Friday, October 14, 2011

An Update & A Recipe or Two

This whole month of not eating processed foods continues to be a challenge for me.  I guess that's a good thing, right?  I mean, who wants to do what's easy? what's natural? what's habitual?  Not me, that's who.  Unless I'm tired, hungry, or feeling uninspired.  Which happens a lot so yeah, I'm feeling challenged.

Anyway, since I'm sure you're wondering if I'm actually sticking with it, I thought I'd post a little update.  I have continued my un-admirable streak of failing at least a little bit every day.  This week my hugest failing was a piece of Sam's Club white layer cake.  I'm totally defenseless against this stuff.  Even as I was cramming it in my mouth a voice in my head was screaming that the icing had enough food coloring in it to paint my insides the colors of the rainbow.  But I didn't listen.  Naughty.  I also made sloppy joes with some straight-from-the-bottle bbq sauce.  It's my husband's favorite.  I'm not sure how to tell him that the first ingredient is HFCS but we will have that discussion one day soon, I promise. 

The boundaries that I have still held hard & fast are: no processed cheese, no nondairy coffee creamer, no spray butter, no packaged candy, no boxed breakfast cereal, & no bottled salad dressing.

I have to say that I miss a good cup of coffee the most.  I did splurge last Saturday & have half a pumpkin spice latte.  I always feel like it's too concentrated so I filled my cup halfway with the latte & then topped it off with decaf coffee.  So good.  I did find some recipes online for homemade coffee creamer so I intend to try one of them out this weekend.  I'll let you know how it goes.

I have actually had a couple of new recipe successes this week.  After my post of failures I thought we would all be encouraged if I shared some good news!  Unfortunately I have no pics of the recipes that actually tasted good.  Figures, doesn't it?

We had a Mexican dinner on Wednesday.  I like refried beans & I think it might even be possible to buy them canned without too many weird things thrown in.  However, I read this online post & decided to give her recipe for refried beans a try.  I do have to say, the website Eating Rules does a great job of hosting this unprocessed challenge - there is a post every day brimming with information & recipes. 

I actually really liked these beans & I loved being able to make them from the hard little dry bean all by myself.  Small accomplishments make my day, what can I say.

Here's the recipe with a few observations/notes thrown in by me:

Easy Slow-Cooker Refried Beans

Author: Lisa Leake, adapted from allrecipes.comCook Time: 8 hours Total Time: 8 hours I didn’t think I liked refried beans. That’s what happens when you only try them out of a can. But much like the difference between store-bought and homegrown tomatoes, homemade refried beans are light-years beyond the canned stuff!


1 Onion, peeled and halved
2 cups Dry Pinto Beans, rinsed
Fresh Jalapeno or other hot pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
Teaspoon Sea Salt
Teaspoon Black Pepper
One big pinch of Cumin
6 cups Water


Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.
Cook on high for 8 hours, or overnight while you are sleeping.
Remove the bigger onion chunks and drain the excess liquid. If desired, save excess liquid until the final product is desired consistency.
Mash remaining beans with a potato masher and voilà! You have homemade refried beans.

I only modified a couple of things.  I used jalapenos that come in a jar that supposedly have the heat removed.  I also omitted the black pepper because it makes Mike sick (isn't that SAD?).  After the beans were cooked I drained the liquid & reserved it just in case I needed it.  I used my immersion blender to puree the beans because chunky beans just didn't sound right to me.  I probably could have added all of the water back in because the beans were really pasty at this point.  I did use about half of the water in my taco meat to make the sauce which worked really well.  The beans were also really bland so I think maybe a hot jalapeno would be a better idea than what I used.  Or a huger pinch of cumin because that stuff is fab.u.lous.  Bottom line, I would make these again & I would probably add 1/2 - 1 cup of salsa into the beans right before serving to zest them up a bit.

That same meal I made taco meat & seasoned it without using one of those little packets from the grocery shelf!  And it was so seriously easy that I hope I never, ever, ever buy one of those packets again.  To me, making my own taco & chili seasonings solves two problems.  Number one, I know exactly what goes into the seasoning (no weird additives or extra salt) & I can tweak it for Mike who not only does not really like the taste of spicy things but he also develops spice induced tummy aches very easily.  Heartburn, anyone?  Number two, I will actually be able to use more of my spices!  Even though I try to cook a lot & make our food savory I know that those spices sit in the rack for probably longer than they should.  This way I can hopefully use them up while they are still fresh.

I wish I could source this recipe for you.  I was doing a massive internet search one day & I wrote the recipe down without adding the information for where I found it.  It's a fairly basic taco/chili recipe that you would find if you did your own internet search.  They thoughtfully posted the recipe for one pound of meat & then quintupled the recipe so you can keep it premixed in your pantry.  At first I thought it might be gross to use the same recipe for tacos & chili but I think it might be just fine.  I haven't used this for chili yet so maybe don't take my word for it.

Taco/Chili Seasoning
For One Pound of Meat:
1 T chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. sea salt

1/4 cup + 1 T. chili powder
1 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/4 tsp. onion powder
1 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/4 tsp. oregano
2 1/2 tsp. paprika
2 T. + 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 T. + 2 tsp. salt
*Use 2 T. for one pound of meat

The only variations I made were to omit the onion powder (I didn't have any), omit the red pepper flakes (too much heat for my man), & I reduced the salt by about half.  I only used about 2/3 of the amount made from the recipe for one pound of meat & I used about 1/2 cup of the water from the beans to make it saucy. 

We had some yummy nachos that night! 

Whoo - almost 14 days down!  Only 17 to go!


Jennifer Lankston said...

Thanks for posting your recipes...I will definitely be trying these out. I also found a very similar recipe for the taco seasoning on Is that the site you used? I use it quite often! Thanks again...oh and I love your blog.

TwoMuths said...

YUMMY! I just made bean dip for Michael last night - out of real beans. :-) Of course I added hot sauce, cumin, chili powder and Lawrys seasoned salt. I am pretty sure the hot sauce and seasoned salt don't count as unprocessed, and of course the TORTILLA CHIPS we ate it with don't count as unprocessed either. Ha.

I do taco meat with seasoned salt, cumin and paprika only. I'll have to try your recipe! YUMMERS.

TwoMuths said...

oh, and PS - have you tried the coffeemate natural bliss? It's made with milk, cream, and natural flavors. does that count as unprocessed?? it does for me when I'm in a rush. :-)

Mary Ann said...

Jennifer - I'm so glad you saw this post! I was going to leave you a note about it on fb, but my app was acting up & then I forgot. Thanks for liking the blog. It's a fun hobby & it makes me happy when others appreciate it.
Jenny, your posts on preparing real beans is what made me think about doing this at some point. And tortilla chips are ok - you could theoretically make them at home (if the only ingredients are corn & salt). I haven't tried the coffeemate natural bliss. I've looked at it but hadn't bought it yet. I think it has sugar in it (which I'm trying to avoid right now) but I'll give it another look since now I know someone who has tried it & liked it!