Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chili Con Barley

Dinner last night was my first foray into barley.  The hubby and I had it for the first time on our Valentine's date at 1789 and loved it so much that I had to try this recipe!

Chili Con Barley (adapted from The Six O'Clock Scramble)
2 yellow onions
2 large carrots, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 C barley, soaked in 3 C water overnight
1 can chickpeas
1 can black beans
28oz can diced tomatoes
1 packet Chili Mix

The night before, put the barley in water and soak overnight.  When you're ready to begin the chili, pour the EVOO into a stock pot and get it nice and hot on medium heat.

Place your Onion:



And Garlic:

Into the pot and cook it all down for about 5 minutes.  This will give the onion and garlic time to release all their yummy flavors and your other veggies will start to soften.

Next, dump the chickpeas and black beans (liquid and all) into your pot:

It *should* look something like this:

I know, I know, doesn't look like chili - YET!  But pour the tomatoes 

and chili mix 

into the pot and let simmer for about 30 minutes, covered.

Don't let it simmer too long, because this will thicken as it sits!   Serve with cheese and garlic pita bread, and you have a meal.  

The verdict?

Thank goodness Bam Bam eats almost anything, because this was SPICY!!!!  But the texture was spot on for chili and you don't miss the ground meat at all.  Would I make it again, absolutely, just with less chili powder and red pepper :)

Dinner provided us with a red veggie serving, 2 grain servings and a "meat" serving from the beans.  I'm honestly not sure how to count the carrots that are in the chili, because 2 carrots in that whole pot won't give us a full serving.  But at least I know Bam Bam ate the carrots.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Meal Planning

I've been most successful in the past by planning dinners first.   Make enough and you can have lunches ready to go for the next day!

As a working mom, I don't have nearly the amount of time that'd I would like to sift through magazines and  cookbooks for new ideas.  So when a friend told me about The Six O'Clock Scramble, it sounded like just the thing I needed.  Aviva will email you a newsletter every week with 5 dinners that are easy to prepare and healthy.  My ONLY gripe is that most of the dinners will provide you with your "red" and "green" servings for the day.  Not a lot of color variety, so that's where the other meals and snacks will be filling in.

For this week we have the following:

Tuesday:  Chili con Barley, Garlic Cheese Bread, Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Wednesday:  Spicy Shrimp with Cheesy Grits, Steamed Broccoli
Thursday:  Gnocchi with Artichokes and Sun-dried Tomatoes, Steamed Squash
Friday:  Pizza

From there, Pebbles and I went grocery shopping and picked up:
Red Grapes
YoBaby Blueberry Yogurt
Whole & Skim Milk

So just looking, we have reds, greens, blues, oranges, yellows!  I'm a little concerned that we're heavy on the fruit and light on veggies, but we'll see how the week goes.

What's to Eat?

I'm a planner by nature.  You name it, I have a project plan for it!   So when I decided to start this challenge, I began my research.

Holy information overload!  Eat this, don't eat that, Super Foods, all natural, all organic, etc....  It's like the old saying "opinions are like a$$holes, everyone has one".  So when in doubt, I went to the Food Pyramid to use as our guideline.  Government Food Guidelines

It allows you to enter your child's name, age and activity level.  So for my little BamBam, I estimated that he gets 30-60 minutes of daily activity.  Now, this number is due most in part because it's winter, and he's inside for most of the day.   As the weather gets warmer here in Northern VA, he'll be outside and much more active.

Based on that info, Bam Bam should be getting:
Grains:  3 ozs
Veggies:  1 cup
Fruits:  1 cup
Milk:  2 cups
Meat & Beans:  2 ozs

Well that's great and all, but what does an ounce look like?  What constitutes a serving?????

In keeping with the kid theme, I did a quick Google and came across the PBS website.   Armed with the guidelines and portion sizes, I'm ready to begin meal planning!

But just one piece of "food for thought"...  Why is all of this information so scattered?  If we're encouraging kids and parents to eat better, why not make it easier?

Mama on a Mission

When it was just the hubby and I, meal planning was the last thing on our minds.  But with an 18 month old and a 3 month old, I've realized the importance of preparing well-balanced, healthy meals for not just our toddler, but ourselves as well.

So I start this blog as a way to keep track of what we're eating, and see if it's really possible for a working mom of 2 to find the time to feed her family the daily recommended servings of everything, without going crazy!  Along the way, I'll share photos, recipes and reviews.