Crock Pot Beef With Cabbage And Carrots

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Once upon the time there was a beautiful queen (wife) who needed to make sure her townspeople (husband) had enough food to get them through the cold winter (lunch for work). All that were left of the live stock were some skinny old cows (only thing thawed was a round steak), but she was wary of her usual preparations. So she went down to the castle’s larder (opened the fridge) and saw a cabbage and some carrots patiently waiting to be used. The following parchment lays out what her clever mind created  (This is all I could come up with). The peasants rejoiced at the ingenuity of their queen (My husband was pleased).

All fanciful attempts at storytelling aside, this is a simple slow cooker meal. It was also pretty tasty. The contrast with the cabbage brought out the sweetness of the carrots. And my husband always loves “something different”.

Crock Pot Beef with Cabbage and Carrots

1 ½ -2 lbs round steak
1 medium  cabbage
8 carrots
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the cabbage in half and remove the hard heart. Slice it into 1/2 inch ribbons. Cut the carrots in half and then slice lengthwise so you end up with thin sticks. Add your meat, vegetables, seasoning and water to your slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours. Distribute to your peasants…. err, I mean, enjoy for lunch the next day!

 

 

Autumnal Chicken Salad

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Happy Belated Autumnal Equinox! Yesterday I had some leftover chicken that I had to make into today’s lunches. I love a good chicken salad, and decided to make a fall themed one. And autumnal is just fun to say.The Michigan apple season is in full swing so those had to go in, and we have dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Add in a touch of maple and you have some great fall flavors. Some may consider chicken salad more of a summer style dish, but I’ve often wished it was more of a year-round food. Here’s to stretching out our enjoyment of it!

Don’t worry about exact measurements, the proportions are approximate.

Autumnal Chicken Salad

2 1/2 cup diced cooked chicken
2 small apples (or 1 large) diced
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
1-2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1-2 Tbs maple syrup
pinch salt

In a large bowl combine your chicken, apples, celery, pumpkin seeds, and cranberries. In a small bowl mix together the mayonnaise, ginger (if using), salt and 1 tablespoon each of the vinegar and maple syrup. Taste the dressing. If you want it sweeter add more syrup, but if you think it needs more tang add more vinegar. Once the dressing is to your liking add it to your large bowl and toss until it coats your salad. You could serve this on its own, on a bed of lettuce, or as a sandwich filling. Ooh, you could use roasted sweet potato or squash rounds as a bread replacement! I’m going to have to try that next time. Enjoy!

 

 

Why Quit Pop And Alternatives

why quit pop

Pretty much everyone knows soda pop is bad for us; however many still drink it. Knowing something isn’t good for us isn’t always motivating enough to quit doing it, especially when its something as addictive as pop. Specific facts about what it does to our bodies can help us to make the commitment to quit.

Soda leads to obesity. There are 11 tablespoons of sugar in just one 12 oz can. Our bodies can’t burn off that much sugar all at once, so it stores it as fat. One can of pop a day can equal an additional 15 pounds a year. Want to lose weight? Skip the soda.

Pop erodes our teeth and our bones. The acidic content of soda removes minerals from our enamel leaving us prone to cavities and other dental problems. The high phosphorus content depletes our bodies of calcium, weakening bones. Harvard did a study of female teenage athletes and found that girls who drank soda were five times more likely to get bone fractures than those who did not.

A study from 2007 showed people who drink soda have a 40% higher likelihood of having metabolic syndrome. This was true even of those who drink diet pop. Someone with metabolic syndrome has three of the following symptoms including high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, high fasting blood sugar, and extra abdominal fat. People with these symptoms have a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. 

Those who drink soda have a higher cancer risk thanks to the carcinogenic chemical benzene. 5.5 parts per billion (ppb) is the federal limit of benzene in drinking water. Levels as high as 79 ppb have been found in soft drinks.

Pop is full of nasty chemicals. The preservative sodium benzoate has been shown to damage DNA. Another preservative, polyethylene glycol, is used as an oil solvent and anti-freeze in cars. The chemical dyes can cause cancer as well as many other problems.

So, if diet pop is not a good alternative what is? Iced tea can be a good choice. You can start with it sweetened and then slowly lower the amount of sugar you use as you get used to the taste. When I want to experience the tickle of the bubbles I mix a small amount of juice in with soda water. There are also many flavored sparkling waters on the market. Plain water is also a healthy and convenient choice.

Whether you call it soda, pop, or cola, our beverage choice can have a big impact on our health. If you’ve tried quiting cold turkey before and ended up going back to it, don’t give up hope. Read my post here on taking baby steps to a healthier lifestyle. I’m rooting for you!

Snowball Your Way to Healthy Living

snowballIf you are here you probably already want to start living healthier. There are so many different aspects that it can become overwhelming; avoid this, do that, don’t forget to watch out for the other thing. Because of that its easy to give up before you start, deciding that it’s just too hard.  When that temptation hits, try this method.

The popular financial guru Dave Ramsey has the snowball plan for debts. You pay off the smallest first and then use that momentum to move your way up the list.  We could also apply this method to changing our lifestyle.  Instead of trying to fix everything at once, pick one small thing and set short term goals.  For example, if you need to stop drinking soda pop you could start by saying that today you will replace one coke with, say, sparkling water. Or if you want to be more active take the stairs or walk in place for one set of commercials. The point is making it easily achievable.

You can then use this accomplishment to combat any negative thoughts.  So tomorrow if you are feeling down on yourself and about to enter that paralyzing cycle of self-recrimination, remind yourself that you can get, and already are, healthier. Use that momentum to keep reaching that goal. It will eventually become second nature.  When that happens set another small goal on the same topic. Back to the pop example, you could replace another coke a day with a healthy alternative.  Keep repeating this process and you will have quit drinking pop.

There is just so much information out there on what is hurting your health it is easy to get lost in it. Especially since people have differing opinions. Because of this its hard to translate that into your daily life. Starting small and staying strong will make it possible.

 

 

 

Basic Slow Cooker Beef Stew

The weather is starting cooling down, and its making me excited for Fall. Brightly colored leaves, cozy old sweaters, and fresh apples here we come. The chill in the air means its time to pull out the soup and stew recipes again. This beef stew is a classic standby.  I takes little prep time but is very satisfying. Throw it in crock pot in the morning and dinner is ready when you need it.

Basic Beef Stew

2 lbs stew meat, or cheap cut of steak cut into cubes
5 carrots
3 stalks celery
1 small onion
1 pound potatoes
any other vegetables desired, ex: peas, zucchini, green beans,mushrooms
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs sea salt (more or less to taste)
1 tsp pepper (more or less to taste)
5 cups beef stock, vegetable broth, or water

 

Chop vegetables. Place meat, vegetables, spices and liquid in crock pot or slow cooker. Cook on low for 7-9 hours or on high for 5-6. Meat may be tougher if cooked on high. Makes 6-8 servings of hearty classic beef stew.