Monday, January 24, 2011

Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Style Beef

Eat. Live. Be. for a Better 2011 Challenge Week 3

This week the group is talking about their biggest challenge to living a healthier lifestyle.  I really thought about it and I think that planning and prioritizing (or lack thereof) are my biggest challenges.  Planning healthy meals and actually having everything on hand to make what I plan is key.  I don't know how many times I have been missing one ingredient from five potential meals!  Straying from a healthy meal plan can be dangerous since my fall back tends to be pizza or pasta.  Planning is also extremely important in my goal not to waste.  I still struggle with overbuying produce!  There is something about a bunch of beets or a big bell pepper that I find irresistible - okay I'm weird ;)    I also have to keep in mind that I am cooking for two, not four when the girls are at school. 

I have been trying hard to stay on track.  I have made it a habit to pack a healthy breakfast to eat at the office every day.  The few extra minutes are well worth it since I feel better and tend not to eat as much the rest of the day.  This morning I had yogurt with fresh blueberries and a sprinkle of maple granola - so good.  I also have made it a point to not deprive myself when I really want something.  When I had a craving for nachos, I had them.  I just made sure that my plate was filled with plenty of lettuce, avocado and salsa.  I added shredded beef, cheddar cheese, and some crushed tortilla chips.  It was so delicious and satisfying!  No more craving and not too much guilt.  When I crave chocolate, I have a square of Trader Joe's dark chocolate with Valencia peanuts - delicious.  

A healthy lifestyle takes some planning and requires making some time for yourself.  The time that you give yourself to exercise or make a healthy meal will be rewarded.  Have a wonderful week! 

I want to share the recipe that I used for my nachos which would be great for upcoming Super Bowl parties.  I used 2 lbs of rump roast which was really lean since it was grass-fed beef (from Simply Grazin').  Yes, I spent $12.50 on meat for tacos/nachos!  I hardly ever buy beef, so when I do, I buy really good quality.  The meat goes a long way too so actually it is a good value. 

Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Style Beef
Courtesy:   Cooking Light

2 lb. london broil or lean beef roast (trimmed of fat)
taco seasoning - homemade or from a packet
1 (4.5 oz) can chopped green chiles
1 chopped onion
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Spray the inside of the slow cooker with vegetable oil spray.  Coat the trimmed beef with taco seasoning.  Place in slow cooker.  Top with chopped green chilis, chopped onion and white vinegar.  Cook on low for 8-9 hours.  Shred with two forks. 

Perfect lean, tasty shredded beef for tacos, burritos, nachos, etc.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Baby It's Cold Outside

The weeks have just been flying by since Christmas!  I blink and it is another Monday!  My daughter Ashley is heading back to Swarthmore today to begin her second semester of Sophomore year.  I loved having my girls home for such a long break - Cailyn will be home for a few more days but back to school they must go... 

Eat. Live. Be. for a Better 2011 Challenge Week 3

How do I stay motivated to keep up healthy habits when the weather is so cold? 

  • Healthy Recipes using pantry staples and winter produce
  • Exercise Indoors
  • Countdown to spring 
  • Good support system
Winter food doesn't necessarily have to be unhealthy.  Think dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, collard greens, escarole and Swiss chard.  They are so good for you and readily available during the winter months.  They are fabulous in soups and stews which are perfect when the weather is frigid.   I used the tip I gave last week to find this fabulous and super easy recipe from  I searched under "soups and stews", selected winter as the season, checked "healthy" and "staff favorite".  The search resulted in 13 great sounding recipes.  I selected the Quick White Bean Stew with Swiss Chard and Tomatoes by Joe Bastianich.  The fact that it's quick and vegetarian (not to mention positively delicious) make this a keeper that I can't wait to make again.  Canned beans and tomatoes make it the perfect pantry meal.  In the spirit of using what was in the pantry I used Great Northern beans instead of Cannelini.  All I needed was the chard.  I served it with some toasted Ciabatta rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil - so good!  My whole family loved it - no leftovers!   If you don't like meatless meals a few shrimp or some Italian chicken sausage would make a nice addition.

I just bought a Mobia by Nautilus exercise machine.  It is a cross between a treadmill, an incline, and stair stepper.  I try to walk daily or at least several times a week at the boardwalk or the local reservoir but the weather has officially done me in!  Three feet of snow and freezing cold weather has kept me indoors.  Well the cash outlay will keep me motivated so I will definitely be using the machine.  I really like it so far.  I watched cooking shows while on it this morning.  Is that wrong?!   

Countdown to spring!  Scroll all the way down to the bottom of my page to see my new widget and see how many days until spring. 

Lastly a good support system helps to keep you on track!  Thank you all! 

Quick White Bean Stew with Swiss Chard and Tomatoes
Courtesy:  Joe Bastianich


2 pounds Swiss chard, large stems discarded and leaves cut crosswise into 2-inch strips
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup canned tomatoes, chopped
One 16-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed


1.Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the chard and simmer over moderate heat until tender, 8 minutes. Drain the greens and gently press out excess water.

2.In the saucepan, heat the oil. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is golden, 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the beans and simmer over moderately high heat for 3 minutes. Add the chard and simmer over moderate heat until the flavors meld, 5 minutes. Season the stew with salt and serve

Monday, January 10, 2011

Eat. Live. Be. for a Better 2011 - Challenge Week 2

Eat. Live. Be. for a Better 2011 - Challenge Week 2 Topic:  Where do you turn for support/community in your healthy goals?

