Monday, September 27, 2010
1) I am the master of food stretching! I made a 2 lb. roast with carrots and potatoes last weekend in my crockpot and ate about 3/4 of it for dinners over the course of the week. So this weekend I took the remaining roast and veggies, added some kale, water, pasta and extra seasonings and turned it into an amazing beef veggie stew/soup that I got another 4 meals out of (currently in my freezer awaiting lunches for the week.) So basically, that one roast, 1/3 bag of potatoes, and 1 bag of too old to eat fresh baby carrots is going to feed me for almost 2 weeks. Not too shabby I would say!
2) In relation to the item above - part of me is feeling guilty that I am still eating on this grocery store meat that is still in my freezer. As I have said in previous posts, I have decided to go vegetarian but for economical reasons I just can't justify not eating the food that I already have in my house. Of course, being such a good food stretcher that single roast, 1 lb of ground beef and 4 chicken leg quarters will probably last me a month or more. That means another month of eating food that I don't think is particularly healthy for me, but financially it means another month of EATING which is always good. So I am trying to remember that valuable recovery phrase "Progress, not perfection!" Because honestly, even if I am still eating meat at the moment, averaging out to 1 lb. of beef per week for myself really isn't that terrible. And once it is gone, no more will be coming in!
3) Evidently I have crazy healthy hair that is THRIVING under this No Shampoo routine! I haven't used shampoo on my hair in over a week, just doing a nice, warm water rinse with a good scalp massage every morning in the shower to loosen up and get rid of any dirt or grime. My hair looks fantastic, I haven't had to use ANY product in it at all, it is holding a style better than it EVER has in my life, and that whole "dipped in a jar of oil" look that a lot of the blogs warned about for the first few weeks hasn't happened AT ALL for me. I am thrilled. I will still put together the baking soda and vinegar rinse and maybe start doing that once a week, but I feel like any more than that would be overkill because my hair is just doing great on its own.
4) I had planned on beginning the Couch to 5K routine again last week and I just ended up busy tackling other things to do with school and life and it didn't happen. But we were watching a video in my Nutrition, Fitness & Wellness class today that followed a group of fairly sedentary people of all ages as they trained for the Boston Marathon with the Nova tv channel. And honestly, it got my toes twitching to get out running again. I remember how good I felt when I was running every day and training for the half marathon. I just had so much energy, slept well, felt strong, and when I did the half marathon it was such a HUGE accomplishment. I miss that...I miss having a goal to work for and train for like that. I am going to start again, at least with Couch to 5K and then take it from there, see how I feel and time-wise what I feel like committing to again. But If I can just pack my clothes and plan on running for 1/2 hour every Tuesday and Thursday morning in between classes, running longer one day on the weekends, and adding in some resistance training 2-3 days a week for 15 minutes in the evenings before bed I just feel like I will feel SO much better. What do you think? Can I plan on starting this tomorrow? It means laying out my exercise clothes tonight and having everything ready. I bet I can do it!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
10 medium sized apples (choose a sweet variety like Red Delicious or Gala)
2 cups of unsweetened apple juice or approximately 5 apples juiced
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 T cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground nutmeg
pinch of sea salt
1. Place cored and sliced apples (not peeled) into a large crock-pot / slow cooker.
2. Juice apples and pour juice on top of sliced apples. Add water, apple cider vinegar and spices. Stir all ingredients together, cover pot and let it cook for 15 hours on low.
3. The liquid will reduce and the apples will be very soft, darker in color, and smell lovely. Turn the crock pot off and let the apples cool down a bit (about 30 minutes), then transfer the mixture into a blender (or use a hand/stick blender) and blend until completely smooth.
4. Let the apple butter cool and then transfer into storage containers. It should store well in the fridge for about 3 weeks.
Monday, September 20, 2010
If you haven't watched The Story of Stuff yet please take the 20 minutes and watch it now...it is a fascinating, entertaining and eye opening piece about consumption in our society and how we can make a difference.
Now...I promise I won't go all preachy on you :-) That's not my style! But what I do want to do is share some of the changes I am making, contemplating and planning in the near future.
