Beef and Pinto Bean Chili

chili, beef, pinto bean, warm meals, soup, stew

January is one of my favorite months to make stews and chilis.  It’s the best way to heat up your body when you literally turn into a meat popsicle the minute you step outside.  Eat some chili to stop being chilly!  The word “chili” actually comes from “chile con carne”, which means “peppers with meat” in Spanish, which makes complete sense, so I’m going to stop myself from spewing out a bunch of ridiculous, stupid-American jokes about food vs. weather :)

In all actuality, I want to focus on warm soup/chili/stew recipes in January because you all are probably looking for some new ones to try while you’re trying to stay warm.  Here’s the first one!  I found it on the 2013 Cooking Light recipe box calendar that Jess got me for Christmas.  I love it!  I’m speaking about the calendar AND the chili.

Calendar = food porn.  Chili = delicioso.

I happened to have a bag of dry pinto beans laying around from an Aldi shopping trip from loooooong ago.  Seriously, I’ve had these beans for a YEAR.  They’re not my bean of choice, so naturally I didn’t think to use them. When I saw this recipe and realized I had every single ingredient in my kitchen (including the pinto beans!), I knew I had to make it!  So I did.  At 11pm on a Thursday night.  I soaked the beans for a day, then I stuck all the ingredients in the crockpot, put it on low and went to bed.  And at 3am, Jess woke me up because the delicious smells lured her out of sleep, lol.

I brought some in to work on Friday to share with my friend, Richard.  He is a spicy food fanatic like myself and he recently acquired this ridiculously spicy hot sauce.  The first time Richard tried it, his mouth was on fire, he felt like he was dying and laid on the floor curled up in a ball for about two hours.  He put a bit too much on his BBQ sandwich.  He also felt like a demi-god when he survived it.  So, of course, I wanted to try it!  What more perfect pairing is there than chili and hot sauce?  NONE!  (except maybe sea salted caramel and dark chocolate)  So we put about 1.5 tsp into a mere 1.5 cups of chili, stirred it up and ate it in the break room at work.  HOLY CRAP.  That sauce is HOT!  A sweet hot with a gentle, but voracious fire that makes the inside of your mouth sweat and then fires up your belly slowly from the top down.  But you know what?  It tasted great even when it was burning its way through my body and I now feel like a superhuman!  I WANT MORE.  I’m totally getting a bottle because it belongs in my kitchen.  And in this chili.

beef, pinto bean, bean, chili, soup, stew, dinner

Beef and Pinto Bean Chili (from Cooking Light)
Servings: 6
PointsPlus Per Serving: 8 (10 with topping) *See tips on lightening it up even more at the bottom*


  • 1 lb boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces, 18 PP
  • 1/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 2 tbsp canola oil, 7 PP
  • 4 cups chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup minced jalapeno peppers
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 12-oz bottle beer, 5 PP
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste, 1 PP
  • 3 cups fat-free beef broth (like Better Than Bouillon Beef Base), 1 PP
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained, 8 PP


  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced radish
  • 1 avocado, chopped, 9 PP
  • 6 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 6 tbsp light sour cream, 5 PP
  • 6 lime wedges

1. Heat a dutch oven over high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle beef evenly with 1/4 tsp salt. Add beef to pan; saute 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove from pan.

2. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and jalapeno; saute 8 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; saute 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a boil. Cook until liquid almost evaporates (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in paprika, cumin, and tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Return beef to pan. Add broth, tomatoes and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1.5 hours or until mixture is thick and beef is very tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/2 tsp salt.

4. Ladle 1 cup chili into each of 6 bowls and divide toppings evenly.


– Use half as much meat and this goes down to 6 PP per cup.
– Need some extra filler in now that you’ve take out some of the meat? Add a cup of diced zucchini and 1/2 cup chopped celery and your chili will be hearty and healthy and remain at 6 PP per cup.
– If you use half the oil and only 2.5 cups of onion (not adding in the celery and zucchini), it goes down to 5 PP per cup.
– Top with fat-free sour cream or leave out either the light sour cream or the avocado and you’ll only be adding 1 PP per bowl rather than two. (if you’re using the topping).

Lightened Up Piña Coladas


My absolute favorite frozen drink is the pina colada. When I saw this lightened up version from Chew Nibble Nosh, I almost peed my pants with excitement. She uses fat free evaporated milk infused with shredded coconut, but I would imagine that some Trader Joe’s light coconut milk might work just as well too… now I just have to try it! This version is about 5 PP. Not bad for a fruity, coconutty alcoholic drink! You can bet I’ll be trying this soon.

