February 2017

Slow Cooker Chili and Buckwheat Cornbread

Slow Cooker Chili and Buckwheat Cornbread

Even though we had a gorgeous 70°F day last week, today’s brisk temperatures and biting wind are reminding us that winter isn’t quite over yet.  This next week’s forecast shows temperatures hitting 70°F again one day and snow only two days later.  So while Winter and Spring battle it out, here is a winter menu to warm you up on the cold, blustery days like today. 

 

One of my favorite wintertime comfort foods is a hot bowl of hearty chili with a chunk of cornbread on the side.  Mmmm…..

 

I also love using the slow cooker any time of the year because it shifts the dinner prep time from evening to morning and generally takes the edge off of dinnertime.  That way I can relax a bit more and enjoy the kids when they get home from school instead of having to get started on chopping and cooking soon after they get off the bus. 

 

So it’s no surprise that my favorite chili recipe to make is a slow cooker chili recipe!  (Keep on scrolling for the recipe.)

 

I’ve tried several variations of a cornbread recipe to go with the chili and have landed on a Buckwheat Cornbread recipe that is gluten-free but still moist and with a hint of sweetness that all good cornbread should have.  AND it contains buckwheat, which is one of the more amazing foods that I have stumbled upon over the past few years. 

 

Despite what the name suggests, buckwheat does not contain gluten and is not related to wheat at all.  Buckwheat is in the same family as rhubarb and sorrel and the part we eat is actually the seed of the plant. You get buckwheat flour when you remove the hull and grind the seed. 

 

[Here’s a shopping tip: if possible, try to find “light” buckwheat flour when purchasing at the store because the “whole” buckwheat flour is made by grinding the buckwheat hull in with the flour, which adds a darker color similar to wheat flour but virtually no nutrients.  In effect, this dilutes the benefits of the buckwheat flour and you get less for your money.]

 

The list of benefits from buckwheat is seemingly endless.  When I pulled my various food reference books off the shelf to research the health benefits of buckwheat, I was amazed to read the long list of vitamins and minerals that are contained in buckwheat.  I knew that it was a healthy food but didn’t realize just how much it could be helping our bodies!  Read on to see what I’m talking about…

 

In addition to the benefit of being gluten-free, buckwheat is the best known grain source of high-quality protein, contains many essential amino acids, and is rich in iron, zinc (essential for maintaining a healthy immune system), copper (helps you get more restful sleep), selenium (an antioxidant that can help protect the lungs from free radicals and prevent asthma AND helps to alleviate feelings of depression), and magnesium (a mineral needed for proper energy metabolism).

 

Buckwheat contains two important flavonoids – quercetin and rutin – that have been shown to block the spread of cancer.  And the rutin also helps to prevent heart disease and is great for our overall cardiovascular health because it keeps our blood flowing properly and unobstructed.  And since buckwheat also contains vitamin E, the effects of these flavonoids are enhanced. 

 

Buckwheat reduces levels of damaging LDL cholesterol and lowers blood pressure

 

Buckwheat also helps to control diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels.  The carbohydrates in buckwheat are digested more slowly than other forms of carbohydrates, which causes blood sugar levels to rise more evenly.  This also leaves you feeling full longer, making it easier to eat less and control your weight

 

So, what’s not to love?  Check out the recipe below and try a little buckwheat love in your diet today!

 

 

Slow Cooker Chili
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound ground meat (beef, venison, or turkey)
  2. 1 onion, chopped
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  5. 1 cup celery, chopped
  6. 2 cups dried kidney beans, soaked overnight and cooked (or 4 cups canned)
  7. 4 cups tomatoes, chopped
  8. 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  9. ½ Tablespoon honey
  10. ½ Tablespoon molasses
  11. 1 teaspoon salt
  12. 1 cup corn (frozen or canned is fine)
  13. 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  14. (optional variations to add heat: 1 minced fresh jalapeno pepper, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon hot sauce)
Instructions
  1. Brown meat in a pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, pepper, and celery and sauté for about 5 minutes. Place everything in a slow cooker.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker and cook on high for 30 minutes and then on low for 8 hours. Serve with buckwheat cornbread.
Adapted from Simply in Season cookbook
Adapted from Simply in Season cookbook
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/
Buckwheat Cornbread
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups cornmeal
  2. 2 cups buckwheat flour
  3. 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  4. 2 teaspoons salt
  5. 4 eggs
  6. 1 cup coconut oil (melted) or applesauce
  7. 1 1/3 cup milk
  8. ¾ cup honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 9x13” pan with butter or coconut oil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, buckwheat flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil or applesauce, milk, and honey.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until no dry spots appear (batter will be thin).
  5. Pour into prepared 9x13" pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
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Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy [Homemade] Valentine’s Day <3

If you are a last minute holiday gift-giver like myself, you might still be looking for some ideas for the big V-Day tomorrow.  Of course, I’m not talking about running out to the store to buy a card and some chocolates (although those are nice, too).  And I’m not really a jewelry sort of person. 

 

I’m talking about whipping something up with what you might already have in your refrigerator and making a homemade card from your crafting supplies. 

 

Because it doesn’t (have to) take much to show our love to those who really matter.  And love is all we need to celebrate Valentine’s Day together. 

 

So, if you’d like a few quick ideas that won’t take much time or money, I’d like to share what we have planned for Valentine’s Day this year. 

 

The boys and I prepped a yummy, healthy (and all pink!) breakfast for tomorrow morning. 

 

homemade Valentine's Day breakfast

 

 

We will probably serve some eggs on the side to make it a heartier meal.  This could also be served as a Valentine’s Day snack at any time of the day. 

 

(We got the idea from an issue of High Five magazine.  The recipes are at the end of the post….)

 

We also make homemade Valentines every year for classmates, grandparents, and other special people in our lives. 

 

I usually Google some fun ideas and this year I found three fun animal quotes and decided to print out pictures and have the kids cut them out and glue them on heart-shaped cards (which they also traced and cut out) and then write the quotes on the cards.  Here’s what they looked like:

 

homemade Valentine's Day cards - toad, bee, fish

 

 

Joe and I also make homemade Valentines for the kids each year.  We always include a few simple coupons that take hardly any time to make and are easy to follow through on but mean so much to the boys. 

 

We actually haven’t finished ours yet for this year but here is an example of one of the coupons that was leftover from last year:

 

homemade Valentine's Day coupon for kids

 

 

Some other coupon ideas are:

Get out of one chore free

Schedule a date night with Mommy or Daddy

Choose an extra book to read at bedtime

 

Whatever you choose to do, I hope that you give and receive LOVE tomorrow!  <3

 

Valentine's Day Heart Snacks
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Ingredients
  1. heart-shaped cookie cutter
  2. whole wheat bread
  3. spreadable cream cheese
  4. strawberry or raspberry jelly
  5. sliced ham
Instructions
  1. Use a cookie cutter to cut heart-shaped pieces out of the bread. If desired, toast the hearts.
  2. Spread cream cheese on each heart.
  3. Top with either jelly or a slice of heart-shaped ham (also cut with the cookie cutter).
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/
Valentine's Day Berry Smoothie
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup yogurt
  2. 2 cups milk
  3. 2 frozen bananas
  4. 2 cups frozen raspberries
  5. 2 cups frozen strawberries
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender. Pulse a few times. Blend on high for one minute, or until frozen fruit is all incorporated and smoothie is smooth 😉
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/