only are these little guys delicious, they are packed with heart-healthy nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, unsaturated fats, fiber, and Vitamin E.

Why reach for a handful of nuts instead of a handful of chips, chocolates, or candies? Nuts can be a blank slate for flavor, have cholesterol-lowering and heart healthy qualities, and can be a vegetarian source of protein for those of you trying to be a green, veggie machine! Just make sure you keep the portion sizes with in reason (about 1/4 cup serving)!

Today I’m going to share with you some of my favorite nutty snacks as well as ways to incorporate nuts into other quick meals and even a dessert or two! I’ll be focusing on my favorite nut, almonds, as this is the one that I incorporate most into my diet!

Snacks:

One of my favorite snacks is home-made trail mix. Why? First off, it is extremely versatile and can be a great way to get a salty or a sweet fix. My basic trail mix base: 1/4 cup raw almonds, 1/2 cup high-fiber cereal OR low-fat pretzels, 1-2 Tbsp raisins or dried cranberries, 1-2 Tbsp sunflower seeds. To this base, I like to switch up what I add based off of my mood or what I am craving that day. If I need something a little extra sweet, a few dark chocolate chips, banana chips, or other dried fruit may be what I add. Sometimes I throw in another nut, such as pistachios, walnuts, or pecans. If I visit a bulk foods store or one of my favorite farmers markets, I will pick up something special such as yogurt or chocolate-covered almonds to use. Other additions to consider for an added sweet or salty flavor: jordan almonds, coconut flakes, salted peanuts, or sesame sticks. No matter what you choose to add, you will know 2 things. 1. You chose the basic ingredients of your trail mix, which are a little healthier than something pre-made or mixed. 2. You are getting a dose or heart-healthy fats and fiber that are much better for you than other packaged or processed snack choices.

Small meals:

When I was vegetarian, I was always looking for ways to get in a little extra protein. For dairy, I have always been an almond milk fan, but this isn’t the only way that I would add almonds to my meals. Almonds, whether sliced, slivered, chopped, or whole are great salad toppers for a little added crunch to your veggies. One of my favorite summertime salads: bed of baby spinach, sliced strawberries, sliced almonds, a little goat cheese, and a basic low-fat balsamic dressing. Simple, flavorful, and tummy friendly; you are getting 4 food groups in 1 basic dish! Not vegetarian? Add a little grilled chicken or fish to this salad to add a little more heartiness and added protein.

Dessert:

Really, if dessert could be a basic meal along side breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I would find a way to make that happen! To indulge without added bulge, almonds typically find their way in to even my most basic desserts. For example, Blend 1-2 frozen bananas with a little unsweetened almond milk, 1 Tbsp peanut butter, and a little cinnamon for an alternative “ice cream”. Top with a 7-10 raw almonds, chopped almonds, or a flavored almond of your choice. Blend the bananas with another frozen fruit or berry instead of the peanut butter for a more fruity ice cream!

Check out a few posts from my archives for additional dessert-type/baked good recipes that incorporate almonds!

Peanut Butter Cranberry Banana Breakfast Muffins: https://nibbleonnutrition.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/easy-peanut-butter-cranberry-banana-breakast-muffins/

Berry Almond Oatmeal Bake: https://nibbleonnutrition.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/sunday-brunch-berry-almond-oatmeal-bake/

Raw Choco-Nutter Coconut Bites: https://nibbleonnutrition.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/raw-choco-nutter-coconut-bites/


Easy like Oatmeal

Good morning!

I use to be an oatmeal every morning type of person, but I was always using oatmeal from a packet. Now I will give myself some credit because I was choosing a “weight controlled version” to avoid loads of excess sugar. After taking some time off of the oatmeal train, I had a packet a few weeks ago and realized that there was an off flavor that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but it just tasted a little…. artificial? I don’t know if that was quite it, but I just wasn’t feeling the flavor anymore.

I decided a few days ago to test my luck making homemade oatmeal. Now, that sounds like such an easy task right? Well, every time I had tried in the past I hated it. I couldn’t even choke down 1 spoonful. I just haven’t been able to achieve the flavor that I desired, so I started over.

I finally found the perfect combination of sweet, savory, warm, and flavorful. This oatmeal recipe is a perfect blank slate that can be transformed into multiple other recipes based on the toppings you choose.

Actually….. let’s talk about toppings really quick!

Here are some of my favorites:

  • berries
  • bananas
  • nuts (almonds and pecans are my favorite!)
  • chia seeds
  • nut butters
  • greek yogurt
  • granola

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When choosing toppings for your oatmeal, get the biggest bang for your buck! Choose things that you like, but that will also add a little extra nutritional value to your food (yes this is the dietitian coming out of me!). For example, we all know that protein is important for fullness and satiety, so why not add a little extra protein to your oatmeal with a spoonful of greek yogurt, chia seeds, or nuts? Or add a little extra fiber from a few berries, granola, or chia seeds (see why I love chia seeds so much). When it comes to flavorings, chia seeds, berries, mashed banana… they will all add an extra sweetness to your oatmeal without added sugar.

