There are a lot of times where I find myself surfing the net for meal plans. Or looking for an app that will tell me what to eat. Every minute. Of every day. The fact that these times generally coincide with the consumption of a piece of cheesecake is merely a coincidence I assure you.
Ok. It’s not. Whenever I go off the rails I tend to want to over correct. The “I-will-be-so-good-starting-tomorrow-right-after-i-drink-this-wine-and-snarf-half-this-cheese-platter” syndrome.
It’s all about control. I like control. And labels. I like to sort things. Put labels on it all. Yup. One of THOSE types. It is part of what gives me terrible eating habits. One tiny slip and all is lost, in my mind. Better finish the Ben and Jerry’s so it won’t be there to tempt me again tomorrow.
But…we shouldn’t think that way. That is why the old thinking of following a diet so when your sister comes to visit in a month you will be in a smaller pants size has to go.
You have to really define your goals.
It is tempting to decide you are going to change, look up a bunch of recipes and head out to the store for two cartloads of beautiful, organic ingredients. In this scenario they will probably end up rotting in your fridge while you get take out in frustration.
Not that I am condemning people for take out. Or pre cooked foods. I did it too. I am just saying we shouldn’t.
And it can’t happen overnight.
I like to cook. I think everyone should. I love leaning my face over a pan of shallots browning in melted butter and smelling them. I love chopping vegetables and stealing a few raw, fresh peas before they go in the pan. I love finding new ingredients. New ways of cooking them. I live for it. Those of you who know me know it is all I talk about.
That is why it surprises me when I find people who don’t like to cook. Although, I can see why after a day at work, carting the kids around and all that lifey stuff it may be daunting to consider planning, cooking and cleaning up after a meal.
I think the first step is deciding what your goals are. If you tell yourself you have to be an earth friendly, organic, paleo, vegan you are going to end up first in line at Dunkin donuts looking for a big one. Xtra Xtra. And a chocolate glazed. Nothing drives us to something quicker than telling ourselves we can’t have it.
So what is it you want to do? Detoxify? Eat more vegetables? Less fast food? Less processed food? Get your kids eating better? Is it for your health? For the environment?
Most of us want to do it all. But try to focus on one or two.
And here is a word I want you to remember: SIMPLE.
Good food is simple food. Toss some Brussel spouts in olive oil and salt and roast them. Serve with chicken sausages. Wilt some spinach in ghee or butter with some garlic and serve with grilled fish brushed with olive oil and salt and pepper.
Take the kids to the farmer’s market and pick out something you haven’t tried. Look up how to cook it together. Or ask the farmer you buy it from.
Simple goals. A few at a time.
Suddenly, you will look back over your year and see all the change all together.
And be amazed.
I get asked some questions from these blog posts, which thrills me to no end. Mostly because one of the one I ask myself is why the heck am I writing a blog? Who wants to read what I have to say?
But, I have been reflecting on that the past few days and I realized that I do have something to say. Something important.
I am not much of a soapboxer. I am a Libra through and through. I don’t mind an intellectual discussion or two..but generally I try to respect people’s opinions and keep my mouth shut.
So, why am I writing this blog? Because this is something I am passionate about. I think it is important. I think it needs to be said, and discussed. Even argued about.
Events in my life over the past few years have changed my life quite a bit. Not the least of these changes: how I eat and think about food.
Up until a year or so ago my biggest dream was to own a bakery. I dedicated my time to cookies and cakes, flans, pies (well, maybe not pies. I suck at pie), frostings, doughnuts, cinnamon buns…I loved the intricate, fussy science of baking. I loved feeding it to my friends. Family. Strangers.
Then, I began to learn about sugar and what it does to your body. Then I learned more. And more. I was still obsessed with cooking and food but now I wanted to know where it came from. What it did to me when I ate it.
It was like an explosion of information. A huge, huge overload. At first, I was crushed under it all. I needed a direction. A point of origin.
Mark Bittman often writes about how we have lost control. Lost control by not cooking. Lost control by not caring about ingredients. This point was driven home to me when I made a joke to my kids about the fact that the farm fresh eggs I had bought had only recently been shot out of the chickens butt.
