For this week’s interview and recipe feature, we are happy to have Jodi of What’s Cooking Good Looking and her White Bean Chili for 7 Points +. Jodi advocates for a whole foods diet, emphasizing the importance of what we put in our bodies on our wellbeing. However, she did not always understand this and tells us her story toward healthier eating and starting her blog.
Her White Bean Chili is a great recipe for a cool day when you want a warm meal that can feed a group of people. And unlike many chili recipes, this one doesn’t cost you most of your points in one sitting!
If you like her chili, then don’t forget to check out her upcoming cookbook which should be out in the summer or fall of 2014!
What motivated you to begin focusing on natural and whole foods? I noticed that you mentioned on your blog that you used to have a penchant for big steaks and nachos. What changed?
“Ever since I can remember I have had a love affair with food of all kinds, healthy to not-so-healthy, and I often struggled between living to eat OR eating to live, and living to eat usually won. I have always been active and healthy in other aspects of my life, but food was not always one of those ways. Steak and nachos were staples in my diet and my only qualification for what I ate would be how good it tasted. I wouldn’t have considered myself a conscientious eater back then.
In 2009, I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme’s Disease, and around the same time I also discovered I had an intolerance for dairy. After several long courses of antibiotics, and a lot of research, I realized that one of the only ways I was really ever going to feel better was to pay more attention to what I was eating and cooking at home and listen to what my body was trying to tell me. No more cheese tastings before dinner, and the processed foods in our cabinets had to head to the trash. I needed to start eating out less and cooking in more. Then, in 2011, I enrolled in a Natural Foods Culinary Program that would forever change the way I view and cook food.”
What was the story behind your blog “What’s Cooking Good Looking” and behind its name?”
“I started my blog in 2010 as a way to figure out if I wanted to pursue a culinary career full-time. My blog started with a very different name and a very different focus. At the time, I was working a demanding office job and I was only posting about once a month and I am pretty sure the only two people that were reading my blog were my extremely supportive mom and husband. My recipes were typically more indulgent, which was conflicting with the healthy eating I was trying to move towards on a day to day basis.
I started looking into different culinary schools, mostly more traditional programs, until I came across a natural foods program. A natural foods program typically teaches about nutrition, healthy cooking techniques, and the healing power of food in addition to traditional culinary skills. I knew instantly that was the direction I wanted to go.
It was through my natural-food program that I started to learn about the food, health, beauty, well-being connection and one day when I was getting ready for class, the phrase “what’s cooking good looking” popped into my head so and I ran to my computer to check and see if the domain name was available … and it was! It was perfect!
I love my blogs name, even though sometimes it needs a little explaining, because it’s about cooking nourishing food for your body, and when you do that you are going to look good from the inside, out. “
On your blog, you mention the connection between health, beauty, well-being and the food we eat. How is it that food has such power?
“You are what you eat, plain and simple. Food is so powerful, everything you put into your body will have an effect on how you look and feel. The cleaner and healthier you eat, the better you will look and feel.
I have experienced first hand the benefits of eating clean and healthy. It’s life changing. Now, I crave things like kale and quinoa instead of pizza and bagels. I also crave that feeling that clean eating gives me, especially because it has helped me keep my Lyme’s Disease symptoms in check. My life is better because of the food that I eat. That’s a powerful thing.”
How could a person on a budget afford a natural, whole foods diet? Also, how can a person with very little time on their hands find a way to have a more balanced life (exercise, preparing natural and whole foods, down time) for their own well-being? It seems that many people know, in theory, the importance of a whole foods diet and of a balanced lifestyle but they either can’t afford it or have too little time (or both).
“These are the two biggest challenges with eating healthy and cooking healthy. Healthy foods are expensive. Organic is expensive, and stocking a natural foods pantry could cost a fortune. I have a few tips and tricks so that you can eat healthy no matter what your budget is.
First, when buying produce, you don’t always have to buy organic. While I do recommend it for most produce whenever possible, if you’re on a tight budget, keep your eye on the dirty dozen list and make sure you buy those items organic, and the rest you can fill in with conventional produce, such as bananas and avocados do not need to be purchased organic since they have a thick outer (non-edible) skin.
The bulk bins are a great place to buy your organic grains and beans. You always save when you buy from the bins vs. pre-packaged, and you can also make you sure you are buying only what you need so that you’re not being wasteful.
Planning ahead (which also helps with the time challenge, I’ll talk about next) is another way to help save money on food. By planning your meals for the week, and making a few things that you can eat throughout the week, you can save money by minimizing waste.
The number one challenge that I hear friends and complain about when it comes to eating healthy and cooking for themselves is: time. When you work all day, it is very hard to come home and want to cook a meal. Planning ahead is absolutely crucial if you want to be able to eat healthier more often during the busy work week.
Menu planning and grocery shopping on the weekends is a great way to get you prepared for the week ahead. On Saturday and Sundays, I often cook a couple of big batches of things such as quinoa or millet, and I will soak and cook a batch of beans so I have it for the week. When I have a few items prepared already, it cuts prep time before a meal down drastically.
Also, preparing a big dish or two or something and freezing it is another way to make sure you have meals prepared. This way when you get home from work, you only have to worry popping something into the oven to heat it up.”
Do you have any favorite foods or favorite recipes?
“Yes! So many! Too many! My tastes are certainly driven by the seasons. In the summer, there is nothing better then a ripe tomato, in the fall I always get excited for apples and squashes, the winter is all about roasted root vegetables, soup, and comfort foods, and the spring brings one of my all-time favorite vegetables …. Artichokes. If I had to pick just one favorite vegetable, I would have a hard time choosing between artichokes and brussels sprouts.”
What is your overall food philosophy?
“I truly believe there is such a strong connection between food, health and well-being. It’s everything. But the real beauty comes when you find the balance between food that is good and food that is good for you. Happiness is all about finding balance.”
White Bean Chili (8-10 servings of 7 Points+ each)
3 yellow onions, diced
2 poblanos, seeds removed and diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of grapeseed (or another high-heat oil)
1/3 cup of cilantro, chopped
2 14oz cans of organic cannellini beans
1 tablespoon of oregano
½ teaspoon of cayenne
½ teaspoon of cumin
2 cups of vegetable broth
1 cup of unsweetened rice milk
2 cups of sour cream or plain greek yogurt
Optional toppings: diced avocado, sour cream, plain greek yogurt, goat cheese, shredded gruyere cheese
For complete directions see: What’s Cooking Good Looking’s White Bean Chili
Entire recipe makes 8-10 servings (calculated points based on 9 servings)
Serving size: 1/9 of recipe
Each serving=7 Points +
PER SERVING: 16.5g fat; 19.8g carbohydrates; 5g fiber; 7.5g protein; 251 calories