Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Why I Love Slow Cookers

Slow cooker meatloaf    -- photos by Maria Q

I am not a good cook by any means but the the slow cooker has been great at helping me trick people into thinking that I know what I am doing in the kitchen. So far I have made stews, chili, soup and meat loaf. Of course there is a learning curve and some trial and error, but overall everything has been delicious and easy. Basically you just need to follow the recipe, plug in the slow cooker and select the time/heat setting.

Another thing I really love about slow cooking is that you cook and eat the food in it's own juices. This means that you get to consume all of the nutrients of the broth. Many people don't realize that boiling veggies isn't as nutritious as slow cooking them since boiling since removes the vitamins and minerals.

Here is an easy meatloaf recipe I found in Chrissy Gower's cookbook.

You will need the following ingredients:

-1/2 head of cauliflower
-1 garlic clove
-1/4 yellow onion
-1 pound of grass-feed ground beef
-1 egg
-1/2 of fire roasted salsa (I used regular salsa and it was fine)
-1 small can of Ortega fired roasted diced green chiles (I couldn't find these so I used regular diced chilis)
-1/2 cup of Ammin Nut Almond Flour (I used the same amount of brown rice flour)
2 1/2 tsps of chili powder
3/4 tsp of cumin
3/4 tsp of oregano
1/4 tsp of basil
5 tablespoons of organic tomato paste
salt & pepper to taste (I used none)

Step one

1. Using a food processor, finely chop the cauliflower, garlic and onion.

2. Combine the ground beef, salsa, chilis and egg in a large bowl.

3. Add the garlic, onion and cauliflower mix to the beef mixture

4. Next add the flour and spices. Use your hands to kneed it all together

5. Evenly spread the mixture in the slow cooker and top with the tomato paste spread

Step 5 before adding the tomato paste
6. Cover and cook for 4 hours on high or until the internal temp of the meatloaf has reached 160ºF
Salt and pepper to taste.

**I found that the meatloaf needed just a bit longer to cook and that replacing Ammin Nut flour with brown rice flour worked fine. This dish is delicious. I served it with a big colorful salad. This recipe makes about 4-6 servings. Prep time was about 15 minutes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

©maria quiroga 2012
It's a new year and it seems like everyone is making resolutions for 2013. We all have good intentions but sometimes our resolutions are just too difficult or unrealistic. This year why not make a couple more reasonable resolutions. Here are a few suggestions.

- Rest more. Try to go to bed 30 minutes earlier every night. A little more sleep can go a long way!

-Drink more water. Just because it's not hot out doesn't mean you don't need to stay hydrated. In fact many offices and homes are quite dry from radiators blasting.

-Cut down on caffeine. Replace that second cup of coffee with a cup of decaf or herbal tea.

-Clean out your fridge and pantry and get rid of processed snacks/foods. Buy and eat more fruits and vegetables. Stock up on healthy snacks like nuts.

-Cook more! Foods prepared at home are much healthier than the majority of restaurants out there. Improve your health and waistline by eating out less.

-Move! Take the stairs over the elevator. Shovel the sidewalk. Take the dog for a longer walk. A little extra here and there adds up quick!

Every January I ask my clients to make two resolutions that will improve their quality of life. Small lasting changes can make a big difference.

Happy 2013! Let's make it the best year yet!