Traci’s Test Kitchen: Bob’s Chili Recipe

ChiliWatching the movie Ratatouille with my family inspired my 13-year-old to want to do some cooking. I enjoy cooking for my family, even trying new recipes, but doing this task with my son was a true treat!

AJ’s first task was to choose a recipe. I was open to just about anything and he is willing to eat just about anything so the options were endless. He ventured into the notebook titled, “Traci’s Favorites”. This notebook was a craft created at a MOPs event at least five years ago. Please don’t let the title fool you. Although this notebook does contain many of my favorite recipes it also contains many recipes that I have yet to attempt.

The recipe selection: Bob’s Chili Recipe (from the notebook) and Cornbread (from the Original Betty Crocker Cookbook).

Chili2I’m not actually sure why I have never made Bob’s Chili. Years ago (not sure how many) I was trained and then facilitated health and weight-loss classes through a program called Trinity Health. The founders of Trinity Health are Bob and Vicki and this recipe is Bob’s. So, this is not only a good-tasting chili recipe, but it is also a good-for-you recipe! Win-win!

The recipe was simple to follow. Check.

The recipe did not involve any crazy or hard-to-find ingredients. Check.

There was plenty of chili for leftovers. Check.

Everyone in the family liked the chili. Priceless.

Bob’s Chili Recipe

Ingredients (ingredients we used, if different, are placed in parenthesis)

2 lbs. lean ground beef or ground turkey (beef)

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic

1 green pepper, chopped (red pepper)

3 stalks celery, sliced

2 cans (15-16 oz each) whole tomatoes, cut into pieces (petite diced tomatoes)

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

1 Tbsp salt

1 tsp Splenda (Stevia)

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tsp red pepper sauce (Tapatio Salsa Picante)

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 small can diced green chilis, or 3-4 whole roasted green chilis, peeled and diced (canned)

1 can black beans

1 can rd beans

Directions

Chili3Cook and stir meat, onion, and garlic until meat is light brown, then drain. Stir in remaining ingredients, except beans. Heat to boiling, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans (don’t drain) and simmer another 45 minutes or until desired consistency, stirring occasionally. (30 minutes, followed by 15 minutes)

Honestly, I can’t wait to make this recipe again. It was so delicious! Yet, even more than making the chili, I can’t wait to cook with AJ (or one of my other children) again. It was awesome!

Even the simple, mundane, everyday tasks can Be Extraordinary!

#13.1 Life Lessons

we did it halfSunday, October 5, Joe and I completed the Sleeping Bear Dunes Half Marathon. Because of my foot injury I had only run one time in the previous three weeks without pain. That run was five days before the race and a distance of 3.5 miles. Also, the longest distance I had run before the race was 8.02 miles and 8.5 miles for Joe.

Race day was filled with many firsts, personal records, and (of course!) life lessons.

1. I can do hard things.
When I make a decision and commit to that decision – regardless of how difficult the task is – I am capable. Often I don’t commit to things because I question my capacity. I discovered in the training and the race that I am capable of much more than I believe.

2. The journey is easier (and made possible) with a buddy (Joe).
I honestly could not, or would not, have completed this journey without Joe by my side. Joe’s questions, encouragement, persistence, and sometimes being a pain in the butt were all for my good. I needed every bit of prodding Joe offered.

3. Having people who are further in the journey (Clay, Lisa, Evey) is crucial to my success.
I received good, sound, positive, encouraging advice and help from runners who had already run 13.1 miles. The words they gave were a big part of being prepared race day.

4. Without training there is no chance for victory.
If I had never trained I could not have finished. The training was not only physical, but there were many mental barriers conquered during the months of training before the race.

5. The best way to finish is to keep moving.
When we came to the “12 mile” sign everything below my waist was in agony. We slowed to a walk, but I knew if I stopped the motion, or sat for a minute, starting again would have been nearly impossible. It was so important to keep moving.

