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: Thoughts

How long does it actually take to cook dinner? And, why do we (as a society) seem to feel that it shouldn’t take any time at all, and no effort. We place almost no value on the job. In actuality it is one of the more important jobs out there. And like childcare, we tend to delegate it to those paid the least. We put a high value on low priced, inexpensive food. We pay more for health care and less for our dinner, and never quite connect the dots. I think it’s time we start to realize that it is worth our time, it is worth the effort, and it is doable.

Planning helps, it makes meal prep. smoother, and saves time and stress when it comes time to put dinner on the table. But, sometimes I wonder if our biggest obstacle isn’t a mental hurdle, a block that we put there ourselves when we decide that it is too difficult, too time consuming, etc.

So, get those back-up plans in place. Plan a few weeks worth of menus, buy some groceries, and come to grips with the idea of spending some time in your kitchen daily.

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

A Good Basic Pantry List

I’m thinking about what I would want to have around at a bare minimum that would still enable me to cook a variety of tasty, healthy meals for our family.
Here’s what I have so far:

Grains & Beans

Brown Rice (stored in the fridge or freezer)
Black beans (canned and/or dry)
Lentils
Quinoa
Whole Wheat flour, stored in the freezer
Whole wheat pasta, spaghetti, macaroni, spirals, etc.
Additional grains and beans; such as barley, spelt, oats, pinto beans, etc.

Canned Goods

Shelf stable milk substitute; rice, soy, almond, etc.
Canned tomato products, diced, paste, sauce, etc.
Canned pineapple
Black/green olives

Fats & Oils

Extra Virgin Olive oil
Coconut oil, & or Palm oil shortening

Seasonings & Spices

Onions (I consider these along with garlic to be a pantry staple)
Garlic, fresh
Vegetable broth or bouillon (cubes or powder – homemade version works)
Basil
Oregano
Thyme
Arrowroot powder or organic corn starch
Sea salt
Black pepper (preferably in the form of pepper corns and a grinder)
Apple Cider Vinegar, raw
Soy Sauce, or Nama Shoyu

Sweeteners

Honey
Agave nectar, preferably raw (because I like it better, that’s why 😉 )
Sucanat

Miscellaneous

Yeast

Nuts, such as: almonds, cashews, and walnuts
Seeds: sesame and sunflower seeds

Frozen

Frozen juice, such as orange, and apple
Frozen corn
Frozen peas
Frozen blueberries &/or other fruit for smoothies, muffins, pancakes, syrup, etc.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Assorted fresh fruits and vegetables, these will vary seasonally. Try to have at least 5 varieties of each on hand.

Spring: Greens (spinach, lettuce, etc.), New potatoes, peas, carrots, beets, strawberries, rhubarb, watercress

Summer: Tomatoes, summer squash/zucchini, eggplant, corn, raspberries, peaches, plums, apricots, Asian pears, cucumber

Fall: Beets, potatoes, kale, kohlrabi, sweet potatoes, apples, raspberries, peaches, broccoli

Winter: Potatoes, parsnips, carrots, winter squash, apples, cabbage, greens

Some things like potatoes, onions, garlic, winter squash, and apples will keep well for months when stored properly.

I think that’s about it.
I do keep a more extensive supply on hand, with extras like coconut milk (can you be addicted to coconut milk? I just might be), chocolate chips (grain sweetened), and numerous spices and herbs.
But, this list is more about what to stock if you’re just starting out, or have a limited budget but still need to eat ;-).

With these items on hand (depending on the produce selection), I could make:

Stir-Fry with brown rice (lots of variations possible here, including sweet and sour sauce, if you have canned pineapple on hand)
Rice and bean salad with assorted vegetables and a vinaigrette (olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt & pepper)
Lentil soup (without the mustard, or add that to the pantry)
Lentil rice casserole (use dried basil, I did)
Fresh homemade bread
Pizza
Black bean and rice burritos with fresh veggies added (salsa extra for this, unless you made it fresh from the produce available)
Tortillas
Tomato-Basil pasta (needs cashews)
Oatmeal
A Variation on out of the cupboard soup (depending on what’s in your cupboard)
Hummus (need a lemon for this)
Fruit Smoothies
Quinoa salads

And numerous other options depending on the produce available, such as:
Hashbrowns
Salad
Veggie sandwiches
Cabbage salad
Sauteed greens
Baked potatoes with steamed veggies and vinagrette dressing
Mashed potatoes

C