Archive of ‘Just Eat It’ category

Hey! You Look Great!

weight-loss-cartoonSo, I’m listening to Cheryl Strayed on her podcast, Dear Sugar, address a letter from a man who suggested to his girlfriend that she hit the gym a little harder because he wanted her to be healthy.
Yeah.
His questions was basically, “Did I just totally eff this up?” And Cheryl’s response was a resounding HELL YES. Girl got mad. She chastised him on the air, suggesting that he find someone thinner to love if he was so interested in the poundage on his girlfriend. I was ironically exercising when I was listening to Cheryl attempt to keep her head from popping off, and I wondered, Does Bear ever think about my needing to drop 5 when I am in one of my “heavy eating” phases?
So I asked him.
His response? “I really don’t care.” I think that’s as far as it goes for him. He loves me and he would love me if I weighed a little more. He also threw in a caveat. “If you get really unhealthy, I’ll probably say something, though…” Fair enough.
For women, our weight is just such a huge piece of our value, our worth. I’m sure this is true for men, too, but I’ve never been a man so I don’t know. But how can any woman attract a loving man, a good job, lasting friendships, if her worth hinges on how much she weighs?

I dunno. But mine does. At least sometimes.

I know that people look at me, 5 feet tall and just over 100 pounds, and they scoff. They resent me when I mention my need or desire to lose weight, tone up, or eat less. They get mad when I eat a salad! The truth is, that just adds to my issues!! There are days that I actually order the burger or the mashed potatoes as a side so that people won’t question my not eating enough for their comfort level. Not only do I feel a little fluffy sometimes, but I feel badly for feeling fluffy because I’m not fluffy enough for fluffy people to consider me fluffy!
WHO DIED AND MADE YOU THE FLUFFY PATROL?
It doesn’t matter if you’re overweight or not, you’re going to face issues with your body that cause you to struggle with your own worth. Go listen to the podcast if you want to analyze the “why”, but for this blog, it’s just the truth:
Body = Worth
I don’t suggest that you congratulate the woman who chose the salad, or the woman who appears to have lost weight, or the woman who announces she’d begun exercising again. I actually suggest you take Cheryl’s advice at the end of her podcast: tell her she looks great. Whether she looks great, she doesn’t look great, she’s working on looking great…tell her she looks great! Who doesn’t love to hear they look great?! I’m talking to you, women. Share that with each other. And men? I kinda think the same message applies. Tell her she looks great. Because if you love her, then it’s not a lie. It’s a kindness. It’s a simple gift, and we don’t always get gifts when we most deserve them.

(BTW, if you, as a man or a woman, can’t give someone else that gift of “You look great”, then it’s probably time to begin doing some self-examination. Are you lacking some self-worth somewhere that you can’t affirm someone else?)

(Second BTW, how awkward is it when you compliment someone and they DENOUNCE your compliment?!
“You look great!”
“NO I don’t!”
Practice saying, “Thank you.” Just thank you! And then shut your mouth.)

I’m in a constant battle with my stomach. Sometimes I can see abs. Sometimes it literally looks like I swallowed a cantaloupe. I try everything. Tons of cardio, weight lifting, eating right, not eating at all…there’s no winning. Some days I wake up and think, “Who cares? It’s a stomach!” Others I agonize over the extra layers that could make someone ask, “When are you due?” There’s no consistency with the way my stomach looks, which correlates to the lack of consistent feelings I carry about the way I look: it’s different everyday.
I think that’s OK, to an extent. It’s kinda just part of my journey. So as important as it is to tell other women they look great, do me a favor…Tell YOURSELF you look great. Even if you don’t mean that either! Give it to YOURSELF as a little gift. When you’re getting ready in the morning, wink at yourself and say, “Hey! You look great!”
I’m not kidding. You should do it.

Cheryl never came to a resolution with the podcast, rather continued expressing the opinion that it’s simply not OK to tell your partner to lose weight. There were plenty of nuances in the way she presented her case, but that’s about what it boiled down to. I don’t disagree with her for the most part. It’s a dumb idea to tell anyone to lose weight, even if it’s because you love them and you want them to be healthy. It’s a better idea to tell them they look great and then drive your own happy ass to the gym.

