Chill out with White Chicken Chili

Bowls of White Chicken Chili (Photo: Pinch of Yum)

Multiple servings of white chicken chili
(Photo: Pinch of Yum)

November is here! I immediately associate the month of November with the holiday season, and I for one am not ashamed to admit that my roommate and I put up a Christmas tree in our apartment the other day. With the true start of the holiday season fast approaching, I find myself drawn to warm, hearty comfort foods at the end of a long day. The term “comfort foods” generally conjures up thoughts of cheesy mexican food, pizza and fresh-out-of-the-oven desserts. Although all of these foods are delicious, lets face it, they are probably not the healthiest. When I came across the  recipe for a lightened-up chili on Pinch of Yum, I knew it would be the perfect way to quench my craving for comfort food without feeling weighted down.

Most of the ingredients the recipe calls for I already had in my pantry, with the exception of the fresh produce and protein. I did slightly alter the recipe by using a store bought all-natural, rotisserie chicken, instead of preparing the chicken breasts myself. The rotisserie chicken added great flavor to the chili and was incredibly tender. I would highly recommend it for someone who is short on time or does not like preparing protein themselves!

Prep-work for chili (Photo: Pinch of Yum)

Prep-work for chili
(Photo: Pinch of Yum)

Garnished chili (Photo: Pinch of Yum)

Garnished chili
(Photo: Pinch of Yum)

When the soup is done you can garnish it however you like! Some great toppings  are tortilla strips, cheese, sour cream and fresh cilantro.  Even though it is a lighter take on chili, it is still very satisfying and filling. My roommate loved it and gave it two thumbs up! The recipe serves five, so I had plenty left over for the rest of the week. I was so pleased with the result that I plan to make it again to put in my freezer as a quick dinner on busy nights.

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Nutritional Info
(Photo: Pinch of Yum)

As you can see by the nutritional info, the chili is a great, nutrient-rich option for a healthy dinner.  The chili is chock-full of fresh vegetables and protein, making it a great alternative to frozen or canned chilies that are typically laced with preservatives. Therefore, you can enjoy the chili and still have room for dessert!

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Whole lot to do? Head to Whole Foods.

Even though midterms have passed, it seems as though my school workload hasn’t gotten any smaller. With the end of one test, comes the start of preparing for the next. So with my life as full of tests and projects as it is lately, my time available to cook healthy meals has definitely gone out the window. Although reaching for my phone to order a pizza, or being tempted by the smells of fast food as I walk through campus is often times enticing, I know that I will feel better and be better equipped to get work done if I eat something good for my body. Enter into the picture: Whole Foods.

Not only does Whole Foods offer great meals to-go, they also have a wide variety of ready-made snacks, so naturally that was my first stop!

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Fresh, All-Natural Peanut Butter
(Photo: Kerrin McKaig)

One of my favorite foods of all-time is peanut butter. I love peanut butter on pretty much anything possible! So when I discovered that Whole Foods made fresh all-natural peanut butter from scratch, I was ecstatic. Now I could eat peanut butter and feel a little less guilty! It has the perfect peanut taste, without all of the oil that you get in normal peanut butter.

Customize Trail Mix Station

Customize Trail Mix Station
(Photo: Kerrin McKaig)

Not only does Whole Foods have fresh peanut butter, but they also have a trail mix station that allows you to try a wide variety of mixes! Being able to customize your portion size allows you to be able to get a few different mixes, instead of single, bulk bag of one mix that is usually offered at grocery stores. Most of the mixes are also offered with or without salt, and roasted or non-roasted, making a snack that tends to have a reputation of being too salty or greasy, healthier.

After I gathered my study snacks, the smells drifting across the store from the fresh food section lured me over. Instantly I was overwhelmed with options for my dinner.

Salad Bar

Salad Bar
(Photo: Kerrin McKaig)

My first stop was the salad bar, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. The bar was fully stocked with every possible vegetable and topping for a salad imaginable. After loading up my to-go box with fresh greens, I went on to explore the other food options.

Fresh Vegetables & Sides Buffet

Fresh Vegetables & Sides Buffet
(Photo: Kerrin McKaig)

Wide Variety of Soups

Wide Variety of Soups
(Photo: Kerrin McKaig)

I decided to get a bowl of soup to go with my salad and was extremely pleased with the chicken tortilla soup. It was full of flavor and was very filling, a quality that I find to be rare in soups, making me happy with my decision.

Fresh Pre-Packaged Meals

Fresh Pre-Packaged Meals
(Photo: Kerrin McKaig)

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Asian Inspired Meals
(Photo: Kerrin McKaig)

Even though I had already chosen my dinner for the night, I stumbled across a wall of pre-packaged meals and side dishes. Since I was already there, I decided to go ahead and stock up on a few of these meals to have in my fridge throughout the week.
All-in-all it was a successful trip to Whole Foods. I love how they really cater for those with a hectic lifestyle, serving as a one-stop shop for groceries and meals. In addition, every time I buy food at Whole Foods I know I am eating something that I can feel good about. I can truly say with confidence that I will be back at Whole Foods next time I need a quick, healthy meal on the go!

Seasonal Substitutions

A warm stack of pumpkin pancakes
(Photo: Yummy Healthy Easy)

Midterms are here. Stressed out and in a caffeine coma I knew I had to do something to take my mind off of all of the fast-appraoching deadlines and tests. In desperate need of a study break I hopped on over to my favorite distraction: Pinterest. With October in full swing, my boards are filled with a wide array of fall-inpired recipes.  I have been meaning to try a pumpkin recipe from my Pinterest board for a while, but have been discouraged by the hot, Texas weather that makes it feel more like summer than fall. However, with the recent rain and cold weather that has come through Austin, it finally feels appropriate to make some of my favorite fall dishes. Cooking has always been a stress-reliever for me, so it seemed as though it would be the perfect time to take a break from studying to try a new recipe!

I was suddenly faced with a decision; what should I make? I knew I wanted something with pumpkin in it, but I also wanted it to be healthy to provide me with energy to power through the rest of my work. When scrolling through the recipes, I was inundated with images of fluffy pancakes. Then it came to me. Pumpkin Pancakes! What is easier and more comforting than a warm stack of homemade pancakes?

Determined and on a mission to make pancakes, I searched for a healthier pancake recipe that didn’t stray too far from the idea of a traditional pancake. When I stumbled upon this recipe on Yummy Healthy Easy, I was sold! This recipe makes minor substitutions, that make the pancakes healthier, without compromising on flavor. For example, instead of using the whole egg and whole milk, the recipe calls for egg whites and skim milk. The healthy substitutions were undetectable in the finished product and even passed my picky roommate’s taste test!

I followed the recipe below and was thrilled with the results!

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

Author: Jen at Yummy Healthy Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white all-purpose flour (can use 2 cups all-purpose if white whole wheat isn’t available)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 egg whites, slightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups skim milk
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin

Instructions:

1. In a large mixing bowl combine flours, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar.

2. In another medium sized mixing bowl, combine egg whites, milk, oil and pumpkin. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture and stir until just moistened. If batter seems too thick, add a  little milk to thin it out to desired consistency.

3. Heat griddle or skillet on medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Pour batter onto heated griddle or skillet using a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Flip when bubbles appear at the top. Serve with buttermilk syrup and enjoy!