- I am going to go vegetarian and cut out most dairy - I personally abhor the industrial agricultural system. I think it horrifically abuses animals, introduces far too many antibiotics and pesticides into our food system, and pollutes the environment. (Watch Food, Inc. if you haven't yet for more info on this!) I am not opposed to eating meat, but I do feel that the meat, dairy and eggs should come from local, humane, small farm operations. However, that is expensive and I just don't have the budget for it on a regular basis. So I am going back to an idea that meat is for special occasions and maybe once a month or so treat myself to an organic chicken or roast and savor it and use every bit of it I can. The rest of the time, vegetarian with some local eggs but no dairy because it really seems to not settle well with my system and it is waaaaaay too easy for me to go wacky on cheese!
- I am going to try not to buy anything that I don't need, and anything I do need I will attempt to find used at thrift stores, on Freecycle or will make them. I have my basic items already in place. Smoe "nice to have" things like a bookcase, bathroom rug, living room table, glass jars, etc. I can try to find on Freecycle or in a thriftstore and things like washcloths or new fashion scarfs I have BAGS full of yarn in my closet and I can knit or crochet myself! But by doing my part to avoid introducing new items into the system I will save money and the environment.
- Ok, now this one may sound a little weird - but I am giving up shampoo. I have done a LOT of research on this as I was coming to the end of my shampoo bottle. Shampoo is simply not necessary for healthy, CLEAN hair! Modern shampoo is actually more of a detergent that strips your hair of the healthy oils it needs which then have to be replaced with other products. By going shampoo free and cleaning your hair once or twice a week with a baking soda/water mixture and then following with an apple cider vinegar/water rinse your hair not only won't get greasy and disgusting, it will actually get healthier and more manageable. So, I am embarking on a 1 month experiment to see how it goes...so far 3 days in all I have done to my hair is do a good warm water rinse with a scalp massage to loosen up any dirt and such and honestly, my hair looks great! All the product is out of it, it doesn't look greasy at all, it is holding a style without any fuss, and my hair color doesn't seem to be fading as fast as normal. They say it takes from 2-6 weeks for your hair to really adjust and not overproduce oil to make up for being stripped by the shampoo, so let's see how it goes!
Now, in the meantime while I am slowly transitioning to vegetarian I decided I just can't be wasteful and throw out or give away the meat I already have in my freezer so I am cooking it, one piece a week, and using it for dinners. So I have to share the AMAZING beef roast/stew I made in my crockpot this weekend!!
Again, not much on an official recipe, but I had a 2 lb. beef chuck roast that I put in a crockpot along with a bag of baby carrots, about 6 chopped up potatoes, 2 chopped onions, 1/2 bottle of red wine, about 2 cups of water and seasoned with rosemary, garlic and (the secret ingredient) 3 cinnamon sticks. Cooked on high for about 6 hrs - could do it on low too for 8-9 hrs, but I started it late in the day. Holy Cow was this amazing!!! The cinnamon was unexpected but really made it pop!! I took the roast out, shredded it, put the potatoes and carrots in another container and will eat on it for dinners all week with the broth to make it a stew.P.S. I am attempting to attach a picture of this fabulous creation but Picasa and Blogger are giving me trouble so it will have to go picture free for the time being...I will upload one when I get a chance if possible :-)
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Oh my GOODNESS!! My sweet taste buds are going wacky this morning! So I made my normal green monster smoothie with one BIG difference - I had run out of milk so I opened a can of light coconut milk and used about 1/2 a can of that alone with some water to make my smoothie. Holy moly it was amazingly good but CRAZY sweet...Honestly, when I first tried it I thought I had died and gone to heaven, but about half way through I realized that it was in fact too sweet for me. I think I am going to repeat this coconut milk experiment, but I am going to cut the amount by about half and make up the liquid with more water. It will still be super creamy, tasty and sweet, but a little lower in fat/calories/tooth aching sweetness.
On that same note - I am seriously considering going at least vegetarian and possibly vegan again. I haven't decided for sure, but there are a couple factors coming into play here for me.
1) I am poor and beans and rice and stuff are cheaper than meat
2) I am EXTREMELY opposed to industrial factory farming and for the past couple of years I have been very adamant about only eating local, organic, humanely raised meat and dairy products. However, referencing factor #1 I am no longer really able to afford those things anymore. I have caved on my principles the last couple of weeks and bought standard meat items and honestly, felt like total crap and a complete hypocrite about it.
3) I have a very sensitive stomach - I had my gallbladder removed when I was 22 and my system hasn't been the same since then. Eating a ton of animal protein just doesn't settle well with me in general, eating lower fat and lots of veggies makes me feel better on a day to day basis.
