Archive for the ‘Courage In The Kitchen’ Category
July 14th, 2011
Quinoa with black beans, sesame oil, soy sauce, raw carrots, and raw snap peas.
I’ve been taking baby steps toward keeping healthful, whole foods, and tons of veggies prepped and ready to eat.
My current goal has been to keep a batch of cooked beans, and a batch of cooked whole grain, such as quinoa, in the fridge at all times. We cooked these black beans with a bay leaf and salt and they taste pretty good on their own.
My husband has been eating the quinoa and beans for breakfast with a little bit of sesame oil and soy sauce. We originally got the idea to eat savory whole grains, instead of oatmeal for breakfast, from Mark Bittman. Wheat Berries are delicious prepared this way. We also try to keep some sliced green onion in a bag in the the fridge so that he can sprinkle them on top. (FYI – he ate breakfast at the hospital today, eggs, potatoes, with green chile and fresh fruit, and he texted me at 11:00 saying he was WAY more hungry than usual. So skip the potatoes and eat whole grains instead!)
I had been eating the black beans and quinoa for lunch and having cut up veggies on the side, when I had the idea to put the raw veggies in the quiona.
A perfect 2 minute meal!
This has been my lunch for the past two days:
3/4 C. Quinoa
2/3 C. Black beans (made from dry beans cooked with bay leaf)
2 tsp. Sesame oil
Splash of Soy sauce
1 Raw carrot, diced
6 or 7 Raw snap peas, sliced
This is the perfect 2-minute-meal and a healthy alternative to fried rice! It really did taste like fried rice, and the black beans were a surprisingly fine substitute for the scrambled egg that it usually contains. We cooked a large batch of both beans and quinoa at the beginning of the week and I am able to microwave a portion while chopping carrot and 6 or 7 snap peas (and in the future I’ll do this ahead of time too), WHILE holding Sebastian on one hip.
If you’re like my sister and you don’t use the microwave, it will still take very little time to heat them up on the stove.
What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, try as I might, I continue to hate cooking and it is a constant effort for me to be motivated to do it. And I couldn’t believe how quick, easy, and delicious this was!
Also, my husband and I are trying to lose weight. I joined Weight Watchers a few weeks ago and he has been trying to eat foods with a low Glycemic Index. This is an excellent meals for both weight loss strategies.
(For those interested in Weight Watchers Points Plus, 1.5 cups of fried rice is 15 PP while this is about 9-10 PP for almost 2 cups of food!)
This meal is a win, win, win, all around!
June 6th, 2011
It has been a daily struggle to motivate myself to cook since
always the second half of my pregnancy. And then, when Sebastian was born, I didn’t even try anymore.
Yes, my husband does most of the cooking, and I know I’m a lucky woman, but I feel terribly guilty about making him cook after every long day at work.
So, I’ve been trying to get motivated again. I stumbled upon this quinoa salad recipe from the blog 101 Cookbooks, and the ingredients were intriguing.
**Note: All photos for this post were taken with an iPhone (because I lost my camera this week) with an infant in one arm.**
Quinoa Salad with Zuchinni, Currants, Dill, and Lemon
I spent most of a day gathering ingredients from two stores, with Sebastian in the baby carrier at one, and asleep in the car seat at the other.
Despite being incredibly irritable after forgoing a long walk for shopping all day, I managed to make dinner (pre-made mushroom ravioli with jarred sauce and sauteed spinach), and to start the quinoa salad – with Sebastian in the baby carrier a lot of the time (thank goodness he’s finally started to take to it).
Huge, giNORmous, accomplishment!
But, I added way too much water, and it came out soggy. Yuck. I was really bummed out about wasting all the ingredients I had shopped for.
So, in true Jessie style I blamed it all on my husband.
Because I KNOW HE KNOWS better than me how much water to use! He had been watching over it while I tended to Sebastian (who likes to wake up shortly after going to bed) and he SHOULD HAVE NOTICED I had too much water!!!
Tossing and turning that night, I became determined to use the soggy quinoa somehow, perhaps for muffins? In the morning, my disposition greatly improved, I Googled quinoa muffin recipes. Using a few as a guide, I threw something together.
If you Google, “What makes a muffin?” You’ll learn that a muffin is 2 parts dry ingredient, 2 parts wet, 1 part egg, and 1 part oil. Or something like that. I fused together some recipes that had ingredients already in the salad (like zucchini), plus things I had on hand (like cottage cheese, but no milk).
To two cups of the zucchini and quinoa salad (with currants, dill, and lemon), I added 1/4-1/3 cup cottage cheese, 1 egg, 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, 2 Tbs. olive oil, and 1 cup of flour. The result was … a muffin that tastes like a dolma! Very Greek. And we went to Greece on our honeymoon, so Tim thought they were - not bad – and feels confident that I can perfect a healthy quinoa “cheddar bay biscuit.” And I think that’s precisely where I went wrong – instead of muffin, I should have Googled biscuit.