Now back to the recipe…

Enjoy this simple, easy, basic oatmeal recipe and make it your own! Play with toppings, play with flavors, and enjoy your new, improved, homemade oatmeal! Bump up that breakfast!

Easy Oatmeal:

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 banana, smashed
  • 1/2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • pinch of cinnamon

Put all ingredients into a bowl, mix, and microwave for ~2 1/2 – 3 minutes, mixing about every 30 seconds.

For banana bread oatmeal: top with a few sliced bananas, 1 tbsp unsalted peanut butter, extra sprinkle of cinnamon, and a few chopped pecans if you’d like a little added crunch! (one of my favorites!!!)


A Flavorful Lunch, Vegan/Vegetarian Chickpea “Chicken” Salad

After a week of having the flu and eating bland boring meals, I was ready to get back in the kitchen and make myself a good lunch! Although I am no longer vegetarian, I do like to have days throughout the week where I go back to my vegetarian ways and avoid meat for the day. Today was one of those days!

I am a big fan of chicken salad. I typically use plain Greek yogurt as my base to add a little extra protein, but with today being a meat-less day, I decided to try making a vegan “chicken salad.” I had gotten a little inspiration from Lauren Blake’s blog, http://www.wholelivinglauren.com/ but with not all the right ingredients, decided to just come up with something on my own.

When I make chicken salad, I like to combine sweet and savory elements. I like a little crunch as well… I mean who doesn’t like a little change in texture?! For this salad, I used a base of plain non-fat Greek yogurt and Dijon mustard with chickpeas as my “chicken” element. If you want a truly vegan salad, you can use Vegenaise instead of the yogurt. Here was my result, which I was pleasantly satisfied with! Even better, I have plenty of leftovers to have for lunch the rest of the week.

Enjoy, and happy Monday!

Vegan Chickpea “Chicken” Salad:

  • 1 15.5oz can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp diced onion
  • 6 oz plain non-fat Greek yogurt or Vegenaise (if you actually want it truly without any animal products)
  • 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning (I used the Mrs. DASH version which doesn’t contain any salt)
  • pinch of salt

In a large bowl, partially mash your chickpeas with a fork. They should still be fairly textured with about 1/2 the chickpeas mashed and half still whole.

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Finally chop your veggies (onion, cucumber, red pepper) and ad to your chickpea mixture as well as the cranberries. Lightly toss to combine all ingredients. Add base of greek yogurt and dijon mustard, mixing to make sure all ingredients are covered. Add your seasoning mix and once again stir until all ingredients are coated.

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Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. The longer it sits, the better it tastes! Enjoy!

*Refrigerate remaining salad and use within 3-4 days. 

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Pile on Pancakes… Protein Pancakes That Is!

Good morning football fans! I will be cheering on the Buckeyes from my couch this morning as I catch up on a million things that took a back seat during my first week of work! Seeing the snowflakes hitting my beloved Buckeyes on the field is a nice confirmation of why I am here looking outside at a beautiful blue Arizona morning sky.

With a hectic first week behind me, this morning called for something special, relaxing, and delicious. Pancakes it was! I love a good stack of pancakes on a Saturday morning, but we all know that piling on the pancakes can come with a price. Calories from the typical pre-made mix, sugary syrup, and gooey butter cannot only add unwanted calories, but a little extra lovin’ to the tummy with a few more grams of fat then we would all probably like.

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My pancakes were light, delicious, and still had that warm, fluffy pancake texture. A little protein powder assured me that I was indeed getting in a little protein this morning (because as I’ve said before this is often a struggle of mine), and the naturally sweetened fruit topping added all the sweetness I needed. Add a cup of coffee to the side, and my morning was just about perfect!

If you are a pancake lover, I encourage you to play around with this recipe. Many things could be added, substituted, or changed; this is kind of my blank slate for pancakes. By not using syrup, you open up the option of using other topping such as fruit, jellies, Greek yogurt, or even a few chocolate chips (because everything is better with chocolate!). Enjoy your Saturday, and fill your tummy with something delicious and nutritious!

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Banana Blueberry Protein Pancakes: 215-240 calories per stack (varies with toppings)

  • 3 Tbsp whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 over-ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (divided between batter and topping)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp chia seeds

In a small bowl, mash your banana and add 1 egg white. Mix until they are well incorporated. Add your flour, protein powder, and cinnamon. In a small skillet, cook your pancakes over medium heat. I added a few blueberries into the batter of each pancake. Once finished, heat the remaining blueberries in the microwave for 40-50 seconds, or until they begin to form a juice. Pour the blueberries on top of your pancakes. I also added chia seeds and a little extra sprinkle of cinnamon onto mine. If you add the chia seeds directly into the batter, your batter may thicken to an unwanted consistency, as chia seeds can form a jell when mixed with liquid.

Enjoy!