Originally posted on Chew Nibble Nosh:

When it’s hot and summer-steamy out, we love to break out the blender and whip up delicious frozen drinks when we entertain.  One of my favorite “sit by the pool and relax” drinks is a cool, frosty Piña Colada.  The tropical pineapple-coconut combo always tastes so fresh and light to me.  The problem lies in that Piña Coladas usually aren’t really all that fresh.  Most rely on premixed, heavy on the calories drink mixes, which means they aren’t all that light either.  They taste great, but did you know that a typical restaurant/bar Piña Colada can pack up to 650 calories and close to 20 grams of fat?  That’s more than a Big Mac!  UGH!

Since I read that a while back, I’ve tried to steer clear of my favorite frozen drink.   If I’m going to blow 650 calories on something, it’s not going to be something I can…

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Smoothies and Shakes… What’s the Difference?

Click here for this Wild Blueberry Shake recipe by “Colorful Palate”!

I’ve been on a smoothie rampage lately. Well, by rampage I mean that I have at least 1-2 per day… and not really for the purpose of losing weight, but because they are damn tasty! If I can have something that tastes like ice cream without all the guilt for any meal of the day AND it takes less than 5 minutes to make from start to finish why would I NOT have 1-2 a day? They satisfy my massive sweet tooth and since I put protein powder in every one, they fill me up. It’s a win-win.

Click here for this Juicy Pear Smoothie recipe by “The Healthy Foodie”!

My history with making shakes and smoothies has not been a great one, though. Until my mom showed me how to properly make one last month, I ended up disappointed in most of my smoothie attempts. I’d already packed the blender up for our move (which is next weekend) because I didn’t see the point in keeping it out! Oh, silly silly me. Mimsy (my nickname for my mom) brought over some Weight Watcher Protein Smoothie packets, bought some frozen fruit and went to work.

First off, let me tell you the difference between a SMOOTHIE and a SHAKE. I had to do my own research on this just to figure it out. A smoothie is typically made with fruit – frozen fruit, fruit juice, fresh fruit, etc. It’s not a dairy affair. It’s a fruit party. A shake (“milkshake” being the source of the word), on the other hand, is a dairy-based treat usually made with ice cream, milk or both. The thickness of either does not change the name; as long as you can suck it up through a straw, it’s either a smoothie or a shake. When you start to need a spoon, then it becomes an ice cream or a sorbet.

After you figure out if you’re making a smoothie or a shake, you then want to decide how thick you want it to be. Do you want to easily drink it or do you want it thicker so that you feel more like you’re “eating” something rather than “drinking” it? The breakdown:

Click here for this Blood Orange Smoothie recipe by “Bittersweet”!

– Start each shake/smoothie with no more than 1 cup of a liquid, whether that’s water, fruit juice or some kind of milk (soy, almond, coconut, regular, etc).

– If you want a treat you can DRINK, you can either skip the frozen stuff all together (like ice cream or frozen fruit) and just put in fresh fruit like berries and bananas (or even spinach or avocado!) or you can put in frozen items that are UP TO OR EQUAL to the amount of liquid you’re using. If it’s too liquidy, blend in something frozen like ice or fruit.

– If you want a treat you can EAT, you can put in frozen items that are EQUAL OR UP TO TWICE the amount of the liquid you’re using. You could also use half the amount of liquid and sub the other half with tofu, yogurt, avocado or cottage cheese. Any more than that and your blender won’t blend it properly and you’ll end of with icy chunks of fruit covered in what resembles a smoothie texture. If it’s too thick for you, add some more liquid.

Click here for this Lemon Apple Honey Smoothie by “The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife”!

– If you want a treat you NEED TO EAT WITH A SPOON, you’ll want to use 2 parts frozen stuff to 1 part liquid. Maybe a liiiiiiittle bit more, but not too much. Or you can use about 2 tbsp liquid, up to one cup of tofu, cottage cheese, yogurt or avocado and then add your sweetener and frozen ingredients.

THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: you want to make sure you eat/drink your treats right away. Smoothies and shakes lose their wonderful consistency within about 30 minutes. So, don’t make it until you’re ready to consume it.

Click here for this Papaya Strawberry Avocado Shake recipe from “Family Fresh Cooking”!

