Monday, January 31, 2011

happy monday!


childhood = heart spotted rain boots 
on the wrong feet.

over the weekend...

.....we found out when you add a few baby beets to your winter veggie soup (beets + butternut squash+potatoes +turnips +carrots +collard greens + tomatoes+ homemade chicken stock + white beans+onion+LOTS of garlic + favorite herbs in any combo-rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, basil, anything goes) turns your soup purpley pink and it becomes a new kid favorite. 

We ate (brownie sunday) and then drank (hot chocolate, seriously, hot, melted chocolate) ourselves silly at Hatch Family Chocolates. 

We attempted to run, and almost died because of this terrible air....come on Utah, this is gross. 

We got caught up on our favorite shows....thank goodness Leslie Knope is back in my life.


the end.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

MadeOn winner!!!

Our winner of the 
Bee Silk 3-pack is SUMMER!!
Screen shot 2011-01-29 at 11.13.31 AMScreen shot 2011-01-29 at 11.15.08 AM

Take yourself over to MadeOn right now and treat yourself to something yummy for your skin. 

Renee is the BEST and just sent me one of the 
Au Chocolat  lotion bars 
and I am in heaven!! I am so tempted to take a bite out of it:)  Go pick one up--your winter hands will thank you!

*if you are interested in sponsoring The Little Red House or hosting a giveaway for your product, please email me at sheenajibson at gmail. 

Friday, January 28, 2011


A few things going on around here:

Don't forget the MadeOn giveaway ends tonight!! Enter HERE

The first official cookbook shoot was as success!! We've planned out our next few weeks, and I've been having the best time digging through thrift stores for awesome props.

I'm now taking new sponsors for the month of February! 
(look to your left) 
If you have a product/blog/service/awesome-thing that you think would mesh well with my little ol' blog, let's talk!
Email me sheenajibson at gmail for info!
Screen shot 2011-01-27 at 8.51.55 PM
I'm now on Pinterest
I won't lie.....I'm not super active on there.....but when I come across images I love while surfing the seas of the www, I add them, so they can be neatly tucked away in one place.
It's pretty handy, I must say.
If that's your thing, you can follow me here

Screen shot 2011-01-27 at 9.00.34 PM

I made more "snack bars" 
(I am afraid to use the real name because I don't want them to come shoot my windows out at night. I'm sure that's the kind of thing those vegan hippies do.)
see the peanut butter version here

Mexican Chocolate Snack Bars

1 1/4 c chopped dates
1 c toasted almonds
1/2 c toasted walnuts (toast nuts in a pan on medium high heat for a few minutes)
3 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

Throw all ingredients into the food processor and run until a paste forms. See method for shaping bars HERE.

these are goooooood. I had one pre-gym today and it was the perfect snack.

consider yourself officially updated.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

indulge me.

These last three weeks of our journey to healthy eating have been so fun!
We've talked about becoming aware of our eating habits, fast food addictions (mine), and quick meal ideas so we don't have to eat nachos every day (me again).

I feel like we've learned a lot--yes WE!
I am LOVING all your comments and suggestions that go along with the posts! Thank you.

Today we're going to talk about something just as important as planning ahead so you can have a healthy meal ready in no time....

.....we're going to talk about relaxing. 
chilling out.
loosening up.....just a bit.

Treating yourself every now and then.

Enjoying food as it was meant to be enjoyed, and not feeling guilty about it.

mebdayinstax copy

You see, I like to drag my birthday out as long as possible. 
It started Saturday when Tara and I went shopping and then went to Gourmandise for cake. yum. cake.

Sunday we needed dessert (because what are Sundays without dessert?), so we had brownies.

Tuesday we went to our favorite Mexican place for dinner (extra chips and salsa please) and then celebrated at home with birthday cookies (the best) from RubySnap.
(LOVED the dipped Penelope and the Vivianna)

I finished the rest of the cookies Wednesday. Hey, they were my birthday cookies.
mekidsbday copy

Robby and I will head out to some place tasty this weekend, and I've been thinking I may have to make a cake.....because it seems only natural to start, and end a birthday week in cake.....don't you think?