 

 

Curry Cauliflower Snack

I know I said I wasn’t going to be all “Look at me, I’m fasting!” this month, but some of these veg recipes are too good not to share.

This one is a combo of a few recipes I found.

1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 Tablespoons melted coconut oil (just gently melt it in the microwave)
1 Tablespoon curry powder (or more if you like curry, and I do)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (or more if you like turmeric, and I do)
S&P

Mix ’em all up in a big bowl, coat the cauliflower really well, and put in the oven at 375 for about 25-30 min (depending on the amount and size of your florets and how roasty you like ’em).

Pull them out and mix them with some salted cocktail peanuts, crushed or not crushed (depending on how hungry you are).

IMG_0320

Add sriracha.
Add cilantro.
Add whatevs.

So so nom. It’s the perfect “I’m working but I’m starving” treat.

Complex. Not Complicated. (Okaaaaaayuuuuuuh)

3228fd084680dc88a61f43d3cd64bc27My gorgeous son is absolutely thriving since we sent him back to the classroom he was in last year. He feels confident, he is listening 50-60% better than he was (and if you’re a parent, you know that you would pay SIGNIFICANT amounts of cash-money to witness an improvement like that in your own child), and he is even far less anxious.

This obviously doesn’t remove the fact hat he’s four. Four years old. I remember the phases like they were yesterday.
The not-sleeping zombie phase everyone told me would be over soon; oh and that I should just sleep when the baby sleeps (in hindsight, this was very good advice).
The just-walking phase where everything is a potential death trap.
The newly-talking phase which mostly included screaming in public and repeating, “Use your words.”
And then the advanced-talking phase, where we find ourselves now. I catch myself negotiating with a small person who has been on the planet just over four years. NEGOTIATING. I’m 33. I am negotiating with someone who has 12% of the life experience I have. That means his argument is 12% valid, or valid 12% of the time. I don’t know. I’m not a statician. He’s not as smart as me, is my point.

Currently his favorite words are “buuuuuut”, and less of a word but more of a word+sound: “Okaaaaaaayuuuuuuh.”

“Abe, put your cars away. It’s time for dinner.”
“Buuuuuut they’re just trying to drive back over to the garage because they need…”
“Listen the first time.”
“…BU-BU-BUT they neeeeeeed to get gas so they can…”
“Now, Abe.”
“…BU-BU-BUT THE BIG RACE IS TODAY IF THEY DON’T HAVE GAS…”
“I’m about to start counting…” (You know what THAT means, parents!)
“Okaaaaaaaaayuuuuuuuuh.”

What makes life with a four-year-old complicated is the amount of words it takes to communicate something as simple as, “Come eat dinner.” There are no quick conversations. And sometimes I catch myself adding to the chaos of it all by adding my own words to the conversations with Abe. I remember once looking at my mom when Abe was in the newly-talking phase and saying, “Fewer words mom. He has no idea what you’re talking about.” Now I catch myself using far too many words trying to negotiate my way out of a negotiation with my son who just needs to come to dinner. (Look, mom! Samesies!)

What’s my little life-takeaway lesson from all this?

We are the ones who complicate life. We are the ones who add in the extra words and the extra thoughts that don’t need to be there. Just because my darling and entirely verbally-competent son can talk circles around me doesn’t mean I need to match him word-for-word. He will have to learn to distill down his own language, and I am obviously not modeling that little life lesson for him when I engage him in long, drawn-out explanations as to why he shouldn’t stand up during story time or get out of bed at night. Which I do. I try to explain in no uncertain, long-winded diatribes why it’s important to tell little Bobby at school that “you don’t like it when he hits you but you understand that Bobby might just be having a bad day so forgive him and go ask Jenny if she would like to play with you and if she doesn’t…”

A simple, “Tell the teacher if Bobby hits you,” would suffice.

If I can begin to use fewer words to say what I mean during every conversation and (GOD forbid) listen more than I talk, there’s a good chance I will see that LIFE is complex, but it doesn’t really need to be complicated. It’s the old “Keep it simple stupid” (we have the US Navy to thank for that little phrase), and we may just find some of that peace everyone keeps talking about.

