Meatless Monday and Recipe Repeat: Crustless Pumpkin Pie

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Mr. Prevention and I always have our best conversations when we’re in the car. Short distances or long, we always find something engaging to discuss. On our way to dinner Saturday night, we were discussing the holidays and pondering that perhaps we should host Easter next year up in Michigan. We were thinking about the logistics of our families traveling and what kind of traditions surround Easter.

It was quickly determined that he and I both value tradition…and holidays demand tradition.

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My family’s traditions have changed as my only living grandparent, Grannie, has transitioned to a nursing home and fallen deeper and deeper into the sadness that is dementia. We used to so look forward to her Christmas cookies. Her potato chip cookies were heavenly, but sadly, no one has carried on that tradition. Though, I think that will change this year ;)

Mr. Prevention’s family has the tradition of homemade tortellinis at Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. Basically, they’re the “appetizer” which is followed up with a traditional turkey meal with stuffing, potatoes, and the works. His family all anxiously await the holidays…for the tortellinis. And of course, the family time. Right, guys? ;)

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Our conversation surrounding holidays and traditions lead me to one definite conclusion: food plays a huge part in holiday traditions. Food can be what MAKES holiday traditions. Of course, I support this wholeheartedly.

That said, enjoying holiday traditions does not have to require a new pant size come January. Sometimes you can have your holiday traditions…slimmed down a bit. Enter Crustless Pumpkin Pie.

If you love pumpkin pie, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you simply love pumpkin. In which case, the crust is a perk, but it’s a very high-calorie, high-fat perk. Pumpkin pie lovers…I can almost promise that you’ll find this pie a perfectly acceptable rendition for a fraction of the calories. Thanksgiving just got a little bit better when you can skip the guilt!

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Crustless Pumpkin Pie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 can (15 oz) pureed pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 oz) fat-free evaporated milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ½ cup graham cracker crumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the first 10 ingredients, pumpkin through salt, until well blended. Stir in cracker crumbs.
  3. Pour into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice Calories: 162 Fat: 2.3 Carbohydrates: 32.6 Sodium: 151 Fiber: 2.6 Protein: 6.8 Cholesterol: 46

 2 1/2 day work week! :-D And so despite getting home late from my hockey game, I’m up and at’em…heading to the gym this morning. #struggling

Be well,

sig4

4th Annual Chili Contest: Entry #7 – Pumpkin Chili + Weekly Menu

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Yesterday was…different.

Have you ever had an experience where you felt like you were witnessing something that you should do something about but you don’t know what the right thing is to do? Multiply that by 2 and backtrack to yesterday afternoon.

I’m out running errands in the blistering cold Michigan weather. I’m stopped at a stop light, sitting in my car just bobbing my head to the music. I look to my right and there’s an older gentlemen sitting on the curb of this main road. Just…sitting. His cheeks were beat red. I looked and him and my mind immediately goes to the worst case scenarios — he’s homeless and has no where to go in this frigid weather or perhaps even worse, he’s having a medical emergency. I just…froze. I didn’t know what to do and after not being able to catch his eye to try and read the situation, I continued on when the light turned green.

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I spent the next 5 miles thinking, “Nicole, you should’ve done something. What should you have done? I don’t know, but something.”

But then I then rolled up to the grocery store where my attention was quickly diverted from the man I didn’t stop for to a car POURING smoke from its hood. The car was parked a distance from other cars, but just as I slowed down to check out what was going on, other cars were doing the same. After just a few seconds, someone was running from a nearby gas station with a fire extinguisher. They popped the hood and the generous supply of air caused the fire to escalate quickly and there were then huge FLAMES coming from the car. The owner (I assume) was standing there, hands on his head, with his body language reading, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.”

Rather than going about my grocery shopping, I stayed as long as to see several good Samaritans with fire extinguishers help out and just a few minutes later, a fire truck barreling through the parking lot to assist.

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I got home from running errands after much longer than anticipated and all I could say to Mr. Prevention is, “It was so weird!”

Blah, blah, blah.

And it was. The morning was…weird. It’s not every day your running around town is so…different. But different is what keeps things interesting…what keeps us on our toes. Where am I going with this? This chili is unique…it’s different. It calls for a tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice and a cup of pureed pumpkin. If you think for just a second this chili isn’t piquing your interest, think again. This is definitely a contender for 1st place!