If I ate like this ALL of the time, that would be a problem--wouldn't you agree? But I'm taking a week out of my life to fully indulge in my favorite things, completely guilt free.

My challenge this week for you is to pick something you love 
(cake? chips and salsa? ten pounds of sour cream on your enchiladas? an ice cold coke with lime?) and enjoy it. Guilt free. 

As long as we make daily healthy choices, and exercise regularly there is nothing wrong with enjoying our favorite treats every now and then.

what are your favorite things to indulge in? 
I have a few days left....maybe I need some ideas.

*as always I'll be posting my favorite comments and helpful tips from YOU on my facebook page

disclaimer: it may seem as though I'm making up rules so I can eat guilt free for a week. yeaaaahhh.....that's probably right. but I'm still enjoying it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

winter wednesday

thanks everyone for all the fun birthday messages!!! 
I felt the cyber love all day--I wish we could all have one giant party!

Today's winter tip is something that I've been keeping to myself for a while.....but the time has come to share the news. 

The super duper exciting, screamed-when-I-found-out, delicious news. 

So far, this winter is flying by for me.....not dragging out like in past winters.

I have something I've been working on, something to think about throughout the day, and well into the night.

Winter Survival Tip #4: 
get lost in a project. 

Something to occupy your thoughts, and keep you busy when the days are long and dark, and the sun is refusing to shine.

So what's MY project? 


A cookbook. 

Let me rephrase that--A COOKBOOK!!!

Yes!! My dreams are coming true.

Some of you may know Whitney from her former blog (that is currently on hiatus but will soon be brought back to sweet delicious life), but if you don't know her--let me tell you--
this girl can cook!

So we are teaming up--her recipes + my photos.....and our official start is today. 


I will (of course) be documenting the process along the way--it's going to be a party, I am sure of it, and you will want to see it.

So while it may be cold outside--I'm painting pictures 
in my head of gorgeous summer produce, 
and dreaming of Whitney's tasty creations--take that winter.

happy wintering! 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

New Sponsor and Giveaway: MadeOn Natural Skin Care

I am so excited to introduce our newest sponsor to you--MadeOn, who makes all natural (we're talking THREE ingredients!) hard lotion bars, lip balm, hair butter, and all natural baby product

My favorite is the Bee Silk Hard Lotion Bars--they are exactly what they sound like.....a BAR of lotion (only coconut oil, shea butter, and beeswax), that come in the cutest little tin, and feel so nice on your dry winter skin. They are non greasy, and I love that I can just rub them right onto my knuckles (darn you dry utah winters) and go about my work.

This is the pocket size--perfect to throw in your purse. Isn't it cute? 
And it smells lightly of beeswax....I love it.

These are chemical free, 100% all natural, and perfect for those who might be allergic to skin products or have sensitive skin. Have a little one at home? Try the diaper rash cream.

Today MadeOn is giving away 
one of their Bee Silk 3 Packs
One lucky winner will recieve:
1 Family size hard lotion bar (2oz)
1 pocket size lotion bar (.75oz)
1 all natural lip balm (love this stuff--it goes on really smooth with no waxy buildup like some chapsticks leave)

All the products are 100% natural--REAL ingredients, and take a look at the prices--more affordable than anything you could find in the store.

To enter, go check out all of the MadeOn products, and leave a comment about which one you would love to try 
(I want to try the au chocolat lotion bar:)

One winner will be chosen at random from the comments, and comments will be accepted until Friday, 1/28 at midnight.
Tell your friends about this one.....they will not want to miss out!
Tweet/facebook/or blog and come back for an extra entry for each!
(if you don't have a blog, please leave an email address so I can contact you if you win)

Also be sure to check out MadeOn on Facebook and Twitter


*if you are interested in sponsoring the little red house please email sheenajibson at gmail for sponsorship info*

