Daggone good pot roast recipe

potroast

Delicious Pot Roast

I found this Many Meals Pot Roast recipe a couple of months ago on one of my favorite recipe websites, allrecipes.com, and we absolutely love it. I made it today and my youngest had three helpings. She doesn’t even weigh 20 pounds yet, so hopefully that tells you something about the deliciousness of the recipe. The recipe meets my criteria because it has few and simple ingredients, most of which you probably have in your pantry/fridge right now:

  • beef chuck roast
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil
  • onion
  • carrot
  • celery
  • diced tomatoes
  • beef stock

This is actually a sponsored recipe so I was skeptical at first, as I am of all sponsored things online, but after reading the reviews, I decided to try it. I did make several changes including only using 1 pound of meat, half an onion, 3 carrots, 3 celery strips, one can of tomatoes and stock as needed. I cooked the meat in oil like the recipe says, pulled the meat out and put it in the crock pot, then added the veggies to the pan with tons of spices like basil, thyme garlic powder, and parsley, as well as the salt and pepper. I added the stock and tomatoes to get the yumminess off the bottom of the pan, brought the mixture to a boil then poured it all in the crock pot on top of the meat. I cooked it 3.5 hours on high, then cut it down to low for about 2.5 hours. So six hours total cook time in the crock pot. We serve this meal over egg noodles and have yet to have leftovers. I will have to double or triple the recipe next time so we can freeze some.

Photo thanks to allrecipes.com.
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Delicious Navels

navelorange

Delicious winter find

I discovered that navel oranges are delicious right now. I mean to say, go to the store and buy some today and eat one immediately. I’m not sure what it is about the middle of winter that makes oranges taste so good, but I’ll have two. Plus, they are a whole food, so bonus! They are so juicy and orange-like. Winter time – get some navel oranges. I don’t know why I associate oranges with summer, but I’m never happy with them in the summer.

A new foodie friend and I went for a killer 5 mile run yesterday. It was killer mostly because I was pushing both of my kids in the double joggy stroller, plus the hills. If you think you are a strong runner, grab a double joggy and add 50 pounds to it and see how strong you are. I’m sure it would break most people. I like to call myself hard-core, even if sometimes I have to walk up the hills. But yesterday, I did not walk, and was barely breathing up the hills, but I did it. This chick was fast, and I’m nothing if not competitive. It really is ridiculous when I’m competitive, random Tuesday run – competitive, race day – depends. Anyway, it felt so very fantastic last night to be post-run, basking in the glow of physical tiredness. I haven’t pushed my body like that in a long time and it reminded me that I need to do it more often. Push yourself today, go for a long walk, or swim, bike, or run if that is what you are interested in. Your body will thank you.

Nutrition 101

healthy walking

Get outside for a healthier you.

I have so many questions about food, and most of the time I like to go out and research and find the answer myself, but sometimes it is nice to talk to an expert to clear up some things. I had the great pleasure of interviewing Betsy Templeton, a Health and Nutrition Coach in Carrboro, NC. I threw some random questions at her and she did a bang up job of following my train of thought. Be sure to check out her diet/exercise tips below for busy moms and dads.  Here is our interview:

Question: It completely overwhelms me to think about whether or not we are getting all the vitamins and minerals we need in our diet. Is there some simple chart, or system that you use to advise your clients? We take vitamins to supplement what we don’t get from food, but still, I’m uncertain.

Answer: Whether to supplement or not is a controversial issue indeed. I believe that a good diet is the best path to optimum health. There are no simple charts or calculations to determine the need for vitamins and supplements. But there are factors other than one’s diet to look at when considering the use of supplements. Some of these factors are: age, medical history, family history, alcohol consumption, exposure to chemicals and toxins, stress level, and if the individual is or was a smoker. There are some specific groups of people who can benefit from vitamins such as women of child-bearing age, people over 50, people on a vegan diet, and folks recovering from an illness or operation.  I strongly believe that most healthy adults can satisfy their vitamin and mineral needs by eating well and I mean really well every day! When I am working with a client, I look at the whole picture and also have them consult with their doctor. Another key point is the quality of the vitamins and supplements. There are so many of these products on the market with varying degrees of credibility. I am very discerning as to which brands I use myself and recommend to my clients.

happy family

Betsy and her family

Question: I personally feel like whole foods are the only thing we can trust when it comes to food, is that too simple? I know there a ton of diet plans out there, but I feel like I’ve been able to maintain my ideal weight (after having two kids) by just eating healthy foods and exercising.

Answer: I think you have the right approach. Diets don’t do anything but sell diet books! Eating whole foods and exercising on a daily basis is the key. Of course we all need a splurge on occasion but it is the solid day-to-day habit of eating consciously that is the path to a healthy life.  In addition to whole foods there are other facets of our lives that play an important role in being truly nourished. These aspects are healthy relationships, our work, physical activity and spirituality. In my experience when we work to achieve balance in these areas of our lives we feel more satisfied and are less likely to fill the voids with unhealthy foods.

yoga teach

Find balance in your life.

Question: My dad had open heart surgery and heart disease runs rampant on that side of the family. My question is, do genetics really matter that much when it comes to things like heart disease, and other medical conditions? I would like to believe I can control my future with diet and exercise, but do we have any control?

Answer: Great question. Let me speak from experience. My father had vascular disease, very high cholesterol, and a massive stroke at 54. Through extensive rehabilitation and a super healthy diet he lived to be 85. I am the youngest of his 3 daughters. My sisters both have high cholesterol and take medication for it. I have been eating mostly a plant-based diet and a gluten-free diet for many years. I have been practicing yoga almost daily for 15 years. I am 55 and my doctor proclaims that I have the best cholesterol panel he has ever seen. Not trying to brag here, I am just saying that I do think it is possible to decrease your chance of some genetically disposed diseases. Again, diet, exercise, and stress management must be a part of one’s lifestyle for this to be possible. That being said, you can not escape genetics.

Question: On a lighter note, any diet/exercise advice for busy moms and dads?

Answer: I think you have a great way to exercise by including your kids. Why not make exercise fun for the whole family? There are many ways to fit exercise into a busy schedule.

  • First, turn off the TV and see how much more time you have!
  • Cordless jump ropes are cool and handy for the busy traveler.
  • There are many great yoga and Pilates DVDs for home use.
  • Using a pedometer to count your steps is fun; set a daily goal for a certain amount of steps and find a way to meet it!
  • Having a dog is also a great way to stay in shape and wonderful for families.
  • Taking the steps versus elevators is productive as is parking on the far side of the parking lot.

I know that cooking for busy families can be a struggle. Finding a good resource for quick, healthy recipes is important. Also using slow cookers can be useful. I like to teach my clients how to cook once and end up with 2 or 3 meals. Meal prep and planning is vital. I recommend getting the whole family involved in the meal planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning! I strongly encourage families to eat together at the table as often as possible and avoid eating in the car!

Question: What do you personally do to stay healthy?

Answer: I have a dedicated yoga practice and teach two classes a week. I also take a Pilates class and have a weight routine that I do at home. I walk my dog daily and my husband and I hike with him on the weekends. I am lucky because I adore cooking! Cooking and eating healthy food brings me joy as does sharing my passion with others. We have a nice vegetable garden at home which provides me with lots of amazing ingredients and inspiration! I also meditate to keep my stress level down. It took me a while to discover this, but yes it works.

glasshalfull

Glasshalfull in Carrboro

Betsy also owns a small business in Carrboro, Glasshalfull. It is an awesome little restaurant, wine bar and wine shop. I’ve heard wonderful things about the place and asked Betsy to tell me a little more about it. “Since I spend most of my time as a Health and Nutrition Coach, I am only at the restaurant on the weekends. When I am there it brings me much pleasure to see people having fun, relaxing and sharing great wine and delicious food at Glasshalfull.   It is a lovely spot for a fun date or a perfect place for groups to gather. We are fortunate to be a few blocks from the Carrboro Farmer’s Market where we try to support the local farmers and bring the best products available to the table. There is something for everyone and all are welcome!” Check out her restaurant if you live in Carrboro or are planning to visit the area soon.

Here is Betsy Templeton’s contact information:

www.goldenbeetwellness.com
betsy@goldenbeetwellness.com
Certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach
Member of the American Association of Drugless Practicioners
Certified YA YogaWorks Instructor

And cheers to healthy living!

“We don’t eat animals. We just eat food.”

Broccoli

You don’t have to remind this kid to eat his vegetables

My good friends, the Streetmans, are vegetarians with three beautiful boys 3 and under. The title of this post is from one of their sons, Tyler. I have to admit I’m impressed with how easy they make vegetarianism look. Personally, I abstained from red meat (beef and pork) from age 12 to 27, for ‘save the world’ reasons. I also helped the environment by wearing a very trendy ‘Save the World’ pendant around my neck, it was huge, and instead of the words ‘world’, there was a small globe. Gah – what a nerd! One chilly, fall night while mountain biking with a good friend, I caved when I smelled a delicious cheeseburger. Forget saving the world, I wanted some beef. I may be selfish, but at least I’m honest about it. So kudos to the Streetmans, who are my heroes for making this choice and sticking with it, and raising some pretty darn cute vegetarians in the meantime.

