Meatless Monday -- Black Bean Lasagna

Monday, February 21, 2011

Years ago, my good friend Michelle made this hearty Mexican-flavored lasagna for me and it's been a favorite of mine ever since. Even your most dedicated carnivores will love it! It reheats well, and in my opinion tastes even better then next day!

Black Bean Lasagna
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 c. chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans black beans, rinsed
1 can chopped green chilies
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 c. chopped fresh tomatoes
1/4 c. minced fresh cilantro (optional)
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c. fat-free sour cream
8 oz. Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
Large bottle thick and chunky salsa
12 Oven-Ready, No Boil Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles
Non-stick cooking spray

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Sautee the onion and garlic for a couple minutes, then add the beans, green chilies, red pepper, tomatoes, cilantro, cumin, and coriander, and simmer for ~15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set bean mixture aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray lasagna pan with cooking spray. Spread 2 to 4 Tbsp salsa in bottom of pan. Layer four lasagna noodles, slightly overlapping. Spread 1/2 bean mixture over noodles, and top with enough salsa to spread an even layer and 1/2 of the sour cream. Top sour cream with 1/3 of the shredded cheese. Repeat noodle layer, bean mixture, salsa, sour cream, and cheese. Finish with one more layer of noodles, salsa, and remaining cheese. Bake covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until cheese is browned on top (~7 to 10 minutes). Let stand 10 minutes before serving (If you don't it will be OK, just liquidy). Enjoy!

50 Ways To Burn 100 Calories

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Only 26 More to Go!
Did you know that you have to burn off and/or cut your caloric intake by 3500 calories to lose one pound? That means if you'd like to lose one pound a week you have to work on reducing your intake or burning off 500 calories a day.  This can be accomplished by eating sensibly and doing 30-45 minute cardiovascular workout or you could try some of these amusing methods recommended by Women's Health. Do any five of these to burn an extra 500 calories a day:

  1. Slather on lip balm 765 times.
  2. Relive the '80s: Lip-synch George Michael's "Faith" 16 times.
  3. DVR an episode of "30 Rock" and watch it commercial free.(Laughing for 10 minutes straight can burn 40 calories -- no joke.)
  4. Watch a documentary like "Food Inc.," "The Cove" or "An Inconvenient Truth." (Serious stuff doesn't scorch as many calories.)
  5. Wiggle while you watch TV for 40 minutes: Fidgeters burn up to 350 more calories a day than couch potatoes.
  6. Get off your butt 33 times to change the channel.
  7. Use the remote to channel surf for 68 minutes.
  8. Surf for real for 34 minutes.
  9. Fly a kite for 20 minutes.
  10. Play beach volleyball for 13 minutes.
  11. Bounce a volleyball on your knee 600 times.
  12. Spend 17 minutes wrestling a beach ball away from your boyfriend.
  13. Carry a cooler stocked with three bottles of water, a six-pack, four PB&Js, two oranges, a bag of tortilla chips and 12 servings of salsa for 22 minutes.
  14. Find the perfect teeny-weeny polka-dot bikini: Try on 16 suits (one every three minutes).
  15. Polka for real for 23 minutes.
  16. Do the horizontal polka missionary style for one hour and seven minutes.
  17. Spice things up with 35 minutes of foreplay and 45 minutes of sex in different positions.
  18. Ride him like a cowgirl for 26 minutes (straddling requires more calorie-burning leg work).
  19. Swing a lasso over your head 375 times.
  20. Milk a cow for 34 minutes.
  21. Shear three sheep (six minutes per sheep).
  22. Fish for 41 minutes.
  23. Make like a fish and swim at a leisurely pace for 17 minutes.
  24. Do 250 breaststrokes (about 10 minutes).
  25. Indulge your inner dork and do 27 underwater handstands.
  26. Dog-paddle for 17 minutes.
  27. Walk a toy poodle for 41 minutes (at 2 miles per hour).
  28. Let a Great Dane walk you for 13 minutes (5 mph).
  29. Learn to "walk the dog": Yo-yo for 25 minutes.
  30. Alternate between cat pose, cow pose and downward dog 13 times, holding each for 30 seconds.
  31. Walk up 33 flights of stairs.
  32. Strap on four-inch stilettos and you only have to climb up 25 flights.
  33. Hit the stair climber for 11 minutes.
  34. Push a grocery cart for 45 minutes.
  35. Put a 42-pound 4-year-old in the cart's child seat and push it for half an hour.
  36. Opt for self-checkout: Wait in line for seven minutes, ring yourself up for another 10, bag your own grub and load up the car.
  37. Carry five grocery bags from the car to the kitchen and put the food away, take out the trash, wash the dishes, and wipe down the kitchen counter.
  38. Eat chili for a couple of days: Research shows that chili peppers boost your metabolic rate, burning 50 more calories a day.
  39. Chew calorie-free gum for nine hours.
  40. Wash, halve and seed two acorn squash, then watch them bake for 30 minutes.
  41. Play squash for eight minutes.
  42. Play "Chopsticks" on the piano incessantly for 41 minutes.
  43. Eat four meals with chopsticks instead of a fork: Slowing down can help you consume about 25 fewer calories per meal.
  44. Lift and lower a soy sauce bottle 170 times with your right hand and a wok 170 times with your left.
  45. Take a leisurely walk in the park for 51 minutes.
  46. Walk backward in the park for 43 minutes.
  47. Walk with hiking poles for 22 minutes -- you'll burn 20 percent more calories.
  48. Pole-vault for 17 minutes.
  49. Sing the "Grease" original soundtrack from start to finish.
  50. Degrease by scrubbing in the shower for 15 minutes, then spend seven minutes shaving, three minutes toweling off, four minutes moisturizing, and 20 minutes blow-drying and styling your hair.
Source: Women's Health

