Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Recipe Inspiration from Food, Inc.

So, a few things happened recently to inspire this post.

The first was that after twenty-one years of being a stay-at-home -mom, my mother decided to break out her Latex gloves (ha, when I first wrote that I felt like I was writing about my mother's return to being a Madam or dominatrix...I watch too much CSI) and medical textbooks and head back to work. I guess she had empty nest syndrome, and found that gardening and going to the country club for lunch every day just wasn't as fulfilling as she originally thought. She's working two days a week, full-time, and then another day doing in-patient therapy, which doesn't seem like a lot, but I guess being out of the swing of things for so long, it's a lot for her to do and still manage the house.

She's taken little strides to make things easier for herself - she's hired a dog walker, since Cooper's separation anxiety always escalates when he's alone for too long (no, seriously - he eats rugs, comforters, towels, welcome mats - you'd be amazed at what a necessity this is), our cleaning women come once a week now instead of every other, and we've all been trying to pitch in more.

By the rest of us helping out, I mean that when Pat was living here (he just moved to South Carolina a week and a half ago!), he stayed up in his room and played Black Ops all day, so the responsibility fell on my shoulders.

(It's not that my dad doesn't do anything, he's just kind of inept when it comes to household chores. Once, when my mom went away for a week, he threw away all the dirty dishes and bought new ones because he didn't know how to use a dishwasher/do dishes).

I've been cooking more and more - trying to do at least two meals a week on nights when my mom works, just to make things a little easier. I've been trying to make pretty healthy meals, that are very low-cal and incorporating a lot of veggies, especially since with my dad's line of work, he's constantly taking clients and friends out to eat, and I can only imagine what he's eating.

The second thing that inspired this meal was the fact that I finally got around to watching Food, Inc.

If you don't know anything about the movie, it's a documentary that basically shows all the unethical and disgusting practices that goes into the manufacturing of meat in our country. It's definitely a must-see, and was a total eye opener for me.

Now, I (try to) eat fairly healthy, and my home is stocked with mainly organic food, but there are times when on the fly, my mom picks up Perdue chicken instead of running up to Whole Foods (which isn't super far from our house, but is still a good 15-20 minute drive).

Hungry for chicken nuggets?
(Chicken by-products that are later dyed to look more appealing to consumers).


As I sat watching the movie, I felt so sick to my stomach.

Based on a social justice standpoint alone, the ethical treatment of employees in some of these companies is just something that I cannot support.

I won't go into all the gritty details of everything I saw, because it's not for me to push my beliefs on others, but I would strongly (but not obnoxiously) say that you should all rent Food, Inc. asap! (I got mine from my local library for free, and I'm pretty sure it's on Netflix Instant!).

Anyway, I was determined to pick up only organic and local produce to cook dinner one night. With my checklist in mind, I headed out to Trader Joe's, which is a life saver for cheap and delicious organic/local/healthy food.

Since this winter has been absolutely BRUTAL, I thought a yummy chicken tortilla soup would be absolutely delicious - especially since we are constantly eating the same types of food (and ordering copious amounts of Chinese/Thai/Japanese food - I'm beginning to feel like the Cohen's).

This recipe was absolutely de-licious, and it was really easy to make! The prep work took a bit longer than I had anticipated, but after you chop everything, it's so simple (and perfect for a cold night!).

Obviously for this recipe, I used all organic, which is definitely not a necessity to make this. I had originally thought to substitute quinoa for the "hominy" (which, since I am not from the south, I had no idea was the same thing as "grits"), but the woman at Trader Joe's, who was originally from the South, told me that "hominy" was a must - it would screw up the entire texture of the soup. So, no substitutions on that! (I bought Quaker - it was $1.99!).

Yummy, Healthy Chicken Tortilla Soup

8 Servings

Prep time: 20 minutes (took me longer though - I'm slow with a knife!).
Cook time: 20 minutes
Calories: 337 per serving
(This isn't factoring in using low-sodium products, which I did!).



-1 onion, chopped

-1 tbsp. olive oil

-2 tsp. chili powder

-1 tsp. dried oregano

-1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes (I couldn't find any at Trader Joe's, so I used diced tomatoes, which I preferred, since I'm not a huge tomato fan and didn't want huge chunks of them)

-1 (10.5 oz. can) of chicken broth (I have a measuring cup that is able to measure in ounces, so I bought a big box of broth and just measured it out)

-1 1/4 cups water

-1 cup whole corn kernels, cooked

-1 cup white hominy

-1 (4 oz.) can of green chile peppers (I skipped this, because my mom is not a fan of spicy food - but I would have loved some more kick!)

