Christmas Pesto Dip

I am sorry you haven’t heard from me in a few weeks. Christmas season has caught up with me! We have been busy every weekend, and most nights after work. Most people struggle over the holidays with having to cook for multiple parties. This week alone I have to take a dish to 4 parties! One of my new favorite dips is a very, very simple pesto dip.  It is only three ingredients plus items to dip in it. I love easy dips because it helps me get in more raw veggies.  Greek yogurt can be used in place of sour cream to get in a little more protein. This dip turns out to be a beautiful festive color especially if you use red bell peppers and broccoli for dippers.  While two of the ingredients are higher in fat, using a low fat sour cream or Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise helps to cut a lot of calories.  Basil is loaded with beta-carotene and also has some anti-inflammatory properties. Enjoy!

Pesto Dip

1 cup reduced fat or fat free sour cream or Greek yogurt

2 TBSP pesto (store bought or homemade)

¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

To Dip:  Sweet peppers, crackers, tortilla chips (Beanitos are one of my new favorites), carrots, celery, broccoli, etc.

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Post Thanksgiving Chili

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving, but if you are anything like me, you are sick of eating leftovers! I was ready for something totally different. Since it has been so cold here, chili has been on my mind. This chili is loaded with vegetables. Sweet potatoes are another one of my favorite foods of the season, and this recipes has pumpkin too. With both of the bright orange vegetables, this chili is full of beta-carotene and antioxidants. The mushrooms help give a meaty texture with out adding as much beef. Mushrooms are one of the coolest vegetables in my opinion. You can increase their vitamin D just by setting them in the sun! Portabellas are my favorites from a flavor standpoint. Between all the veggies and the beans, this chili has a lot of fiber. Enjoy your chili!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

1 Tbsp canola oil (divided)

1 large yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 jalapeños, diced

1 lb. lean ground beef

8 ounces portabella mushrooms, finely chopped

2 tsp cumin

1 ½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp chili powder

1 ½ tsp smoked paprika

2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with no added salt

2 15 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed

32 ounces of beef or mushroom broth

1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree

½ tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

toppings: cheese, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, or pickled jalapenos

Over medium heat, sauté onion, garlic and peppers in 1 ½ tsp of oil. Cook until veggies are tender. Add to slow cooker.

Add the other 1 ½ tsp of oil to skillet. Add beef, and spices. Cook until meat is cooked through. Drain and add to slow cooker.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook for 4-6 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low covered until potatoes are tender.

Cook the last 30 minutes with lid off to allow chili to thicken. Top with optional toppings and enjoy!

Note: I assemble mine in the slow cooker the night before and put it in the fridge overnight. The next day I just put the pot in the slow cooker and turn it on before heading out to work.

Adapted from www.ourbestbites.com/2012/10/black-bean-and-sweet-potato-turkey-chili/

Happy Thanksgiving from the Two Cutest Turkeys!

Thanksgiving Turkeys

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of good friends, family and food! It was cold here in Franklin, but I am thankful for a warm fire to sit around with my family! There are so many things in my life to be thankful for (shelter, daily food, a good job, a Godly husband…) that I can’t list them all here, but I still sometimes forget how blessed I am. I am glad for a day that is set aside just to remember how thankful I should be for the life that I have. Have a blessed day!

 

Favorite Cranberry Sauce

I have two favorite thanksgiving foods… cranberries and pumpkin. Well honestly I have many more favorite foods that we eat each year at Thanksgiving, but these are my favorites that I only eat around this time of year. I love cranberry sauce of all kinds from simple to complex. Every year I get asked to make one specific recipe for Thanksgiving Day.  It is loaded with fruit, cranberries and pecans. It is chunky, thick and delicious. The best part is that there are usually leftovers which means I have some extra to bake on top of Brie or to put on crackers with goat cheese or cream cheese. Last year I made a double patch so I had some leftover to put in the freezer. I could pull it out and have cranberry sauce deliciousness throughout the year.

Not only is it delicious, but this recipe is loaded with lots of good for you nutrients. I know I mentioned this before, but cranberries are loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect against free radicals that can cause damage to our bodies. Cranberries and the other fruits in this sauce are also loaded with fiber that helps keep our guts happy.  Cranberries are also probably best known for being protective again urinary tract infections in research studies. So enjoy your cranberries and be happy, healthy and full this Thanksgiving!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

1 cup water

½ cup honey or sugar

1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries

1 orange, peeled and pureed

1 apple – peeled, cored and diced

1 pear – peeled, cored and diced

1 cup chopped dried mixed berries and cherries

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a medium saucepan, boil water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to simmer, and stir in cranberries, pureed orange, apple, pear, dried fruit, pecans, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.

Adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/cranberry-sauce-extraordinaire/ .

Celebrating a Service Member with an Early Thanksgiving

This weekend I was able to go to a surprise Thanksgiving feast for one of my friends. He is being deployed and will miss Thanksgiving this year. His wife wanted him to be able to have the meal before he left. It was a very special time of celebrating friendship and being able to appreciate Jordan and what he does to protect our country.  It was also put us in the mindset for remembering those who have served us on this Veteran’s Day.

Another fun part of this celebration was helping contribute some of the food. About 20 people came to celebrate and I was in charge of mashed potatoes.  Thankfully my mom stepped up and helped with the peeling. 20 pounds of potatoes takes a long time to peel but it isn’t hard work when you have good conversation to go along with it.

Peeling, cooking and mashing 20 pounds of potatoes got me thinking about how Thanksgiving usually get a bad wrap. I’ve heard it called “carbs-giving” before, but really some of the traditional Thanksgiving foods are full of great nutrients, not to mention delicious.

Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene and vitamin C and are full of fiber. Turkey is an excellent lean protein choice. Cranberries have tons of antioxidants, and whole cranberries are a good source of fiber. And last but not least, pumpkin is high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium.

So this year, I am going to embrace the healthy foods on thanksgiving and be thankful for getting to share these foods with family and friends.  I am also going to be thankful for the men and women who serve our country day in and day out.