Friday, July 22, 2011

Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy!

Living on an island means the fish seems to practically jump onto our plates! It's fantastic!!!
About a week ago I had a neighbor knock on my door with a bag of his catch of the day- mahi mahi- in hand!
 "Hi, may name is Joe. I live just across the street from you. Do you like fish?"
me: "YES!"
Joe: "I thought this might be a good way to inroduce myself to a few of the neighbors... I have a lot of extra fish from my catch today."
Holy mackerel (gratuitous fish pun)!!! That is the BEST way to introduce yourself!!! We'll never forget Joe now!
And just like that I had fresh mahi mahi for dinner that night. My kids LOVED it! They even turned away the burgers I was originally preparing for dinner! And that was also the night that my husband brought home his own catch from deep sea fishing that day- grouper and mahi! Hooray!

And just when I thought we were getting low on our fish supply, yesterday evening we had a friend bring over about two pounds of freshly caught fish that were just given to her by a guy that didn't know what to do with it all! And just like that we created an impromptu get-together around the fish. It wasn't our catch that day, but we were glad to have it just the same! I had some limes sitting on my counter and so I decided to slice up some of the fish and prepared a quick ceviche while we chatted on my back porch waiting for the sunset. I sliced some red onions very thinly and layered it on top of the fish, a little sea salt and pepper and fresh cilantro on top and we let it sit covered for about 10-15 minutes. (some people call this lime- frying). Basically you let the fish sit in the lime juice, onion, and cilantro until the fish turns opaque in color. We enjoyed the ceviche while I grilled several more filets with a little more sea salt and pepper, and I smothered a couple of filets in wasabi just for fun... it was a very subtle wasabi flavor! The fish turned out very moist and tender... perfect! Black beans and white rice on the side and we had a perfect sunset island dinner!

We've only been here a month, but we are already living the island lifestyle! Stay tuned for more island eats... and I promise to include pictures next time. Let your imagination guide you for now...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes waiting to be made famous...
 A great chick flick that is said to have started a big following for the now-popular Southern sidedish. While many argue the origins of this dish now and since the movie came out, I cannot argue that it is an interesting one and a really tasty one if done correctly.
My favorite restaurant in town does a fabulous fried green tomato stack with goat cheese on top, and I think there might be some bacon in there, too? I might have to go back this week before we leave to double check that! Anyway, it's amazing, so tonight I tried my best at what has become my favorite southern appetizer.
My plan was to make shrimp and grits to really round out this southern meal, but it turned out that most of my kitchen had already been packed up and I just didn't have the right measuring tools for the job. Alas, mac and cheese would have to do as the side- Cakes was extremely disappointed at this as she also loves grits and was looking for them when I served dinner, but the boys didn't even flinch. Well, mac and cheese is also considered a southern staple, so I didn't deviate too far from my plan.
There is nothing complicated about cooking fried green tomatoes.  Slice the tomatoes, not too thin so that they'll hold up through the frying process. Dredge them in a beaten egg, and then a flour and bread crumb or cornmeal mixture.  I'll be honest since it's the first time I've ever cooked them myself, there was a tanginess that I could have done without. As I began writing this post I did a little research on fried green tomatoes and found out that a good way to "mellow them out" is by boiling them just a bit in water before dredging them to be fried. Interesting. I probably should have done my research before I cooked them, but I will have to settle for perfecting this recipe the next time around. One last sidenote: I think a little goat cheese and maybe a drizzle of really sweet balsamic vinegar with some caramelized onions on top of the fried green tomatoes would have done the trick tonight (and always!), but I was working with limited supplies so plain would have to do.

Fried Green Tomatoes served up with local Garlic Shrimp
Anyone out there a fan of the dish? Any expert pointers on how to prepare them?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Whole Wheat Pasta... to eat or not to eat?