4) I have been vegetarian and vegan in the past for varying lengths of time and felt GREAT while doing it
So I haven't fully decided yet, and on a practical note I have a pound of ground beef, a pot roast and a package of chicken quarters in my freezer that I can't really afford to let go to waste. So I guess the question is, just jump in and do it? Work on phasing it out while eating meat for the next month it will take me to get through the meat in my freezer? I mean, on a practical note I eat quite a few meatless meals anyway...my lunches for this week were tortellini and broccoli salad and baked tofu with brown rice and green beans, so it's not like going meat-free is going to be a huge shock or change (however my chicken enchilada casserole would have to get altered - no more chicken, sour cream or cheese although the refried beans and collard greens and homemade salsa could stay)
Any of you who are reading this who are vegetarian/vegan or have made that switch in the past - what do you think? Any suggestions or ideas on how I should move forward?
Oh yeah - My birthday was also this past Tuesday September 14th...I am now officially 29 and on the homestretch to 30!! I celebrated by going to school, working, going to rehearsal, and then taking myself out for karaoke :-) And I am still recovering...I must be getting old, it wasn't this hard to bounce back after my 21st birthday!! It's time baby, I am almost 30...the time to be healthy has arrived and it can't wait any longer!!
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Here is a rundown of everything I cooked this weekend with some pictures. No real recipes this week because everything was more of a throw together:
1) Cherries and apples stewed in red wine and cinnamon
2) Potato and oyster corn chowder
3) Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
5) Brown Rice
6) Marinated Tofu
7) Peanut Butter Cookies
8) Sweet Potato Muffins
9) Baked Eggs
- I whisked together 8 eggs and about 2/3 cup of milk with some seasonings as if I was making scrambled eggs. Put a small piece of whole wheat bread in the bottom of each cup of a greased muffin tin, topped with a little diced cheese, and poured the eggs evenly into each cup and then baked. Yummy, but I would make a few changes next time. I would toast the bread first so it didn't get as soaked up into the egg as it did this time and I would add veggies like spinach or broccoli to bulk it up and make it more satisfying (and healthier!). I have also seen an idea to do this with a crust made of biscuit dough or puff pastry which would also be an option, although more expensive. I will include pictures and a REAL recipe when I do it again and feel happier with the results.
10) Baked potatoes
Holy hell! Looking at the list even I am overwhelmed by how much I did! But it has worked out great...I have been able to take chili over a baked potato for lunches, muffins and eggs for breakfasts, have a cup of chowder and a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner, pack a couple of peanut butter cookies as an afternoon snack/treat, marinated tofu with brown rice...it has been super easy just to reach in the fridge, grab something and go!
Now granted, I didn't do a whole lot of planning on this and I probably overdid it. For example, I baked 7 potatoes and I am NOT eating a potato a day. I did freeze half the muffins, but I will probably need to freeze some of the chili and brown rice too so it doesn't go bad because I just can't eat it all when I am one person and I cook for an army (something I still need to work on). I think for next week I am going to do some better menu planning, for one to make sure I am getting more veggies in my meals, and also so that I don't end up overwhelmed with a fridge full of food I just can't eat in 1 week.
I am still on a strict budget (and I will be for the next few years, might as well get used to it now!) so I won't be doing much more grocery shopping except maybe some fruit and veggies. I am also planning on going through my freezer to see what I have already stashed there that I want to thaw and eat before it gets too old. I know I froze a couple containers of black bean soup so I think that will accompany some quesadillas for lunches and dinners next week! This pantry cooking is actually a lot of fun and a great challenge - Use what you have instead of going crazy spending a ton on stuff for a single recipe.
