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Bowls & Bars – The State of My Plate

February 12, 2013

3BeanChiliBY2 bipartisan shortbread bars

In honor of the State of the Union speech, I’ve prepared two dishes that highlight my food philosophy: Blend and Balance.

I’d like to share my proposal for blending and balancing: Nothing is off limits. You simply balance the different foods/dishes/recipes. Craving a high-fat dessert like my Bipartisan Shortbread Bars? No problem. Just serve a lean protein-rich entrée, like my incredibly nutrient-rich Hearty Bean & Beef Chili to balance it.

How does this stack up according to the My Plate way of eating? The chili is filled with vitamin, mineral and soluble-fiber-rich canned beans along with fresh onions and garlic plus lots of canned tomato sauce and diced tomatoes for a huge boost of antioxidants and lycopene.

And let me be clear: All forms matter or count when it comes to eating more fruits and vegetables. So canned, dried, fresh, frozen and 100% juice are all nutrient-rich. Plus, you can cut sodium-spending up to 45% by simply rinsing and draining those canned beans.

In the spirit of not over-spending my fat/calorie budget, I use 96% lean ground beef (yes, this 96% lean/4% fat ground beef qualifies as lean according to the USDA) for iron, B-12 and zinc-rich protein.

And speaking of beef, let’s stop all the bickering about eating beef. Let’s clear up the misconceptions that keep getting thrown around. Beef is a valuable source of protein, filled with numerous vitamins and minerals and can easily be included in any diet or eating plan. Why? There are at least 29 lean cuts to pick from! Lean = better-for-you, your heart and your health.

But those oh-so-decadent Bipartisan Shortbread Bars, you ask? How do they stack up for a healthful way of eating? They are the “savor and enjoy in sensible portions” part of this Blending and Balancing.

And why do I call them Bipartisan Shortbread Bars? Well I invite you to read about that in my January 2009 blog post….simply type in “bipartisan” in the search bar to your right on this page. Or just hit

The state of My Plate is most delicious, blended and balanced. How’s yours?

Kim’s Hearty Beef & Bean Chili
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2½ cups chopped onions
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 pound lean ground beef (at least 95% lean)
2 cans (15 oz.) dark red kidney beans
2 cans (15 oz.) red beans
2 cans (14.5 to 15 oz.) diced tomatoes
3 cans (15 oz.) tomato sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ to 1½ teaspoons each ancho and chipotle chili powder* 1 teaspoon oregano leaves
½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper*
6 to 12 drops hot red pepper sauce*
In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add onions, garlic, and ground beef. Cook until beef is crumbled and cooked thoroughly. Drain all canned beans and rinse to remove sodium. Add beans to onion-beef mixture along with all other ingredients. Stir well. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 45 minutes. *Depending on your heat tolerance.
Makes about 16 cups (8 servings of 2-cups each)

Bipartisan Shortbread Bars
1½ cups unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
2 egg yolks
2 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ to 2 teaspoons each orange and lemon zest
2 tablespoons amaretto liqueur
¼ teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg white
2 tablespoons raw sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat a 9x13x2-inch pan with vegetable cooking spray. Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until combined. Add egg yolks one at a time and beat until smooth. Stir in flour, zests, amaretto and salt, mixing only until everything is incorporated. Spread dough evenly in pan and brush top with egg white. Sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake until golden brown, approximately 30 – 35 minutes. (I think they’re done when the top is golden brown and they appear slightly deflated.) Cool slightly and cut while still warm. Enjoy!

Cut into 24 bars. These bars freeze well. Just cut and place in a zippered freezer bag. Microwave one bar for a couple seconds to thaw.
(Adapted from Michelle Obama’s Shortbread Cookie recipe online at

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Hempen.Dale permalink
    February 12, 2013 8:26 pm

    Bipartisan Shortbread Bars? Okay, that made even me laugh. Thanks.

    • February 12, 2013 8:48 pm

      Glad I could create a chuckle. Countdown 12 more minutes!! It’s always an event for Jeff and I to listen/watch. Hope you’re all well in ILL.

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