6. Quitting is not an option.
Joe and I had two goals for the half: start and finish. “Quit” was not a word in our vocabulary. As we ran mile after mile we talked of finishing – we never talked about stopping. I had seen the piles of cut oranges before we started and in the latter miles I had my eyes and tastebuds on that prize too!

7. The goal for the race is personal.
Every runner out on the course had a different objective. Some set out to win. Some set out for friendship and fun. Joe and I ran as a metaphor for the life we are living in 2014. We are “running the race” of life and all we faced in the training and running of a half marathon has lessons for our personal journey too.

8. Remember how far you have come.
When I began training I could barely run one mile. It was fun and rewarding as we ran 13.1 miles to recount along the way just how far we had come.
“Remember the first time we ran a 5k?”
“I remember finishing my first 4 mile run. I was exhausted, but it felt so good.”
And then at 9 miles we had run the most consecutive miles we had ever run. We had so many memories to relish as we kind of applauded ourselves for how far we had come.

9. Injuries and obstacles are bound to happen.
Early in my training I suffered a lower back injury that halted my training for nearly four weeks. And in the final three weeks of training I injured my foot. This prevented me from getting in the 10 mile run I had hoped for before race day and limited my training to one 3.5 mile run in those final three weeks. I discovered that my attitude was key during those times. It would have been easy to quit at that point, but I was able to wait patiently and still complete the half marathon goal.

10. My mind and my self talk is powerful.
It is easy to speak lies to myself. It is easy to tell myself that it is too hard or I can’t do it. 13.1 miles showed me how crucial, valuable, and powerful positive self-talk is. When I speak positive truth it has great impact – my thoughts are powerful!

half medal11. Utilize the aid stations.
Water, gatorade, goo, and grapes were necessary parts of the journey. I suppose one could think they are stronger for not needing any of those things along the way, but I would say they are foolish. We can not complete any journey without nourishment. In fact, I unashamedly downed 12 orange quarters at the end of the race!

12. Know the limits and push them.
If I had never pushed the limits in training, I probably wouldn’t have run further than three miles. Mileage beyond that was hard and a 5k was the furthest I had run all at once up until that point. Pushing the limits helped reveal unknown strength.

13. There is always a wall.
“There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.” – author unknown
In everything worth pursuing my experience has been that there are walls. The question is, “what will we do when we hit the wall?” Many turn around, stop, or hope it goes away. If knowing the limits and pushing them reveals our ability, then busting through a wall shows the depth of our character, will, and desire. Every big desire we have is on the other side of a wall.

.1 Just a little bit more.
This is not only about the distance, but going “just a little bit more” requires digging deep and finding the reservoirs of inner strength.
What area of your life needs “just a little bit more”?
You are spending time with your kids. What would it look like to spend just a little bit more?
You are working your business. What would it look like to work just a little bit more?
You are loving your spouse. What would it look like to love just a little bit more?

The extraordinary journey is often long, difficult, and tiring, but it is also so worth it!

Be Extraordinary!

Read Joe’s Half Marathon thoughts by clicking here.

Read my half marathon training post by clicking here.

Traci’s Test Kitchen: Baked Almond Chicken

I made a decision years ago to embark on the journey toward healthier eating. The philosophy I chose then and still believe in today is that of eating low-glycemic. I also chose long-term lifestyle changes rather than short-term diet fads. This has definitely been a journey of progress, not perfection! (If you would like to learn more about low-gi eating and the program I use and recommend, click here.)

I am a simpleton when it comes to cooking. I thrive in baking more than cooking because I am good at following directions, but not so good at improvising with a little this and that in the kitchen. In fact, when I began this journey I didn’t even own a proper knife. I didn’t even know that I didn’t own a proper knife!

The person who supplied me with the greatest recipes, resources, and support during my slow journey was my friend, Kendra. I am so thankful for Kendra and her patience with the pace of my health journey as well as her patience with my lack of kitchen supplies. It was so bad that Kendra would bring her own knife or peeler to my house, and then eventually gifted me my first set of “real” knives. I feel so professional cutting my veggies now!

