Thursday, September 29, 2011

Three Bean Chili and the BEST Cornbread Muffins

I love the crock pot! I really need to use it more but crock pot and healthy haven't really been married to each other, you know? I am working on this however! Crock pot and fatty meat have had a love affair for quite some time as have crock pot and anything beginning with cream of.... It is time for some change don't you think?

I didn't want to make a run to the store because that defeats the purpose of a crock pot meal in my opinion. So I decided to start this healthy makeover with what was going to be a vegetarian chili because I thought I would have all the ingredients on hand and for the most part it was. I thought I had vegetable stock in the cupboard but I didn't. So I had to improvise but sometimes that works in my favor.

Mmmmmm....thank you crock pot for hooking up with something healthy tonight!

I usually am against any "pre-cooking" when it come to the crock pot because the beauty of these kinds of meals is throwing everything in the pot, but today I did saute some garlic and onions first with a little chili powder and cumin. I lost the picture of the spices cooked with the onions. Sorry.

I didn't have a can of tomatoes either so I chopped up some fresh ones. For those of you who need more accurate measurements I think this was 4 Roma tomatoes and a little bit of leftover heirlooms that probably equaled half of a tomato. I tossed all that into the pot. Then I also tossed in about 1/2 cup of lentils and 1/2 cup of pearl barley just because.

Then I dumped in these ingredients.........

One large can of tomato sauce and one can each of black beans, chick peas, and Great Northerns that had been drained and rinsed.

Then a little more of these spices...............
Goya Adobo is an all purpose seasoning that contains salt, granulated garlic, black pepper, and turmeric. Go easy on this seasoning because of the salt.

Then I made my vegetarian chili not vegetarian any more and added this secret ingredient...................
This is called chicken base and it is definitely better than bouillon. I use this almost every time I make soup which is a lot! It adds a lot of flavor. I added a couple heaping tablespoons this time. You can find this in the soup aisle at the store.

I also added a little more cumin and chili powder and gave it all a stir before putting the lid on and walking away in bliss that my dinner was done! I wish that I had also added a little more tomato sauce or water at the end just to cut down on the saltiness but everyone loved it! I thought is very flavorful!

Topped it off with a little mozzarella and served it with........

Something green and the best little corn bread muffins!

But before I give you that recipe I have to tell you why you should include beans and legumes in your diet of course. First of all they are the healthy kind of fat that your body needs and in addition to being high in protein, they are also high in fiber and full of complex carbs which provide energy to muscles and your brain. They also have a low glycemic index and because of all that fiber keep you full for longer periods of time and help you have a healthy digestive tract. They have also been said to reduce cholesterol and reduce the risk of cancer! Whew!

Now on to the recipe for the corn bread muffins! Cornbread goes very well with chili and I knew I would need to clean up the recipe a bit but I found one that was great online and see how yummy they look!

I can't even begin to tell you how much I loved these little muffins! Of course everything tastes better mini like I said before, but these had a little bit of a crunch on the outside and were soft and warm on the inside making for a perfect muffin. I mixed in a little agave with some buttery spread and oh my was it good. I don't even know how many I ate and if I did I wouldn't tell you. I would be embarrassed!

So here are the directions: I made only 2 changes. Miles couldn't fine whole grain corn meal so I used regular. I will be on the hunt for that. I also used whole wheat pastry flour instead of the whole wheat flour. I think this was an important change! If you use just whole wheat flour I think they will be too dense. The pastry flour works better for these kinds of things.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In one bowl combine the dry ingredients:
1 cup whole grain yellow corn meal
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons Stevia
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup flaxseed meal
½  teaspoon salt (optional)

In a small bowl, combine the wet ingredients:
½  cup egg substitutes (egg white)
1 cup milk
½  teaspoon liquid butter flavor extract (optional)
Prepare a non-stick mini muffin tin by spraying with cooking spray.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened (about 30 strokes with a spatula). Divide evenly among muffin tin. Bake for 15 minutes if doing mini muffins. Adjust time for larger muffins.
Yield: 33 mini muffins                      
Go ahead and try making these large muffins if you like. I think you will get about a dozen and it might take 20-25 minutes to bake them. But just remember everything does taste better when it is mini!

I might go back now and have a couple more for dessert with a cup of tea. I've waited long enough for it to be considered dessert haven't I?

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