Interview with Colleen Streetman

Question: What made you decide to make the switch to being a vegetarian?

Answer: My husband, Dan, was a vegetarian when I met him and had been for several years. We talked about his reasons – health first and foremost, and humanitarian reasons, too. I soon became the primary “chef” in our relationship, and there wasn’t much point in cooking meat for one, so I always made vegetarian meals for us at home, then ate meat when we went out. I began experimenting more with foods I hadn’t eaten much of before. The more we talked about the conditions of the animals raised for food, the more documentaries we watched, the more I read, the more I started becoming disgusted by meat. Then – 5 years ago – I had a few bad experiences with gross meat meals and watched a few more documentaries, and that was it. I was done.

Question: What specifically do you eat, what is an example of a typical day for you guys? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks.

Answer: Breakfast in our house consists mainly of grains and fruits, maybe some cheese or yogurt. Dan has a bagel and sometimes a banana. I usually feed the boys similar breakfasts, just enough to get them going, because they are going to eat snack and lunch soon at preschool. They all have bananas and my son, Tyler, loves bagels. The twins, Casey and Tyler, both like cereal, especially with banana bites in it. In the winter they love oatmeal, mixed with applesauce, “so it’s not so lumpy.”
Spinach Ricotta Bites

Those spinach-ricotta bites are gone in a flash

Lunch usually consists of some kind of sandwich – egg salad (we are not vegan, and I try to be very cautious about buying “farm-friendly” eggs), cheese and veggie sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly or honey, or cucumber and cream cheese. We also do pita and hummus quite often. I do the occasional veggie hot dog and mac and cheese. I make sure to include fruit with their lunches, too. Some other things we like to make – potato salad, pasta salad, broccoli salad, coleslaw.

I cook breakfast for dinner a lot – pancakes, french toast, eggs (family favorite is scrambled with spinach and feta), some kind of potatoes, and fruit. Of course, we do lots of pasta dishes – there are so many different ways to do yummy pastas. We love chili – I love to use beans – black beans in particular – in chili, Mexican dishes, etc. I have several soup and quiche recipes that pack a lot of veggies and protein in them. We use a lot of tofu and tempeh in stir-fry dishes. I’ve branched out into international recipes since becoming vegetarian – I love Indian food. I always loved Mexican food. And we really enjoy Mediterranean food – chick peas are a favorite of mine – you can do so much with them: use them in salads, hummus, roast them, make burgers out of them.
I think I am pretty good about balancing the meals overall – making sure the kids eat some veggies (whether it’s in the main dish or not). They actually like to have their own little “salad” with dinner, which is basically a few spinach leaves, a couple of carrots and broccoli, and some dressing to dip it in. While I don’t force my kids to eat all of their meals, they don’t get dessert unless they eat most/all the good-for-you stuff.
Snacks are pretty much just fruit and crackers and cheese. I’m pretty strict about junk. I just don’t feed it to them. There’s no point. And if you don’t keep it in the house, no one asks for it. I also forgot to mention muffins. Breakfast, lunch, snack, on the go … the boys love anything in muffin form, and there are tons of variations!
I am probably the pickiest vegetarian you will ever meet. There are a lot of vegetables and fruits that I don’t like. But the ones I do like, I eat a lot. My biggest struggle so far is trying to broaden the kids’ palettes so they aren’t as picky as me. It’s hard to cook with foods you don’t like yourself. But I’m really trying.
Boys love bananas

These happy kids LOVE bananas

Question: What was the result of your switch to vegetarianism, if any?