Today’s recipe is one that Kendra gave me and it quickly became a family favorite. It fits my criteria of being simple to make with ingredients that don’t require a search on wikipedia.

* Note: The quantities of this recipe are not exact. I actually don’t measure and don’t feel like I need to. You can decide if you like more or different spices, more cheese, etc.

AlmondsBaked Almond Chicken

1-2 pounds fresh chicken tenderloins (This is my favorite cut of chicken for this recipe.)

1 cup ground raw almonds

1 cup fresh grated parmesan (not the stuff in the green can!)

Seasonings to taste (i.e. fresh ground pepper, thyme, oregano, etc.)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 deg.

Mix all dry ingredients.

Coat chicken in dry ingredients and place on a non-stick baking sheet (or parchment paper)

Almond ChickenBake 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite, healthy chicken recipe that meets a criteria of healthy and simple? Please share in the comments below or post to my Facebook page.

This extraordinary journey is tasty and fun. Let’s enjoy it together!

Be Extraordinary!

Traci’s Test Kitchen: Energy Bites

No Bake Energy Bites

No Bake Energy Bites

Whenever a commitment is made to remove something from our lives, it is important to find a positive alternative. I made the decision to remove sweets, treats, candy, and soda from my life beginning back on February 20, 2014. The cravings for candy bars, soda, and sugary treats are lessening for which I am very grateful! As part of this health journey, it is fun to find healthy treats that fit within the boundaries of my commitment.

I do not know the origination of the “No Bake Energy Bite” recipe. (If you do, please send me the info). The recipe was passed along through a friend on Facebook. Many good recipes have made their appearance on social media platforms. I hope you will enjoy this one and pass it along so others can enjoy it too!

Dry Ingredients - Oats and Flax

Dry Ingredients – Oats and Flax

A delicious combo - honey and peanut butter

A delicious combo – honey and peanut butter

Recipe:
1 cup slow cooked oats
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (original recipe calls for 1/2 cup)

No need to bake. Simply refrigerate for 30 minutes and then enjoy. It may be helpful to store them in an air-tight container so they don’t disappear too quickly!

Replacing old habits to keep us in line with our commitments is an important step to success on this extraordinary journey called life.

Be Extraordinary!

Traci’s Test Kitchen Recipes:
Green Smoothies
Grain-Free Cookie Dough Bites
Nut Butter Muffins

Moomers, Paper Piles, and Candy Crush (Part I)

I am a yo-yo. Not a silly, goofy girl (although some have seen that side of me). I am a yo-yo goal-getter. I’m on, then off, then on again. I’m on health kicks and business runs and then I’m not. This is very problematic when it comes to achieving big goals. The short goals (30 days or less) are not so bad, but some of the things I want for my life and business as well as dreams that Joe and I have together are bigger than a 30-day challenge or even a 100-day challenge!

After many years playing yo-yo, I am finally saying “ENOUGH!” I want the goals – the life of my dreams – more than I want to stay in my yo-yo comfort zone.

How do you stop the yo-yo?

Determine what is holding you back.
When you look at your goals and dreams, what is that one (or two or three) constant that keeps showing up and robbing you of those dreams? If you are like me, at least one of these answers will come to your mind without any hesitation.
Most of us know what our Achilles heel is in life. And, if you’re like me, you won’t want to speak that answer out loud. Why? Because acknowledging what holds me back now makes me responsible. From this point on, I choose. I either choose to address this beast or ignore it, but either way I choose.