Sunday, January 23, 2011

sunday supper

-roasted chicken (very simple with onion, lemon, and rosemary)
-wilted chard
-roasted root vegetable gratin

celery root, rutabaga. 
both in season. 
both delicious (my kids DEVOURED this dish)

Roasted Root Vegetable Gratin
Jen's recipe from last weeks cooking class

-6 lbs root vegetables (any combo of potatoes, fennel, celery root, rutabagas)
-3TBS butter
-a few sprigs of sage, leaves only, roughly chopped (or a dash of dried sage if you don't have fresh)
-2 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs ( I toast two pieces of whole wheat bread and put them in the food processor)
-1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2-2/3 cup your favorite pesto--I used a basil and orange pesto I had frozen from the summer (or pesto recipe below) 
-(optional) washed and rinsed leafy greens 

arugula pesto recipe

1/2c arugula or basil
1/2c parsley
1 c spinach
1/2 c almonds
2 cloves garlic
zest of 1/2 lemon
pinch of salt
1/4c-1/3c olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°
Rinse and dice root veggies 
Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and a bit of S&P
Place on a cookie sheet, and roast for 30-40 min until fork tender. 

While veggies are roasting, prepare pesto and breadcrumbs:
For the pesto--combine ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. 
For the breadcrumbs--melt butter in a pan over medium heat with sage, cook until fragrant--a few minutes.
Add breadcrumbs and mix well.
When the veggies are roasted, mix together with cheese and 1/2 of the breadcrumbs. 
Add pesto and breadcrumbs to top, and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden. 
optional: serve on a handful of mixed greens


Friday, January 21, 2011

dates. peanuts. cocoa. salt.

and that's it.

I first had a certain natural food bar last year, packed in a pre-race goodie bag.

It was amazing. It tasted great, and only had a couple of ingredients. It was perfect natural race fuel--and it wasn't a dreaded Power Bar....I was in love. 

But come to find out.....that little thing was expensive (considering what it was), so I forgot about it. 

And then I saw Jen's post, where she made her own!

So why couldn't I? 

I could, and I did.

Peanut Butter Snack Bar
-1 cup chopped dates (it's cheaper to buy them whole, plus they tend to dry out a bit if they are pre-chopped.)
1 1/2 cup chopped peanuts. 
2 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor.
When they come together into a paste, you're ready. 
Line a loaf pan with parchment, and press the mixture into the pan. 
Remove paper from pan, and slice into bars (I cut some of them in half for a perfect kids size snack). 
I wrapped them up individually in the parchment, tied them with string, and put them in the fridge.
We now have a snack for on the go, and my kids think it's some kind of new candy--they love it! 

I can't wait to play around with more flavor combinations--these come together so quickly and I love knowing exactly what's in them. I'm being a lazy runner right now but as soon as I start training for this hill.....I'm sure I'll these bars will become my new best friend.


happy weekend!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

it's about time

At 18 I skipped away to college, excited for the adventure that awaited me.

A good education. A social life.

I'd grown up in a small town (ok, I didn't even live in a town--I lived in a field), and spent the last few years doing all the same things with all the same people, and I was ready for something new.

Spread my wings and fly, as the greeting cards would say.

While living the college life, I realized that I had absolutely no interest in preparing any meal that involved more than using the microwave. I ate a lot of Marshmallow Mateys, even more Ramen noodles, white bagels with whatever I had to schmear on, and those little pizza bite things….I don't even know what they were called--as long as they were on sale 2/$5, I had them stocked in my freezer(labeled with my initials of course).

And those were the things I ate if I felt like "cooking". If I didn't, there was always a Hostess Cupcake twin pack to grab on the go, and the 10:00 Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger-run from my high school days, became a midnight Jumbo Jack and large milkshake run.

Are you guessing where this is going??

Yes, this is how I gained 12 pounds my freshman year.

The first semester I actually didn't gain much--I played intramural basketball and even took an aerobics class (I got college credit for aerobics… cool is that?!)

