How to make Beef & Vegetable Lentil Chili and Portion Control for You {After Baby Un-Diet}

I actually jumped off the hamster wheel of dieting and setting short-term weight loss goals a couple of years before Rancher and I got married. How? Well it turns out I know a lot about me by now. While cooking for a family and managing their needs is new for me, managing my own weight is not. So, I acknowledged what works for me and what doesn’t, and proceeded accordingly.

It wasn’t based on a diet plan someone else created, or a magazine article telling me that if I cut out carbohydrates and sugar I’d be “beach-ready by Memorial day”. I made up my own “rules” and they weren’t hard to stick to. You’re going to chuckle, but a couple of examples included “do not eat bacon and gravy on the same day” and “beer is only for bonfires and watching sports, whiskey or vodka soda at Happy Hour and other social occasions.” If I had a meal that was heavier on the fat and carbohydrate side, I’d always make the focus of my next one lean protein and vegetables.

Laugh all you want, but these little changes, and 30 minutes of combined cardio and strength training 3-4 times a week (hardly a feat for a young single me who lived five minutes away from a fancy gym) had me consistently living 15-20 lbs. lighter than I’d been in college and time thereafter.

The fact that I achieved a sustained, healthy weight in the past gives me a lot of confidence that I can do it again after having two babies. That being said, I am living in an entirely different context now. There are no gyms out here. But there are also no happy hours. I could have popcorn and two glasses of wine for dinner like a single girl might do from time to time (you know you’ve done it), but that wouldn’t get me off the hook of feeding a baby and making a real dinner, so it wouldn’t even be that fun.

Regardless of drastic changes, I have found that core challenges do tend to follow you into new seasons of life to some degree. As you might have gathered from my not-so-enthusiastic sign off in the video, portion control and overeating is my perennial struggle. My sabotage. And I wasn’t exactly sure Chef Kirsten was going to give me advice that would help. Sorry friend! I was fantastically wrong. Here is what is working for me:

+ The hand-measurement system: what a simple, customized way to keep portion sizes for different types of food in-check. It’s not one-size fits all, it’s  your size fits you! Because it’s your hand.

+ Planning for leftovers: I’m motivated by not having to make a new lunch or dinner tomorrow. I love how the un-diet is kind of like a snowball. Deciding to leave part of the meal for leftovers to reheat or transform for later in the week simplifies grocery shopping and cooking each week. And now I see it as a valuable tool to prevent overeating, particularly at dinner time.

+ Finally, if all else fails, I load the meal up with vegetables. Soups and stews are my friends. Enter Beef & Vegetable Lentil Chili. One bowl is usually pretty filling. And even if I over-do it a bit, it’s loaded with nutrition and not likely to slow me down much.

Let’s talk about lentils for a quick sec. I’m an ’05 WSU grad (Go Cougs!). I lived in Duncan-Dunn all female residence hall freshman year (bonus points if you comment below with it’s *crass* nickname). The Palouse is the lentil growing capital of the world. It took me less than a semester to notice that the dining hall chefs just subbed lentils in for other ingredients in the effort to use affordable, abundant, local lentils. Lentil Tostadas. Lentil Lasagna. Lentil Quesadillas. They were poor substitutes for the classics, and kind of turned me off lentils for awhile.

What Chef Kirsten has done is created a new recipe packed with protein and iron rich lean sirloin steak, and fiber rich lentils, with flavors and spices that compliment it. It has me back on the lentil train. Try it and let us know what you think!

Beef & Vegetable Lentil Chili
Chef Kirsten Helle

2 tsp healthy oil/fat of your choice
1 lb beef sirloin
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tb chili powder
1 Tb cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lime
15 oz diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup lentils

Preheat a soup pot over medium high heat, when hot add oil, swirl to coat. Add the beef and brown on all sides. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, partially covered, until the lentils are tender. Enjoy!

DISCLAIMER: The After Baby Un-Diet is a 6 week series focusing on health and deliciousness! It is a collaboration with Chef Kirsten Helle and the Washington State Beef Commission. Information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace a medical professional’s orders. Information is for entertainment and informational purposes and Chef Kirsten Helle/Mesa de Vida/Washington State Beef Commission/Ranch Wife Life accept no responsibility for how you use it. Videos and recipes are copyright protected. Raw footage edited and produced by Frazer Loveman, 1Love Media.

5 thoughts on “How to make Beef & Vegetable Lentil Chili and Portion Control for You {After Baby Un-Diet}

  1. I’ve never eaten a lentil in my life, but this recipe sounds good and I’m going to try it. This is a great series, you’re such an encouragement!

    • Thanks for checking it out Jan! Chef Kirsten made some really fantastic recipes to go with her nutrition advice, its so fun to get it all out to more people. Our bible study from the spring just reinforced to me that I’m only willing to do the weightloss thing like I like to do everything else–in moderation, with humor and some fun thrown in there! I think it is possible, and feels like victory over all of the junk out there driven by extremes or negativity!

  2. Pingback: Protein Challenge Recap: An Unexpected Healthy Eating Hack | ranch wife life

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