True Confessions

True Confession #1:

I have reached a time in my life when I am just sick of cooking. I think it’s the constant demand, every day, at least three times a day (or 400 if you have a starving, growing child on your hands) you need to come up with healthy, filling food. Food that hopefully everyone will enjoy. Some days you just hope they’ll eat it without complaining, who cares if they like it. Fast food is not an option for me. Frozen dinners are for the most part, not an option, and those that are quickly become cost prohibitive on a regular basis. What to do, what to do? What have you done? I know it’s not just me.

True Confession #2:

This one is a little more complex. But it boils down to the fact that I am frustrated with my weight and feeling like I should weigh less considering my diet. Whether or not this is actually true, is another story. But, that’s how I feel.
I suspect that it is a combination of not enough exercise, and too many snacks/treats, occasional emotional eating, and hormonal changes that come with age.

So, what to do?

Well, I’ll tell you what I did.

Last week I started a juice fast. I have tried this in the past fairly unsuccessfully, but I think all the years of improved dietary habits have stabilized my blood sugar to the point that I could handle it. I still cheated. But, overall I would call it a success.

The sad thing is that I was so thrilled not to be cooking that I didn’t really care that I wasn’t eating much either. I hope by the time I’m done with all this I will have recovered my ability to enjoy the kitchen.

So, how did I solve the problem of feeding my family? I told the 10 year old that he was in charge. It worked.

No, he does not really know how to cook, so really I just have a kitchen helper and I am still involved in meals to some extent. But….he is learning and it has been a really good thing.

Now for a little more detail about my plan. I had some digestive issues which triggered the decision to do the juice fast, and when I finished I just didn’t feel ready to go back to my regular diet. So I decided I would transition to “Ani’s 15 Day Fat Blast” because it is raw and involves a lot of smoothies. It took me a few days to get my supplies and in the interim I waffled between fasting, juice, and smoothies. Which really gave me a smoother transition, but went on a few days longer than I would have liked. So really, I ended up eating some pizza on the second to last day of this. I think it was a good thing.

It’s been interesting. I’ve realized a few things about cravings and overcoming them, and since this is my first experience with fasting for a non-religious reason it’s also been interesting to see the difference when your focus is introspection instead.

C

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31 Days of Menus: Dishes

You might be wondering what this has to do with our menus theme, or maybe you know all to well. I’m referring to the execution in the subtitle, because if I get too behind on the dishes it can be overwhelming to add to the pile. And that makes cooking dinner seem like an impossible challenge to overcome, menu or no menu.

So, my recommendations (which I am not necessarily the best at following through with) are:

*However you do it, just make sure everything is washed up before you go to bed.

*Starting with a sink of soapy water can be helpful.

*Wash and clean up everything possible while dinner is cooking, this limits the mess staring you in the face after you’ve eaten.

*Try to finish the cleanup as soon after dinner as possible.

*Use a sticker chart – Cassandra talks about that here on her blog.

*If you do go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink, do them in the morning.

Is it just me, or is this an issue for you too?

C

31 Days of Menus: Inspiration

Not just inspiration for menu planning, but cooking in general.


(don’t worry, I have more ;-))

Personally I gain a lot of inspiration from reading cookbooks, but I know not everyone lists that as one of their favorite pastimes.

Watching cooking shows can be helpful, even if they aren’t quite in line with our dietary standards. Here’s one that’s available online, and focuses on whole grains, just look at it as inspiration rather than a how to – at least for many of the recipes. However, some of them like the sweet rice cereal for breakfast (which I’ve been inspired to try) are right up my alley.

Cooking blogs are also great, and sometimes I come across an idea I just have to try!

What inspires you?

C

31 Days of Menus: To plan breakfast and lunch, or not?


(Sunday’s lunch: Cabbage Salad with Asian Style Dressing)

I know a lot of people, probably most people don’t bother with planning these meals. And if that works for you, go with it. However, I’ve noticed that I do better with some type of plan. Even if it is Green Smoothies 5 or 6 days out of the week and only two breakfast menus I actually need a “menu” for.
Lunch is the bigger deal for me. Leftovers and sandwiches are great options, and I do use those a lot, but sometimes I forget to have lunch if I haven’t made a plan. So, sometimes the menu will say “leftover _____ ” from dinner the night before, if I think there will be extra. Or, I’ll pick sandwiches that sound good for the week, TLT’s (tempeh, lettuce, and tomato) or Chickpea salad sandwiches. Those are usually good for 2 or 3 days out of the week. And, by planning them into the menus I can make sure I’ve purchased what I need for lunches too, without buying a lot of extras.