Still feeling healthy and riding my bike to school every day. It is definitely feeling easier too! I am taking less breaks heading up the hill (only 1 pause this morning and I was stopping 3-4 times when I started 3 weeks ago!) and able to do it faster without feeling like I am dying. Once it gets to the point where I don't feel like it is pushing as much anymore, I am going to start taking the gears up slowly so it remains a good workout. As long as I keep the intensity high, it will continue to be a good 1/2 hr or so of exercise every day and that is a good start to getting healthy! I will say though, riding my bike after 6 hours of sleep and riding it after 8 hours of sleep I can sure tell a difference in how sluggish my legs feel...sleep really is key, and once the show is over I will start getting it again :-)
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
So culled from the links that Rachel posted, here are a few of my favorites - Hope they help others out as much as they are going to help me :-)
15 Fresh Brown Bag Lunch Ideas ***Note from Tina - I am not putting all 15 in here, I am just putting in the ones I think will work best for me. Feel free to check out the link for the other ideas!***
- Pasta Lover's Lunch Salad. Pack a cold pasta salad and a plastic fork, and your pasta lover will love you, too! Make your salad with lean meat or low-fat cheese (so it has some protein), lots of vegetables to boost fiber and nutrition, and use a whole-grain blend pasta, like Barilla Plus. Then just drizzle some light vinaigrette over the top and toss. ***Yeah! I love this idea and used to do it all the time...time to get back to it!***
- The Fruit and Cheese Plate Special. Make crispy cracker sandwiches with whole-wheat crackers, slices of assorted cheese, and lean meats. Don't forget the fruit, which goes nicely with the cheese and adds fiber and nutrition. ***I am not a big fan of lunch meat, but doing this with slices of baked tofu sounds awesome***
- Bagel With Cream Cheese, Please. Bagels are a wonderful foundation for hardy sandwiches that stand up to being in a backpack or locker all morning. You can toast a bagel in the morning and simply spread some light cream cheese in the middle. Or make a bagel sandwich with, say, a little light cream cheese, some turkey, and cranberry sauce, then top it off with alfalfa sprouts or Romaine lettuce. ***This is actually great, especially for when I need dinner at the theatre because after getting tossed around my bag all day sandwiches on bread tend to get a bit too goopy for me***
- Carry a Cobb Salad. Plastic containers can hold the makings of a delicious salad lunch. Fill it with chopped green lettuce, chopped hard-boiled egg, light cheese, and/or lean ham. You can buy packets of light dressing, or just use extra packets of light salad dressing left over from your last trip to the fast-food chain. ***This would be a decent idea on the days when I can eat lunch at work...on days when I have 10 minutes to get from class to class, not so much***
- It's a Wrap! Wraps are a nice change of pace from the usual sandwich. Use one of the new higher-fiber tortillas, like the multigrain flour tortillas available in most supermarkets. Then fill 'er up with chicken Caesar salad or assorted lean meats, cheese, tomato, sliced onion, shredded Romaine lettuce, and light dressing. Just roll it up and wrap in foil. ***Same plusses as the bagel sandwich***
- Noodle Soup Cups. Many schools offer a hot water dispenser so kids can add hot water to packaged noodle soup cups. Some brands are higher in sodium and fat, and lower in fiber than others. Check out the options in stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. ***I have these awesome noodle soup packets from Thai Kitchen that I am thinking doing in a thermos in the morning...would need something else to bulk it up though, just a noodle cup is a little flimsy on staying power***
- Veggie Sushi. Not all kids will go for this one, but there are some out there who really like seaweed-wrapped sushi rolls. You can now buy pre-made sushi at many supermarkets, too. Choosing the veggie-filled sushi means there's no chance the sushi will get a little "fishy" while it's in your kid's backpack. ***I would LOVE to do this if I could find the seaweed cheaply...I could see making these the night before and having them ready for lunch the next day, and doing it veggie style also keeps the cost down***
- Toss Some Taco Salad. If taco salad is a favorite, you can pack the meat mixture tossed with the shredded cheese, tomatoes, and chopped Romaine lettuce in a plastic container. At lunchtime, your child can add crunchy, reduced-fat tortilla chips and a little light dressing. ***I am a TOTAL sucker for taco salad! Same issue as the cobb salad, but I would totally bring this to much on at work***
- Fried Rice Can Be Fun. When made with eggs or chopped lean ham and lots of veggies, cold fried rice can be a satisfying noontime treat. Make your own, or plan on leftovers the night before if you're ordering from a restaurant. ***Definitely doing this...easy, quick, uses leftovers...perfect!***