Why Wear Organic?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

So I'm definitely guilty of buying organic and all-natural fibers when choosing clothing for my little ones, but not paying much attention when it comes to my own wardrobe. An article in a newsletter from one of my favorite bloggers EcoLogicalMom made me think twice about that this morning.  So much so that I wanted to share it with you right away: 

7 Reasons to Wear Organics
We all know that organic food is not treated with harmful pesticides, reason why it is delicious (and expensive!). However many of us don't fully understand the benefits of wearing organic clothing. Well, we've done a bit of a research for you, and here are the 7 key benefits of organic clothing you should know:

1. It is reported that cotton crops are the 2nd largest user of agricultural pesticides in the world. Only second to coffee internationally and to corn here in the United States. This means that 25% of the world's insecticides and 10% of the world's pesticides are dedicated to cotton. Four of the top nine pesticides used in treating  cotton is considered by the EPA to be highly carcinogenic. These are cyanide, dicofol, naled and propargite. Also, organic cotton is grown on land that is certified to be free from any pesticide, insecticide  and defoliants for at least three years. Also, organic fabric contains natural dyes, which are safer for your health and for the environment.

2. When the crops are sprayed it is estimated that only 25% of those chemicals actually get absorbed into the plant. The rest is drifting up to miles and settling on crops that we eat and into water that is a drinking source for humans and animals.

3. Some of the insects that these chemicals are supposed to repel are becoming immuned to these synthetics. This requires that more be dumped onto the plant in attempt to produce the highest yield possible.

4. Organic cotton is hypoallergenic, meaning it doesn't harbor the particles in the air that can make it hard to breathe.

5. Organic fabrics typically absorb moisture more efficiently than non-organic fabrics.

6. When you purchase organic fabric, you're supporting farmers who use products that are safer for the environment. Overall, buying organic cotton helps reduce your carbon footprint.

7. Because organic fabric isn't produced using harmful chemicals and pesticides, it is safer for the men and women who work the land. When you purchase organic fabric, you're supporting safer working environments.

Meatless Monday: Black Bean Soup & Mini Corn Muffins

Monday, February 7, 2011

This recipe is from Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons by Nava Atlas.  In addition to her many vegetarian cookbooks, Nava Atlas also has a great website called VegKitchen

Black Bean Soup
6 to 8 Servings
An American classic - robust and brimming with complex flavors. Perfect for cold days spent indoors, this soup is great served with fresh cornbread and a crisp green salad.

