Saturday, January 05, 2013

The Great Chili Experiment

My favorite chili recipe EVER is one a friend shared with me after finding it on a few years ago. It has porter and coffee and cocoa in it, which gives it such a deep, smokey, rich flavor. It's pretty much become my go-to chili recipe any time I have a craving. It is really good, but has a lot of ingredients (two kinds of meat, the aforementioned beer, coffee and cocoa), so it's not the cheapest ever to make. I thought it might be nice to try a simpler one, so I pulled out my barely opened copy of Casserole, Slow Cooker & Soups cookbook.

The book has 370 pages worth of recipes that I suspect may be kind of hit and miss, because it's all recipes submitted by home cooks. It all tends to be pretty simple, which is probably good, since I often get carried away with exotic spices and forget that simple has its place. So, I was excited (based on the picture in the book and the fact that I already had a pork loin in the freezer) to try what they were calling Zippy Pork Chili. I am probably spoiled by My Favorite Chili Recipe, but it became pretty clear to me after I started cooking that this new recipe was not so much zippy as boring. So, I decided to scrap their recipe and make up my own.

Here is what I came up with:

1.5 lb pork loin cut into 1" cubes (because there was one in the freezer)
a bunch of onion powder (because we had no onions, but if we had, i'd probably use one yellow one)
2 cloves garlic (I'm guessing here...what I really used was a generous tablespoon of chopped garlic from a jar we keep in the refigerator)
2 cans (15.5 oz) organic kidney beans
1 14.5 oz cans organic fire roasted tomatoes
1 can Rotel tomatoes with chile peppers (next time, I will probably use 2 cans of fire roasted and add all or part of a jalapeno pepper, but we just happened to have the Rotel in the pantry, which sounds much fancier than the shelf in the garage where we actually keep our canned goods)
1 14.5 oz can sweet corn (fresh or frozen would be really good -  this really ended up in the mix because the pork loin, which was coated with pepper + the spicy rotel stuff and I wanted to water it down a little. The heat was too much for the whimps in my house!)
1 cup water
1 tsp beef bouillon
1/4 c brown sugar
2T chili powder
1/2 T cumin
1t cocoa
1t oregano
1t coriander
1t kosher salt

In a large pot heat enough olive oil to brown the pork.Add garlic, onion and brown until meat is no longer pink. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir, bring to a boil, simmer for a couple hours until the pork is tender.

Serve with sour cream (Trader Joe's makes a great fat free one with skim milk!), tortilla chips (we tried TJ's sweet potato tortilla good!), salsa, cheese or whatever you like to garnish your chili with.

I won't say that it's better than my favorite, but it came out pretty well for being done on the fly.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Bye, bye juice! Hello chewiness!

Today, my fast draws to a close. If you want to now more about it, you can take a field trip to my diet/happiness blog.  For now, I'll just say that there are no adequate words to describe how excited I am to go back to eating real food tomorrow. I've had a couple small lapses along the way, but am proud of myself for sticking with it. Realistically, anything is an improvement over the orgy of candy, chocolate and carbohydrates I've been engaging in for the past couple weeks. The lapses were small enough that I still consider this my first success of the new year. For once, I can't wait to weigh myself!

In preparation for my new life as a chewer, I made a trip to Trader Joe's tonight to help fill the fridge with healthy food choices and purchase ingredients for my celebratory chili. More about that tomorrow after I make it, but quite a few months ago, I bought a Casseroles, Slow Cooker & Soups cookbook that I have yet to actually use, so I decided it's time to break it out and spend some rainy day time in the kitchen to celebrate my return to being a person who eats instead of drinks her meals.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

And then there was juice

It has only been a day, but how I miss my good old friend mastication. Oh the things we ate!

I woke up with a caffeine headache today. There was a point around 11 am when I almost caved and had a sandwich, but I have lost a few pounds, so I am willing to soldier on with water and ibuprofin followed by a few sips of diet coke (don't judge me!) to see me through. I figure going from multiple glasses a day to a few small sips is an acheivement in itself, so either way I win. That said,  I cannot wait for my Saturday morning victory sandwich. I know exactly what I'm going to have too - tofurkey, lettuce, tomato and avocado on rye or olive bread. As victory snacks go, that isn't even that bad!

Oh how I am going to chew and chew and chew and chew.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Let there be juice!

At the close of my first day of detoxification, I am feeling like much less of a dirty bird. It's funny how little it takes to to feel better. A person can feel so much lighter just by consuming fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking a ton of water. So far (except for all the water making me feel like I have to pee every 5 minutes), it's really not been difficult.

One thing I would definitely recommend in doing something like this is to portion out the servings the night before. I put all the ingredients for each smoothie into a ziploc bag before I went to bed last night. That way all I had to do was grab the bag out of the fridge and dump it in the blender. I suspect if I hadn't made it so easy on myself, I probably would have been tempted at some point in the day to go off plan and eat pizza or a donut or something. I think the dogs secretly wish I would. Every time I open the refrigerator door, they get all wiggly and excited only to look dejected a moment later when they see it's just another one of those "stupid bags" (as I am sure they are calling them in their heads as they narrow their eyes at me in disgust).

The fruit and vegetable smoothies really don't taste bad. I could even see myself incorporating more of that sort of thing into my regular non-cleanse life. I am notoriously bad about eating breakfast, but think I could probably sip down a smoothie on a regular bases. Of the three, the breakfast one is definitely my favorite. I think I would have liked the blueberry one with a little less cayenne pepper, but I also suspect I must have made an error in measuring as it was REALLY hot. Contrary to one of the comments on the site where I found the cleanse, the green lunch smoothie was not at all bad. From the way the woman worded it, you'd think it was made of mud, sewer water and toe jam. In reality, it tasted fresh and certainly not like something I couldn't bear to drink three times. So, in addition to feeling good about myself for doing something for my health, I am victorious in the green smoothie wars. Whereas the commentor couldn't "choke hers down" (melodramatic much, lady?), I drank all mine and am going to drink another tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013


Tomorrow begins phase one of the health portion of my 2013 goals: DETOXIFICATION!
Typing that word feels ominous. In my mind, "detox" evokes pictures of Christmas Eve in the drunk tank followed by a mandatory visit to a substance abuse treatment center. I don't know why. I have never taken drugs, I drink about once a year. It's not like I'm Lindsay Lohan. If I'm going to abuse something, it's much more likely to be food than any kind of mind altering substance.
But, in reality, some of the stuff we put in our bodies is toxic, just deliciously so. The crazy thing is that sometimes it's really more habitual than it is delicious. Take diet coke, for example. When you drink it all the time, you don't notice the chemically taste, but try drinking water for a while and then going back to it. It tastes odd and unhealthy.
So, here's to detoxifying. It's only a three day program and I can do anything for three days! I figure it will make a nice jumpstart for the diet I am starting in hopes of losing 20 lbs by spring. I will probably write more about it here than I will here, but I'm sure it will come up. For now, all I know is that it feels good to have an actual plan to start tomorrow. My fruits and veggies for tomorrow are all cut up and read to dump in the blender. Wish me luck!