Sweet and Spicy Beef and Beer Chili – Pressure Cooker

IMG_0249This is my favorite chili recipe of all time!  I used to make this simmered on low all day in my crockpot but recently tried it in my Instant Pot pressure cooker and found it was just as delicious but ready in under an hour!

The combination of unusual flavors like beer, coffee, cocoa powder and cumin make this a memorable chili that will stand out at your next “chili cook off”!


  • 1 TBS Oil (I use Grapeseed Oil, whatever your favorite oil is will do just fine)
  • 1 Large onion – chopped
  • 3 Cloves garlic – minced
  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 1 pound Ground Bison
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) can peeled and diced tomatoes with juice (I like to use organic, no salt added, fire roasted)
  • 1 can/bottle (about 12 oz) beer (I use Redbridge gluten free beer, if you have no gluten issues try a dark beer like Guinness)
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee (I often use instant espresso powder for this)
  • 1 can (14 oz) Beef broth
  • 1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
  • 3 TBSP Chili Powder
  • 1 TBSP Ground Cumin
  • 1 TBSP Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1/2 Tsp Celtic Sea Salt
  • 2 cans (15 oz) Black Beans (I prefer organic, no salt added) – drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans (15 oz) Adzuki Beans (organic, no salt added) – drained and rinsed


Sauté the onions and garlic until softened, about 3-5 minutes.  Add ground meats and cook until lightly browned.  You can use the sauté feature on your pressure cooker if you are using an Instant Pot that has that feature, otherwise just do this on the stove, then transfer to your pressure cooker.

Combine all of the ingredients in your pressure cooker.  Cook on the Beans/Chili setting for the default time, or 30-35 minutes manual.  Allow to natural pressure release for 10-15 minutes.

If using a crockpot, cook on low for 6-8 hours.


Wicked Halloween Run 5K Race 2013

So Sunday 10/27/13 was the “Wicked Halloween Run” 5K race, Jim and I have been training for this for several months.

It was our first really cold weather run and we were both quite nervous about that. We went out a few times in the last week or so on training runs where it was around 45 degrees and that was pretty darned chilly, but this mornings run was 36 degrees! Brrrrr!!!!

Saturday we made a little shopping trip to the Running Fit store and each bought some running pants designed for colder weather, and headbands designed to cover our ears, so with those, and our gloves, and a little layering under the race shirts, we were surprisingly comfortable. Probably the worst was the first 15-20 minutes when we got there and had to walk about half a mile from where we found a place to park, to Kellogg Park where the races were starting. And then we had time to kill just standing around waiting for our races to start. They were doing a 10K race, a 5K race and a “Monster Mile”. We ran the 5K. (3.1 miles)

Jim’s best friend Chad was there, and they had a little wager going on the race between them – loser had to agree to buy dinner soon. Jim made this bet with Chad after we did the Kona Run in June and Chad agreed to do this Halloween race with us but had not previously been doing any running so Jim thought it was an easy bet to make. Turns out Chad is a freak of nature and runs like Forrest Gump, he beat Jim by almost a minute! But Jim did get a time of I believe it was 25:06 and his last race time was around 28 minutes so that was a huge improvement for him and I couldn’t be more proud of him and all the effort he put into this!

As for me, I felt really good and strong on this race. I lined up with the 12 minute mile pace keeper, even though my training runs have been closer to 13 minute miles and above. I stayed a bit ahead of the pacer and finished with an average pace of 11:41 minute miles. My chip time for the 5K was 37:22 which is almost a full minute faster than my time from the race in June 🙂 Pretty pleased with that considering the calf injury brought on by that last race and how I had to stop for a while and start from square one with my training.