WOW a week has gone by already and here it is week 2 of of the challenge!  Last week was very busy as it was back to work after two weeks of vacation!  I did manage to start my organizing and used a lot of what I had in the house supplementing with only a quick run for fresh vegetables - no waste!   I have been pondering this week's challenge topic and have identified the following sources of support for my healthy goals:

  • Bloggers like you!  Thank you so much for the comments, emails and general support!  You are the best!
  • Magazines - I am kind of addicted!  Real Simple, Food & Wine, Cooking Light, Everyday Food, Edible Jersey, Whole Living body + soul, Bon Appetit, NJ Monthly... and I love food magazine websites with great search engines... One of my favorites is  I search "healthy" and "staff favorite" - you can't go wrong!  Cooking Light, Everyday Food and Epicurious have great searchable websites as well. 
  • Perusing healthy cookbooks keeps me on track too.  One I recommend is Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
  • Mark Bittman - I find his words very inspiring and I love his sensible approach to healthy eating.
  • Family - my family is really supportive of my healthy lifestyle changes.  Thank you Matt, Ashley & Cailyn!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Eat. Live. Be. for a Better 2011 - Challenge Week 1

Sarah of and Cate of came up with the  idea of Eat. Live. Be. for a Better 2011 in which they will be competing to be the first to achieve a 40 pound weight loss.  Go Sarah and Cate!  They have invited fellow bloggers to join in with posts each Monday related to a certain goal related topic to keep everyone on track and motivated with their New Year's resolutions.  (The participating bloggers are listed at the bottom of the post.)

What are my goals? 

1)  Not to Waste Food - Yes, I am guilty of wasting food too often and it drives me crazy.  I have a tendency to go crazy at farmers markets and then stress about trying to use everything while it is still fresh.  I also apparently hoard DeCecco pasta, different types of vinegar and marinara sauce - although I make my own 99% of the time (marinara sauce that is, not vinegar)!  Expensive ingredients only needed for one recipe are also problematic.

My grandparents never wasted anything, not one string bean or pea.  Their garbage can was the tiniest one I had ever seen, unlike the monstrosity that is picked up with a fork lift-like arm from in front of my house each week.  I recycle what I can and really try not to waste but... well... I will work on it...

2)  Get Organized - which will help me with the first goal - take a look at my pantry - scary!  Anyone have any advice on this one?  It is kind of organized chaos and I know where to find things most of the time!... yes I need to work on it!  Oh, and I have a cabinet filled with canned goods too!  I will get the pantry organized and continue on to the other problem areas!

3)  Don't buy anything with more than five ingredients in it - words of wisdom from the great Mark Bittman -  "In a store, there are very few foods that have more than five ingredients that aren't junk food."    I already avoid buying junk food but will religiously stick to Mark Bittman's advice in 2011!  I won't buy anything with high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, MSG, artificial colors, hormones, antibiotics - ick!!!

In addition to these goals I plan on continuing changes that I have made in the past year(s):
  • Buy organic and local foods
  • Never eat fast food
  • Eat vegetarian meals at least twice a week
  • Limit wine, cheese and chocolate :(
Please feel free to join in next Monday!  Topic #2 :   Where is your support community? - Where do you turn for support/community in your healthy goals?  Share online support centers/ real life, etc. 

Please check out the following lovely blogs to see the other participant's New Year challenges. I am excited to see the other posts!

Sarah Caron -
Cate O’Malley -
Maris Callahan -
Chris Arpante -
Faith -
Kristen -
Emily -
Jenna - FireMom -
Joanne -
Casey  -
Patsy -
Tri-Fit Mom -
Claire from Cooking is Medicine
Allison from

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 - New Jersey Organic Farms

2010 was the year that I completely gave up buying conventional supermarket meats and eggs.  All of the farms that I purchase meats from are organic or use organic farming methods and treat the animals humanely.    The best meals begin with fresh, quality ingredients.  Once you make the switch to farm fresh you just can't go back - trust me!  We are lucky to have some really wonderful farms in New Jersey and I keep discovering more all the time!
Merrick Farm      Organic farm, grass-fed beef, CSA     Farmingdale, NJ (Monmouth County)
Griggstown Farm Market,    Poultry, eggs, pies, CSA   Somerset County, NJ
Podere di Melo,    European Style chickens,duck, pastured pork   Lambertville, NJ    Hunterdon County
Simply Grazin    Skillman, NJ  (Somerset County) (meat is available to non- members at Whole Foods stores in NJ, CT, NY)
Cherry Grove Farm,     grass-fed beef,pork, sausage, cheeses and eggs      Lawrenceville, NJ  (Mercer County)
Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse     Artisanal cheeses, breads, grass-fed beef     Milford, NJ  (Humterdon County)

CSA Box from Earthen Harvest, Jackson, NJ  (Ocean County)
2010 was also the year that I joined a CSA for the first time and enjoyed fresh organic vegetables for the entire growing season.  I miss my weekly boxes but recently discovered Suburban Organics which delivers fresh organic produce all year long.  I was very happy with the box that I received and will be ordering again!  
Suburban Organics Small Fruit and Vegetable Box

With all of the snowy weather we've had, I have been craving some nice warm cookies with a cup of tea.  I was inspired to make Snickerdoodles when I saw the recipe listed in's top 10 recipes of 2010 list.  Pretty darn good!    Oh, and the snow total in my town was 36" - quite a bit more than the "over 20" that I guestimated! 

Happy New Year!!!  May everyone have a happy, healthy, prosperous and delicious 2011!