What about you? Do you plan for lunch and breakfast?

C

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Dip

A.k.a the best Nacho ‘cheeze’ sauce ever. Seriously though, I think I’m on to something – in a reminiscent of processed cheese spreads kind of way.
The basic recipe has a mild cheddar cheese flavor with a bit of a smokey undertone (due to the roasted red peppers).
Try it and let me know what you think.

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Dip

1 cup soaked cashews (soak for 2 to 4 hours in filtered water)
1 large roasted red pepper ( I used the canned/jarred variety)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon powdered cumin
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon sea salt (Redmond’s)

Add all ingredients to the blender and process until smooth, really smooth (In the Blendtec I process this on speed 9 for 1 cycle). I think this is wet enough between the soaked cashews and the water to blend well in most blenders and if not a food processor should work well, but you’ll have to let me know how it works for you.

When my son saw this he said, “we should have that on pasta, but not the long skinny kind, the swirly kind.” Which would have been good, but instead we opted for macaroni. Which elicited this comment, “This isn’t good, it’s great!”
Keeping in mind that he might not recognize the boxed version in a blind taste test, it’s still some pretty high praise coming from a seven year old!

We’ve also tried this on pizza, and it adds a great flavor dimension. Swirl it on over the tomato sauce, rather than on top off the veggies (toppings).

Other options include adding it to baked potatoes topped with chili, as one of the fillings for burritos, or adding it to a southwest style wrap (delicious!), and of course topping off a plate of nachos.

C

Kitchen Mishaps

You know how you feel when you buy a new gadget for the kitchen that is going to save you time and money? I purchased a soymilk maker a while ago and eagerly began reading the manual, putting it together, soaking beans, and making soymilk. I couldn’t wait to taste homemade soymilk on homemade granola. This was a step forward toward eating (and drinking) less processed foods. However, when I strained the milk, it was much thicker than I expected it to be and it didn’t taste very good. I asked Cherie about it the next time I talked to her on the phone and we figured out that I should add the water first before the beans (I had somehow reversed those steps from the manual) and maybe add a little sweetener. I tried it. Again, it was too thick and didn’t taste very good. I sadly put away my soymilk maker and focused on other ways to eat healthy. Months later, while quilting with Cherie, she asked how my soymilk making was going. When I told her it wasn’t, she started walking me through each step to see if she could figure out what was wrong. She pulled open her cupboards and, as a side note, pointed to her soybeans. I suddenly realized that was not the kind of bean I was using! I had mislabeled my jars of beans and had been using garbanzo beans (chickpeas) instead of soybeans. : ) Once I started using the right kind of beans, my soymilk maker worked great.

When I was child living at home, my mother bought non-instant powdered milk from cheese factories. She would whisk it with water in gallon sized pitchers. One Thanksgiving she pulled a pitcher out of the refrigerator to add milk to the mashed potatoes. She held the hand mixer in the potatoes with one hand and poured the pitcher with the other hand. To her horror, the potatoes were turning purple! She had grabbed the pitcher of grape juice instead of milk. Thankfully, she quickly realized her mistake and switched pitchers before the potatoes were ruined. We still laugh about that story every Thanksgiving when making mashed potatoes.

M

Do you have any kitchen mishaps you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about them.

The New Four Food Groups and Veggie Nutrition

Most of us grew up with the Four Food Groups. They were relentlessly drilled into us at school, courtesy of the meat and dairy industries who paid/pay for all of that literature. So, having cut out two of the original four food groups, where do we go from there? Another easy way to remember where we really ought to be getting our nutrition from has been mapped out by the folks over at the PRCM website. Their new four food groups – vegetables, fruit, grains, and legumes. I would put seeds in with the grains, and nuts into the legume category. And here’s a lovely food pyramid for those of you who prefer to look at that.
As far as specific nutritional concerns, I find it interesting that most of the potentially problematic nutrients are an issue regardless of how you eat. Even B-12 deficiencies (which is always touted as the missing component in a diet which excludes animal products) also occur among people who do eat food from animal sources. However, that doesn’t mean these nutrients aren’t still worthy of extra attention to ensure that we are getting enough of them in our diets.
Some nutrients to pay attention to include:
B-12, Essential Fatty Acids, Vitamin D, Calcium, and Iodine.
Here’s a link to a helpful site with more in depth information on this topic.

Now, what I’m wondering is, is anyone interested in this type of nutritional information? Or is it just me đŸ™‚ ?
Let me know, either way. Do you want more? If so, what do you want to know about? And if not, mention that too.

C