But alas, the injury fairy has struck me once again. The tendonitis I had developed in the back of my right knee many years ago on a big hiking trip reared its ugly head while I was running. I struggled with this exact injury recurring about 6 years ago when I first tried to get started with running, every time I really pushed myself that knee injury would reappear. So I had been very, very pleased that I’ve been running and training & doing races this whole year with no sign of that knee injury. Until now. 😦

I was about 2.5 miles into the race when it started to act up and suddenly every footfall on that right leg was filled with pain. I walked much more than I felt like I needed to from that point, and by that I mean – more than I needed to as far as I wasn’t overly fatigued, and my breathing was really good, if it weren’t for that searing pain behind the knee, I felt like I could have had a really strong finish and a much better time.

As it was though, it was all I could do to make myself push hard for a strong crossing of the finish line. I knew it was not wise to keep running once the injury was evident. But it’s not like this was a training run, this was a race I’d been preparing for all this time, I couldn’t just quit. And the fact is the injury had already occurred and nothing I did at that point was going to un-do that fact. I knew once I finished this I was going to be out of commission for a while for healing and rehab no matter what, so I pushed on and ended up with a personal best finish time that I’m proud of, even though I think I could have done much better if not for the injury.

So the rest of the afternoon I spent hobbling around the house in pain, icing, elevating, soaking in a hot tub with epsom salt, hoping the rehab on this won’t be too long, and grateful I’ve got 5 months until our next planned race.

Catching Up

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, but wanted to bring this blog up to speed a bit.  I may have more time this weekend for posting more info on what’s been going on over the last few months, but this is a quick recap.
I implemented several changes since the injury after my last race in June, and they seem to be helping quite a bit.  For starters, I took 2 weeks off all the walking/running just to make sure my leg had time to get back to normal.  At that point I started the 30 day arms challenge and also an Ab’s challenge, and saw those through for a month.
Then I started on a 7 week walking plan designed by the folks at Runners World magazine, and it was designed for people who really hadn’t been exercising much at all so it was like going back to square one.  Since I wasn’t sure at what point I did “too much too soon” to cause the overuse injury in my calf, I figured I’d start at the beginning and see if it happened again so I’d know what the ‘breaking point’ was exactly.
So, 7 weeks of walking 4 days a week with the length of time of each day increasing each week.  Then I started another 7 week plan designed to “start running”.  The first 2 weeks of that was actually all walking.  Then intervals started.  First week was 1:00 running, 4:00 walking, repeated however many times for the duration of the session.  The next week was 1:00 run, 3:00 walk.  Then 2:00 run, 3:00 walk.  After so much time going by it was really challenging to run for 2 minutes straight and to repeat that several times over 40 minute or so!  Then it went to 2:00 run 2:00 walk.  I stayed on that two weeks because I had a week where I got the flu shot and ended up with a mild version of the flu and was out of pocket for about 5 days, so the following week I just repeated that one since I didn’t do all the scheduled days of running the week I was sick.  
The training schedule I’ve been keeping is basically 20 minutes on Mondays, 40 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 55 minutes on Saturday.  From there I can tell if I’m improving, if I can squeeze a little more mileage out of each session then I did the last time I did that time frame.  The last week of the training is 2:00 running 1:00 walking, and that leads me right up to my 5K race at the Wicked Halloween Run.
So now about 4 months “post injury” and I only had one little flare-up with the calf swelling issue, and that was shortly after I started the running intervals.  I made a little change and have been good ever since.  What I did was bought some “calf compression sleeves” that I wear now when I run.  And I got compression socks that I usually put on for about 2 hours or so after each run.  And I’m being more diligent about properly warming up and stretching before I start the run and a minimum of 10 minutes of stretching directly following each run.  The stretching and compression have worked wonders for my leg!
I’ve lost a couple more pounds since my last blog posts, I’m down to 119 now which is awesome!  It’s amazing now that I’m staying so active how easy it’s been to maintain a good weight.  I still log all my foods just to make sure I’m staying on track but I find that I can splurge on treats and go over my calories on special occasions and it really has no impact on my weight as long as I just keep up with my running 4 days a week.

30 Day Abs Challenge

Hey gang! I know I’ve really slacked off on the blog posts lately, I will get all caught up soon!

Just real quick this morning I wanted to post pics from the before & after of the 30 Day Abs Challenge that I just finished this week.

