September 2012

Black Bean-Sweet Potato Chili {#LMDConnector}

Black Bean-Sweet Potato Chili

Have you noticed that smell in the air lately? It’s hard to describe but it’s undeniable. The evenings are cooler, the air is crisper, the leaves are changing colour and the kids are back in school. No doubt about it, its fall!

This time of year always inspires me in the kitchen. I love using seasonal fruits and vegetables to create warm, soothing and delicious meals. I love to experiment with new recipes and to take my time learning new techniques on the weekends, but it’s a very different story during the week.

As every parent knows, it’s tough to manage the school day, work and healthy meals. I always turn to my slow cooker to ensure there’s something healthy and hearty waiting for us when we get home. It’s sometimes too easy to give into our hectic schedule and whip something up from a package.

LIFE MADE DELICIOUS

Remember that inspiration I talked about? Well, one of the places I love to gather my motivation is at lifemadedelicious.ca.  There are thousands of recipes from comfort foods to beverages to desserts. You’d be hard pressed not to find what you’re looking for.

As the temperature drops, my desire for something warm and spicy rises so I decided to search for some slow cooker chili recipes at lifemadedelicious.ca. To my delight, nine delicious looking recipes showed up.

It was hard to choose just one but I finally decided on Black Bean –Sweet Potato Chili. I think it was the sweet potato that caught my eye as it seems to coincide with fall. I’m glad I chose this recipe since we all loved it. The sweet potato adds a nice earthy taste to this vegetarian chili. I substituted crushed tomatoes for the diced tomatoes and chose to forgo the red wine vinegar and this recipe was still delish!

BLACK BEAN-SWEET POTATO CHILI

Ingredients

  • 2 large dark-orange sweet potatoes (1 1/2 lb), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 5 cups)
  • 3 large onions, chopped (3 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 can (28 oz) Muir Glen organic diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (16 oz) refried black beans
  • 1 can (15 oz) Progresso black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 2 cups Progresso chicken broth (from 32-oz carton)
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Shredded cheese, if desired
  • Sour cream, if desired

Directions

  • Spray 5- to 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In slow cooker, mix sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, tomatoes, refried beans, black beans and broth.
  • Cover; cook on Low heat setting 7 to 8 hours (or on High heat setting 3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours).
  • Before serving, stir in vinegar. Serve chili with cheese and sour cream.

Visit lifemadedelicious.ca for this recipe and other delicious ideas.

What’s your favourite fall meal to cook for your family? What seasonal fruits and veggies are you wild about this time of year?

Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Get in the Know: Learning the Facts about Insurance

 

Insurance is a big word that means a lot of different things to different people. It’s one of those necessary expenditures that we make on a monthly basis that can sometimes feel totally overwhelming.

I must admit that I don’t know a lot about insurance. I know I have various types of insurance and that I’ve had to make use of my policies on a few occasions but other than that I pay my fees and carry on with life.

When I was given the opportunity to work with the Insurance Bureau of Canada on dispelling the myths around insurance, I was intrigued. Whether you realize it or not, you do have a general impression of insurance; the cost, the coverage and the necessity of the product.

And if you’re at all like me, you haven’t stopped to take the time to learn the facts. That is why I was motivated to write and share this information with you today.

DISPELLING THE MYTHS

I was asked to answer the following questions in my own, honest opinion. I was then provided with a link to getintheknow.ibc.ca (Insurance Bureau of Canada) that shared the factual answers. It was interesting to see how my impression of insurance compared to the facts and I think you’ll be surprised too!

Q1: Are Ontarioans paying more for auto-insurance, but getting less coverage?

MY ANSWER:

I’m not sure; that’s my initial opinion but when I think more about it, I realize that I have the impression that I pay too much for my auto insurance each month.

I’ve had my driver’s license for almost 20 years and in that time, I haven’t had even a speeding ticket. That was until I had a car accident that was my fault (no injury claims) and things changed.

I’ve paid a reasonable rate for 20 years and during that time I did not cost my insurance company anything. My impression is that this is a pure profit for them.

Then my ‘at-fault’ accident happened and my rates have gone up. They way I see it, the 20 years I have already paid into should cover the cost of my accident and my rates should not go up. But sadly they have.

IBC ANSWER:

We agree that Ontario auto insurance premiums are too high. There have also been some changes to coverage. Why is this? Let’s consider that between 2004 and 2010, the cost of accident benefit payouts in Ontario rose about 180%, mainly because the costs of assessing, not treating, an injury, rose 235% during the same period. During the same six years, premiums rose, on average, only 5.6%. Yet despite the huge increase in accident benefit injury claims, Ontario roads are safer with a 12% reduction in severe collisions that require hospitalization.

So where is all the claims money going? Sadly, there are many medical rehabilitation clinics, lawyers and paralegals, tow truck operators and body shops that make their money from Ontario’s generous auto insurance system. They believe that if the money is there, they should use it regardless of specific needs.