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Pumpkin Chili
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs 96% lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 (15 oz) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 28 oz low-sodium tomato juice
  • 2 (28 oz) cans no salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a LARGE pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the beef. Brown the meat until no longer pink, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat.
  2. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeno and cook an additional minute.
  3. Stir in beans, tomato juice, tomatoes, pumpkin, and seasonings; stir. Reduce heat to low and simmer chili for one hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes.
Notes
Adapted from All Recipes by Kathyrn (who also submitted Maui Chili from last year's chili contest)
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1½ cups Calories: 281 Fat: 5.7 Carbohydrates: 33.5 Sugar: 11.2 Sodium: 767 Fiber: 11.3 Protein: 27.3 Cholesterol: 48.0

Weekly Menu: November 24th – 28th

 I want to commit to Catching Fire today so that I can see the movie sooner rather than later ;)

Be well,

sig4

Parmesan Baked Potato Halves

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This time of year, the ice hockey season is in full swing. I play year-round which totally confuses people. As soon as the fall/winter season is through, there’s spring and summer sessions starting. Unfortunately, playing hockey is somewhat of a part-time job. With a 45 minute commute (without snow…) on each end, time to change into gear and undress, plus the ice time or game, going to hockey is a solid 3 hour time commitment. I play as early as 5:45pm on Sundays, or as late as 10:15pm during the week, and I typically play twice a week — one practice and one game. It’s a major commitment, no doubt! But, I love it…and it’s a great workout.

In the winter, there’s even an outdoor rink in my town and so I tack on a third time on the ice Thanksgiving through mid-to-late March, weather pending. But, the rink here lacks in organization.

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I contacted the team I played on last year, which had a full roster. Honestly, I think this was the nice way of saying they’d prefer to not have the under-skilled (female) on their team, but I try to give them the benefit of the doubt and not assume that. Anyways, the captain from last year’s team got me in touch with the rink manager and I finally got hooked up with a new team who scrimmaged on Tuesdays. I joined their Facebook group, paid my dues, and then….the rink called to say the Tuesday slots were all full and the team would be playing on Mondays, but needed less skaters, asking if a few people would swap to Thursday nights — a slower paced league.

Being the newest addition, I volunteered. Needless to say, I’m now on that team. Until I hear otherwise. Hopefully I don’t hear otherwise.

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I’ve been traded and now traded myself and the season hasn’t even begun. What a mess. I feel like the red headed step child of the hockey league here. Forgotten and over-looked.

Something similar happens in my kitchen — I never think to make side dishes. It seems like a lot of work to make an entree and a side and I guess I’m a fan of the all-in-one entrees. Except, I really like side dishes. Thanksgiving – I’ll probably skip the bird and go straight for the stuffing and potatoes. Mmmm…potatoes.

I saw this recipe and was inspired to make a side dish with its simplicity and flavors. It was a winner, no doubt!

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Parmesan Baked Potato Halves
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 8 small potatoes (about 2 pounds), cut in half
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Pour melted butter into a 9x13 inch pan and spread evenly across the bottom. Sprinkle cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper over the butter. Place potato halves face down on the butter. Using a brush between the small spaces between potatoes, spread the butter over the tops of the potatoes.
  3. Place in preheated oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 5 oz (about 3 halves) Calories: 196 Fat: 8.3 Carbohydrates: 25.0 Sugar: 0 Sodium: 159 Fiber: 1.7 Protein: 4.3 Cholesterol: 23

 Book signing tonight – squeeeeeeee!!! And, the weekend. I’m a happy girl. But first, the gym and rather busy day at work.

Be well,

sig4

Recipe Repeat & Meatless Monday: Vegan Crock Pot Refried Beans

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We went out for create-your-own stir fry followed by a create-your-own yogurt creation on Saturday night with our friend and her 4-year-old. Other than coloring Care Bears with her, it was fun to see her create her masterpieces to eat.

Before we got up from the table to create our stir fry, she was encouraged by her mom, “Let’s make healthy choices, okay!”

She returned with nothing green in her bowl and nothing in sight other than meat, noodles, rice, and the roti bread the serve the stir fry with. She was in carb with a little red meat heaven — her favorite.

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As we were getting up to leave dinner and head down the street to the yogurt shop, I offered a piece of broccoli from my dinner so she could earn her yogurt dessert. She ran the broccoli through her teeth, removing hardly any of the “leaves” and allowing most of the broccoli floret to crumble onto the table beneath. It was cute.

She claimed the broccoli was spicy. After Mr. Prevention reheated the leftovers yesterday…that may very well have been true (to a 4-year-old), though I certainly didn’t think so at the time. Hearsay, children and dogs are more sensitive to both temperature and heat.

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The same would hold true for adapting a recipe like this one. I used 2 jalapenos – seeds and all. And while I don’t think I like things overly spicy, my cooking class attendees would say otherwise. So, adapt this one to suit your heat preferences.

Outside of the jalapenos, this recipe is a complete no-brainer. And that is not a typo…these beans cook on HIGH for 10 hours. This is the kind of recipe the working woman loves to see. Ten hours on high is the perfect crock pot recipe to not have to worry about while you’re away all day long….hence the reason it is reappearing on the blog. This super healthy, gluten-free, vegan refried bean recipe is a real keeper. Do try them and see for yourself! While it makes a lot, the leftovers freeze beautifully!