Lazy Sundays and Pickles

For the first time in likely 3 months, I had a Sunday completely and utterly FREE. I used to spend all of my Sundays watching mindless television, cooking food, and napping. Before life could even settle back down into a routine after my divorce I broke my leg, so nothing is what I’ve been used to. But I woke up with the sun (and then slept until 9:30) and promptly sat on the couch until noon surfing Facebook and the interwebs.

Then. I saw a post from a dear friend about making pickles and how easy it is. A friend of mine recently gave me a pickle recipe that I never got around to using because I didn’t have some of the ingredients (no mustard seeds, dill or dill seeds, white wine vinegar) and LORD knows I’m not making a special trip to the grocery store with a three year old for dill seeds. But this recipe my friend posted only took 24 hours and included ingredients I actually had in my fridge!
Oh. Except for cucumbers.

Key. Ingredient.

BUT!
I had zucchini.
They’re the same color!
They’re the same shape!
Perfect.

I simmered my pickling juice (it’s not a euphemism…it’s really what I did) and chopped up my zucchini, not to mention a leftover orange pepper I had (I said “pickled pepper” in my head and recognized it as a “thing” and decided I could add it in). I threw everything into a few mason jars, put them in the fridge, and then put on a mud mask.

 


By the way, this mud mask is amazing. You add equal parts water or cider vinegar to the powder, mix, and apply to your face. After one application my face felt kind of amazing and a TON of blackheads came to the surface and sort of shluffed off. Now that I’m mentioning this, you should know it took some problem solving to figure out how to apply it without creating a disaster in the bathroom.
Mix 2 tablespoons cider vinegar with 2 tablespoons Amazon Face Mask Dirt Powder Stuff in a small sandwich baggie.
Smoosh it all up in the baggie. (See? You still haven’t made a mess.)
Dip a popsicle stick (or a plastic knife, if you’re me) and PUSH a chunk of the mixture into your face before spreading it so it doesn’t fall off everywhere.
Take a picture of yourself.
Peel it off after 20 minutes in your yard. That’s because if you wash it on in the shower or the sink, you’ll clog your drain with Amazon Face Mask Dirt Powder Stuff.
Look how pretty you are.

photo

Back to the pickles. Twenty-four hours later I ate one of the pickled zucchini. Guess what? IT WAS DELICIOUS! I gave one to Abe and HE THOUGHT IT WAS DELICIOUS! He was EATING ZUCCHINI and he thought it was DELICIOUS!!! Score, score, score. Triple score. Jackpot. All the marbles. Check the Peas page for the recipe.

Anywho, this is an awesome and delicious snack food, goes perfect with The 21 Day Fix if you need to fill your green container, and is super easy to do. Eat well, lovebugs.

Ode to the Strainer (Italian-ey Chicken and Rice)

Since getting divorced, a huge passion of mine has fallen by the wayside: cooking. It’s hard to cook for one. A single chicken breast, no matter how eloquently prepared, is just kinda…sad.

But I really have a knack for making stuff up based on the taste I want to have in my mouth. Tonight, I REALLY wanted chicken cacciatori. My mom taught me to make it when I was about 23 and it’s one of my favorite italian meals.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any pasta. Or chicken breasts.
So, I decided to make a similar dish using what I had: brown rice and chicken thighs.

I started by straining a large can of stewed tomatoes. Stewed tomatoes are a STAPLE in my kitchen because they are cheap and can be used a gabillion different ways. And my strainer pops up way more than I tend to realize in cooking.

Tomato juices drip drip dripping.

Tomato juices drip drip dripping.

I got all the liquid out of the tomatoes and ended up with about a cup and a half of juice. I put the leftover tomatoes in a tupperware and set it to the side. I dumped the juice plus half a cup of water into the rice cooker, to equal 2 cups of liquid. I added salt, pepper, garlic powder, and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the tomato liquid.
Next, I measured out a cup of brown basmati rice. To be honest, plain brown rice or white basmati rice would have been better for this dish, but I’m using what I have. I also rinse my rice in a strainer.

Seeya starch.

Seeya starch.