To stop insurance rates from increasing, reforms were made to the cap on minor injuries and the definition of catastrophic impairment. Simply put, you’re paying more for insurance and getting specifically defined coverage.

MY REACTION:

I had never thought of linking the cost of medical care with the cost of insurance. Seems pretty obvious to me now, but before learning this information I placed all the responsibility on the insurance companies. Similar to that with the other parties involved in insurance claims; body shops, lawyers etc.

So while I’m not thrilled that my rates have gone up, it helps to know why they’ve gone up and that things are being done to stop rates from climbing even higher.

Q2: Is the money I pay for insurance set aside just for me to cover any claims I may have in the future? 

MY ANSWER:

No. Similar to my previous answer, I believe like any other business, the money I pay each month for the product is profit for my insurance company. I believe that any claim I may make is just the cost of doing business for them.

For example, when I buy groceries, I know that the grocer I shop from has paid less for the product than what they are charging me and this is how they make money. Am I willing to go out to the fields to plant, grow and harvest the vegetables I buy off the shelf? Not usually, therefore I’m willing to pay the increase that allows them to make a profit and allows me to have food on my table.

IBC ANSWER:

Simply put – No. There is no such insurance “account” building up with your name on it. But, don’t worry, you’re still covered.

Every year, your insurance dollars go into a pool along with the dollars from other policyholders. Out of that pool, insurers pay the claims of the few people who suffer an insured loss – an auto collision, a fire, wind damage — in that year.

So the payments of many cover the losses of a few. That’s called “spreading the risk.”

MY REACTION:

I was happy to learn about ‘spreading the risk’. This makes sense to me and helped me to understand a little more about how insurance companies work.

Q3: Is flood damage caused by a spring thaw covered by your home insurance?

MY ANSWER:

I would assume yes. Isn’t that what I pay for each month? Again, I stress that I am a little naive when it comes to insurance but here is what I do know:

A few years ago when we owned a house in the suburbs, there was a wicked storm that some say was considered a F0 storm (the lowest on the Fujita Tornado Scale). Our roof, metal siding and eavestroughs were badly dented from the hail and high winds. Our car (that was parked in the driveway) received major denting from the heavy hail as well. I believe this is considered ‘an act of God’ and we were compensated by our insurance company for the damages with no increase to our policy.

Drawing upon my experience, which seems similar to a spring thaw, I assume that this event (flooding) would be covered.

IBC ANSWER:

Generally,overland flooding is not covered. This kind of flooding can be caused by a spring thaw. Here water overflowing from rivers, streams or other bodies of water flows onto dry land and causes damage to homes.

Flood coverage isn’t available because only a small percentage of the population is at risk. Since the purpose of insurance is to spread risk among many policyholders, this type of insurance for those at risk would be unaffordable.

However, water-related damage and insurance claims are rising across Canada due to the increase in severe weather. Damage from heavy rainfalls can be extensive to your home and result in the loss of irreplaceable keepsakes.

It’s more important than ever for you to learn how you can protect your property and stay dry when the heavy rains come.

MY REACTION:

Wow. I guess I was wrong with my first impression. Overland flooding is very low risk and after learning about spreading the risk, this makes sense to me now.

Before learning about spreading the risk think it would have caused me confusion as to why this event wouldn’t be covered. Fewer people would buy into this type of coverage; therefore there are fewer dollars to pay for claims. You would end up spending more on the risk than you would on the damage.

YOUR TURN

I really enjoyed learning more about insurance, and I was pleasantly surprised with some of the facts and I think you will be too.

Now it’s your turn. Answer the following question for yourself and then click on the link to compare your answer to the fact provided by the IBC. Come back to let me know what you learned, what surprised you etc.

Q: Gas or electric? Is the cost of home insurance affected by the type of appliances you have?

YOUR ANSWER:

Think about your answer before clicking on the link below. Then after learning the fact, share your reaction in the comment section below this post.

IBC ANSWER:

getintheknow.ibc.ca

For more information please visit http://getintheknow.ibc.ca/explain.php

Although this post has generously been sponsored by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the opinions and language are all my own, and in no way do they reflect the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

 

Urban Exposure: Grickle Grass Festival

Have you heard of Grickle Grass Festival before? London is so lucky to have this sustainable food festival in our city each year. Keep on reading to find out more about it.

The Grickle Grass Festival acts as a fund-raiser for Growing Chefs Ontario, a sustainable food program for children. It takes place at the Children’s Museum and happens once a year and is split into two fun-filled segments.

DAYTIME PROGRAMMING

Grickle Grass Fest

During the day portion of the festival, children can get a hands on educational experience based on healthy and sustainable food.  They can learn about healthy and environmentally friendly food and where it comes from, the importance of fitness and the importance of taking care of the world around them. What better messages to send to our kids?