Now you know how to make it work. So all that’s left is some delicious recipes, right? Well, you can certainly click on any of the pictures I’ve posted to go to those recipes on different blogs or you can try some of these simple and delicious combos listed below! Just put in the wet ingredients first, then the protein powder (if using) and sweetener and THEN the frozen items. Blend and enjoy! You may need to use a spoon to re-position the fruit so that it blends properly. Once you see the top of the mixture seamlessly swirling towards the center, your treat is ready to be devoured!

Chocoberry Protein Shake (4 PP)

  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk, 2 PP
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 2 PP
  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries

Click here for this Carrot Cake Smoothie recipe by “Pursuit of Hippieness”!

Tropical Breeze Protein Shake (4 PP)

  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk, 1 PP
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar, 1 PP
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 2 PP
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen tropical fruit medley

Peaches and Cream Shake (4 PP)

  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk, 2 PP
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peaches
  • 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla ice cream, 2 PP

Simple Strawberry Smoothie (1 PP)

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 2 tbsp truvia, 1 PP

Chocolate PB Banana Shake (5 PP)

  • 1 cup skim milk, 1 PP
  • 1 tsp peanut butter, 2 PP
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 2 PP
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen banana

Watermelon Explosion Sorbet (1 PP)

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen watermelon chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp truvia, 1 PP

Asian Breaded Albacore

I did something fishy. And I don’t mean mysterious or questionable… I mean tasty! When Jess and I were in Ohio a couple weekends ago, we made sure to stop at Trader Joe’s to fill up on all the grocery items we can’t get locally – nicely priced organic fruits and veggies, better cheeses, organic frozen meals, coconut cookie thins, etc. As we were about to check out, Jess turned to me and said,

“Don’t you want to get some frozen fish steaks?” I said, “YEAH!”, because in fact, I did. If there was a Whole Foods around, we’d be getting fresh ones, but the second best option is frozen, so I picked out a pair of beautiful albacore tuna steaks.

Then we got home and I looked around for a recipe that sounded both succulent and satisfying for my taste buds, but not too crazy for Jess’. The packaging contained a recipe for lemon-pepper breaded steaks, but I’m not so fond of that combination. It’s overdone with fish. And there was a recipe I found in one of my cookbooks for sesame teriyaki tuna steaks, but I knew I wanted some panko breading on there. Conclusion? Make up my own recipe! So I did. And it was wonderful.

I’d never had albacore tuna in any other form than chunked and packed in a can with water (and if you’re curious about the difference between albacore tuna and regular tuna, click here). These steaks looked too beautiful to pass up. I marinated them in an Island Teriyaki sauce for an hour and then breaded them with panko bread crumbs and asian spices, but the best part was pan-frying them in just a couple teaspoons of sesame oil! It really brought the flavors together. It’s a beautifully flavored dish that doesn’t overpower the palate with too much spice or too much fish. And it’s just as good when it’s reheated!

Pan-fried perfection

Asian Breaded Albacore
Servings: 2-4
PointsPlus Per Serving: 7 PP for 2, 5 PP for 3, 3 PP for 4


  • 13 oz fresh albacore tuna steaks, 8 PP (I bought a pack of two from the frozen section of Trader Joes)
  • 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce, 1 PP
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, 2 PP
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp sesame oil, 2 PP

1. First thing you want to do is put your fish in a glass dish and pour the teriyaki sauce over top to marinate it in the fridge for about an hour.

2. While it’s marinating, combine all the ingredients from the bread crumbs through ground coriander in another glass dish.

3. Once your fish is done marinating, take it out of the fridge and set it on the counter. Warm up the sesame oil in a skillet on medium heat. Bread all sides of the fish with the panko bread crumbs and then place into the hot skillet.

4. Cook each side for 2-3 minutes, 2 minutes for rare, 3 minutes for medium-rare. Rare should be slightly pink in the center. Once done, serve and enjoy!

If you want to pair it with a tasty dipping sauce, mix together 2 tbsp light mayo, 1 tbsp sriracha sauce and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice. It’s the perfect combination of flavors!

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheese Frosting

I patiently took this picture before devouring it in four bites.

I cannot even begin to describe the awesomeness that is Skinnytaste.  This woman comes up with delicious healthy recipes, shares them and makes everyone’s day better.  I linked to her Chocolate Stout Cupcake recipe and decided on Friday that I should give them a try.

