Hind sight is 20/20.
Look before you leap.
Count the cost.
All those pithy warnings mean the same thing: take a minute to analyze whatever commitment you're about to make :-).
Which of course we did the night before we started our 30 day real-foods challenge. Of course we did. We even made the one rule a fairly easy rule to follow. And yet, when we woke up all gung ho on Saturday morning, what to our wondering eyes did appear? NOTHING.
Yep. We had no bread that "fit," the whole wheat mini bagels were out, all boxed cereal on hand was out....
So, we made do. And it ended up being marvelous: whole wheat biscuits (we were out of white flour, even!) and fried eggs. Mmmm.
I had to "quick-like" whip up some whole wheat bread dough so we could have some sort of sandwich for lunch and made a quick run to the store for more flour and such. This being the end of the month, grocery-budget-wise, we didn't want to overspend. And since we hadn't decided on our challenge until, um, the night before, I hadn't saved enough money nor bought the right stuff to make this first week a glorious celebration of real foods. [Approved storebought bread will cost us $6/loaf...] So, we've been ransacking the pantry and freezer and have ended up eating quite well so far. We'll be taking the weekend off since we'll be with family, and I don't expect them to be making me bread all weekend :-).
I won't be giving mini-updates all through this 30 days, but I thought it worth pointing out that the challenge so far has really pushed us to eat up some of the random food on hand, and it's been great. It's also worth pointing out that I don't work outside the home, the kids are out of school, and the hubby is fully on board. That means I have loads of time to let bread rise, to make something from scratch, and some willing "helping hands."
In fact, the biggest success of the week? The husband's sourdough starter* is flourishing, and he made an *amazing* giant boule of sourdough bread. YUM YUM. A wonderful new discovery. Did you know how cheap sourdough bread is to make?! We also made a sourdough coffee cake. And regular pound cake (heck, it's all real ingredients by our terms!). And whole wheat applesauce muffins. And Mediterranean Salmon Cakes (which we love, but haven't had in a while). And Pasta with Lentils--another dish we enjoy but haven't had in a while. And a new granola recipe I plan to share. And yogurt (I've made yogurt for years--but I'd gotten out of the habit this semester). And barley "pasta" salad.
All these recipes on full tummies that we enjoy but haven't been making--it's a great start!
I only need to make it a couple more days before heading to the store. I think we'll survive!
*He's been listening to Michael Pollan's latest book, Cooked, and has come home inspired to make sourdough starter/bread AND to start pickling things. Should be a great summer!
Saturday, May 18, 2013
But, this summer, we're attempting some fun fitness goals:
- By end of summer, ALL three kids will be riding bikes well without training wheels (we have to drive somewhere for them to ride their bikes, so they don't get much practice).
- By end of summer, ALL three kids will be know how to swim! (hint, hint you friends of mine with pool memberships...).
- I will work on my knee exercises (an old injury that I do NOT take care of...).
- A "real foods" challenge! Details below. My husband and I like the idea of this, and our dinners tend to reflect this already (we, like so many, read Pollan's In Defense of Food a few years ago). But the rest of the day? Not so much lately. With our CSA share, the more relaxed schedule, and the elimination of school lunches for a while, it seems a good time to pursue some good, wholesome food for every meal, not just dinner.
- A healthy plate education for the kids! I plan to use the graphic shown above to help my kids start to make more of their own choices particularly for lunches. I'll be amending it slightly (i.e. dairy and protein are often redundant, depending on the dairy you choose; we also eat some combos of foods--like beans and rice--that provide protein even if there isn't a "meat" on the plate). At any rate, the plate graphic is a nice, clear way to show that yes! you need veggies even at lunch! It's simple, too, which will be a good start for my 6-7 year olds.
There are so many ways to define "real foods," believe it or not. So, for our purposes, for the next 30 days we will be following one basic rule:
We will buy/consume food that is package free (most of the package-free foods in the grocery store are the "whole foods"--fruit, veggies, better quality meat at the meat counter, etc.).
If we must buy something packaged (which includes most grain-based products, dairy, and condiments), we plan to buy products that contain only ingredients which we can (a) pronounce and (b) could readily acquire and logically use to make the same product were we so inclined.
For instance, my dark chocolate bar from Aldi contains the following ingredients: chocolate liquor, sugar, milk, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, and vanilla extract. Yes, you can buy soy lecithin in stores--I know folks who've used it for years in their bread. So, I'm not too hung up on that, and we don't eat much of it in the first place. I'd still buy this and eat it in moderation. By contrast, the Ranch dressing powder I use regularly (because the kids call it "white ketchup" and will eat nearly anything with that stuff dolloped on top!) contains the following: Maltodextrin, buttermilk, salt, monosodium glutamate, lactic acid, dried garlic, dried onion, spices, citric acid, less than 1% of: natural flavor (milk, soy), calcium stearate, artificial flavor, xantham gum, carboxymethylcellulose, guar gum.
Um. No Ranch dressing for us for the next 30 days (eek!). I'll have to start making this again (which the kids DO like... Mommy's just been too lazy...).
Hopefully, this will help us be a bit more conscious of what we're eating. We plan to start this weekend: no time like the present!
Anyone want to join us? Anyone out there have summer fitness goals they'd like to share?
Friday, May 17, 2013
Enter: the "bowl" approach
We've discovered several "bowls" that our whole family loves and they can be customized to suit the family member's taste/needs. My friend Megan, who blogs with me at Redeemed Reader, has been telling me for YEARS to try a Javanese dinner that's the same feel, so I'll be posting her recipe in this same line up. It's going in my try-this-soon-file for sure.
My "plan" is to post some of our favorite bowls regularly in the weeks to come. They're fantastic ways to use up bits and pieces of leftovers, odds and ends from the CSA basket, or ways to vary ingredients for picky eaters and/or food intolerances. So, look for these in the weeks to come:
- The Burrito Bowl
- The Fajita Bowl
- The Sushi Bowl
- The Korean Bowl ("bibimbap"--I actually have a "real" recipe I've used for this one!)
- The Breakfast Bowl
- The Javanese Bowl
While you're waiting for my recipes, have you tried this approach with your family? What's your favorite "bowl" combination?