It was the second semester that was my downfall…….which also happened to be when I met Robby (no offense honey).

for a dance. we dressed like this. why? oh why.
wendys copy

First of all, physical activity of any kind came to a complete stop. Have you ever been to Rexburg Idaho in the winter? It's terrible--you loose all desire to live, let alone get out and move. The most physical activity I got that winter was playing ping pong in Robby's apartment…..does that count?

Robby was "rich", (= he had a job, at the mall), so we could actually
eat at "real" "restaurants" , like "JBs".

At midnight of course.

But still, this wasn't my downfall.

My roommate and I had this brilliant idea that would not only save us on our grocery bill, but provide us with a most delicious lunch.

We would take turns buying chips, canned chili, cheese and salsa (and really--the only thing I bought in addition to this was milk, cereal, and $1 cardboard cookies), and have nachos every day for lunch.


Every day.

And we did.

We would come straight home from math, and whip up our fancy little dish.

Do you think I'm kidding? "You didn't eat nachos EVERY day", that's what you are thinking.

Ask my other roomy Courtney (the health major!), if it's true--she will be happy to tell you how gross we were (we just talked about it last week).

Every day.

So daily nachos for a semester+ping pong level activity+money bags Robby taking me out to "restaurants" that served ranch and gravy on everything = 12 pounds, which divided itself evenly behind my face and my derriere.

And with all that, Robby still proposed….now that is true love my friends.

So what was the problem here? Living off of processed foods. check. No exercise. check.

What both of those boil down to is lack of time and/or laziness.

So where can we find more time? We can't. Believe me, I've looked. doesn't even have I'm pretty sure buying more time for yourself is not an option.

Instead we have to prioritize.

When you think about it, shouldn't taking care of yourself be waaaaaaay up there on the top of your list? 

It should. Move it up there, right now.

We find the time to fit so many other things into our day (The Bachelor, facebook, looking for missing socks, etc), we should schedule some time in there to better ourselves.


The Gym.
Here's my big gym schpeel.
I am not a big gym-exercise-fan.
I would much rather be outside, in the sunshine, being active and not surrounded
by people with matchy outfits.
+ The gym is open aaaaalllll the time.
You can fit exercise into your schedule this way--whether it's at 5:30 before work, mid day, or late night--it's there for you.
+ You'll make friends. You'll either go there with friends, meet friends in the classes, or become friends with the instructors. Friends = accountability. You feel like you HAVE to go.....because you're a good person and don't want to let your friends down. right?

Don't have a gym? No problem.
Find something else you can do with a group of people. 
walking group.
running group.
_______ group.
Pick a time. Get together and do something active with your friends.

Schedule exercise into your week. 
Write it down. 
In pen. 
Schedule other things around your workouts. 

Don't feel guilty for taking time out of your day.
Its hard sometimes, especially for those of us who are mothers, to take time to do something for ourselves. We are so used to going going going, all for our family, we tend to be the first one's we forget about.
But if you're exercising, you'll be:
-happier (really, even if you hate it during, you'll be so glad you did it)
-less stressed
-a better mom/dad/friend/employee/student/I feel the need to include everyone so please insert yourself here.
-healthier, healthier, healthier. in every way.

And the healthier you start to feel, the less you will crave foods that are terrible for you.

Food that is Fast. But not Fast Food.
I posted a few quick meal ideas in last weeks post
here are a few more that can be made up quickly so you don't find yourself reaching for fake pizza wrapped up into a "bite".

Get out your crock pot. 
I am not a fan of your typical "crock pot meal", most of which are heavy on the cream of something soup. But there are some very simple things you can throw together in a few minutes in the morning, and have a hot dinner ready when you get home. 

Chicken Tacos. 
-a few chicken breasts (put them in frozen--easy!)
-one can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
-one jar of organic salsa.  Do I care that the tomatoes and peppers used in the salsa are organic? I really don't. But organic salsa contains, only a few things--tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and maybe a few spices. Non-organic is going to get you extra preservatives and what not that you don't want.
Cook on low all day, and when you're home, shred the chicken,  spoon it into some tortillas with cheese and there you go.