Answer: Honestly, I felt better almost immediately. My weight didn’t really change all that much – before babies I was always pretty skinny and in shape. My skin actually did improve, but the biggest difference was my GI system. I had far less stomach troubles in general.
Question: Tell me the pros and cons of doing this, in your opinion. Did you feel like it was a huge amount of extra work?
Answer: The biggest pro to me is that I don’t support horrible animal cruelty practices. There is really no way to know where your meat is coming from, unless you’re buying 100% of it straight from a farmer that you know practices ethically. Which, let’s face it, is extremely hard to do, not to mention expensive. The only way I could be sure I didn’t support the awful treatment of animals, was to completely stop buying and eating it. I didn’t find it to be a huge amount of work, but I also eased into it. We never really bought meat or cooked it at the house when I did eat meat. I gradually learned to broaden my palette before I quit completely. It’s super easy to feed your kids a vegetarian diet.
The thing I hear most from meat-eaters, “Where do you get protein if you don’t eat meat?” There are a bazillion non-meat foods that pack a fierce amount of protein. We eat tofu and tempeh and other soy meat substitutes, which contain a good amount of protein. We also eat different kinds of beans like edamame, black beans, and chick peas. We eat eggs, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, whole grains, nuts, peanut butter, etc. If you eat a good variety of all of those things, you’ll get plenty of protein.

Question: What do you do when you go out – like traveling, or to parties, or restaurants, do you have to take your own food, or do you feel there are enough options that you don’t have to worry about it?

Answer: There’s always something we can eat. Restaurants are getting better about providing vegetarian options. We have been to parties/restaurants and not had much selection, so we just eat more when we get home. I’m really excited about this new all vegetarian restaurant opening soon in Raleigh – the Fiction Kitchen. Our favorite Indian restaurant, Udupi, is also all vegetarian.

Thanks to Colleen Streetman for all this great information. If you feel the urge to try vegetarianism, Colleen suggests that you start small – don’t use meat when you cook at home, or try ‘Meatless Mondays’. Several restaurants in the Triangle offer this option. That is true with most new things, whether it be running, becoming a vegetarian, trying to make your household more natural – you should start small, and grow your knowledge incrementally. Personally, I would like to cut down on our meat consumption, and make it a top priority to know where our meat is coming from. I have to find a farmer nearby who raises cows – that will be my next goal. Does anyone have any local suggestions?

Forks over Knives, movie review

I recently watched an interesting food documentary, Forks over Knives. I’ve been watching a lot of them lately, but this one stands out because of the interaction of these two dudes. One is a scientist, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., and the other one a medical doctor, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr.. They believe you can prevent and even reverse disease with a plant-based diet. If you are interested, here is the full synopsis.

One point in the documentary that I haven’t heard before was about how the typical American diet of highly processed foods and animal-based meals fool your body into thinking it isn’t full. Basically – your mechanisms of recognizing fullness aren’t working properly when you eat these foods. People who eat this type of diet aren’t necessarily lazy, they just have to overeat in order to feel full. If you eat a plant-based diet then you will feel more full, even though you will be eating more often, and more food overall, but you will not be overweight. The documentary compares processed food to having a low-grade addiction. WOWZA!

The documentary also suggests that processed food and a animal-based diet not only make you fat, but cause diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. There are lots of examples of people who were going to the doctor and being given pills for all their different symptoms, but their doctors weren’t really sure what the problem was. People were taking pills they didn’t want to take, with side effects that were causing even more problems. The authors believe you can reverse the damages of these diets/pills, with a plant-based diet.

I guess my purpose in writing about this documentary is simple – if you are feeling sluggish during the day, having problems sleeping at night, having a hard time finding energy to get stuff done during the day – maybe, just maybe, you should try a different diet. Processed foods and animal-based diets should be questioned. A lot of people don’t realize that you can and should feel good all day every day – you don’t have to get rid of meat, just use it for flavoring instead of the main part of your meal. And processed foods, yeah – no excuse, get rid of them.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a meat eater and a work in process with getting rid of ALL processed foods, but I think what these authors are saying is really interesting, and worth a try if you are suffering and want to change your life.

Make your own salad dressing

Salad dressing

Make your own!

I recently became exasperated with grocery store salad dressings. If the dressing tastes good, it is filled with things like MSG and sugar (I will miss you, Ranch). If the dressing is good for you, like the Organic versions I’ve found, they taste horrible. Maybe I’m the only person this has happened to, but I’ve been noticing it for a while, and just recently threw in the towel. This summer I was pouring straight olive oil on my salads. Which, honestly isn’t so bad, at least you can taste the vegetables. Call me high maintenance, but I want a dressing I can’t live without.

So, my research began. Tonight we tested a dressing called “Absolutely Fabulous Greek/House Dressing” I found on allrecipes.com. With that title, how can you go wrong? Look it up if you are interested in making it yourself. The ingredients are simple, as absolutely fabulous foods normally are. It includes olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, basil and oregano. It was a hit! I cut down the amount of vinegar so the ratio of oil to vinegar was 1:1, but after trying it, I recommend upping the oil in that ratio so you have more oil than vinegar. We had it tonight and my daughter actually thanked me for making such a yummy dinner. Seriously, my jaw was on the floor. She asked me why I was staring at her and smiling.