1 pound dried black beans, rinsed and sorted (or four 15oz. cans)
1 cup chopped onion
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large celery stalks, diced
2 or 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt-free seasoning
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup dry red wine or sherry, optional
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon light sour cream
sprinkle with chili powder

Rinse and sort the beans, discarding withered ones and checking carefully for small stones. Soak the beans overnight in a large pot with plenty of water, covered. Or cover with water, bring to a boil, then let stand off the heat for an hour for a shortcut version of pre-soaking. In either case, drain the beans after soaking, and rinse. (Start here and skip the first hour of simmering, if you are using canned beans.) Place in a soup pot with fresh water in a ratio of approximately 3 parts water to 1 part beans. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer steadily for 1 hour. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, seasoning mix, nutmeg, and optional wine. Simmer for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are soft. Scoop out about 1 1/2 cups of the beans with a slotted spoon, avoiding as much as possible scooping out the other vegetables. Set aside. Discard the bay leaves and transfer the solid ingredients, in batches, to a food processor or blender. Use about 1/4 cup cooking liquid per batch. Process until smoothly pureed, (discard the rest of the cooking liquid) then return the puree to the soup pot along with the reserved beans. Season with salt and pepper and return to low heat for 15 minutes. I like to use garlic salt, chili pepper and Tabasco to spice mine up just little bit more! Just before serving, heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the sliced onion and saute over medium heat until golden brown. Garnish each serving with some of the sautéed onion, 2 lemon slices, and some chopped parsley. This soup keeps very well for several days, and the flavor improves as it stands.

Per serving of soup (1/8 of the pot without garnish):
Calories: 217, Total fat: 2 g, Protein: 10 g, Fiber: 12 g, Carbohydrate: 36 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 25 mg

Serve with a nice garden salad and mini corn muffins.  If you have a good recipe, I guess you could make these from scratch.  I usually just use the little boxes of corn muffin mix.  Just blend the mix with water and bake . .  so easy.  Do read the ingredients on any mix you might buy though as some box mixes including Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix contain animal shortening or lard, which you will definitely want to avoid on Meatless Monday!  If you try Meatless Monday and/or this recipe, please leave me a comment telling me all about it!

I'm linking to:
Meatless Monday Recipe Round Up

Meatless Monday -- Starts Tomorrow!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

For a while I've been planning to start a Meatless Monday series on my blog, and finally tomorrow I am going to do it!  Since every Monday is meatless at my house (I've been a vegetarian for 20+ years.), I have lots of experience going meatless and lots of great recipes to share. I hope you'll join me tomorrow and every Monday!

Why Meatless? Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.

Why Monday?  Monday is the start of the week.  It's the day to start fresh.  Most diet and/or exercise plans are started or restarted on Monday.  Monday is the call to action built in to every calendar each week. And if this Monday passes you by, next week is another chance to go meatless!  

 I challenge you to try Meatless Monday at your house!  

Great Fitness Deals on Groupon -- Tease Fitness

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sometimes you can find the best fitness deals or Groupon.   I love that this one is right down the street from me.  Today's Baltimore Deal: $12 for Three Women's Fitness Classes of Your Choice at Tease Fitness in Abingdon...

"Tease Fitness's flirty classes offer fun, unconventional workouts to women of every body type and background. Ab-dominant belly-dance classes and torso-enforcing pole-dancing sessions tone confidence muscles and sharpen sass, while lively hip-hop classes and Latin-inspired zumba workouts move limbs to upbeat, slimming rhythms. The schedule is also dotted with high-energy kickboxing and exotic-dance classes, as well as Pilates and yoga sessions in which flexibility fanatics can tone their mortal coils by pondering the paradox of tranquil exertion. The one-hour group workouts are set in clean, spacious, pink-walled studios. Convince your friends to come along, and your posse will emerge with enough collective confidence to make fitting rooms quake so nervously that stores feel it in their boot departments."

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