Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Living Healthfully: Mango Chicken Chili

I'm no chef extraordinaire.

But I've had to embrace the role of family culinarian simply because I am the resident nutritionist -- i.e. No, you may not eat donut holes for every meal followed by a glass of root beer.

Because I do care passionately about the bodies we've been given, I'm deeply interested in the food we consume; so I've inadvertently grown passionate about meal-planning and meal-making.

We've been progressively moving toward healthier eating since I became pregnant 4.5 years ago.

And then my father passed away unexpectedly last April.

His death fueled an even larger fire in my kitchen and in my heart to ensure my husband, boys and I were nourishing our bodies with whole foods and solid nutrition; essentially I've been focused on creating a healthy eating plan as moderate in-part insurance policy for health so that our bodies will be in their best physical conditions.

Admittedly, though, it's hard to be a full-time cook when you're also a full-time mom, wife, laundress, house keeper, chauffeur and well, person, who also has interests beyond the four walls of her kitchen.

Because we have so much on our plates, the meals served on our literal ones not only have to be healthy and palatable, but they must be easy, too.

Nothing is easier than a slow-cooker meal, so more and more I've been turning to the tried-and-true meals that allow me to simply toss the ingredients in the pot and walk away until dinner time strikes on the clock or is signaled by loud grumblings from my boys.

Because I rely heavily on my crock pot, and I'm not some great chef, I rarely write about recipes.

But when The Motherhood and Hunts asked me to share my favorite tomato-based recipe and speak about the benefits of incorporating tomatoes to our diets, I felt strongly called to participate; the more I thought about it, the more I realized other moms were probably in the same boat, looking for easy, healthy, really tasty recipes to add to the meal rotation.

Enter the Mango Chicken Chili recipe I stumbled across in Kiwi magazine a few weeks ago. After incorporating a few adaptations to the original recipe, it's been deemed a huge success in our home.

day 210

And this meal is packed with nutrition. Aside from the lean protein of chicken and black beans, the antioxidants of the garlic and spices, and the nutrient-dense sweet potatoes, the tomatoes alone are worthy of my health-conscious praises:

Tomatoes ...
*are a superfood!
*are good for your heart and have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
*are low in calories, but rich in nutrients like potassium and fiber
*contain the POWERFUL antioxidant, lycopene.
*listed in the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines as a choice vegetable to help Americans meet dietary standards.

Anyway, I hope this easy, healthy recipe is well loved in your home, too.

Mango Chicken Chili
Chicken {boneless, about 1.5 pounds -- we used organic thigh meat}
1 can of Hunts diced tomatoes
1 jar of mango salsa
1.5 teaspoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of crushed garlic
1 teaspoon of brown sugar {optional for cutting acidity}
2 medium sized sweet potatoes
1 can of black beans
shredded organic mild cheddar cheese

1. Coat the bottom of the slow cooker with half the jar of salsa.

2. Place the chicken atop and then cover the meat with the rest of the salsa and the diced tomatoes

3. Add the cumin, chili powder, sugar and crushed garlic; stir well.

4. Peal and dice the sweet potatoes into one-inch cubes, and add them to the pot, covering them in the tomatoes.

5. Cook on high until chicken is done and easily able to be shredded with two forks {about four hours}.

6. Add the black beans about an hour before you plan to serve giving them just enough time to cook but not long enough to become mushy.

7. Top with a sprinkling of shredded cheese.

This recipe is lovingly dedicated in my memory of my father who passed away almost a year ago to this day and who would have gobbled up every bite of this tasty chili.It's also dedicated to my boys, who I hope will make good food decisions and treat their bodies well.

So, does your family need to find ways to incorporate more nutritious super foods? And to whom would you dedicate a heart-healthy recipe that incorporates a superfood like tomatoes?

Full disclosure: I was asked by The Motherhood and Hunts to share a tomato-based recipe highlighting the health benefits of tomatoes. I obliged because I feel strongly about helping other families understand the benefits of nutrition as well as sharing easy, healthy recipes that even a non-chef like me can successfully create. Though I am receiving a stipend for this sponsored post, rest assured that my thoughts and opinion always, always remain my own.