Hello and Happy Halloween! Anyone have any fun plans today for the holiday? I’m hitting up Markoff’s Haunted Forest tonight with Matt and a bunch of friends – so excited. We’ve gone a bunch of years now, and it’s always great. I love a good scare! Anyone else going to a haunted house or forest tonight? What’s the best one you’ve been to?
Before I get into my regularly scheduled programming, I wanted to give a reminder that the Food Blogger Online Summit is this coming weekend! There are 10 speakers (I’m one of them!) sharing presentations on a variety of topics related to growing, organizing, branding, and monetizing your blogs. Click here for more information and to sign up, and use the code “ANNE50” (expires Friday at midnight) to get $50 off your registration fee! We have almost 100 people signed up so far so the private Facebook group for attendees should be a great place for networking and Q&A.
And now, I’d like to introduce you to my new favorite thing: our crockpot.
We got this crockpot as a wedding gift last year and I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t use it until this week! It was buried in the back of our cupboard since last fall and I kind of forgot about it until the weekend, when we were at our friends place for a party. Megan, the hostess, had made chili and that got us talking about slow cookers, which inspired me to dust ours off and give it a shot.
I did a quick Google search for recipes (I searched for “chicken and sweet potato crockpot recipe”) and ended up finding a simple and tasty-looking recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Marrakesh over on AllRecipes.com. It called for chicken, sweet potato, carrots, chickpeas, onions, garlic, a can of diced tomatoes, and some various spices, all of which I had on hand. Perfect!
I followed the recipe exactly but scaled it down since I didn’t want 8 servings and we only had a little over a pound of chicken breast. I also used fresh parsley instead of dried since we still have some in our apartment garden boxes to use up!
I prepped everything for the meal in the early afternoon on Tuesday and it was super simple. Basically just toss everything into the crockpot…
Stir it all up…
Set on high for 5 and a half hours, and that’s it! Once the time was up, the crockpot would automatically set itself to “warm.”
I went about my day, did some work, then some errands, met with an AnneTheRD client, had a walking date with a dietitian colleague/mentor, went to a yoga class with my friend Chrissy, and arrived home around 8 p.m. to dinner ready to go.
Arriving home to dinner 100% ready to eat was basically the best thing EVER. Expect many more crockpot meals to be making appearances here on the blog! I couldn’t believe how easy it was to use. “Set it and forget it” = my kind of cooking.
The recipe I used was really good, too – Matt and I were both big fans. We’ll definitely be repeating this one!
Speaking of food, you know what else I’m loving lately? Popcorn! ConAgra Foods, who is sponsoring this section of the post, shared results from an interesting study on popcorn and snacking at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) I attended last week out in Houston.
On nights that we have an early or light dinner and get hungry again before bed, Matt and I sometimes bust out popcorn as an evening snack while catching up on our favorite TV shows. I love the salty crunch and the fact that it’s a great volume food – meaning you can eat a lot of it for not a ton of calories.
When working with my nutrition counseling clients, I have them use an approach called intuitive eating, in which they focus on the process of eating and really enjoying their food and being mindful, because research shows that people tend to eat more when distracted by everyday activities like watching TV. I try to have them not do anything else while eating, especially as they get used to listening to their hunger and fullness cues again (it can be hard to recognize them after years of dieting habits, or if you eat too quickly, or if you’re distracted). In a perfect world, no one would eat while distracted… but obviously that isn’t going to work 100% of the time in real life. So that said, if you are actually hungry (not just bored or eating to eat) and looking for a snack to enjoy while watching TV or reading, it’s smart to pick something that gives you some good volume bang for your buck. At FNCE, the study presented showed that the type of snack consumed can have a large impact on total calorie intake from eating while distracted. Makes sense, right? Researchers found that people ate 32% fewer calories when they snacked from a large bowl of popcorn instead of regular potato chips while watching television. This is because a one ounce serving of popcorn packs six times more volume than a similar serving of potato chips. Sweet!
Most often, Matt and I just buy the whole kernels and pop our own popcorn on the stove with a little oil, but if you’re looking for a microwave version, I’d recommend the Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Naturals line which has no added flavors, colors, or preservatives. And no trans fat! We all know how to find that on labels now after my post about it (Trans Fat: What It Is & How and Why to Avoid It), right?
Anyway! Just some interesting nutrition tidbits for you to mull over today.
A couple questions before I sign off:
- What’s your favorite quick & healthy slow cooker/crockpot recipe? Please share links! I’m seriously going to use that thing every day now…
- Are you a popcorn fan? What’s your favorite kind?
Have a happy Halloween, everyone!