Wednesday, January 27, 2010

man pleasin' food

I live in a house full of testosterone, so I suppose some of my food should fit the stereotype. This is the meal that makes husbands, boyfriends, fathers, brothers, and little boys... happy. It's simple, sweet, meaty, and if you want, spicy. There are no visible vegetables. It's man food. So, in honor of the all the boys in my life, and because it's almost time for the big game, here is a recipe that should go over well. It can be football food, or it can be a very, very easy weeknight meal.

It takes about five minutes to throw all this stuff in the crock pot. Doesn't get much better than that!

Barbecue Beef and Beans
1.5 pounds boneless beef round, cut into 1-inch cubes.
2 15 ounce cans butter beans, drained
2 15 ounce cans cannelini beans, drained
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, finely grated
1.5 cups hickory smoke barbecue sauce**
1/3 cup water
several dashes hot sauce (optional)

Put everything in the crock pot, except about 1/2 cup of the barbecue sauce. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. About half an hour before serving, stir in the rest of the barbecue sauce and some freshly ground pepper.

Fill up a baked potato with it or serve it with some hot cornbread and a big side salad (just to satisfy your girly side, of course).  My husband loved it, and my two year old gobbled it right up. You don't have to tell them how easy it was.

** Almost every bottle of barbecue sauce on the shelves contains high fructose corn syrup. Despite the ads on tv, it's really, really not good for you. Read the labels and look for one without.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

not so healthy

I am feeling sorry for myself today. Two sick kiddos and one sick mama. It could be worse, though, so I will try to think of some things to be thankful for. Right after I finish this cup of tea.

In the meantime, I am going to share some random tips that have come in handy lately. First, my friends and I started doing that "biggest loser" challenge again this year. I am so glad, because I am not always a huge self motivator. I've lost five pounds! One thing that's helped me is Calorie Count, which is a free online tool where you track your food intake and activity and it calculates everything out for you. I've never been one for counting calories, but it was eye opening, to say the least. They have just about every activity on there from dusting to cooking indian bread on an outside stove (seriously, that is specific). And it motivates me to get moving. Yesterday was my first post-pregnancy run. It wasn't pretty.

If you're looking for a fun and delicious kid project, I am going to direct you to The Ordinary Housewife, who made Alton Brown's homemade marshmallows. We decided to try it and they are GOOD. I don't usually like marshmallows, but these are really great. They make me want hot chocolate every day, so that's the downside. But it's a really delicious downside, no? And if you want to get crazy, you can melt chocolate chips and dip those marshmallows right in, and let your kids go crazy with the sprinkles. It's a fun treat without all the additives, and they make cute gifts.

Lastly, let me tell you my latest way to get moving. Time is short these days, taken up most days by my three little darlings, so I have to be creative. Thankfully, my toddler LOVES dancing. And should I even admit that I let him bust a move to Rihanna? It gets us going together, and I feel a little bit better about those marshmallows. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

a new take on tuna salad

This is so good. I served it with wild rice and sauteed spinach for a nice, light dinner. It was a nice change of pace. And I just set a little tuna aside to make a plain ol' sandwich for my toddler* who probably wouldn't appreciate this particular change of pace. I was inspired by a recipe I saw in Real Simple. Try it, I think you'll like it.

4 large tomatoes
2 cans albacore tuna, drained 
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 large carrot, grated
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Hollow out each tomato, and add the pulp to a bowl. Combine with the remaining ingredients and spoon mixture back into the tomatoes. You'll probably have some left over, and it keeps really well. Top mixed greens with it, eat it on crackers - I think you're going to like this one.
Plus, it looks cool.

*mama note: grate a little carrot and cheddar into some tuna, mix with some reduced fat mayo, and make your little one a healthy melt. Mine never noticed the carrot, I promise. If he did, I'd be in trouble. No matter how many times I compare him to a bunny.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

breakfast sandwiches...

... are one of my favorite ways to start my day.  And they keep me full a lot longer than a bowl of cereal, which is good when you've got little guys running and crawling around, needing you most moments of the day.  Plus it comes together in just a few minutes!

Here is one worth trying.  Bonus: sneaking in an extra serving of vegetables for the day.

I used cracked wheat sourdough, but use what you've got - don't forget your whole grains!  If you have a toaster oven, top the bread with an ounce of reduced fat cheese.  Right now I have havarti, and it is so good on this sandwich! If you don't have a toaster oven, just grate the cheese into your egg and throw your bread in the toaster. Now chop up one broccoli floret and microwave it for about 45 seconds to soften it. Scramble up an egg with the broccoli, and a little salt and pepper (and the cheese if that's how you're doing it). Now make yourself a little sandwich and enjoy! And feel good about it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

a public service announcement

First of all, I need to share with you how thankful I am for my latest step into the 21st century. Or maybe it's a step back in time, I'm not sure. Anyway, I had my groceries delivered yesterday. I never thought I would do it, but when you have three little kids, any spare moment to leave your house is not meant to be spent in the grocery store. Seriously. It was great - no impulse buys, plus I had to actually plan my meals for the week, and I could do it all in the comfort of my living room while watching bad tv.

Okay, but here is the deal. They really break the prices down so you can see how much you're paying per pound or pint or whatever quantitative word pertains. I realize that you can find this information on most of the price tags at the store, but I don't usually pay much attention unless I am comparison shopping.

So imagine my shock when I was buying some fresh herbs for a new recipe and I find that they actually cost $43 per pound. And that's on sale. Okay, so I only shelled out two bucks for them, but that amazed me, considering you can buy the plant for about a dollar and have yourself more than you could ever use for almost a year. I think I've found my new business.

So, here is the lesson. 1. Have your groceries delivered. You deserve it.
And 2. Run to the nursery, pick out your favorite herbs, and get planting! (and sell them to some schmuck like me to really start rolling in the dough)

Friday, January 1, 2010

welcome 2010

What a crazy, wonderful year 2009 was!  And I am always excited, if not a bit wistful, when a new one begins. Last January a few friends and I had a "Biggest Loser" competition to see who could lose the highest percentage of weight in 8 weeks. None of us were going for huge numbers, but wanted to drop some post-holiday pounds.

Here we are in January again, and here I am seven weeks postpartum. I have a beautiful baby boy (actually I have three, but he is the newest) and 15 excess pounds to prove it.  So, what better time to get some goals set for a healthy 2010?

I am nursing, so I am not going to do any crazy dieting (not that I would anyway!). And I have three boys under the age of three so my workouts and the time I schedule them in will have to be creative, but I am ready to get this show on the road.  Since it's been so long since I have been consistent with my blogging, I thought this would be a good way to kick start it and keep me accountable. Log my progress, how I stay active, what healthy (and hopefully tasty) meals I cook up.  

And I want you to share your experiences, too! It doesn't have to be with weight loss... what are your goals for this year? Eat better? Exercise more? Kick a habit that's bogging you down? Read more? Train for an event? Spend more time with your kids? Learn to garden or speak another language or...?  Fill me in!  And if you want some support, let's do this together.

To a happy and healthy new year!