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Vegan Crock Pot Refried Beans
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
 
Ingredients
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 jalapenos, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on HIGH for ~10 hours.
  2. If there is quite a bit of liquid remaining, use a ladle to remove some of the liquid to reserve. Using an immersion blender, blend smooth or semi-smooth to desired consistency, adding back the liquid as needed.
  3. Note: I removed no liquid and had somewhat thin beans, which is how we prefer them. This will vary from crock pot to crock pot, however. The second time, I made the beans in a larger crock pot and added some water to the beans, in addition to the 8 cups of water/broth...worked great!
Notes
Recipe adapted from Queen Bee Coupons
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ½ cup Calories: 79 Fat: 0.06 Carbohydrates: 17.5 Sugar: 2.0 Sodium: 259 Fiber: 4.4 Protein: 5.6 Cholesterol: 0

 I missed hockey on account of all the crazy weather in the midwest yesterday and so it’s off to the gym this morning! Have a good week :)

Be well,

sig4

Crock Pot Wet Chicken Burritos + Weekly Menu

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When I teach cooking classes, I just…go with the flow. Other than knowing the recipes and doing the pre-prep, my presentation is far from scripted or rehearsed. I interact with the group, ask questions, and tailor the message to the audience. I improvise, if you will.

As someone who HATED and FEARED public speaking in high school, I started giving presentations on a regular basis in college. It started with a speech class my first semester of freshmen year and when I started leading Weight Watchers meetings soon after, I quickly learned how to speak publicly. In no time, I was accustomed to presenting, to speaking on my toes, and in truth, had come to enjoy speaking to groups. I am by no means an excellent public speaker, but I’ve become much more relaxed, confident, and effective in delivering messages.

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Last week during my cooking class on World Diabetes Day I ran into a bit of a…disaster.

I had recently learned that you can squeeze an egg in your hand as hard as you can…and it won’t break. Except, I either learned the trick wrong, remembered the trick wrong, executed the trick wrong…or just had really bad luck. Or bad eggs? Doubtful as I’d purchased them the day before.

In case you’re having trouble reading between the lines here, I cracked an egg all over myself (mostly all over my cashmere cardigan) in the middle of my cooking class. In order to try and save face, I attempted the trick a second time…and had the same result.

Ugh. Ooooooops.

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Note to self: don’t try any kitchen tricks in the future.

In truth, improvising in the kitchen, I’ve learned, is risky enough. Throughout the creation of my gluten-free cookbook, COUNTLESS recipes went straight into the trash. My improv skills in the kitchen are not always as effective as my improv skills in speaking to groups (the speaking, not the tricks, that is).

But, there’s always the exception. I’ve never made burritos at home. At least not that I can recall. They’re not my favorite because they tend to get soggy…and I hate soggy tortillas. But these, I baked to a soft crisp…and then smothered with my oh-so-simple enchilada-like sauce that contains all of 3 ingredients. With this particular recipe, I improved, and I got lucky with a huge winner. We ate these 2 consecutive nights and loved every last bite!

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Crock Pot Wet Chicken Burritos
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
Chicken:
  • 1 (15 oz) can no salt added tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp taco seasoning
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Burritos:
  • 1 cup dry instant brown rice
  • juice of 1 lime
  • ½ cup cilantro, minced
  • 6 whole wheat burrito-sized tortillas (I use La Tortilla Factory's)
  • 1 cup part-skim pepperjack cheese, shredded
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • ½ head of lettuce, chopped
Instructions
  1. In a crock pot, combine the tomato sauce, taco seasoning, and green chiles; stir. Add the chicken to the crock pot and turn to coat in the sauce. Turn the crock pot to low and cook 6-8 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  3. Remove chicken from crock pot and shred between two fork; transfer to a large bowl and top with 3-4 tablespoons sauce from the crock pot. Reserve remaining sauce in the crock pot and turn crock pot to high.
  4. Cook the rice according to package directions. Once cooked and hot, stir in the lime juice and cilantro; keep warm.
  5. In each tortilla, add ⅓ cup rice and about 5 ounces of shredded chicken. Roll the burritos, folding in the sides to contain the filling. Place the burritos seam side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 5-10 minutes or until tops begin to brown.
  6. Top each burrito with about ¼ cup reserved sauce from the crock pot, a few tablespoons of cheese, tomato, and lettuce. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 burrito Calories: 415 Fat: 9.5 Carbohydrates: 39.8 Sugar: 5.8 Sodium: 682 Fiber: 15.2 Protein: 52.2 Cholesterol: 87

Weekly Menu: November 17th – 21st

Excited for a lazy day followed up with a hockey game -and- a hockey practice. :)

Be well,

sig4