Rinsing rice gets all the starchy rice dust off and keeps the results…how do I describe this…cleaner? It’s just feels less gritty than rice can sometimes feel if you don’t rinse. Soft, smooth rice. You get it.
Finally, I hit the herb garden. Bear built me an herb garden right before I broke my leg. Luckily, the hot Florida summer sun and daily afternoon rains did their jobs without much tending from yours truly.

The basil trees.

The basil trees.

I have tomatoes, purple and green basil, mint, flat leaf and curly leaf parsley, rosemary, chives, and oregano in there. Today I went out and snipped a big branch of basil, a hunk of flat leaf parsley (I prefer flat leaf for italian cooking, and curly for things like Mediterranean dishes), and a handful of ornery oregano.

Clean basil

Basil bath

Back to the strainer. I strained and rinsed all the herbs. Many of them have little bug-nibbles in the leaves and you know what? I think that’s cute and I like sharing.
Once they were all rinsed and dry, I plucked the leaves from each herb and set the stems aside as I went. Why? Because cooking rice with fresh herbs can really kill the herb flavor. It makes the leaves all mushy and kind of an unappealing, soggy mess. So instead, I use the stems in the rice cooker! Right on top they go, infusing all their delicious flavor into the rice as it cooks. As soon as the cooker ding-ding-dings, I’ll pluck them right off the top! No muss. No fuss.

The gang's all here!

The gang’s all here!

With the rice cooker ready to begin it’s long journey (sometimes up to an hour and a half for perfectly cooked whole grain brown rice), I got out my chicken thighs. Why chicken thighs? Because I buy organic chicken and sometimes that’s the only cut I can afford. Full of flavor and a nice, soft texture, chicken thighs sometimes get a bad rap. Give them a chance.

Stop looking at my thighs.

Stop looking at my thighs.

I trimmed all of the fat off of them and seasoned them liberally with salt, pepper, red pepper, and garlic powder. I cut them into nice little pieces and massaged them into the leftover tomatoes I’d set aside in the tupperware. I grabbed about 8 basil leaves, ripped them apart with my fingers, and massaged them right into my chicken and tomatoes. I left the whole party in the fridge while I finished up some laundry and waited on the rice to do its thing.

Chicken, tomatoes, and basil getting. it. on.

Chicken, tomatoes, and basil getting. it. on.

When the rice cooker showed 12 minutes left on the timer, I picked the chicken out of the tomatoes and popped the pieces into a pan with olive oil, giving them a quick high-heat sear.

Hot thighs.

Hot thighs.

Once they were all seared I took the chicken bits out and placed them on a plate and put some olive oil, garlic, and white wine in the pan. After a few minutes I added the tomatoes leftover from the tupperware and let all the flavors slow dance over medium low heat.

photo 5

Now it’s the tomatoes turn to get hot.

Just then, the rice dinged.

photo 1

Just pick those little stems right off the top! Easy peasy!

I chopped up all the herbs into little tiny pieces and added them to the rice. Remember, fresh herbs are FAR less pungent than dried herbs, so using a bunch of them (like a handful) is ok. Add a little at a time and taste as you go to be sure.

Nom.

Nom.

I added the chicken back into the pan with the tomato sauce to coat it and give it a little warm up.
Plated the two together, and let me tell you…it tasted NOTHING like chicken cacciatore. HOWEVER, it was freaking delicious and absolutely quelled my italian craving.

Sprinkle a touch of parmesan onto the chicken.

Sprinkle a touch of parmesan onto the chicken.

Check the “Peas” page for the recipe! And if you don’t have a strainer, it’s a cheap little kitchen tool you’ll use all the time.

 

 

Bone Broth – Please and Thank You

Bone broth is not a new concept to me. When I was strictly following a Paleo Diet (no grains, legumes, or dairy) I read about the benefits of bone broth all the time. It wasn’t until I broke my leg and was researching the best foods to eat to quickly heal a bone that I was reminded why bone broth is like savory nectar from the gods. It’s way more liquid gold than Velveeta ever will be.

*By the way, from now on I’m calling it B.B. because “bone broth” makes me feel more like a tree-hugging hippie every time I type it.

There are a gabillion health benefits to B.B.

