Friday, March 18, 2016

Bean Week

I decided to start with something basic and familiar:

White Chicken Chili
3 cups cooked white beans ( 2 cans rinsed or 3 c pre-cooked in a crock pot)
4 cups broth
1 large onion
1 yellow bell pepper, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (with seeds for more heat and flavor)
2 Poblano or Anaheim peppers, minced
 4 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon cumin
 1 1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 large chicken breast, diced.

Serve with cilantro, lime and plain yogurt.

Adjust the heat with the mix of peppers.  This combo results in a mild-medium hot chili (depending upon the peppers and  your taste buds)
On the heat scale:
Jalapeno = 3500-8000
Poblano 1000-2000
Anaheim 500-2000

Minestrone Soup
2 onions, diced
4-8 cloves of garlic
1 46 oz of V-8 juice

1 quart low sodium broth
4-6 cups cooked dried beans (garbanzo, lima, white)
6-8 large carrots, diced
inner 4-6 stalks of celery including the leaves, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 cups whole wheat pasta
1 Tablepoon each of dry oregano and basil
1 teaspoon each of thyme, onion powder, and garlic powder

2 zucchini, diced
4 cups fresh greens (spinach, cabbage, chard)
1 pound frozen  peas

Cook onions until golden, add garlic and cook 3-5 min.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer 15-20 minutes.  You may want to wait until the last 5 minutes to add the greens, peas and any veggies that you want to remain crunchy such as zucchini.

Serve with fresh parsley, basil and parmesean cheese.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Dried Beans

So today, I have spent 4 hours waiting for legumes to re-hydrate.  I could just buy canned version, but this has no added sodium and a fraction of the cost.

Usually I soak the beans overnight.  But today I did the "quick soak"
Rinse the beans.  Remove the broken bits.  Add double the water.  Bring to a boil then turn off the heat.  Let sit at least 1 hour.

At this point they either need to sit in a crock pot for 4-8 hours, or simmer on low about 2 hours.

I added 3-4 cloves of garlic, but otherwise, no other ingredients until they re-hydrate.

This was about 2 pounds of beans ( 3 scoops from the bulk scoop = 4 cups)  for about $1.50.

3 cups of dry garbanzo beans - $1.24

Hummus:  3 cups of garbanzo beans,.  Zest and juice of 1 organic lemon.  1/2 cup of tahini (sesame peanut butter).

I cooked this longer than usual ( 2 hour simmer) and removed as many of the chick pea skins as possible ( maybe 70%),  Best hummus ever.

I put 3 cloves of garlic into the cooking liquid and 1 into the final result.

Shopping List

This week's list starts pretty veggie heavy.   $29

garlic x 4
onion (pantry)
16 mushrooms
2 zucchini
1 jalapeno
2 Pablano peppers
Munchy veg: sweet pepper bag & 2 peppers in the fridge, sugar snap peas, sliced carrots, baby carrot, grape tomato, asparagus x 2, green beans,.

Nuts, Legumes and whole grains.
The white beans $1.44 for just under 2#.  Waiting to become chili.
Dry garbanzos $1.24.  This is $24 worth of commercial hummus.
Oats.  $0.84  and I only used 1/2 for 4 servings.
Barley $1.08

What else did I buy?
Kefir $3
Yogurt $3
Broth $5...I usually have some in the freezer
Nuts: $6 for vegetarian dishes
Chicken $ 6

So, for about $68, I have most suppers and and $2 reheat meals.

Happy Gut Bacteria Challenge

The newest buzz in nutrition is to improve the balance of good and bad bacteria that hang out in your intestines.  Lots of people have written books about this, and even more are trying to make a buck or two selling products promoting this idea.

I decided to do a month long challenge  starting with foods that we already eat and are easily available at chain grocery stores in Boise.  I'll have to hit some specialty stores in order to accomplish all the goals.

The basic principles are:
1) Lots of variety of good microbes (the more sources the better)
2) High fiber, 38g per day.  Especially legumes
3) Small amounts of meat.  Grown without antibiotics.
4) Fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, miso)
5) Eat foods that the good guys like to eat: resistant starch, legumes, onions, garlic, veggies

Additional challenges I see:
Time: To find a balance between cost and time, I will develop menus that involve 1 shopping/prep day, 2 evenings of 20 minute meals, and everything else pre-prepared and ready to eat or re-heat & eat.

Cost: I'll include my actual costs with each recipe.  I am initially using many convenience prepped foods but will note if there's an extra cost saving option.  For example, I bought "Carrot Chips" which are just pre-sliced carrots for $2 for 12 oz.  I could have paid the same amount for 2 pounds of carrots, but would have had time involved slicing them.

While I am an advocate of organic farming practices, I will focus the budget on "the dirty dozen" and give priority to locally grown over certified organic as in talking with local producers, I know many of them use organic practices but don't qualify for the certification process.
Buy Organic: fruits you eat whole (berries, grapes, peaches, apples), leafy greens, tomato, peppers
Don't bother: fruit you peal (banana,pineapple, avocado), cabbage family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage...because even bugs don't like to eat them), anything grown underground, asparagus.

Also there are always exceptions.  Like today when I went to by the organic cherry tomatoes I bought last week at Winco, but they didn't have any this week. And the Organic rainbow baby carrots are the sweetest thing I have ever eaten so I will keep buying them even for more $.

Additional Challenges:
I hate yogurt and oatmeal.  Hubby hates fermented foods and would like to eat a weeks worth of meat in each meal.

Among the group going to do the challenge with us, there's a mix of options for lunches between having to pack a "sack lunch" and being able to reheat a meal.  And there is at least one person who insists he won't eat "leftovers", but eats frozen convenience food all the time (get over it!).

So here we go.  The 4 week Happy Gut Nutrition challenge.  I'll post menus and recipes in subsequent posts so sign up to get updates via blog readers or email.