Maybe you can relate to one of the three biggies that are holding me back:
moomers open#1 Moomers
Moomers has been voted the best ice cream in America by Good Morning America and I would have to agree – it’s amazing! Moomers is not actually holding me back, but represents one of my biggest struggles – sugar! I love sweets! When I consume sweets . . . I eat too much, I crave more sugar, I have less energy, I gain weight, I am moody (more than usual), etc. Sweets do not serve me.

paper piles#2 Paper Piles
These paper piles include bills, junk mail, important mail, receipts, forms for the kids. Paper piles are overtaking my desk, kitchen counter, table, bookshelf, and any other available flat surface. Seeing the piles causes me stress. I don’t work well in the chaos; phone numbers are misplaced; important documents are missing and we don’t even know it. Do I need to continue? I think you get the point. All of these things cause me stress and I am not very productive in the midst of them.

ipad apps#3 Candy Crush
I enjoy Candy Crush along with a lot of other games for my iPad. I like the challenge. If I am honest, these games contribute more to wasting my time than building my mental muscles. When I choose to play one of these games I am often avoiding other things that need to be done. I play longer than I intend to, meaning that I stay up later or don’t accomplish important tasks. “Just one more time.” I’ve said that more times than I can count – to myself and my family.

So, there they are. Three things that are holding me back from living the life of my dreams. What are yours? Can you identify one, two, or three? Are you willing to name them “out loud” in the comment box below?

Identification is good, but there is more. Part II is coming.

Seriously pursuing the life of your dreams is not easy, but it is worth it!

Be Extraordinary!

Traci’s Test Kitchen: Green Smoothie

Smoothie #1

Smoothie #1

I love green. It’s my favorite color. I love to wear green and I love to see green in the grass and trees in the summer. There are so many beautiful shades of green. I even like to eat green foods – celery, cucumbers, broccoli and spinach. In spite of all of this love for green I have never wanted to drink a green smoothie. Actually, I may have wanted to but couldn’t get past the thought of it tasting like wheat grass. I know some of you love that, but I have a limit in eating things that taste too much like the earth. Personal problem, I know.

Smoothie #2

Smoothie #2

I decided to get over my fear and brave the green smoothie. I was very pleasantly surprised, in fact, a little shocked. Since my first green smoothie adventure I have tried a few varieties of the beautiful green drink. If you have not yet ventured into the world of green this is a great (and pretty tame) way to do it. If you are a green smoothie expert, please share your recipes below, on my Facebook page, or on my Pinterest Smoothie board.

I have included several “Traci Tested” recipes to get you started.

Smoothie #3

Smoothie #3

Very Green Smoothie #1 (this was the first recipe I tried)
– Extra large handful baby spinach
– Half an avocado
– One cup frozen strawberries
– Half a banana
– 1 cup water

Super Berry Green Smoothie #2
– Extra large handful baby spinach
– One scoop Vanilla Nutrimeal
– Two scoops Orange Cream Nutrimeal
– Half cup Bolthouse Farms Berries + carrot
– Half cup water
– Five ice cubes

Smoothie #4

Smoothie #4

Apple Blueberry Green Smoothie #3 (made by my sister-in-law, Naomi)
– Large handful baby spinach
– One cup blueberries
– Half an apple
– Ice
– Water

Chocolate Green Smoothie #4
– 3 scoops USANA Chocolate Nutrimeal
– Large handful spinach
– Ice
– Water

The green smoothie world is a great, healthy adventure!

Be Extraordinary!

Choices…choices…choices…

This is Part 3 of a 4-part blog series about the New Year I am doing with my husband Joe.

Thanks for reading and sharing in the journey.

Be Extraordinary!

The Overboard life

Ultimately, every change you want tot make in your life, no matter how “big” or “small,” boils down to every individual choice you make. My wife loves this saying: “How you do anything, is how you do every thing.” In other words, the way you approach the little things in life is how you will approach the big things in life. And this is never more true than when it comes to how we create change.

Reset goodness

In 2014 I’m eager to shed a few pounds and get back in shape. My new job is pretty stationary and I’ve reclaimed some bad habits around eating too much, working out too little, and generally not taking very good care of myself. The result has been some weight gain, a loss of energy and even my sleep has been affected. For all the great events and changes of 2013, my overall health has…

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