Tag Archives: food

Moroccan Chickpea Chili

At my office job, we have an annual chili cook-off. A colleague in my group won this year with Moroccan Chickpea Chili. That sent me off to the web to find a version to try at home. Cooking Light came through. I really like this recipe, plus it is quick and easy! Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients – many are spices. I had cooked black beans in the freezer so I used them instead of canned.

My slightly modified version of Moroccan Chickpea Chili
Yield 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

Ingredient list

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 stalk chopped celery
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

How to Make It – Get the instructions here




Another reason to eat your greens

Kale and other leafy greens have been popular for a while because they are nutritional powerhouses. They are tasty, high in fiber and contain many beneficial vitamins and minerals (for details, see WebMD Top 10 Leafy Green Vegetables). They are also low in calories. One way I get my daily greens is in a green smoothie, as I wrote about previously.

A recent study from the University of Illinois provides even more incentive to keep leafy greens – along with other green vegetables – on your menu routinely.

CSA pickup

Farm share photo by my share partner.

A study of older adults links consumption of a pigment found in leafy greens to the preservation of “crystallized intelligence,” the ability to use the skills and knowledge one has acquired over a lifetime.



Healthy Lifestyle Study

Do you consistently practice healthy habits? If so, give yourself a gold star! If not, spring is a great time to make adjustments and engage in more healthful behaviors. Warmer weather and longer days make it easier to exercise outside or do yard work. Farmers markets and stores are already getting local produce to add more veggies to meals.

Unfortunately, it seems that very few people are doing all they can to stay well. Researchers from Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi studied over 4,700 people for 4 lifestyle practices that protect heart health. A study published in March 2016 (news release) revealed that less than 3% of people did all 4 of these healthy actions. While engaging in even one or two of these provides benefits, this is a case where more is better. The 4 benchmarks are:

  • Not smoking
  • Exercising moderately (150 minutes per week)
  • Eating a good diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight / recommended body fat percentage

The Formula for Good Health is a similar set of guidelines for maintaining good health and minimizing the risk of illness. It was published in an editorial in American Family Physician by Dr Colin Kopes-Kerr in 2010.

The formula is 0, 5, 10, 30, 150. It’s essentially the same 4 benchmarks as in the OSU/Mississippi study with the addition of daily quiet time.

CSA pickup

Farm share

  • 0: no cigarettes or tobacco products
  • 5: servings of fruits and vegetables per day
  • 10: minutes of silence, relaxation, or meditation per day
  • 30: keep your BMI (body mass index) below 30
  • 150: minutes of exercise per week (e.g., brisk walking or equivalent)

I hope you will start today and make a small change for your health.

Nut butter freezer fudge

A friend recently told me about making nut butter fudge in the freezer and it is pretty great! I have made it with sunflower seed butter and almond butter and am very pleased with the results.

Thanks to SkinnyMs and Detoxinista for their recipes for freezer fudge using almond butter. I have combined their versions and reduced the sweetener:

Nut Butter Fudge
  • 1 cup unsalted, unsweetened creamy nut or sunflower seed butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 – 1 Tablespoon honey (or agave syrup or brown rice syrup)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until smooth. Line a square pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Spread the mixture in the pan and freeze for 1 to 3 hours. Remove from the pan and cut into 1-inch squares. Store in the freezer in an airtight container.


How to save both money and the planet

In the US, we collectively waste about 40% of our food. This is an issue in part because hunger remains a significant problem in our nation. It also means all the water, energy and human effort to grow and transport that food is also wasted. The money paid to buy the food is wasted as well.

As if all that weren’t enough to be concerned about, wasted food contributes to climate change. Food that decomposes in landfills generates methane. Methane is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

20160205_134414_resized_2You can reduce food waste in a number of ways. My best practices include planning a menu, making a shopping list and eating leftovers for lunch the next day. We froze many tomatoes and peppers at the end of last summer. We freeze extra servings of meals to have on busy nights (which helps reduce stress, too!). Soon, we will have a separate bin for food scrap collection and composting by the City of Minneapolis. For more information and other ideas for action steps that you can try, please see these resources:

NRDC: Your Scraps Add Up

Outside Magazine: Eating Right Can Save the World

A lifecycle of sour cherries

Our little cherry tree produced a bumper crop this year. Many are in the freezer, to be made into pies, crisps and crumbles at a later time. Some are in the process of making Vișinată, which is sour cherry liqueur. We learned about it from friends who visited Romania and it has become an annual treat every since. There are several approaches to making the liqueur, this recipe from Homebrew Underground is the one we use. If that recipe link doesn’t work, see Liqueurweb’s version, instead. The main difference with the second one is they suggest stirring it, which we have never done.

1. Blossoms

1. Blossoms

2. Cherries ripening on the tree.

2. Cherries ripening on the tree.

3. Picked and ready to pit.

3. Picked and ready to pit.

4. Vișinată

4. Vișinată in production

The lost habit of the evening constitutional

I think it used to be common that people would go for a stroll in the evening after dinner. A friend who visited Italy in her younger days still talks about how people in town went for a promenade in the evening. I saw similar activity when a friend and I were in Provence in 2007 (aside: my, how time flies!). Back home, it seems like only the dog owners are out walking around dinner time.

It turns out that going for a walk after meals isn’t just a pleasant social convention. A bit of low-intensity activity after meals helps keep blood sugar stable (article on post-meal activity). Stable blood sugar helps us avoid a number of long term health problems (Mayo Clinic blog).

Not sure what to do? Take an easy 10-15 minute walk, engage in active play with your child or pet, wash the dishes by hand or whatever else appeals. Just don’t stay seated. Once you’ve established the habit of getting 10-15 minutes of activity after dinner, see if you can add some movement after breakfast or lunch.

If you’re motivated to do even more, you can limit the amount of fast carbs you eat and focus on eating more slow-burning carbs (list of slow carbs).