Southwestern Lentil Chili

I think every foodie has a penchant for something naughty- some low-rent processed salt or sugar bomb that in a weak moment you might put in your grocery cart and then squirrel away under under a big head of romaine lettuce. For me, this guilty pleasure is Hormel Chili.

Oh gelatinous canned meat ambrosia! When I was a kid I’d have Hormel Chili slathered over Japanese white rice with onions, cheddar cheese, and saltine crackers crunched on top.

Stop judging me. It’s heaven, you don’t even know.

Then, in 1994 Hormel chili and I were separated by good sense when the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act went into effect and my mom, aghast, went through our canned goods. There were many casualties in my childhood staples that fateful day (I miss you, too, Sapporo Ichiban!), but none stung my parents and I more than Hormel Chili. We switched to Hormel’s 97% Fat Free Turkey Chili. My father and I whined about it for five years.

Nowadays I scratch my chili itch by making Southwestern Lentil Chili (I know. More lentils. It’s like I want you to have gas). This stew is so darn packed with veggies and protein, and so darn filling! And it’s thick- you can stick a spoon straight up in it. This makes a big pot and then I portion it out and freeze it when I need a quick lunch or dinner. I used turkey sausage, but you could use any kind of seasoned ground meat.

Makes 10 Huge Hearty Servings- Serving Size: 2 Cup!

  • 1 Large Onion
  • 4 Medium Carrots- Diced
  • 2 Stalks Celery, Diced
  • 1 Large Red Bell Pepper, Diced
  • 2 Russet Potatoes, Peeled and Diced
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3 Pasilla Chiles, Roasted, skinned, and diced or a 12 Oz Can of Ortega Chiles
  • 1 Lb Lentils, picked-over and rinsed
  • 1 TBsp Olive Oil
  • 60 Oz. Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Lb Hot Turkey Sausage, cooked through
  • 15 Oz. Tomato Sauce
  • 6 oz Tomato Paste
  • 3 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Cayenne Pepper (optional)
  • Hot Sauce (optional)
  • Cilantro for garnish.

1.) Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion. Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes, then add celery and carrots. Saute for another 2-5 minutes longer.

2.) Add the potatoes, red bell pepper, garlic, lentils, chicken or vegetable broth, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Stir to combine.

3.) Add the seasoning: Chili Powder, Cumin, Bay leaf, salt, and pepper and let simmer gently uncovered until lentils are cooked through- about 45 minutes to an hour. Keep stirring occasionally to keep lentils from burning on the bottom.

4.) Add the cooked turkey sausage (or any cooked meat) to the cooked chili, stir to incorpoate. Now’s the time to turn up the heat if you want to. Add cayenne pepper a little at a time until you have the kick you want, or just garnish with your hot sauce and some cilantro. Done!

For a big serving of 2 Cups:

Calories: 275  – Fat : 3 grams –  Carbs: 48 grams – Fiber:19 grams – Protein: 30 grams

Minty Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese

The world's leading lentil producer? Canada. Yeah, Canada.

The world’s leading lentil producer? Canada. Yeah, Canada.

The first time I had lentils was in college when a good friend of mine, Bonnie, made them while we were vacationing on a shoestring. She made an amazing soup and I was hooked. They’re tasty, cheap, filling, and good for you. Full of protein and fiber with zero fat. A no-brainer, right?

But, as I found when I gorged myself on several bowls of my own lentil stew, there are consequences to lentil love. Once you eat them the lentils and all their fiber put up a fight. And folks, things can get gassy. Really gassy (Though I maintain that nothing tops the amount of methane produced from eating two FiberOne bars in one day).

But eat lentils anyway- it’s a good life decision! Strategies I’ve incorporated into my lentil consumption include:

  • 1. Eating them for lunch only so by the time I’m paying the consequences I’m by myself with nobody to offend.
  • 2. Eating them and chasing them with probiotic yogurt.
  • 3. Eating them and standing downwind.

The first step in all of these is eating them, and for that you could try this minty lentil salad.

For the Dressing:

  • 1 TBsp Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 TBsp Vinegar (I like cider or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

For the Salad:

  • 1 package pre-cooked lentils (Or cook 1 Cup of dry lentils from scratch)
  • 1/2 C fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 C parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 C raw spinach (It wilts into the salad)
  • 1 C cherry tomatoes
  • 2 oz goat cheese, very cold and crumbled
  • 1/2 C pitted olives, chopped (optional)

1.)  Separate the pre-cooked lentils  (they tend to be vacuum-packed into a big clump, crumble them so they’re all separated). Add the olives, mint, parsley, tomatoes, and spinach.

2.)  For the dressing, whisk the wine vinegar with the shallot and garlic. Add the sugar, salt, and pepper, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

3.)  Toss the dressing into the salad and mix well. Add the crumbled goat cheese on top (but don’t toss in- it makes the salad look milky and weird) and refrigerate for an hour. Try adding red pepper flakes and siracha and making it spicy! Serves 4

Calories: 135  – Fat : 9 grams –  Carbs: 10 grams – Fiber: 4.3 grams – Protein: 7.5 grams

Bison. It’s a Lean Meat.

Delicious lean Bison NY Strip Steaks, With Parsely for a Prettier Picture

I am not a vegetarian. Aside from a brief one month stint I spent as a vegan (on a dare, of course), I have no intention of giving up meat. And even though I’m trying to shed the pounds, red meat is not a luxury that I’m going to give up any time soon.

Enter expensive Bison, the other red meat.

Lordy, this leaner meat is so tasty, the best thing I can do is to stay out of its way. Bison/Buffalo tastes very similar to beef, but pound for pound it has less fat than chicken. I used strip steaks instead of rib eyes to keep the fat content even lower. These are great on the grill, but I ran out of propane so I threw them on the pan. As this is a leaner cut of meat, I sweat these steaks so that every little bit is seasoned. This works for beef as well.  Continue reading

Veggie Egg White Omelets and Breakfast Stratege-ery

I recognize that a recipe for an egg white omelet is kind of lame. Almost everybody knows how to make an omelet, but it’s my first posted recipe. I’m on training wheels :).

Start your morning right, and set yourself up for a week of sauteed veggies!

Egg white omelets are a filling way to start and end the day. I saute a big batch of veggies and only use 1/4 for my single omelet. The rest of the sautéed vegetables I save for easy omelets later in the  week, or even salads, sandwiches, or an easy side-dish. Just about any mix of veggies will do, just try to cut them all in a similar shape/size so they cook in the same time.

  • 4 Cups sliced veggies. (I used red onion, carrot, and bell pepper)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh herbs. (I used cilantro)
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 Tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 oz Reduced fat Cheese, grated (I used a cheddar/jack combo)
  • pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Olive oil cooking spray

1.) Slice up your veggies and set them aside in a bowl. Toss with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Use your hands to massage the oil and salt into the veggie mixture. This seasons every little slice, helps pull out water more quickly from the vegetables, and stretches the relatively small amount oil. The result: quicker cooking and a more luscious ‘mouth feel’.

2.) Heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Add the coated veggies and saute just until tender. Throw the fresh herbs in and then return sautéed vegetables back to the bowl. Carefully wipe down the pan and put back on medium heat. Coat with olive oil cooking spray.

3.) When pan is hot, add egg whites. When egg whites are almost cooked-through, add cheese and 1/4 the sautéed veggie mixture to one side of the pan. Flip egg whites over top to create the typical omelet semicircle shape. Sprinkle salt to taste. Serve on a warm plate with Tapatio!

Serves 1