I'm telling you right now, you don't even need a recipe for soup.
In the morning, open your crock pot, throw in some chicken broth, onions, garlic, any veggies you have on hand (carrots, potatoes, winter squash, canned tomatoes, beets, rutabagas (ok, you probably don't have this on hand, but it's really good in soup)), add some beans or chicken, salt and pepper, and a few dried Italian herbs, let it go, and you'll have soup later. Soup you totally just made up.

A few more throw together meals:

Look for a good organic ravioli or tortellini in the refrigerated section of the store.
Again, organic, not because I insist on only eating organic flour and cheese, but because it comes with out all the extra junk. I can identify every ingredient on the label.

Costco sells a good butternut squash ravioli, which takes 5 minutes to cook.
After it's cooked, I throw it in a pan with a few TBS of browned butter + a sprinkle of sage or thyme, and some toasted walnuts or pine nuts
it's reeealllllly good, and really easy too.

Breakfast Burritos.
posted here.
If you have a bit of extra time add potatoes+guacamole.

This weeks challenge is to Prioritize. 

 Get a pen and your calendar, 
schedule yourself a few workouts. 
Call your friends and ask them to join you.

When you know your day will be full, with little time for making dinner, plan ahead. 
Have a loose meal plan for the week (I love this notepad), so you know what you have that can be prepared quickly.

Take time out of your day, for yourself and for your family.

Good luck!

and try not to eat nachos every day for lunch, because that will get you nowhere....or actually it might get you married, but I think that was just a coincidence.

I'd love to hear your healthy, quick, go-to meals!

week one
week two

bonus points: I read Food Rules by Michael Pollan in less than an hour. I recommend it. 
I'm currently reading his In Defense of Food book and thoroughly enjoying it also.
Every now and then I share an easy meal idea on my FB page (here), come join the party.

edited to add:

I am LOVING all your comments and helpful tips!! I'll be sharing my favs on my facebook as well!

*disclaimer. When I say I grew up in a field, I did actually live in a home. We are not that backwoods.
**disclaimer: I use the term "throw" a lot. "Throw it together", "throw it in the pot". Please do not take this literally. Or do, but don't hold me accountable. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

winter wednesday....bonus round

This bread is awesome. 
I just had to share the recipe (adapted by Orangette found via Summer
the only thing I changed was the molasses to honey.
bread and jam

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread
w/peach jam from summertime

1 package (2 ¼ tsp.) active dry yeast
3 Tbsp. honey
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
1 cup rolled oats
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 ¼ tsp. table salt, or to taste

Grease a large bowl and a loaf pan (see above) with butter or cooking spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 cups warm water, the yeast, and honey. Stir briefly, and then allow the yeast to bloom for about 5 minutes. Add the flours, oats, and butter, and stir to mix. The dough will look rough and shaggy. Cover with a towel, and let stand for 30 minutes. [This rest allows the dry ingredients to absorb the liquids, making for a dough that’s easy to work with and even-crumbed.]

Attach the bowl and the bread hook to the mixer. Add the salt, and mix on medium speed for 6 minutes. The dough should come together around the hook and slap around the sides of the bowl without sticking. If the dough is sticking, add a tablespoon or two of bread flour, sprinkling it down between the dough and the sides of the bowl. [Alternatively, you can knead by hand for about 15 minutes, adding flour as needed.] The dough should be soft and supple and slightly sticky.

For the first rise, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it a few times. Put the dough into the greased bowl, cover with a towel, and leave it to rise for about 1 hour, or until it is doubled in size. To see if it’s ready, gently push a floured finger into it. If the dough springs back, it needs more time; if the dimple remains, it’s ready for the next step.

To shape the dough, scrape it onto a floured work surface. Press down on it, working it into a square shape, taking care to depress any bubbles. Fold the dough down from the top to the middle, then up from the bottom to the middle. Next, bring the newly formed top and bottom edges together, pinching the seam to seal. Pinch the sides together, and roll the shaped dough back and forth, plumping it so that it’s evenly formed and about the size of your pan. Place the dough in the pan with the seam side down, and press it gently into the corners of the pan.