Umm…. they were amazing.  So amazing that I had to give them to Jess (that’s Bella’s actual name!  She said I can use it now) to bring to her coworkers because I was eating an average of THREE per day this weekend.  Three cupcakes per day is just not healthy, no matter how low in calories or PP they are!   The fact that I was eating three per day gives you a hint that they were ridiculously successful, though.  And they were really easy to make, so I’ve decided to share the recipe with you!

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheese Frosting (from Skinnytaste)
Servings: 12
PointsPlus Per Serving: 5!
Calories Per Serving: around 189



  • 5.5 oz 1/3 less fat Philly Cream Cheese, softened, 9 PP
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 6 PP
  • 4 tsp Bailey’s Irish Cream, 2 PP (it’s about 2/3 oz)


  • 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp sugar, 17 PP
  • 1 cup flour, 12 PP
  • 7 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 PP
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg, 2 PP
  • 1/2 cup stout, 2 PP
  • 4 oz unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (skim milk works too)
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream (i used Chobani 0% plain), 2 PP
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tbsp canola oil, 5 PP
  • cooking spray

1. Combine all the frosting ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until smooth with an electric mixer. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cupcake tin with 12 liners and lightly spray liners with oil (to prevent sticking).

3. In a large bowl sift together all the dry ingredients; sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda (or put them all in a bowl and whisk it until well combined).

4. In a medium bowl combine the wet ingredients (egg through canola oil) and beat until smooth.

5. With a mixer, slowly add the sifted flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour into cupcake liners and bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Is it just me, or do you all think it’s a bit kinky to “undress” your cupcake before eating it?

A few notes: the beer does not have to be flat before you use it.  I know that some beer breads require this, but these cupcakes are an exception.  You can also use any kind of stout.  I used a random one that’s been in my fridge for about 1.5 years; worked just fine!  One more thing – you may think that you’re filling the cupcake liners with too much batter, but believe me, once you’ve evenly divided it amongst the liners, they’ll cook up just the way they’re supposed to.  And remember to share so that you don’t end up eating SIX of them in two days!

Sweet and Sour Balti Chicken and a Giveaway! CLOSED

What better way to start off a weekend than a giveaway?!?!?  My good friends over at Chobani have come out with a new product – 16 and 32 oz containers of their greek yogurt!  So, they sent me three of the 32 oz ones to test out – vanilla, plain 2% and plain 0%.  Let me tell you, I’ve been enjoying them since the middle of December and not a single dollop has gone to waste!

I ate all of the vanilla yogurt for breakfasts and snacks instead of cooking with it, but I definitely would have made more of the zucchini muffins or black and white cake cookies if I’d been in a baking mood.  It was right around the holidays, though, and I spent more time packing and unpacking for all our holiday travels than cooking up tasty foods.  Luckily, these containers stay fresh in the fridge for long periods of time, so I was able to use the plain yogurt for a bunch of new dishes once the holidays were over.

A lot of the plain yogurt was used as a topping for burritos and chili, but most of it was used in Indian dishes.  I’ve been on an Indian cuisine rampage!  I bought this wonderful book called the Best Ever Indian Cookbook and I’ve tried about seven different recipes from it so far.  A lot of the recipes call for “strained yogurt”, which essentially IS greek yogurt, so having two tubs of the stuff came in quite handy!

This recipe for Sweet and Sour Balti Chicken is our favorite one so far.  Bella isn’t a huge fan of onions, which is difficult when you’re cooking Indian cuisine because it’s FULL of onions, but this one doesn’t have any onion at all.  She was ecstatic.  I loved it because it was sweet, sour AND I was able to make it spicier by adding in extra chiles.  We put it over brown rice and topped it off with a little extra Chobani and finished off our bowls in mere minutes.  I tweaked the recipe a bit to make it more WWF and it doesn’t ruin the integrity of the dish.  In fact, I think it makes it more appealing because it’s less oily.  So, here it is!  (Don’t forget to go to the bottom on details on how to win all that Cho!)

Sweet and Sour Balti Chicken
Servings: 4
PointsPlus Per Serving: 5 (10 if you put it over 1 cup of brown rice)


  • 3 tbsp organic tomato paste, 1 PP
  • 4 tbsp Chobani 0% plain greek yogurt, divided, 1 PP
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp mango chutney, 1 PP
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp canola oil, 5 PP
  • 2 chicken breasts, cubed, 12 PP
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 2-4 hot green chiles
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

1. Mix the tomato paste, 2 tbsp yogurt, garam masala, chili powder, garlic, mango chutney, salt and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Stir well.

