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Food For Life

Fri, Jan 11th, 2013
Posted in All Columnists

Inner warmth

Winter has hit us hard, and I feel cold wherever I go. Right now as I type, my hands are cold. When I get home and it’s dark out, I am done for the day. Hibernation mode has kicked in, and I want to do nothing but sit under a blanket and watch movies until spring arrives.

The one thing I like about this time of year is the urge to cook warm and comforting food. I am in the mood to have the oven running and baking cookies and muffins (but mostly cookies), with the help of my daughter, making delicious casseroles, soup, or chili to give me that feeling of inner warmth.

It’s also the time of year that I am disgusted with myself for sliding back into horrible eating habits over the last couple of months. It’s pretty sad that every one of us has that same experience year after year. Right now I need to eat more veggies, and I need to cut back on the fat and sugar.

Eating soup or chili is a perfect way to get more vegetables in a way that is warm and comforting, as well as packed with nutrition. It is also easy and fairly inexpensive to make homemade, and so much more delicious. Once I stopped eating canned foods and started making my own, I could never go back.

Another benefit to making a big batch of chili is leftovers. If you make enough, it can be easily frozen and eaten later. At my house, it becomes my lunch for the next several days, which is fine with me.

This chili is my own variation of a recipe I found online. I usually adapt recipes to fit what ingredients I have or my own personal preferences. I love this about cooking; I can experiment and make it my own, and each time it can be different. I also love cooking for other people, as it’s nice to have people appreciate the work I put into it. The other night my kids had company over, and I was in the mood to cook something great, but the kids wanted macaroni and cheese. They were really excited about it, but I was disappointed. So instead of putting my energy into the meal, I made them a great dessert, a pumpkin gingerbread with spiced butter cream frosting, all from scratch, and all crazy delicious. It didn’t last long.

This column is essentially about eating healthy, so I won’t share that recipe here. But this chili is sure to warm your insides and your soul as we battle the Minnesota cold and snow and the not-so-great things we put in our bodies over the holidays.

Delicious Chili

1 Tbsp oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 bell peppers, chopped

1 sweet onion, chopped

1-2 carrots, chopped

1 Tbsp cumin

2 Tbsp chili powder

Pinch of salt

1 can each black beans and kidney beans

1 can diced tomatoes with juice

2 tsp oregano

1 small can mushrooms, drained

1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2-1 cup water

In a large pot, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add garlic, peppers, onion, carrot and sauté until everything is soft, approximately five minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover, and cook for about 30-40 minutes on low to medium heat.

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