The recipe makes a ton of dressing, so I cut it down to just 10 servings and store it in a dollar store dressing bottle. It is on my kitchen counter right now, making me so proud. I know, I’m crazy!

Weekend Cooking Extravaganza

Out and About

Out and about, loving the outdoors

One of my runner chick friends, Stephanie Gupton, and her family, came up with this fantastic idea for working parents, or non-working parents. This “Cooking Extravaganza” idea is a fast, efficient way to cook a ton of your weekly meals, make sure those meals are healthy, plus spend quality time together. I asked her to give me the low down on how it works, mostly because I want to copy her, but also because I thought it might be a nice idea for other families who struggle to eat well during the hectic workweek.

Question: Tell me about your family’s weekend “Cooking Extravaganza”. What prompted you to start doing this, and what was the result of doing this for you, your family?

Answer: In our lives, before Abigail, Jason and I would get home from work and exercise each weeknight. Afterwards, we would make dinner together, and we always made enough for leftovers for lunch the next day at work. Both of us are really good “leftover eaters,” which was key for our “Cooking Extravaganza” to work for us.  We both are really interested in eating healthy and whole foods. I wish we ate less meat, and more local… but at this point, I think we are doing well.   After Abigail was born, and before I went back to work, I would prep for dinner while Abigail was napping during the day, be ready for a run as soon as Jason got home, to give them some alone time together, and then cook up dinner after the run.

Once I was back at work though, I didn’t want to lose a second of my dwindling time with Abigail after work by cooking or exercising, and neither would Jason.  Thus we came up with the idea of “Cooking Extravaganza,” and exercising while Abigail sleeps.  It started meekly, with just trying to cook dinner for 2 days, but this experiment quickly turned in to trying to make it so we don’t have to cook all week-long, or at least until Thursday night.

Fresh Veggies

Fresh veggies, on the chopping block

Every weekend that we don’t go out-of-town, and on the lucky ones where we get back in time on Sundays, we do our “Cooking Extravaganza” on Sunday nights.  This usually starts with grocery shopping as a family on Saturday, and then on Sunday afternoon, we pull everything out of the fridge.  We are fairly sexist about it, Jason cooks the meat, and I do the veggies/grains, but it works, and I’m not going to try to liberate it. Normally Jason grills on the charcoal grill: a fish (usually salmon), chicken (like thighs and breast meat), and some pork (chops, tenderloin, etc). But on a rainy or cold, or lazy day, it all goes into the oven/broiler. My job is to make a salad, steam green vegetables: like asparagus/broccoli/kale/green beans, make some potatoes: sweet or russet, a grain: rice or cous cous, pasta, etc.

Sometimes we’ll do a crock-pot meal: soup, chili, pulled pork, etc. Usually there is an all-in-one meal, for instance casserole, chicken pot pie, curry, or burritos. Then we just eat everything we’ve cooked for lunch and dinner for the rest of the week.  We try to pack it individually a bit so that is easier during the week as well. Abigail is getting to the age where she will help me in the kitchen. Last week she ate 10 cherry tomatoes while I was doing salad prep.

Question: Tell me the pros and cons of doing this, in your opinion. Did you feel like it was a huge amount of extra work?

The End Result

Voila – almost a week’s worth of delicious, healthy food

Answer: The pros clearly outweigh the cons here.  Sunday this work takes about an hour of Jason and I both cooking like maniacs, and then we all eat together, put Abigail to bed, and then clean up for 45 minutes. It is definitely more work than we want to do on a Sunday, but it makes the rest of the week so much easier. We heat up food for dinner, and only have to put dinner plates in the washer each night, not scrub pots and pans. We normally make it to Wednesday at least, but usually through lunch on Thursday.

Question: What do you personally do to stay healthy?

Answer: We have reorganized our workout schedule since having Abigail because neither of use want to lose any time with her. I run from 5:30-6:30 am, and Jason works out from 8-9 pm at night.  It is hard, but well worth it for the fun times with our sweet girl that we get every day.

 

The Toussaints truly make the most of their work/family life, including adding in working out to their crazy hectic schedule. It’s one of the things I love about Stephanie, she never complains about not having enough time, or not being able to find the time to do the things that are important to her. She makes it happen. What a great example Jason and Stephanie are setting for their daughter. You can do whatever you set your mind to, you just have to get up and do it!