Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Souper Good

Winter tends to lead me to soup makin'. Something about a big, warm bowl sitting in front of you; pouring off steam and smelling so dang good just makes your belly smile. Well this soup recipe will do it, and it won't take an hour for you to dice up a million ingredients or break your budget. Plus it is "souper" healthy. Soups on!

Spicy Black Bean Soup*

POINTS® Value: 3
Servings: 8
Preparation Time: 20 min
Cooking Time: 30 min
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Works with Simply Filling

The key to thickening this soup without flour? Pureeing some of the beans before cooking it. You'll love the stick-to-your-ribs texture that results.

1 spray(s) cooking spray
1 medium onion(s), finely chopped
4 medium garlic clove(s), minced
45 oz canned black beans, undrained, divided (three 15 oz cans)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
14 1/2 oz fat-free chicken broth, or vegetable broth
10 oz canned tomatoes with green chilies, such as Rotel Tomatoes
11 oz canned yellow corn, drained

Coat bottom of a large stockpot with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft but not brown, about 5 minutes.

Place one can of beans in blender; add sautéed onion mixture, red pepper flakes and cumin. Cover and blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour mixture back into stockpot.

Place second can of beans and broth in blender and puree until smooth; add to stockpot.

Stir third can of beans (do not puree first), tomatoes and green chilies, and corn into stockpot. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Yields about 1 1/2 cups of soup per serving.

Also delicious with light sour cream and a sprig of cilantro.

WARNING: When consumed by children the bowl will be cleaned spotless and it will look like they have bathed in it....or maybe that's just my crazy 2-year-old. Too cute!

*Courtesy of Weight Watchers. Check out www.weightwatchers.com

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Food, food, and more food.

I am completely worn out from yesterday's shopping extravaganza. Not luxurious shopping like new clothing or bedding....grocery shopping. YUCK! And not just grocery shopping for the week, but the entire month. This took about 2 days worth of planning and coupon clipping, 3 stores, and 6 hours of shopping with comparing prices and coupons and the health factor (especially since we're on the Weight Watchers plan). Sounds crazy doesn't it; well I think it was worth it. I saved $72.40 from manufacturer coupon, store coupons, and sale items at Target, Kroger, and Meijer; plus thankfully I had gift cards that could be used at these stores that totaled $50. With a grand total of savings of about $122.40; not bad. With the groceries purchased that are non-perishables and frozen goods dinners should stretch easily into most of next month as well, if I plan correctly.
To re-energize from such a long and somewhat torturous shopping trip the women of my church, Springdale Community Church were gathering together for demonstrations of recipes on comfort food with a healthy twist. Perfect for the day that of grocery shopping that I experienced. After this encouraging evening of food and fellowship I came away with some new knowledge and recipes. Here is one recipe that I took away with from last night that I'm making today to have on hand as a healthy dip. This is perfect for our family because we tend to snack, and we are big chips and salsa people so this is a great replacement. Not only is this dip healthy, but also cost effective. Making anything from scratch , no matter what is, is always cheaper and usually healthier as well.

Kelly's Healthy Dip*

1 cup quick barley, cooked
1 can each (drained and rinsed) black bean and garbanzo beans
1 large cucumber, diced
1 small diced red onion
1 tomato diced
1 tub of salsa (fresh made in deli section) med or hot depending or your taste

Mix above ingredients together than add Ken's Steakhouse Northern Italian with basil and Romano salad dressing, (use desired amount over ingredients after you mix them together)
Refrigerate 1 hour. Serve as dip, also good over leafy green salad, in a chicken wrap, and served as a warm relish over baked chicken.

I am substituting barley for brown rice because my pantry is stocked with that, but the barley added such great texture. I am also making my own vinaigrette with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and some chopped fresh basil (for me this is more cost effective). And I am also making a pico de gallo with (2 tomatos/1 large can of diced tomatoes, 1/2 small onion, cilantro, jalapeno, 1 garlic clove, salt and pepper) instead of buying the fresh made salsa, which is another inexpensive alternative. You have got to try this it is fresh and delicious!

*Recipe courtesy of Kelly Hawkins and demonstrated by Jen Mannarelli.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A New Year and a New You.....

Phewww! The holidays can be full of laughter and cheer, but it sure can take a tole on you! Completely out of everyday routine and worn out from the "hustle and bustle" that the past few months can bring; a new year is something to definitely look forward to, but was last year all that bad? Maybe it was, but when you actually are looking through the correct lens your eyes may be open to the goodness that was brought to you last year. Sure this past year had some ups and downs in the McDougal household (we wouldn't be a normal family if I sat here and told you otherwise), but God brought restoration for the times that were a little darker and shone His light so we could see Him. For the times that were brighter; God of course shone even brighter telling us that He was the Blesser and Giver of all good things and for that I am eternally grateful.
As I look out our windows in our comfortable, warm apartment I am thankful to be here as the cold, clean snow pours down from the sky, but I can't help but think of those that may not have the comforts that I have felt from the moment I woke up. Soft carpet on my feet, warm coffee in my cup, homemade granola with yogurt, a loving husband and an energetic and joyful little boy. Let me stop for a moment and be honest because at 7:00 AM I did not see all of that quite as clearly; thankfully God opened my eyes to it now, and the coffee helped too.
But with a New Year comes New Year Resolutions, which are a great thing depending on the heart behind your resolution. I challenge you to look at your resolution and make sure it isn't all about you. Maybe it's time to give a warm cup of coffee to someone in need. Let me explain....if a charitable act is on your list, make sure you're doing it to serve someone else; not that you will be noticed. If it's losing weight do it to glorify God, not yourself. This is something I am continuing to tell myself.
As a couple, my husband and I are on the Weight Watchers plan and reaching for the goal of running the Triple Crown (today is the fourth day of training and it's already hard for me to make myself go train). We also have some financial goals and spiritual goals as well. Hopefully reaching all of these by God's grace and giving him the honor. A New Year and a New You......maybe it's time to replace the "You" with something else. Just something to think about.

Here's the granola recipe that I made for breakfast this morning for a healthy and "pennyless" way to start your New Year. It has become a staple in our home; most ingredients are staples that I always keep on hand. This is a delicious breakfast or healthy snack worth 2 points a serving according to Weight Watchers.

Fruit and Pecan Granola Bars*
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup toasted oats
2/3 cup chopped dried cranberries or golden raisins (any dried fruit works)
1/4 cup chopped pecans (any nut works here as well, just watch the nutrition info)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat over to 325 degrees. Line an 8 x 11 inch pan with foil. Coat with cooking spray.
Whisk egg, egg white, sugar, oil, cinnamon, salt and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir in oats, cranberries (or raisins), pecans and flour. Spread in prepared pan.
Bake until gold brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool; cut into bars with a lightly oiled knife.

Serves: 16 Bars

(I usually double the recipe. It's great broken up in yogurt or for cereal as well).