2. Heat the oil in a wok or deep pan (or if you have it, a karahi!). Lower the heat slightly and pour in the spice mixture. Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the chicken pieces and stir until they are well coated.

4. Stir in the water to thin the sauce slightly. Continue cooking for 5-7 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked and tender.

5. Finally, add the fresh chiles, cilantro and the other 2 tbsp of the yogurt, cook for another two minutes over a low heat, then serve!

Now, for the giveaway….

Chobani is letting me give away the same three tubs that they sent to me!  You’ll get your own pack of vanilla, plain 2% and plain 0%.  How can you win, you ask? Why, there are multiple ways to enter. Just make sure to leave a separate comment for each one! The winner will be chosen on Tuesday, January 24th using, so all entries MUST be recieved by Monday, January 23rd at MIDNIGHT!

1. “Like” Chobani on Facebook and leave a comment on their wall telling them how you found their page and what product you’re trying to win and then leave a comment on this blog post telling me that you did.  (if you already like them, pop on over and say hi on their wall again!)

2. Follow @ReluctantFoodie on Twitter and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did or already do.

3. Subscribe to my blog through RSS feed or through email and leave a comment telling me that you did or already do.

4. Share my blog post link on Facebook with the following in the comment box, “Win a free case of flavored Chobani ‘gurt on The Reluctant WW Foodie blog!” and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did.

5. Tweet the following message “Win three 32-oz tubs of Chobani ‘gurt from @ReluctantFoodie! Enter here –” and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did.

6. Go to (sign up if you haven’t!) and give me some “klout” in whatever category you choose and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did (you can do this multiple times!)

7. Leave a comment on this blog telling me what new dish you’d like to try with the ‘gurt!

Simple Broccoli Soup

Sometimes life’s complicated and you just want something simple to calm you down and let you catch your breath. If that’s how you feel today, you should make this soup. Believe me, it will calm you down and let you relax. It will also surprise your taste buds at how delicious a soup can be despite the fact that it has NO broth and No preservatives added! It’s simple – veggies, water, salt and a blender. Well, there’s a little more to it, but nothing you can’t handle :)

I came up with this recipe after watching an episode of Gordon Ramsey’s “Kitchen Nightmares”. He’s definitely not a simple person, but he definitely knows how to keep his food simple and delicious! He came up with a soup that was literally just water, broccoli and salt. I wanted to do something along those lines, so I looked through my cookbooks at different soup recipes to see what looked good to me. I ended up using my own mix of veggies and spices to create this pure, creamy, hearty soup. I hope you enjoy! Bella and I sure did. And this is DEFINITELY going on the menu of the bistro that I’ll open up some day!

Photo Courtesy of: Jess Costantini of Beautiful Orange Productions

Simple Broccoli Soup
Servings: 2 BIG BOWLS (like 2.5-3 cups each)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 5


  • 2 small white potatoes, cubed (I left the skin on for added nutrients!), 3 PP
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1/2 big white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil, 1 PP
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 chili powder

1. Cut off the florets of the broccoli, rinse and set aside. Then cut up the stems of the broccoli (and rinse), cube the potato, smash the garlic cloves and slice the onion.

2. Warm up the olive oil in a soup pot, add the broccoli stems, onion, garlic, potato, bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp of the salt. Saute for about 2 or 3 minutes until fragrant.

3. Add 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and let cook for about 5 minutes. Then, add the broccoli florets and cook for about 5-7 more minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Then, turn off the stove top and plug in the blender!

4. Pour the soup mixture into a separate bowl, but make sure to discard the bay leaf! Put two ladle-fulls of the soup into the blender at a time and puree until smooth. Pour the pureed soup back into the pot on the stove and put on low.

5. Once it’s back to cooking on the stove, add in the black pepper, chili powder and the rest of the salt. Let simmer for a few minutes before serving.

If you want, add a little parmesan cheese on top.  Bella’s favorite is a sharp, tangy parmesan called “locatelli”.  Not many soups or pasta dishes pass by her without a sprinkling of locatelli on it, and rightfully so.  It’s delicious.  Personally, I don’t add a thing to this soup.  Although, I do think that some croutons or crusty bread would be a great addition!