Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Recipe: Pumpkin Hummus

Those of you who know me from "Lose Weight" know one of my weaknesses is pita chips. Pita chips aren't much fun to eat by themselves, of course -- they're best with hummus! At this time of the year, I enjoy taking a break from my usual hummus, and instead, make pumpkin hummus. Pumpkin hummus is good with plain pita chips or veggies, but it's sublime with cinnamon pita chips. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Hummus


1 (29-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup bottled minced garlic (or 8 garlic cloves, minced)
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup tahini paste
salt, to taste


Combine pumpkin, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini in blender or food processor and puree until very smooth. Add salt to taste.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Recipe: Slow Cooker Red Chicken Chili

Last week, I shared a recipe for slow cooker mole, a traditional Mexican dish with a sweet-savory flavor. I find that sweetness makes it a perfect recipe for Halloween. When I enjoy a meal with a little sweetness to it, all the candy treats are less tempting!

Here's a different take on a sweet-savory meal. Mole is usually served in a bowl over rice, but I prefer it in a corn tortilla, like a taco. I go with this recipe when I want a sweet-savory dish that's just right for serving in a bowl.

Slow Cooker Red Chicken Chili

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 (14-ounce) cans white beans, drained
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken cooked turkey meat, coarsely chopped


Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on HIGH for 3-5 hours, or on LOW for 6-8 hours.

When chicken is cooked through, shred chicken using two forks, and stir to combine well.

Cook's Notes: I call for chicken because I always have it in the freezer, but this recipe is even better if you replace the chicken with cooked turkey. Turkey, with its more intense flavor than chicken, is a perfect foil for the flavors in this dish. It's an excellent post-Thanksgiving recipe!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Mole

Mole is one of my favorite Mexican dishes. Given my sweet tooth, that's not surprising: Mole incorporates cocoa powder and sugar. That also makes mole the perfect recipe for Halloween -- a little chocolate in my dinner makes it easier to steer clear of all the candy and treats! I use the slow cooker to prepare mole, which makes this a terrific recipe if you're hosting a party or headed out to celebrate the evening.

My husband was reluctant to try my take on mole because his mother and aunts prepared mole that was more sweet than spicy. Mole is typically a high-fat dish, too. I've eliminated nearly all of the fat, and struck a balance between sweet, spicy, and savory flavors, so my husband and I can both enjoy mole. !Buen provecho!

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole


1 (1 1/2 ounce) package dried pasilla, mulato, or ancho chiles
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon sugar (or sugar substitute)
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins


Remove stems from chiles, if necessary. Combine chiles and tomato sauce in blender, and puree until chiles are well-integrated into sauce.

Pour sauce into slow cooker. Add cornmeal, cocoa powder, sugar, garlic, cinnamon, coriander, and cloves, and stir to combine. Place chicken on top of sauce. Cook on LOW setting 4-6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Here Comes Halloween!

Yes, it's that time of year again, when goblins and ghosts creep from their lairs! Whether or not you get into the "spirit" of things, the scariest part of Halloween for most grown-ups is the oncoming calorie onslaught. Whether you love chocolate candies, sour candies, jelly beans, or the seasonal candy corn and mellowcreme pumpkins, there's a candy for practically everyone.  Or, perhaps you're fearing the temptations that leap out from around every corner as we approach Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Easter. Whew!

So, what can you do to stave off those extra pounds? Here's a short-but-sweet list of tips to keep the calories at bay during the Halloween season (and beyond!):

Donna's Top Six Tips for Handling Halloween
  1. Avoid buying candy early. Sure, you might save a dollar or two, but consider: How much time will you need to burn off all those candy calories? How much is your time worth to you? Is saving a few bucks really a value in the long run? If you must buy candy early, choose candy you don't like. That'll reduce the likelihood of hearing the candy call to you in the middle of the night.
  2. Steer clear of the scarcity mentality. Don't fall into the trap of thinking, "Oh, I'll have just one more handful of candy corn...after all, I won't have them again until next year!" If you really want candy corn in June, you can find it on the Internet year-round. But scarcity isn't the only reason we binge on candy, which is why my third tip is...
  3. Manage stress and anxiety. Make a plan now to handle holiday stresses. Practice assertive communication. Make sure your self-talk is realistic and positive. Say "no" when you need to do so. Ask for help when you need it.
  4. Make a plan to stay on track. Do your best to stick to your routines. After all, they're working, right? Yes, it's okay to shorten your workout time, go to bed an hour later, skip food recording for a day or two, drink a little less water, or have a few pieces of candy. That said, sticking as closely as you can to your usual routines will help you stay on track, and get back on track when you slip. 
  5. Consider changing your focus. Weight loss is challenging under the best of circumstances; it's very difficult during the holidays. Maintaining weight, however, is realistic for most people. If you're currently focusing on weight loss, it may make more sense to focus on maintaining your weight loss until the new year.
  6. Get right back on track. Remember, you do not have to do weight management perfectly to do it well! The trick to successful long-term weight management is to get back on track as quickly as possible. That means no harsh self-judgment. Instead, learn from it, then shrug it off and return to what works. If you maintain your weight during the holiday season, you'll be ahead of most Americans.
Now it's your turn! What do you do to keep the number on the scale from scaring you? Let us know below! :)