For the second rise, cover the dough with a towel, and let it rest in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough rises to half again its size. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

When the dough has finished its second rise, bake for about 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The loaf is ready when the top crust and bottom crusts are nicely browned. To see if the bread is ready, give the top of the loaf a thump with your hand. If it sounds hollow, it’s ready; if not, give it another few minutes in the oven. Remove the finished loaf from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Resist the urge to cut in until it’s fully cooled, so that the crumb has time to set and the flavor can develop. (haha yeah right, I didn't resist at all)

bread and jam

yum. homemade bread makes winter 1000x better.

happy wintering.

winter wednesday


It's silent as I type this.

I hear my Littles softly breathing while sweet dreaming, and Charly is snoring by the back door. 

The house is warm, and smells of bread.

Winter is quiet. Still. 

It begs you to stand back and just watch. 

Take little tiny moments and turn them into something bigger. 

I had bread cooling on the counter, and moved it to the table so I could clean the kitchen. 

The night moved on quickly. 
The BFG. 
An hour later I walked through the room--
I took the time to notice,
it looked pretty to me.

Something so simple, looked pretty, but only because I took the time to look.

Winter Survival Tip #3: slow down. watch. listen.

I find myself enjoying the little things much more in winter--even though the days are shorter, I feel as though we have more time.

We spend more time indoors--together. 
Snuggling and playing.
Watching movies. 
Doing nothing, which just may be the very best something.

slow down today, and take time to listen or look for something new.....I'd love to hear about it:)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

tooth talk

toothy copy

When you first hold that tiny little bundle of beautiful baby in your arms, it is implied that someday he will have to grow up. No one actually tells you he will grow up.....but you've had experience with larger, older, and much dirtier children, so you assume that they were once upon a time little smell-good-bundles as well.

But you think you are the exception. Your little bundle is special, and will stay a little bundle forever.

Let me tell you though, it's not true.
You are no exception, and try as I may, neither am I. 
My baby went on to grow and grow and get dirty, loose his baby smell, 
and now he has lost his first tooth. 

A teeny tiny little white tooth, and I remember when it came in years ago.
He insisted on pulling it himself--and after 4000 trips to the bathroom mirror he had done it.
jonahtooth copy

The toothfairy will come, and fly his tooth away to some place.....some place.....magical? lovely? heavenly? whimsical? where does she go? I've heard she builds her castle out of teeth....but that actually sounds a bit on the weird side, and I prefer to imagine fairies living in enhcanted forests and not houses made of tiny teeth. So, ahem, the toothfairy will come and fly his tooth away, 
to some place. 

I guess.

And do you see what just happened? I went from being way too sentimental about a tooth, to being distracted by the slight weirdness that is the toothfairy, and now I understand her true purpose. 

To distract overly sensitive mothers. 
Thanks Toothfairy.


After the boy had dropped his tooth seven times in the first five minutes (showing it to his sister, to charly, etc) I decided it needed a resting place for the day. 

So the tooth pillow was born.
You'll need
-liquid stitch or hot glue
-sewing machine
-needle and thread

Cut out two squares, the same size--this is your pillow.
Cut out a tooth shape(ish)
Sew your tooth onto one square.

Turn tooth side face down, and sew (with machine) around edges of squares, leaving about an inch opening.

Turn pillow inside out (you can use tweezers to pull it through if your opening isn't very big), and fill it with batting.

Glue on mouth--only a bit on the bottom and side edges so it makes a pocket.

hand stitch the opening closed.

place tooth inside mouth/pocket.
Wait for toothfairy to come, to whisk your child's tooth

Monday, January 17, 2011

over the weekend.....

we ate winter foods and snuggled and napped.
I played with Lauren
and we went to Jen's  most delicious cooking class.
We learned about winter greens and what to do with rutabagas (do you know?)

beans beans....IMG_7736-1 copyIMG_7769-12 copybrrr...IMG_7773-16 copy

the end.

