Friday, January 30, 2015

Comfort Food: Sweet Potato, Beef and Bean Chili

January 29, 2015
written by Anna Busby
origianally posted on

After a long day nothing tastes better than a hearty and delicious meal. And on a cold evening, as many are this time of year, chili is a wonderful go-to dinner to cap off your day. Chili can be very versatile and easy to adapt to your tastes, schedule, and dietary needs. Whether your vegan, a meat-lover, short on time or have all day you can make chili fit to your needs. My personal favorite is classic beef and bean chili, but I like to mix up the spices and flavors as well as play with unique ingredients to keep things interesting.

For tonight’s meal, I adapted a recipe from the Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier. The original recipe is vegan in nature, and I imagine would be delicious sans the meat. Given the craving for a little meat, I added a few extra things to make this recipe my own. Here’s what I ended up with this time.
Sweet Potato, Corn and Bean Chili medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
4 Tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup chili powder
3 Tbsp cumin
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 can sweet corn, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 can red kidney beans, drained
~3 cups veggie broth or beef broth (I used approximately 2/3 of a carton)
1 small can tomato paste
Lime Juice

Sharp cheddar cheese, Fat Free Plain Greek yogurt and Avocado for topping
Cilantro Leaves, for garnish

Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan, add salted water until potatoes are just covered. Bring to a boil and boil until potatoes are slightly done but not completely cooked, approximately 8-10 minutes.
While potatoes are cooking, brown ground beef over medium heat until near fully cooked. Drain and set aside.

Drain potatoes, cover in ice water to stop cooking. Drain again and set aside.

In a large saucepan, sauté the onions and garlic in some olive oil over medium heat until onions start to turn translucent. Add chili powder and cumin, stir until onions and garlic are well coated and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, coffee, canned tomatoes, corn, beans, cilantro and broth. Simmer for 30 minutes. If the chili is too thick for your liking, add some more broth.

Serve with a dollop of greek yogurt (high-protein, fat-free substitute for sour cream), a squeeze of lime juice, some cilantro leaves shredded cheese and sliced avocado on top. Yum!

Recipe makes 6 servings

Nutrition Info: 577 calories, 22g fat, 55g Carbohydrates, 13g Fiber, 42g Protein
Recipe adapted from The Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier.

This hearty chili really hits the spot on a cold evening. In addition to satisfying the ‘comfort food’ craving, this recipe is a great recovery promoter post-workout, or can work as a nutrient-dense pre-workout meal, if given enough time to digest. Lean ground beef provides lean protein needed for muscle building and recovery. The beef and the beans provide a hefty portion of your daily iron needs, which is important in the delivery of oxygen to cells. It’s relatively common for runners to become iron-depleted, especially females or those under strenuous, high-mileage training so good sources of iron are an important staple in the runner’s diet.

Beans and sweet potatoes are chock full of fiber and slow-digesting carbohydrates to aid in the stocking and replenishment of the body’s carbohydrate stores. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of vitamin A. Tomatoes and tomato paste provide lycopene, a cancer and heart disease preventing antioxidant that may also help in preventing oxidative cell damage associated with exercise. The vitamin C in tomatoes also helps your body to more efficiently absorb iron from the beans. Overall, this chili is a complete and healthy meal perfect for post-run recovery or a heart-warmer at the end of a long day.

Note: This recipe also works great in a slow cooker. Brown beef, then add beef and remaining ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 to 5 hours.

Kitch Basics Veggie StockAlso, for broth, try to choose one that has no salt added to help reduce sodium content. Many broths are loaded with sodium that most of us do not need. My favorite is Kitchen Basics Unsalted Vegetable Stock. Not only is it low in sodium, it has a rich vegetable flavor which adds tremendous depth to the dishes it is used in.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Monday Morning Motivation

Monday Morning Motivation:

Vanilla Almond Mocha Smoothie

I like to cook, mainly because I like the ability to create something that tastes delicious, makes you feel good and provides health benefits. I’m constantly on the prowl for recipes I can alter to make healthier or already written healthy recipes to try. While my general resource for these is the world-wide web, as a Christmas gift this year, I received two delightful cookbooks, both oriented for the athletically minded person. I must say I have found myself using them more than I thought.

One in particular, the Thrive Energy Cookbook, is written by a Vegan athlete, Brendan Brazier, who fully embodies the whole food approach and has found great success both in his health initiatives and athletic endeavors in this nutrition structure. While I’m not Vegan, I have tried quite a few of his recipes, one of which I will feature today.

IMG_2351 Today the schedule consisted of a morning run, work, then late afternoon TRX strength session. For a two-a-day like this, the importance of refueling and promoting an anabolic, positive building state after the morning workout is crucial not only to keep my energy up but also to promote positive adaptations from the workout itself.

So the ideal post-run choice this morning was a smoothie. I often reach for the blender in times like these for three reasons: it’s quick, it’s healthy and it’s easy to get down within 30 minutes after finishing the workout. Today’s special….
Vanilla Almond Mocha Motivator 

Vanilla-Almond-Mocha Motivator
  • 2 large Medjool dates, pitted
  • 4 coffee beans or 1/2 oz espresso shot (I used ~1/8 cup strong coffee leftover from my pre-run coffee batch)
  • 1 Tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1 Tbsp vegan dark chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla powder or extract
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tsp cacao butter (I substituted 1 Tbsp cocoa powder here)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut water
  • ~2 cups ice cubes
  • I added 1 scoop vanilla flavored whey protein for a protein boost, for a Vegan shake, omit this or use Vegan protein powder
Pop all the ingredients, excluding the ice cubes, in the blender first, then add the ice cubes and blend it up!

This recipe offers a slew of nutrients and health benefits that make it a superb post-workout choice. Dates offer carbohydrates necessary for replenishment of glycogen, your body’s carbohydrate stores, and fiber to encourage satiation and promote gut health. Coffee provides an antioxidants and flavonoids as well as an energy boost to get your day started. Cacao and dark chocolate are rich in healthy fats and antioxidants. Coconut water is naturally stocked with electrolytes to promote rehydration. Lastly, the addition of the whey protein provides all the essential amino acids, especially muscle-building leucine, to promote muscle recovery and rebuilding post-workout. While this smoothie served as my post-workout choice this morning, it also works well as a quick breakfast to get you up and going before you start your day or as pre-workout energizer an hour or so before you head out the door (if using as a pre-workout choice, you may want to skip the protein powder).  Aside from the numerous nutritionally positive attributes this recipe offers, it also happens to be delicious.

Recipe makes 1 serving.

Nutrition info: 423 calories, 18g Fat, 42g Carbs, 13g fiber, 29g Protein

Recipe Credit: The Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier