What's for Breakfast:
What's for Lunch:
Leftover Italian Wedding Soup
Spiced Egg Salad Sandwiches
What's for Dinner:
Harvest Pumpkin Chili (Recipe below)
Whole Wheat Toast
Toasted pumpkin seeds
Today was Day 6, our grand finale to this crazy Great Pantry Challenge. We are pretty excited to have made it through this week. The goal was to save money and reflect on what it is like to use what we have (not what we buy or import) like so many others in the world are forced to do on a regular basis. The result was eating pretty creatively and learning some great lessons in the process.
Lessons we Learned this Week:
1. Monday: Cooking extra servings or batches makes an easy meal for another night.
2. Tuesday: The key to good eats is living in community.
3. Wednesday: Be creative with what you have.
4. Thursday: You save more if you stay out of the store.
5. Friday: Fresh fruits and veggies are a must.
6. Saturday: The more you save, the more you have to give away.
The best part of this challenge was doing it with friends. I know several friends including Brandy, AnnMarie, Jen, Katie, Sandra and Susan were joining us. I gained a lot from walking the journey with them, reading their blogs and hearing their comments and encouragement along the way.
Our family has decided to start a new challenge as a result of what we've learned this week. Our friends inspired us to do this one. We plan to eat rice and beans every Monday night from now until Christmas. In a small way, this will force us to eat simply like many of our friends in Haiti and across the globe. Sure, we will save money in the process. Beyond that, we also hope this meal will serve as a time for meditation and prayer for those who have less than we do.
Today is Halloween, which we don't really celebrate, but we do feel the effects of lots of candy and treats being around. We struck a deal with our daughter Meilani that if she trades in all the candy people give her(the yucky stuff full of high fructose corn syrup and harmful dyes) than she can pick out a toy or other treat. Last year she picked a coloring book and trip to Jamba Juice. When I asked Meilani today what she wanted, she asked if I could buy her this T-shirt. Our friends are adopting two kids from Ethiopia and the proceeds go to the Phillips family adoption and an orphanage in Ethiopia. I did not prompt her to ask for this. She saw me admiring the T-shirts online the other day and remembered. Sure, $15 is a little more than I planned to spend on this trade but how could I pass up such a cause - especially when we just saved a load of money on our Pantry Challenge.
I challenge you to think about ways you and your family can share your abundance with others. Maybe it's inviting a neighbor to a meal. Maybe it's sponsoring a child in an orphanage. Maybe it's having your kids pick out a Christmas gift from the World Vision catalog or Compassion International that they can give to someone across the globe this year. Maybe it's packing sack lunches for the homeless and dropping them off throughout the season when you run into someone hungry on the street. These are just a few ideas of things our family has done in the past. We would love to hear your ideas for other ways to share.
Sometimes this little voice inside me asks, why did I just work so hard to save money on something like a Pantry Challenge when I'm going to give it all away. Seems a little backwards. In reality, it's forwards. Some call it a "Pay It Forward" principle. Others call it "The Treasure Principle." In our family, we have learned that the more generous we are with the food and resources we have, the more blessing we experience in our own home. Pass it on.
Today's meals included Pumpkin Pancakes, a regular on our meal list at this time of year. My hubby loves big breakfasts and we can always use an excuse to throw pumpkin and cinnamon in something. (Ericlee tells me that speaks love to him.) Lunch was a smorgasboard of leftovers - egg salad and Italian Wedding Soup from earlier in the week. Then we assembled our Grand Finale Dinner: Harvest Pumpkin Chili. I keep hearing people talk about "pumpkin chili." I've never had it before. I read a bunch of recipes and took a look at what was left in the pantry. Voila! This new recipe was created. We made it mostly vegetarian because of our lack of meat by the end of the week but next time I might saute up some ground turkey or beef to add to the pot.
A Note from our Nutrition Guy (aka my hubby Ericlee):
Pretty colors on your plate are not only a feast for your eyes but also for your heart. The pigments that give fruits and vegetables their bright hues are called carotenoids. The most carotenoid rich foods are the yellow, orange, and red vegetables like pumkins. These carotenoids are similar to an antioxidant. They neutralize free radicals (oxygen molecules that cause havoc in the cells) by offering up their own electrons. Thus it helps to prevent your cells from being damaged. If you want to stay away from cancer, then enjoy this Fall season by eating pumkins in all varieties. There is actually a higher concentration of carotenoids in canned pumkins than in a raw whole pumkin.
Harvest Pumpkin Chili
*As is, this is a vegetarian chili because that's what we had in the pantry. I would add 1 lb. grass-fed ground beef or ground turkey for a meat-eater's version.
2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cups butternut squash, 1/2-inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz. can organic tomato sauce
1 6-oz. can organic tomato paste
2 cups pumpkin puree (We halved and cooked a small sugar pumpkin for one hour at 250 degrees & then scooped out the flesh for our puree. You could use canned puree as well.)
2 cups organic chicken broth
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chives, dried or freshly chopped
2 cups black beans (canned or soaked & cooked until tender)
2 cups frozen or fresh corn
*Garnish: Fry up 3 slices turkey bacon and crumble on top or finely chop a small bunch of green onions and put on top chili with sour cream.
1. Heat butter or olive oil a large stock pot. Add chopped onion, carrots, green pepper and garlic and sweat until soft.
2. Add chili powder, chipotle, cinnamon, salt and chives. Stir in and let simmer 15 minutes so flavors meld.
3. Stir in cooked beans and corn. Cook additional 10 minutes.
4. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped cooked turkey bacon or green onions.