Monday, May 2, 2011

Taco Chili Beans

Out For a Snow Hike

Last week I woke up to another morning of chill and snow! I've been struggling with my diet recently, craving a lot of breads, I think it might simply be a craving for comfort foods so I thought I would make something nice, warm, and filling.

Bring on the spices.


I used to be terrified of 'over-spicing' my cooking and I would always end up chronically under-spiced. Since my trip to West Africa my appreciation of spice has flourished and I'm slowly cultivating the same in Brian (or at least trying to). I now say go CRAZY with spices, they give richness and pow without a huge load of calories! 

I made these beans as chili initially but I found out pretty quickly that they make an excellent dip for tortilla chips and great filling for veggie tacos.

Taco Chili Beans

1 can black beans
1 can white kidney beans
2 medium onions
2 ribs of celery
2 tomatoes
1 small scotch bonnet pepper (optional)
3 cloves garlic
4 teaspoons chili powder
4 teaspoons paprika
5 teaspoons cumin
3 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup water

Drain and rinse both cans of beans, set aside.

Chop onions and celery and saute until translucent. Add chopped tomatoes, minced garlic, and minced scotch bonnet, saute on lower heat to ensure the garlic doesn't burn. 

Toss in all the spices. 

After a minute of sauteing the spices and veggies, add the beans and stir to coat everything in the delicious (and sneeze inducing) mixture. 

Whisk the tomato paste into the water and pour it over the dry beans/spices/veggies. Stir it well to create a sauce.

At this point I like to get out my potato masher and crush about 1/3 of the bean mixture to thicken the dish. I like the texture this gives, otherwise I think of it too much as beans and sauce! 

Simmer it for a few minutes and you have chili! 


On the workout front:

After just the second week of Survivor Bootcamps I'm starting to notice changes in my body. I know it seems silly, but it has taken me a long time to become aware of my physical self throughout the weightless process.

The other night I asked Brian if my butt was getting bigger and he declined comment! 
I have to say I think it's getting rounder and that's really exciting for me. If I can keep that in mind while we're running up hills, doing squats, or walking lunges I think I'll have an easier time of them.

I missed one Bootcamp last week on Friday in favour of writing my very last final exam (hurray!) so now I'm feeling a little bit of anxiety about tonight. I know once I get to the park and get outside I'll slide right into it but sometimes the initial push is really tough! 

I'll keep motivated by dreaming of warmer weather and a new swimsuit...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bootcamp: Week 2

Like a trooper, I attended bootcamp on Friday even though it was a holiday!
Marci had us doing arms, which never feels really tough until a day later...

I'm loving the Survivor Bootcamp workouts because they are genuinely more difficult than the workouts I had gotten used to throughout the school year.

Monday evening we did legs, which meant a lot of squats and a lot of sprinting, there was a point where I didn't think my legs would go anymore, but after the hour was up I had to wait for Brian to finish some appointments and I actually went for a few laps around Carburn Park. That is truly a testament to how great I'm feeling!

The intensity of the bootcamp workout makes me feel challenged but still successful--a combination that is hugely motivating for me. I'm excited; I feel like my intellectual and emotional self is finally synching up with all the physical work I've been doing.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

About Me

I've been dreading writing an 'about me' post in here. I worry that I'll ramble on for too long or that by writing it all down, things might start to seem a little worse.

I've always wanted to start a food blog, but for a long time I was torn between my passion for playing the the kitchen and my passion for playing outside. I've struggled with my weight all of my life and have been through some major ups and downs--most having to do with an unhealthy relationship with food.

I've started and stopped my own journey to wellness so many times, letting other obligations take over my life and sidetrack me. For the past two years I've been eating healthier and exercising more because I've finally realised that healthy living can only aid in dealing with my stresses.

When I started this journey I weighed 230 lbs, and on a frame of 5'2" it was hindering my daily life. I was constantly uncomfortable, lethargic, and unhappy. None of my clothes would fit anymore, leaving the house was a huge chore in which I would raid the closet, in the end just covering myself up with a giant sweater.

Summer 2009
In the summer of 2009, I travelled to Ghana for school and stayed in West Africa for some additional travel through Mali and Burkina Faso. During the trip I lost about 20 lbs; I hadn't noticed the weight-loss until I came home and Brian mentioned how great I looked. I was still 70 lbs overweight, still a little bit miserable, and still struggling to find anything to wear, but that first 20 lbs gave me the push I needed.

Spring 2010
That first year I concentrated on eating smaller portions and getting outside more with no real structure to my weight-loss. I took the stairs, walked to the grocery store, and started to measure my food. The weight started to come off and I started to fit into old pants again! After making the move back to Calgary from Vancouver I decided it was time to be pushed by strangers. I wasn't holding myself accountable to my exercise goals, so I joined a cross-training class in the mornings and I haven't looked back since!

Fall 2010

So far, inclusive of my trip to Africa, I've lost 70 lbs and I can't imagine my life without exercise! At 159 lbs, I have only 30 more pounds to drop and I'll be in my target weight range. 

I still have to talk myself into workouts and out of junk food sometimes, but I'm happier and more capable than I've ever been. 