1. insanely rich with minerals and nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium
2. full of gelatin (which your body NEEDS for healthy bones)
3. protein (obvi)
4. glycine (an essential amino acid – free-radicals fighter)
5. proline (a non-essential amino acid)
6. hyaluronic acid (build cartilage, protects from osteoporosis)
7. sulfur, potassium, sodium (electrolytcs)
8. boost immune health (it treats and seals the gut where 70% of our immune system lives)
9. and on and on and on…

I decided I would start making B.B. and cooking with it because of the health benefits, it’s insanely cheap (sometimes even free!), and fairly easy to make. But instead of cooking with it…I ended up drinking it. I’m not even kidding, I drink a cup of the stuff a day. I crave it now. It’s so delicious and an excellent morning meal replacement if you’re not a big breakfast eater (and I’m not). Even on hot summer days I love starting off with coffee followed by a mug of warm B.B.

Please don’t stop reading my blog because I drink B.B. It’s weird. I know that it’s weird. At least I KNOW, right?!

You start with plain old marrow bones. You can get these in the meat section of your grocery story, ask a butcher for his/her extras, and even some Whole Foods sell pastured bones in the frozen foods section. Pastured is always best because it means the animal got all the omegas and vitamins/minerals from GRASS, which in turn means the benefits we gain from meat and bones are more readily accessible to our bodies.

These are the beef bones I picked up this week.

These are the beef bones I picked up this week.

Put your bones into a baking dish/pan and let them roast for about 45minutes-1hour at 365 degrees. This ensures delicious flavor.

Once they’re roasted, you can render your B.B. in a pot on the stove or in a Croc Pot. I prefer a Croc Pot because these babies have to simmer for days and the Croc Pot is far more hands-off than a pot on the stove (and also cheaper on energy). Load up your cooking vehicle of choice with the roasted bones and as much water as you can fit.
Now, here’s a very important part: ACID. You must add an acid to the water as it will help the nutrients release from the bones themselves. You can add a few tablespoons of any type of vinegar; I happen to use Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar. You won’t taste the vinegar in the end so don’t be shy.
Add in anything you want. I just add a little salt and pepper, but you can add leftover raw veggies, herb stems, or spices you like from your cabinet. What’s fun is if you make a new pot of B.B. every week you can constantly play around with your recipe.
Turn your Croc Pot or Stove on high and get those babies boiling. Let them boil a short time (maybe 30 minutes) and then turn them way down to simmer. If your Croc Pot runs hot, let it simmer during the day and turn it off at night, turning it back on (and adding water if need be) first thing in the morning.
It takes about 48 hours to get really rich stock. If you only have 24 that’s fine, but I always start mine on Saturday morning so that by Monday my new batch is ready to go!

Take your bones out of the liquid and notice the buttery centers are falling out. Now, don’t be scared, but that’s bone marrow. It’s a delicacy and it’s also SO good for you. Spread it on toast or crackers for a delicious snack while you jar up your B.B.

See the yummy marrow falling out? That's going on toast later.

See the yummy marrow falling out? That’s going on toast later. Don’t judge me.

I strain my B.B. and fill mason jars and put them in the fridge. The top layer of fat will harden so that when you drink, you can easily remove the fat and mainly consume the broth and flavor itself. I warm mine up in the mornings, but you can also drink it cold. And, of course, you can use it to cook rice or quinoa or any other grains you love. It’s so rich and delicious that it will perk up any dish.

Look how gorgeous the color of the B.B. I made this morning!

Look how gorgeous the color of the B.B. I made this morning!

And you don’t just have to use beef bones, people. You can use poultry or pork bones, and any other “unusable” part like feet or necks. Yes, it sounds disgusting but to me, if you’re going to eat meat then you should be benefiting from the entire animal, not just the “good parts”.

Note – If you’re using organic or pastured bones, eating the fat is not nearly as big of a deal. In fact, a little of it is incredibly healthy. However, if you’re using traditional bones or any kind of poultry bones, I recommend you not drink the fat. (Five points to anyone who heard Rachel from Friends saying, “You were gonna drink the fat!” to Ross after you read that.)

Today, my “thank you” is B.B. I have absolutely seen a difference in my energy levels and my intestinal health. That’s right. My poops are better.