-1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained

-1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

-2 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces

-Crushed tortilla chips

-Sliced avocado

-Shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I used Trader Joe's Mexican blend shredded cheese)

-Chopped green onions







1. In a medium stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion in oil until soft.

2. Stir in chili powder, oregano, tomatoes, broth and water.

3. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.


4. Stir in corn, hominy, chiles, beans, and chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes.




5. Ladle soup into bowls, and serve with crushed chips, avocado, cheese, soup cream, etc. on top.


It was so good (if I do say so myself). And seriously - so easy peasy to make! I kind of wished we had cornbread or maybe margaritas to go with it, but I was going for low-cal (bummer), and it's SO COLD here right now.

What are your favorite recipes for cold weather days?

Anyone else seen Food, Inc. and been super affected by it?!

Currently listening to: Laura Marling - Ghosts.


Kelly @ The Startup Wife said...

This looks delicious!! It's been cold here too (like, actually cold! Like dropping sometimes into the twenties!) and all I've been making is soups. Mmm.

I haven't seen Food Inc, but even without it I feel like I'm hearing more and more lately (thanks to people like you! I loved this post) that makes me question the way I've been buying food. I also have this friend who's from Texas, and every year he goes hunting, and he went recently and was excited about this deer he 'took down' and listening to him I just felt really bothered by it. And THEN I thought well, that's really hypocritical, because I eat meat, I just don't do the dirty work myself! So I'm still eating it ... but I'm trying not to buy it and only eat it if someone else serves it to me. So far I haven't bought it once this year! I think if I could afford to buy organic/free range meats where I felt more confident that the animals were treated humanely, I'd do it, but I'm poor, so beans and tofu it is. :)

I loved this post! I definitely want to try this soup sometime. And you're such a good daughter. Your family sounds like so much fun ... I love your parents' text messages to you!!

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

This soup looks so so good!!

And Food, Inc. totally changed the way I eat!! Since you liked it you should also check out Michael Pollan's books too. He was in Food, Inc. and his books are great.

Hope your day is going great!!

Lindsay said...

Food Inc. was sooooo good. I think I need to watch it again to motivate myself to make better choices sometimes. This recipe looks super yummy!

I see that you are reading The Pact. I loved that book. I actually love all of her books, but that one was particularly good. Hope you like it! Survivor tonight!!

Couture Carrie said...

Thanks for the yummy recipe, darling!


mattposky said...

I saw the film and thought it was good but couldn't help but feel like it wasn't giving me as much new information as I though it would. Eating healthy and making smart consumer choices just seemed like a given to me. However, I was mildly upset about some of the additional waste and inefficiency that goes into food processing and production. I don't agree with the mistreatment of animals but I do eat meat. To me, not eating meat seems as unethical as letting a killed animal go entirely to waste. Still, straying from a meat based diet would be beneficial for everyone. Also, beware of organic labels. There are really no guidelines for what constitutes "organic" so companies can label things almost any way they want. I recently found out that a lot of food that I thought was "better" turned out not to be.

Weirdly though, that meat paste they use for Mc Nuggets still looks marginally appetizing. However, your meal is infinitely more delicious looking.

MizzJ said...

Holy crapola that looks good!! I would love to make this but I am kinda worried that we don't sell hominy here in Canada (nobody eats grits!) - do you know of a sub? I'm guessing it just needs something to give it more texture?

I have Food Inc. on my watch list, but I'm also scared to pull my head out of that sand. I try to eat healthy, morally conscious choices, but I agree with the previous commenter that organic is something just anyone could say so we need to pressure our governments for some industry standards.

Ooh and btw I've added you to my Blogs that Kick Ass list :)

Elisa said...

I haven't seen Food Inc. but I would like to. I think what led me to go vegetarian when about 10 years ago when I was reading a recipe book (vegetarian) and it described how chickens are couped up in small confined spaces, anyways I can't go back to eating meat (although I'm slowly changing my ideas of also stop eating seafood (mainly fish) and stick to beans and salad.

Glad your Mom is doing something that makes her happy. You are a great daughter for helping out with the cooking, this recipe looks really good, ( I could make it for my sister and the kids).
I appreciate the photos, it makes it really easy to follow the recipe.

We don't live in a big city so we don't have whole foods but target carries a good selection of organic products.

Em [The Writer] said...

That looks delicious! I might just have to make it myself :)

Yeah I watched Food Inc...and I'm a vegetarian. Hope you're having a great week!

Leeann @ Join the Gossip said...

That looks SO good! You are a way better daughter than me, I so do not pitch in when I'm at my parents' house. Good fro you - just reiterates how awesome you are and how appreciate you should be :)

HiFashion said...

Yay for your mum going back to work!! Lol at your dad and the dishwasher story! Sounds like something my dad would do.
I'm at home these days, and I've been trying to cook a bit as well.