Since the school semester is over, so were my workouts but I wanted to keep on top of this so I started Survivor Bootcamp Calgary. I go three days a week for one hour each time and my trainer Marci definitely kicks my butt! Prior to this I'd been working out 3-4 days a week, two work-outs with a trainer and two work-outs independently. So far, judging by how sore I am from bootcamp, I think I'm on my way to a very successful six weeks. 

And just in time for summer! 

I want to use this blog to keep myself on track with my progress, so expect posts about workouts in conjunction with posts about new recipes!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dry Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Winter Wonderland
Brian and I woke up to snow, snow, and more snow the other morning and I knew I'd have to make something warm and filling to get us going. I love pancakes but I find that I can eat them and be hungry within an hour. I attribute it to the lack of protein and have been looking for ways to make pancakes a more well-rounded meal.

Recently, I discovered pancakes made with ricotta cheese and they were absolutely divine! I just purchased a whole lot of dry cottage cheese on sale, so I decided to give the recipe some tweaks and use what I had on hand.

My initial opinion of these was not very high, the flavour was there, but the dry cheese curds gave it a texture that was too different for me. I have a texture thing though. After the second pancake I had reconciled myself with the texture, and to be totally honest, popped into the toaster oven for lunch, the pancakes were amazing.

Brian loved them from the get-go, so if you aren't skeeved out by unusual texture, you'll probably love them too.

Dry Cottage Cheese Pancakes

3 eggs
1/3 cup milk (I used plain unsweetened soy milk)
1 tablespoon Agave syrup
1 tablespoon Maple syrup

2 cups dry cottage cheese
3/4 cup oat flour (oats whirled in the food processor to make flour)*
1&1/2 tablespoon baking soda

The Troops!

My method:

Lightly beat the eggs, mix in the milk and sweeteners, add the cottage cheese and give it a good stir. Now add the oat flour and baking soda and stir just until moistened.


Lightly grease the pan of your choice (I have an electric frying pan that makes pancakes a joy to cook), put a nice sized scoop into the pan and flip it as you would a regular pancake, when it has bubbles breaking the surface in the middle and the sides are cooked through.

In the pan!

After browning on the other side serve them warm with fruit and maple syrup.


The Texture Shot!

*whole wheat flour/most types of flour would probably work in this application as well.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Detox Chocolate Macaroons!

Chocolate Goodness!
I’ve had a love affair with coconut recently, I’ve been drinking the water of young coconuts, rubbing coconut oil on my skin, and using coconut sweetener in my tea.
After seeing this recipe I knew I had to try it out. I adapted this recipe from a few places after first seeing it posted on Craftster which lead me to Positive Ponderings and from there to Oh She Glows
I love a fabulous blog loop.
After making the original recipe, I decided to adapt it to my own tastes. And those tastes demand chocolate.

My Chocolate'd Version:
  • 2 & 2/3 cups of shredded unsweetened coconut to make coconut butter (or 1 cup of pre-made coconut butter)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut 
  • 1/3 cup psyllium husk
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Parchment paper

The Troops!

Homemade coconut butter is a job for one of my favourite kitchen tools: the food processor. I can't remember what my life was like before I decided I ‘needed’ this beautiful and noisy implement! I had read that coconut butter can be a pain to make, and I have to admit that during my first batch I lost my patience and added coconut oil to the shredded coconut after a few minutes of whirling. This morning, I wasn’t fiending for a sweet treat immediately, so I let the food processor work its charms on the coconut. It turned out wonderfully, and although it is a slow process, I like the idea of not adding extra oils to my macaroons. 
My method:
Dump the 2 2/3 cups of coconut into the food processor and whirl it around in there, scraping the sides as often as needed (or sometimes, if I’m feeling lazy with a cup of tea in one hand I will just give the processor a hearty shake with my free hand). At some point, probably about 5 minutes in for me, you will notice that the coconut is getting gooey and sticky (yum!). 

At this sticky, gooey, but still chunky phase, you will have to set your tea down and actually do some scraping. 
Life is rough. 
I whirl for about 5 more minutes after this phase and my patience starts to run thin. At the thin patience point, I add my extracts to the food processor, the additional liquid speeds along the whirling. I process for about 5 more minutes, always looking for a beautiful and creamy coconut butter. 
Feeling extra lazy and a little awesome, I add the agave and maple syrup directly to the food processor along with the cocoa powder. 
Whirl it up some more. 
I just love to whirl. 

Think about this fudge on ice cream, think about it on cake, think about how it doesn’t have any refined sugar and help yourself to another spoonful. 
If you have any of that fabulous batter left, add your coconut, psyllium husk, and sea salt. I mash mine in with a fork, since it can be pretty stiff. After everything is incorporated, eat some of this batter too. 
Tasty stuff. 
Although I wholeheartedly endorse eating the batter off your fingers (or a spoon if you could wait long enough to get one out) I still recommend saving a little of the mixture for baking.
This is a judgement free zone though, so follow your bliss. 
My bliss took me to my cookie scoop, making cute little round balls of pure chocolate coconut bliss and plopping them onto some parchment paper on an cookie sheet. 
Bake them on parchment paper for about 20 - 25 minutes at 300 degrees. 
Pull them out, and here is is most difficult part of the entire recipe: let them sit for another 25 minutes. 
...Maybe you should have saved some batter to hold you over.