Children can also play throughout the museum while participating in dance, yoga. music and other kid-friendly entertainment.

EVENING PROGRAMMING

Grickle Grass Fest

Grickle Grass Fest is not just for the kids. At night, the museum transforms into a three floor playground for adults. This fully licensed event houses music performances on each floor with all proceeds going towards Growing Chefs Ontario. Tickets usually go on sale in March with the event taking place in May, so be sure to mark your calendars because you don’t want to miss this awesome event.

CONNECT WITH GRICKLE GRASS FEST

Web: gricklegrassfest.com/index.html
Facebook: facebook.com/GrickleGrassFest
Twitter: twitter.com/Grickle_Grass

Hope to see you there next year!

Growing Chefs: Asparagus Soup

This week in City Mom’s Kitchen we meet with Glenda Smith from Smith Cheese Inc. Glenda is very knowledgeable on the local cheeses she sells in her shop at the Covent Garden Market. What I found particularly interesting is the  fact that Glenda knows personal details about each farm she receives her cheese from.  It puts a whole new perspective on buying local!

Growing Chefs Ontario

In Urban Exposure this week we discover more about Grickle Grass Festival which is put on to fund a program called Growing Chefs. Since this week’s City Mom’s Kitchen feature doesn’t have a recipe to share, I thought I’d share a recipe from Growing Chefs Ontario.

ASPARAGUS SOUP

This soup really hits the spot and it is so tasty!

Ingredients

  •  6 cups chicken/vegetable stock
  • 2 bunches of fresh local asparagus
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 Directions

  1. Cut Asparagus into small pieces
  2. Sautee onions, carrots and celery in a large pot until soft
  3. Add asparagus and stock and gently season with salt and pepper
  4. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low
  5. Simmer for ½ hour on low
  6. Blend until smooth using emulsion blender
  7. Pass soup through a med mesh strainer
  8. Taste and season with salt and pepper
  9. Serve hot and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil to finish

Swap out asparagus for your favourite seasonal vegetable and you’ve got another hearty and tasty soup!

You can find out more about Growing Chefs Ontario here. Thanks to Andrew Fleet for sharing this delicious recipe!

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This Week on City Mom – Things to do in London

 

London is lucky to have many great educational and recreational facilities that are affordable and family friendly. This week on City Mom we take an in-depth look at two of them:

LONDON CHILDREN’S MUSEUM

The London Children’s Museum has supported learning and imagination of London children for decades! I have fond memories of playing at the museum as a child and now I just love taking my daughter there to learn and play.

Joy Birch, Children’s Museum Executive Director takes us on a tour of the museum and its exhibits. From Sifton Street Where You Live to the new My Arctic Discovery exhibits, imagination and learning through play is promoted.

The museum is about more than just exhibits; birthday parties, summer camps and facility rentals are all offered to the public. Imagine hosting your next holiday party among dinosaurs, space shuttles and polar bears?

CONNECT WITH THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM

Web: londonchildrensmuseum.ca/

Facebook: facebook.com/LondonChildrensMuseum

Twitter: twitter.com/children_museum

ONTARIO EARLY YEARS CENTRE – WESTMOUNT

The Ontario Early Years Centre is brought to us by The Ministry of Children and Youth Services and London is lucky to have three locations. This week we visit the Westmount location.

The London West Ontario Early Years Centre is a place for children up to the age of six and their parents/caregivers to take part in programs and activities together free of charge. This centre also brings together in one location information about children’s services and programs in our community.

The London Children’s Connection is the lead agency of the Ontario Early Years Centre. More information about the LCC can be found here.

SERVICES & PROGRAMS

  • Playgroups with crafts, music and stories
  • Programs to introduce children to math, science and reading
  • Pregnancy and new baby support
  • Parenting workshops and information on children’s development, behaviour, safety and nutrition
  • Child care
  • Health services
  • Recreation programs
  • Family support services
  • Services for children with special needs
  • Early years volunteer opportunities

CONNECT WITH THE OEYC

London West Web

London North Web

London-Fanshawe Web

Facebook: London West

MORE ON CITY MOM

Check out this week’s Urban Exposure where we get a sneak peek into one of London’s sustainable living festivals, the Grickle Grass Fest. We also chat with Glenda Smith of  Smith Cheese Inc. at the Covent Garden Market in City Mom’s Kitchen.

NEXT WEEK ON CITY MOM

Next week is another exciting episode on City Mom. I invite you into my condo and share our two dirty little secrets with you. Condo living has its benefits but one of the downfalls is a lack of storage. Thanks to Karen Hunt and Betsi, our place gets a makeover!

Enter to win $120 in the Fall Cash Giveaway

A great group of Canadian bloggers have come together to offer you a fantastic prize. Enter the Rafflecopter form below to win $120 CASH USD via paypal.

Thank you to our hosts Tales of a Ranting Ginger and This Lil’ Piglet.
 
Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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