- Talk About Taquitos. I started doing this last year, and it seems to have stuck with my girls. I pop some Bean and Cheese frozen Taquitos from Whole Foods into my toaster oven in the morning, then let them cool. Then, I wrap them in foil and make sure they stay cool by packing a frozen juice box or small water bottle. By noon, they are cold, fun finger food. ***So I wouldn't buy frozen taquitos...but replace that with homemade and preheated bean burrito and you are speaking my language!***
- Meal Muffins. Certain types of muffins work as a lunch entree. If you bake them over the weekend and keep them in the freezer, you just have to pull one or two out in the morning. By lunch, they are nicely chilled and ready to eat. Try ham and cheese muffins, Mexican Cornbread muffins, or quiche muffins (quiche filling, baked with or without crust in a muffin pan). ***YES YES YES!! When I was a South Beacher I made tons of the mini quiches with egg, spinach and cheese...so easy to grab and go***
Vegan Lunch Ideas ***I would probaby make some of these vegetarian instead of vegan since my budget just doesn't allow for soy cheese or yogurt, but otherwise this is such a great list to get the mind going! I have starred the ones that I especially am going to remember***
Peanut butter and jelly
Peanut butter and apple or banana slices
***Peanut butter and grated carrots
Nut butter sandwiches on small crackers
Nut butter and jelly on a whole grain bagel
Peanut butter with sliced bananas rolled up inside a flour tortilla
***Hummus, shredded carrots and celery rolled up inside a flour tortilla
Hummus on whole wheat bread
Hummus with tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce
Hummus with sliced grapes
Hummus with grated carrot
***Hummus with sliced & sautéed mushrooms
Leftover pasta or grain dishes in a wrap
Cucumbers or tomatoes and soy cream cheese with sprouts in a wrap
Tofu mayonnaise mixed with nut butters, celery and peppers
Vegan cream cheese and jelly sandwiches, cut up into quarters or fingers
Avocado mashed on crackers
Roasted red pepper with tomato and soy cream cheese
Tofu egg salad in a pita pocket with lettuce
Warm lunches: ***I'm thinking I might need to spring for a small thermos or food jar to take some of these***
Heat these up in the morning and pack in a thermos.
***Bean and veggie soup with toast fingers to dip in it
***Rice and beans, with shredded vegan cheese on the side to mix in
***Pasta and marinara sauce
Frozen peas sautéed in a bit of olive oil and garlic powder
Canned chickpeas sautéed in a bit of olive oil and cumin
***Canned chickpeas and tomatoes sautéed in olive oil and basil
***Cubes of marinated/baked tofu
Ziti or multicolored finger food pasta with grated soy cheese and tomato sauce for dipping
Chickpeas, green beans and macaroni (mixed together, no sauce)
***Veggie dog wrapped in biscuit dough and baked
Baby potatoes and carrots, cooked whole, with tofu-based dip
***Baked white or sweet potato 'fries' with cubed veggie burger and ketchup to dip
***Taco salad - nachos with chopped tomatoes, guacamole, shredded vegan cheese and other toppings
***Quesadillas - vegan cheese with refried beans and whatever veggies are handy
Pancake with fruit spread to dip
French toast cut into bars with maple syrup, jam, or applesauce for dipping
***Cold pasta salad - use leftover vegetables, vary the shapes/colors of pasta and the salad dressings
Brown rice or whole wheat couscous based salad
Kidney or black bean salad
Snacks and Sides:
Fresh fruit with dip (vegan cream cheese mixed with juice concentrate or preserves)
Apple slices with peanut butter to dip
Apples, cut in half, cored and filled with peanut butter, make raisin eyes and pretzel legs, then wrap in plastic wrap, or a container
***Ants on a log - spread peanut butter or vegan cream cheese in celery and top with raisins
***Carrots, celery and pita bread triangles with hummus for dipping
Fresh veggies and hummus
Celery and carrots with peanut butter to dip
Broccoli with dip
Baba ghanouj (roast eggplant purée) for dipping veggies
Peanut butter spread on whole wheat crackers
Soy cheese cut in cubes
The first is a high energy peanut butter ball that would make a great grab and go lunch or snack item when around campus. The second just sounds yummy and fun!
Peanut Butter Bites
1 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup raisins (or other dried fruit chopped small)
1/4 cup honey
Graham cracker crumbs (or crushed nuts, or shredded coconut, or mini chocolate chips, etc.)
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except the graham cracker crumbs. Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll in the crumbs and refrigerate. Makes 24.
Place a flour tortilla in a nonstick skillet over low heat, spread it with tomato sauce, and sprinkle it with grated cheese, shredded meat, chopped vegetables and other fillings. Top it with another tortilla and cook it like a grilled cheese. When it has cooled, slice it like a pizza and pack it up!