They wouldn’t eat them.
I asked them where they thought eggs came from. All three of them said “the grocery store”
And there it is. It has become so easy for us. It all just comes from the grocery store. When we need it, there it is. Clean and packaged. Not shot out of a chickens butt.
But what is it all, really? Where did it come from? And here is a rude awakening: companies are making BILLIONS from our ignorance.
One of the first things people say to me about organic or whole food eating is that it is expensive. Ok, I hear you. But it can be done.
What I DON’T want you to do is load your cart with “organic” things. Just because it is organic does not mean it is good for you.
What I want you to do is: pause. Take a breath. Maybe make an effort to change a few meals this week. Start reading the ingredients on your food packets. Are there more than 5? Is sugar or some type of artificial sweetener in the top 3? How many things that you cook start off frozen? Do you sit down together to eat?
I just want you to start thinking. I am here. I want to help you. And I want you to help me. A tiny chain of changes. If you start now you will be amazed where you are by Christmas!
You just have to start by caring.
I like to try to work a vegetable into every meal or snack. Fruit too..but because of its sugar content I try to limit my fruit somewhat. It is veggies I really want to get more of.
Breakfast can be a challenge. But this morning I had one of my favorites: two poached eggs with spinach cooked in ghee and garlic.
Cut me some slack on the pic..it is tough to make poached eggs look yummy…but they are. I break them into a bowl first, bring water to a boil in a small saucepan with about a tablespoon of vinegar. When it boils I get the water swirling a bit with the spoon then slide the egg in. I cook mine for about four to five minutes. That keeps the yolk runny so you can mix it in with your spinach which is THE BEST!
Tonight is one of those nights when I want something easy.
Who are we kidding? That is every night! I am hoping to still get a walk in tonight so I need to get everyone fed.
Here is a big problem in my house…I have three kids. Yes, that is a problem in and of itself, but as far as food goes it can be a nightmare.
I planned to make fish tacos tonight. Great plan. Except my oldest hates fish. Gave me a long, bitter speech about how can I possibly be his mother if I don’t remember that he hates fish? My other one hates chicken and the little one eats nothing else.
So, to keep myself from being a short order cook, at least for tonight, I am going to make chicken AND fish tacos. I keep a stash of chicken cooked in ghee and salt and pepper in my fridge for the small, picky one so I can use that.
I always have plenty of dubliner’s cheddar cheese…we go through a lot in this house.
I also could use some of the pre made salsa I have from trader joe’s but I am going to make my own. I just toss tomatoes
Red onion and
A splash of lime juice
In my food processor and pulse.
Easy. And about five minutes. Unless you are like me and can’t remember how the top fits on your food processor. Ever. Then, maybe more like seven minutes.
I admit it. Some days I want to eat like a kid. Kids get some pretty great stuff..Mac and cheese, peanut butter and jelly…
Now that I am older I also like a bit more oomph and a lot more health.
So for my first revamp: grilled cheese.
I bought a great cranberry onion chutney at the Mill Town market on elm street. It was my inspiration for this dish. Also, my Mon recently bought a panini maker so we are obsessed. (since I have neither the counter space nor the budget for such an item my panini maker consists of me placing a smallish cast iron skillet over the sandwich and smooshing it)
Turkey Panini with cranberry
turkey lunch meat
Whole grain bread
Cranberry onion chutney (or something similar)
I am sure I probably don’t have to explain to you how to make a grilled cheese. Butter one side of the bread, spread on the chutney, layer the other stuff. I cut my Brie down the length then cut it in half.
Another variation is to use thin slices of apple, chicken, Brie and some balsamic reduction with arugula or spinach.
I would love to hear what any of you like to put on your grown up grilleds.
Hectic mornings? You can put all your ingredients for your smoothie in a jar the night before the just throw it in the blender with frozen fruit or ice in the morning.
Headed to Trader Joe’s today so hopefully I will have a real post for you later!
My breakfast this morning: http://pcosdiva.com/2011/10/pumpkin-spice-protein-bars/
Which are good…but I plan to mess with them a bit. I will keep you updated.