Friday, January 14, 2011

black bean and rice soup

Most mornings I wake up with some inkling at least of what we'll have for dinner. 
This day I had no idea.
I opened the fridge, the cupboard......nothing. 
I opened the freezer......spanish rice from a few weeks ago. 
What would I do with that?
The same thing I do with every other left over ingredient.....throw it in soup.
And so this soup was born....and it's kind of one of those things that really does work with whatever you may  have lying around. Left over chicken? Throw it in. Corn tortillas....yum!
Let this soup be your canvas.
black bean and rice soup

Black Bean and Rice Soup

-1 small onion, diced
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 roasted red pepper, diced (since peppers aren't in season, I used a small handful of jarred roasted red peppers)
-1 can of diced tomatoes 
-4-5 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
-2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
-2 cups cooked spanish rice (plain rice would be fine if you don't have leftover spanish rice, you might want to up your seasonings a bit. I love the organic wild rice blend that Costco sells)
-1/2 tsp chipotle flakes (1/4tsp if you don't like it spicy)
-1TBS chili powder
-1 tsp cumin
-1/4 tsp dried oregano
-salt to taste

Saute' onion in a bit of olive oil until translucent--about 5 minutes. 
Add garlic and chipotle flakes, and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients.
Simmer for a few hours--the soup is officially "done" as soon as it's hot, but I like to let soup simmer for the afternoon so all the flavors can play together for a while. 

Top with cilantro, your favorite tortilla chips, and a squeeze of lime.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

seasonal cooking class!

Hey Utah friends! 
Have plans this Saturday? Meet me down at Jacob's Cove (11:30-1:30)for a cooking demonstration taught by the talented Jen and Melissa.

Menu includes:

The Easiest Winter Veggie Soup
Mom’s Homemade Cornbread
Creamed Polenta with Braised Winter Greens and Summer Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Root Vegetable Gratin over a Bed of Greens

They only have a few spots left--
head over here to register (it's only $20!)

see you there!

the proof is in the pudding

Actually, the proof is in the Supersized Fries, but that title isn't as catchy, is it? 

Last week I asked us all to become more aware of what/how we are eating--the good and the bad. If you're just joining us, see Part One here.

The point of this post, (if there actually ends up being a point more than just making myself look gross), 
is that people can change. 
People that have no desire to change. 
People like me. thank I always ate my own grown garden veggies?


We're fast forwarding from 6th grade me, to high school me. 

Enter hair.

I was always very active in high school--I played softball for two years, and basketball for four. Basketball practices were like natzi training camps--there were practices where I thought I actually might die--so intense I would ask myself several times why I was doing this……wait, why was I doing that? 
(And the funny thing is I would actually pay for a workout like that today)

I was scrawny and boney, and with weight gain not a possibility if I tried, I ate. 

And ate. 


My favorite was a toss up between the McDonalds #2 (two cheeseburgers, fries and a drink (root beer or that terrible fake lemonade)), and yep, sometimes I supersized it; and I also loved the Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger at Wendy's, with a Biggie fry and a frosty. 
And why not eat these at 10:00pm when you're in town with your friends 
(note: the phrase "in town" refers to being a small town kid who had nowhere in their own small town to go (bar anyone?), so we had to go to "Town" to do actual "things".)

Living in a small area, we traveled a few hours for some of our basketball games, and after the game was over, before our big bus rolled out of town we would stop at a gas station to get "dinner". Sometimes I would reach for my trusty dusty #2, or if McDonalds wasn't available, I'd grab my other favorite. 

Brace yourself. 

1 Bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos. 
1 package Little Debbie Swiss Rolls. 
1 package Grandmas Chocolate Cookies. 
1 Ruby Red grapefruit juice.

For dinner.

Nutritional content aside, what kind of weird combination is that?? I pride myself today on combining different flavors, but really? nacho cheese, fake chocolate, and GRAPEFRUIT? gross. 

Now back to  nutritional content--keep in mind this was after I'd just ran my little heart out in a basketball game--probably not the best choice of food to refuel.