Food Inc sounds interesting. I've never seen it. I'll have a look into it.

The recipe looks delicious! I love anything chicken! I'll keep this recipe.

Lee Oliveira said...

This looks so delicious.. I need to print this recipe to make it soon.
Thanks for sharing
Lee x

amy b.s. said...

thanks for the recipe! can't wait to try it out!

annee nguyen said...

This recipe looks delicious! too bad im a vegetarian =(

I never use to cook at all, never knew how.. but when I became a vegetarian I had to cook my own food because everyone else in my household eats meat! Now I love cooking.. I'm always looking online for different recipes.

Diego R. Wyatt said...

After watching Food, Inc. I am glad I have been a vegetarian for 8 years hahaha...What a fantastic recipe as well. I have the hardest time finding meatless toritilla soup that's flavorful.

I have no clue how to cook anything, but pancakes. But I am an expert at ordering from takeout menus.

Also, the new Adele album is incredible. Glad to see some tunes from her in your Mixpod : )

PS: I love that your dad threw the dishes away and bought new ones because he didn't know hot to use the dishwasher/do dishes. I will use that as my excuse not to do dishes from now on...I doubt my roomies will buy it : P


fhen said...

i havent seen but i really would love to watch it!
im the one who is also concern about food health
as i live alone, i always do my own grocery and i always try to avoid canned food and pick something organic (even to details like oil for cooking) Im glad you are aware about this thing and share them!

thanks for the recipe as well ) would love to try em!
hope you're doing well doll!


Syed said...

Heck yes, I'm a huge supporter of buying organic and Fair Trade. People always seem to complain about the pricing - but I barely notice it, plus the smallest things make the biggest differences. That soup looks so good, even though I'm a veggie lol.

Nicole Linette said...

This was awesome, Allison!
I watched Food, Inc. in my public affairs class last year and I was nauseated. There were a few times I covered my eyes. It definitely makes you question the food system in the United States.
I'm not sure if it was a subconscious reaction to the movie, changing preferences, or just with my general well-being in mind, but I definitely don't eat as much meat as I used to. It's easy here at college :) And actually, for a tiny town, Canton doesn't do too poorly with the local market. The farmer's market was open until late October, and there's an organic food shop on Main Street with all sorts of things, then a co-op about fifteen minutes up the road.
This soup looks DELICIOUS! Last night my friend and cooked dinner.. maybe we could try this one and cook it after break. I shall keep your post in mind.

Cheers to ethical eating and the love of food in general!
♥, nicole.

p.s. Soup is always a winner on cold days.

la petite fashionista said...

I'm big on organic & free range food and veggies when at all possible! I made chili from scracy this weekend w/ honey cornbread.. felt so accomplished! this looks SO yummy! we should start trading recipes :)

Kristin said...

Dude...You just ruined chicken nuggets for me. HAHA! Your soup looks delish!

Sara Louise said...

I definitely won't be ordering chicken nuggets anytime soon (or ever ever again... that picture is GROSS). But, I do think I'll be making that chicken tortilla soup this week :-)
And good for your mom!

Olive said...

Look at you, all chef-savvy ;)! It's cool that your mom is keeping busy and doing work she enjoys, but it's got to be hard when it comes to keeping up the house as well. The part about your dad SO reminds me of mine.. He's a farmer, but he's always had his mother to do the “house stuff,” my mom and I went on a little trip and comeback to see the sink full, of PAPER plates too, it's like what?! Hahah. But aw, poor Cooperrrr. It's awesome that you're stepping up and helping out though, it's great that you actually know how to cook for a family too. That's something I need to work on.. :P. I've really been meaning to watch Food, Inc!!! Like it's on my Netflix list and everything. Now I think I'm going to move it higher up after your thoughts on it :). That first picture of the chicken by-products is disgusting, I really need to see this movie.
I loved that you made the whole chicken tortilla soup recipe with everything organic, very cool. The way you do all of your recipes is always so easy to understand, like you explain it in a way that if I wasn't at college right now, I could definitely do it, or come close to getting it right :P. Great photos too, I think I want to try this recipe out next time I get home. Thanks for sharing!
Hope you're having a good week and staying warm—I don't know about you but we had such a beautiful weekend, then we were trampled with snow again..sigh.

♥ Olivia

Tracy-Girl @ Then I Got To Thinking said...

Your recipe looks amazing... It looks similar to my mom's taco soup! I almost threw up when I saw that chicken nugget picture. At first, it looked like a snake. There is a reason I stopped eating any fast food meat! GROSS!! Good for your mom, she has to do whatever makes her happy! ;)

daisymay aka Chantele said...

Your soup looks amazing! And not too difficult either! But what exactly is the pink stuff in the top photo?? Or dare I not ask?

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