Anyway, I had one after my workout on Friday, along with coffee and soy milk, and I felt very healthy.
And what is my point?
Well, if I can do this, darn it, anyone can.
May 28th, 2011
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve become obsessed with putting food on my face in the name of beauty, having been inspired by the advice, “Don’t put anything on your skin that you can’t eat.”
After using tomato on my face for too many days in a row – with such good results that my oily skin became a little too dry – I decided I needed a nourishing, moisturizing mask. I was also interested in using potato flour, for various reasons, so I tried this mask from Natural Beauty Care Guide that says it helps with wrinkles.
|1 small banana
2 Tbs. heavy cream
1 Tbs. organic honey
1 Tbs. potato flour
|Mash the banana (or use half a banana and eat the other half), and then add the heavy cream, honey and potato flour. Stir to mix well. Add a little more cream or potato flour, as needed, to get the right consistency. Apply the mask to a clean face, including the area around the eyes, and neck. Leave on for 30 minutes, then rinse with water. Apply rosewater, if you like. You shouldn’t need a moisturizer, since the mask is hydrating.
Things I’d Change
I felt that this made way too much product, so I plan to play around with the measurements next time. Also, I used too much potato flour and it came out too thick and doughy. I wasn’t crazy about the lumps of banana, either, so next time I want to blend it with something electric.
Overall, I didn’t love this mask as much as my egg white, lemon, and honey mask, but it did rehydrate my skin and make it soft. It was also a very ugly mask. It was so lumpy and clumpy I felt like I was wearing horror movie make-up, and it turned brown when it dried. So don’t keep it on as long as I did!
I’ll write an update the next time I try this to tell you if it goes better.
Conclusion: An effective, but clumpy and ugly mask.
March 5th, 2011
In my fight against clutter, I’ve begun with my emotions. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago when I began my Clutter Kick Campaign, CLA (Clutterers Anonymous) asserts that there are three components to cluttering: physical, emotional, and spiritual.
Which brings me to last night. As you may know, I’ve been trying my darndest to make positive changes in my life. I’m trying to kick bad habits and replace them with good ones. But yesterday evening I was feeling particularly down. I was in a state where I was creeping closer and closer to tears, and really, really, really, wanted to lay on the couch and order take-out rather than cook dinner. I was dangerously close to wallowing in Do-Nothingism.
What is Do-Nothingism? It is the odious state in which you feel so bad you can’t bring yourself to enjoy or do anything – it is procrastination’s nefarious cousin. David D. Burns, M.D. wrote a very influential book that I’ve been reading this week, called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Dr. Burns and his colleague, Dr. Aaron T. Beck, are pioneers of the revolution in therapy that is Cognitive Behavior Therapy. They discovered, through much documented research, that there is an undeniable connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and that you can improve your mood by improving either your thoughts or your behaviors.
Dr. Burns has worked throughout his career with severely depressed patients who can’t even bring themselves to get out of bed. In his books, he demonstrates techniques for combating this severe form of doing nothing, which tends to lead you on a downward spiral of depression. He has proven that doing nearly anything at all will undoubtedly make you feel better than not!
So, I decided to take Dr. Burn’s advice and Do Something – Anything! I went to the store and bought a few ingredients to make a stew from The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged.
Simultaneously, I examined my thoughts:
“I hate cooking.”
“Cooking is hard.”
“Life is hard.”
While chopping the potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and brussels sprouts, I marveled at how easy this was. If broken down into components, cooking is really just a series of very easy steps! Right? And, though I felt fatigued and wanted to curl up in the fetal position and eat ice cream, I couldn’t deny that the closer my stew came to being finished, the better I felt. I mean, I was still very, very tired, but now I had a delicious stew to nourish that tired body!!! Score!
In the end, I had one of the best stews I have ever made, which I will absolutely make again. In fact, I’m certain that I will make it often enough to do so without a recipe.
Now I do feel better than I would have if I’d done nothing. I feel pride that I served my husband and myself a delicious meal (and this on the night before he had to take his Step 3 Medical Licensing Exam).
And if you want to make this delicious stew, it is really easy:
- I used four organic russet potatoes, three large organic carrots, one onion, three cloves of garlic, and eight brussels sprouts, all chopped. I sauteed these until they were tender while boiling a cup of French lentils in a separate pot.
- Then I added a magical combination of spices: 1 teaspoon each of turmeric, cumin, ginger, and coriander, 1/2 teaspoon of allspice, and a dash of cayenne.
- Once mixed in, I added four cups of low-sodium veggie broth, sea salt, and the lentils. I let it simmer until it tasted ready to eat!
So, the next time you are feeling like wallowing in do-nothingism, remember that actions can change both your thoughts and your feelings. I believe that this observation is so incredibly life-changing, that I made this handy little diagram for you to picture when you’re feeling down. Cheers!
Really the arrows should be pointing in both directions, but hey, I've never made a diagram on the computer before.