Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Beans > Beef

I used to be a ballerina.

Well, I should probably say aspiring ballerina, since I opted out of classes just before reaching pointe around age 12.

While dance lessons were far from the highlight of my day, due to a frighteningly judgmental teacher, intimidating older ballerinas and just a general fear of failure, I definitely adored the prospect of dancing in a tutu and pretending I was a princess in distress.

Something I associate with dance class almost as much as my little pink shoes are the dinners that followed.

Like many families juggling two small children's schedules + parental duties, we had a few staple meals at our house- my favorites being PA-sketti or red beans and rice, and the most loathed slow cooked beef stew.

I'd skip into the house after class- in all my pink tight donning glory- eager for some supper. But whenever I smelled the sour dankness of that dreaded stew, I knew I'd be going hungry that night.

This aversion went on for years- I don't think my parents ever once got me to actually enjoy that meal. Now that I don't eat beef, it looks like that ship has sailed and then some.

Inspired in part by a desire to prove something good can come out of a crock pot and all of your wonderful suggestions in the comments section yesterday, I decided to try my hand at slow-cooked vegetarian chili.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili, that is...

I used the recipe here, but The Fitnessista also has a very similar one here.

I started with my produce...

Two of the ingredients turned out to be California-grown!

(I love it when that happens)

Though the recipe calls for canned diced tomatoes, Trader Joe's was fresh out so I opted for the next best thing:

And when I read the label, I figured it was a win-win situation...

Chop, chop

+ the liquids (that's me consolidating dishes)

Add some real flava'

Pull out this miracle of an appliance

Dump it all in, turn it on and leave the beautiful mess to do it's thing.

Not only did the chili come out tasting divine,

but when I returned from play rehearsal (today's version of ballet class), I walked into a house enveloped in the sweet spicy smell of deliciousness.

Turns out, crock pots can produce miracles ;)

And now I've got lunch for days.

Does it get more perfect than that?

I think next on my winter meal checklist will be Paije's suggestion: grain bowls. Mmmmm...

Alright, I'm heading to bed after a loooong shift.

Thanks so much for your suggestions!

Today's question: Do you have a favorite (or dreaded) meal you remember from childhood?


  1. Holla for the grain bowls :)
    My parents used to make roast beef that I haaaated! I still hate it! Thankfully now that I'm a veg I have an excuse not to eat it haha.
    Your chili looks amaaaazing! I definitely will be adding it to our meals this week! Thanks girl!!

  2. Yummm, your chilli came out looking so amazing! When I was younger I would HATE the schnitzel that my mom made... and the rice with the chicken soup powder as flavouring yuckyucky
    I can't wait to see what kind of grain bowl you make, I love those!

  3. Ha! So funny---I felt the same way about beef stew when I was a kid...and I felt the same way about gymnastics that you felt about ballet (and I quit before it got really hard too :)

    I guess I'll have to give beef stew another try because I still cringe when my mom or anyone mentions it!


  4. My grandmother had her version of beef stew that was my own personal hell. Oh, and gulash or however you spell it, that was awful too. It was probably her cooking that turned me to the veg side! Chili looks awesome, I am going to give it a go!