I’ll be honest, I don’t see a lot of difference in the pictures! Although I do see a bit more definition. My overall rating of the “get ripped abs in 30 days” is that I wouldn’t exactly call my abs ripped at this point, so kind of false advertising. I did every work out, never skipped a day. And in the end I just didn’t see as much difference as I was hoping to.

However, on the side view, I see tremendous difference – although I’m going to credit some of that to simple “bloatyness” as I believe the before picture was taken in the evening, after dinner and after a full day of eating, whereas the after picture was taken at 7:00 a.m. before eating anything save for a few sips of coffee. But you can see a bit of muscle definition that was clearly not there before.

Depleted, but not defeated

There is a time for everything, for everything a season.

Today is a day of rest. Much needed, sweet rest.


Yesterday I finished the 30 Day Arm’s Challenge which I first told you about here. I am very proud of myself for doing that challenge, and make no mistake about it – it was very challenging! But today I am just tired.

I am actually something beyond tired. I am depleted. Depleted of every last ounce of energy. Physical, mental and emotional energy. My tank is on empty.

This has been a rough week for me. Have you ever experienced feeling really down, for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on? I’m talking about those stretches of several days where you’re unusually physically fatigued and just want to sleep all the time. Where you find yourself irritable, overly emotional, you can be brought to tears easily and feel angry or upset over little things or over practically nothing. (And no ladies, it actually is NOT ‘that time of month’, although the symptoms are similar). Maybe something in your subconscious that is bothering you. Maybe it’s a combination of small subtle things. Whatever it is, it just sort of overwhelms your mental and emotional attitude and pulls you down.

I’ll be honest, I’ve struggled with that many, many times in my life. Depression? Maybe. I’m not sure what to name it, really. But I know one thing, when it comes on it usually hits me strong and it conquers my spirit and can be hard to get out of.

In the past, I would let those nameless dark clouds dictate my actions. I would slowly shut myself off more and more from people and life in general and eventually turn to some sort of self-destructive habit to ease the discomfort. I would be defeated. And it would be a major struggle to overcome it and get back to “being me”.

But I think I’ve changed a lot over the last 11 months, since I’ve been taking better care of myself, cultivating fitness and good health. Something has changed inside me.

Even when I have that feeling of being depleted, I know, I am actually sure of this fact, that I am not defeated.

I just need to rest.

Life is a long and strenuous journey. There are days when our spirits may soar and our outlooks are bright and cheery. But sometimes things happen that just bring us down. And it’s OK.

How you deal with it, accept it, and overcome it, is the difference between being depleted and being defeated.

This week I’ve put my body through intense physical exertion with the last few days of the arms challenge. Last week I started a 30 day abs challenge and have been doing that alongside the arms challenge. And keeping pace with my current 4-day-per-week walking schedule. I’ve exerted a lot of energy from my body and asked a lot of it. It gave me everything I asked for, right when I needed it.

But our bodies can only take so much sometimes. We need rest.

Work has been challenging lately. Missed opportunities, overwhelming challenges, long hours, high stress. These things can all cause emotions to run a bit haywire and impair my ability to keep a clear and positive mental state.

Combine that with a body that has given all it has to give, and you end up just plain wore out.

Today I am thankful though, that I have learned to recognize when I start to feel mentally and emotionally overwhelmed, that it doesn’t need to scare me or make me think something is wrong with me. I can just recognize it as the signs that my body and spirit have put out a lot of effort and have just run out of steam for a while.

I believe a little rest, some good nutrition, a bit of prayer and a sprinkle of hope, will prevail. I’ll be back on top of my game in no time.

Defeated is hard to overcome.

Depleted can be treated.

The difference, primarily, is in the choice you make on how to define what your feeling. Are you really defeated? Or are you just depleted? Don’t be afraid to give yourself rest that you need. Speak words of encouragement to yourself if they are not coming from anyone else. And more importantly, believe in yourself.

And then smile as the sun comes back out, strap on your running shoes and get back out there! 🙂