 

Speaking of “thank you”, have you started your 21-Days of Pleases and Thank Yous?

Two days down!

Blended

It’s rare that I sit down to make a meal just for myself. Cooking a piece of chicken takes the same amount of time as a walk or a nap or having a small glass of bourbon. So, obviously, I usually choose one of the latter options.

Lately, though, I’ve entered the smoothie world and frankly, it’s divine. It’s so easy to throw one together and it’s way healthier than anything I could get at Taco Bell…I mean Panera where they serve salads with vegetables.

This is my daily driver, but I change it up quite a bit based on what I’ve got in my fridge. I keep the basics on hand at all times and toss everything in the blender when I’m in a rush.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The staples: 
Spinach (because you can’t taste it in there)
Frozen Berries (I get the big bag from Costco, way cheaper)
Plain Greek Yogurt
Flax Seed
Chia Seed

Today I added: 
Celery (Because we have a ton of it)
A handful of raw almonds
Cinnamon (Awesome for blood sugar)
Tumeric (I add about a teaspoon of this and you can’t taste it, it’s a great anti-inflammatory)

 

Look how pretty.

I use TONS of greens and a bunch of water/ice and spin it altogether. I usually make about 16 oz.  I bought special smoothie straws, too. They’re stupid expensive (around $5 for 20!) so I always wash them and throw them in the dishwasher to reuse.

Abe loves these smoothies. He thinks they taste like ice cream. Obviously he hasn’t had real ice cream yet and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t let him on the fact that real ice cream exists and it’s freaking delicious, way better than these stupid smoothies.

Enjoy. Ice cream later.

Monster Mash

Ok, pretend it’s still Halloween and I got this post finished in time for it to be aptly named, Monster Mash.

Abe’s appetite is veracious. Sometimes I daydream about his stint on an upcoming episode of Biggest Loser: Toddler Edition. For lunch the other day he ate two hot dogs, a pile of sweet potatoes, pears, pasta, and a little corn for good measure. That was LUNCH. Keep in mind he ate breakfast, lunch, and 2 snacks during the SAME DAY. Where it’s going I don’t know.

The trouble is Abe is pre-spoon. I give him spoons. He chews on them. If I put food on a spoon he’ll eat it himself and then toss it on the floor. He just doesn’t see a need for a spoon full-time yet. This means he eats a lot of finger foods and I’ve felt some concern over the amount of veggies he can and will eat with his fingers. For example, if there is a hot dog on his tray with broccoli mixed in, he has no trouble picking out the hot dog and moving the broccoli to the side. Will he eat it eventually? Usually, yes. But not without being certain there is nothing left on the planet to eat.
So I started making mash-ups. (I watch a lot of Glee.) I steam a whole pot of vegetables and then use the hand mixers to mash them all together. I make sure there is one strong and sweet fruit in each mash to cover up things like spinach and zucchini. Tonight I steamed a sweet potato, half a peach, and a handful of broccoli florets. Another one was a pear, sweet potato, spinach, and cinnamon. Frankly, these mash-ups taste amazing. Like, I would stand in the kitchen and eat them. Like, I have.

And yes, I do have to feed it to him with a spoon. And yes, he does try to use the spoon himself and then ends up using his hands and getting mash all over his face. But either way I know he is getting all kinds of delicious veggies at every meal. Kinda sneaky, right?

Just Eat It

Abe loved broccoli.

Then Abe didn’t love broccoli.

Then he did.

Then he didn’t.

Sneaky Ingredients. You can't hear it, but the hummus is snickering.

I decided this week it was time to start sneaking greens into Abe’s diet so that he is used to the taste, and so it’s less of a fight when he’s 2. (I said LESS of a fight, all you mothers-of-2-year-olds).

I sat down and made a list of the foods Abe loves and eats with some consistency. Today I pulled homemade hummus and Ezekial bread from the list. Then I got sneaky.

I mixed up 3 tablespoons of hummus with 2 broccoli tops and a tablespoon of leftover quinoa from last night’s supper. I spread it all on a warm piece of Ezekial bread, added some kidney beans to his tray, and a healthier lunch you’ve never seen. 🙂

I don't care how cute your kid is. Mine is cuter.