But I know what you are thinking....

What high schooler doesn't eat bad?

Most do, I am aware of that.  

But my point here is that the habit can be broken.
Over the years (it took years) I completely lost any desire to eat those things- I have come a long way.
You don't have to start out all green and earthy and hippie and weird.
Anyone can change.
 I think people convince themselves that they actually NEED to eat this way, and I promise you, you don't. 
I was once a lover, and have been off the stuff for years (uh, junkie?)

Please don't think I'm telling you not to eat at your favorite burger/taco/chicken/popcorn shrimp place.
Eat what you want, when you want it, I am no burger Hitler.

But if you are STILL reading this, I'm betting it's something that has been on your mind. 
The road to better eating isn't lined with drive thru windows every quarter mile. 
If you are thinking you want to cut back, here are just  few simple ideas.

I'm traveling across the country:
If you have read this blog at all, you know that every month or so we are on the road somewhere. We have family 100s of miles above and below us, and it seems as though we are always packing or unpacking from a trip somewhere (note: hey family, come see us!)

We don't stop for fast food, which yes, takes a bit of  planning ahead. 

-we pack food. lots. sandwiches. crackers. cheese. trailmix. water. and m&ms. because they are perfect roadtrip food.
-we google. If we need to stop for one real meal,  wherever we are going, we google the restaurants first. We've eaten at small town diners (some good, some bad), or find the Olive Gardens and Applebees of the favorite? no. Better options than a drive-thru window? yes.
-and if that's not available (Nevada could really use some more restaurants, ahem), we go to a grocery store and buy, fruit, yogurt,  more crackers, more's basically a free for all.

I live in my car:
I have two super crazy days a week where I leave the house before 8am and don't get home until around 2pm. We are here and there and in between--and at some point, we have to eat. This is where you might think that a drive through would be so convenient--it would be! But with a few extra minutes of planning in the morning, we have pb sandwiches, apples or cheese and a water bottle ready to go in the car. 
Easy. Cheap. Healthy.
note: healthy eating will always take a bit of planning in advance....but really, we are talking minutes!

I'm tired/I don't want to cook/I need something fast:
This is where people start to over think. There are so many things that you have in your fridge just begging to be eaten. 

-Do you know how fast spaghetti cooks....the whole wheat spaghetti I buy takes 8 minutes. 8 minutes!
-grilled cheese sandwich. one of our favorites (if you're feeling fancy use swiss)
-egg and cheese sandwich
-turkey sandwich
-don't get me started on how many awesome sandwiches you can make in just a few minutes
-black bean burritos
(I'll be posting some more quick dinner ideas in a post down the road)

I really just want my #2
Then eat it! Just don't eat it all the time. 
A couple times a year I indulge in In-N-Out, or Five Guys, because let's not lie, that is some good stuff. 

In moderation.

I also highly recommend that you--all of you--watch Supersize Me--whether you love fast food or hate it, it's very and informative and quite entertaining (in a completely disgusting way of course).

Last week I talked about how breaking habits and getting into the groove of better eating can be overwhelming and seem impossible, and I believe it IS impossible to do it all at once. 
But if you look at it in little tiny pieces, and take it slowly, it will seem much more doable.

So this week I challenge you, to make a sandwich. 
Really--that's it. 
Make your kids a sandwich for the car, or swap out your drive thru for grilled cheese at home.

And if you feel overwhelmed, or think it's too much....just picture big haired me shoving my face with cheeseburgers, milkshakes, and grandmas cookies, because if's really funny.

I'd love to hear your ideas on how you avoid the drive thru window, and even more I'd love to hear about your binges of yester year.

*disclaimer: this post was written at midnight. My eyes were crossing as I proof read.

*disclaimer: I'm really nervous about what kind of google hits I'm going to get after using "nazi" and "hitler" in the same post

*disclaimer: see meg and liz, it's me. 

edited to add:

I should point out that we ate really well at home--we had family dinner every night, and my mom packed our lunches for school each day. So my terrible eating was only an extra curricular activity.....but still....