This is a question that comes at me a lot. Whether I'm making pasta at home with company or just my family, or whether I'm just talking food with friends: "What do you think about whole wheat pasta?"
What I really think about whole wheat pasta is that it's another easy way out for us (the American public) to think that we are eating more healthy. The answer is not to turn everything into whole wheat and cut out the things you've enjoyed in the past. Balance your diet. Control your portions. Make sure your diet consists mostly of whole foods. Personally, I don't like whole wheat pasta. I've had some in my pantry, and I gave it a try one time, even two times, and I found that to be too many times. It just didn't taste good to me. My kids didn't fall for it either. If it doesn't taste good to me or my family, then it's just not worth my time or my eating it!
But it's not only that I don't like the stuff, it's that I don't believe that whole wheat pasta is better for me than the regular kind. And the truth is, it's not. Darya at Summer Tomato backs up my argument very well. I love her food website! She loads it with tons of great food facts since she is also a scientist.
In the attempt to putting my own opinions on the matter aside, I did some further research on whole wheat pasta. I have heard the argument that it has its place and stands up well to very earthy sauces and ragouts with duck... hmmmm... I'm open to trying this out.
Also, I have read about all of the different kinds of grains that Italians use... they have a pasta grain that makes a black pasta. Still, this is far from whole wheat pasta, though! It's real Italian and you can bet that when and if I visit Italy, I will eat my way through all the pastas I see so that I can enlighten all of us.  
Which bring me to my ultimate question...
How many times do you see a real Italian recipe call for whole wheat pasta? I've never heard of any Italian Nonna serving her family a meal with whole wheat pasta. I've been into watching a lot of food network series, and my quote used to be... "Giada doesn't eat whole wheat pasta so neither do I!" Well, now Giada has a line of whole wheat pasta with her name on it. What's up with that? I can only attribute this to the fact that chefs (especially high profile ones) get a lot of pressure to cater to the entire general public. I don't know why she caved, but I still like her.
If some of you out there believe that you are adding extra whole grains to your diet through pasta and you can actually eat the stuff... then go ahead. But, unless you really love the taste of the whole wheat pasta, I challenge you to incorporate whole grains into your diet in a more substantial way.

Keep your pasta portion in moderation and enjoy it! If we (Americans) could learn to eat more different kinds of grains, and more things in moderation, we wouldn't have to think that we need to substitute whole grain pasta for regular pasta.  Some things are just best enjoyed as they should be, but in small amounts. So go on ... make some regular pasta! I treated my family to two different pasta dishes this past weekend. This is the recipe for the one that everyone loved... the other dish was one with a marinara sauce with roasted veggies added to it- also yummy, but this one won out!

Rosemary Lemon Butter Rigatoni with Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms

1 box of Rigatoni pasta (not whole wheat!)
4- 6 Tbsp. of butter
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 c. (or more) of white wine (good enough to drink)
1 very juicy fresh lemon
1 box sliced white mushrooms (can sub. baby bellas, too)
fresh rosemary
1 bag of fresh organic baby greens
sea salt
 fresh pepper
good Parmesan cheese for grating

Boil a big pot of water, salt the water after boiling, and cook the rigatoni until al dente.
Set your oven to 375 degrees F. Break the ends off of your asparagus, toss them in a bit of light olive oil and salt and pepper. Place asparagus on a sheet pan in a single layer and roast in 375 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes.
Melt the butter in a large pan on medium to medium/high heat and add the mushrooms and the garlic. Once the mushrooms have browned a little bit, add the white wine.
Cut your cooked asparagus into one inch pieces and add to the mushrooms. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Add some lemon zest and the juice of half of your lemon. On medium/low heat add the leaves of an entire sprig of fresh rosemary to the pan. Add your freshly cooked pasta and toss.
Prepare a large serving dish with a bed of fresh baby greens. Add a little crushed sea salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze the other half of your lemon over the bed of greens before adding the pasta mixture over the top. You now have a fresh spring pasta to enjoy and feel good about eating!!!  Grate some good, fresh Parmesan cheese over the top and you are ready to eat!!!      Mangia!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Fried" Shrimp Dinner

For some reason, I just couldn't get my cooking mojo going tonight. Maybe it was because I totally lost track of time, or maybe it was the screaming child pulling on my leg for about an hour...
Somehow the afternoon got away from me and before I knew it, it was 5:30. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. I dinner planned since this morning-panko fried shrimp with homemade fried rice. It was sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Now I was rushing against screaming, starving children to put dinner on the table because I had started too late. It didn't help that when I went to the thaw out the basketball sized ball of shrimp from our freezer (which I didn't expect to be so big and I should have also done earlier) I also checked for oil and realized I had forgotten to buy the frying oil at the store today. Big oops. What to do... the kids were all fired up about fried shrimp. Kids get fired up about fried anything, really. I had some bell peppers that were about to go bad in the fridge so I decided to just turn the dish into a Ginger shrimp stir-fry with onions and bell peppers. Now that's what I call improvisation! And now to sneak the new and improved "fried shrimp" dish past my kiddos.
Baron: "Mo-ooooom, I thought you were making fried shrimp!" The question was bound to come at me (and it did!), the kids are too smart for my own good.
Me: "I am... this is called Ginger fried shrimp! Doesn't that sound good?" Totally came up with that one on the fly.
Baron: "Oooooooh! That DOES sound good! It smells good, too!" ...Or maybe they're not as smart as I thought... that was way too easy! I expected a better fight than that. They must have been too weak to fight- the starvation was setting in.
I finished the Ginger stir-fried shrimp, quickly fried up the rice with some onions, eggs, and peas, and voila!
They loved it! My kids love shrimp, but this "fried" shrimp was way too easy to pull off! Give it a try!

Ginger Garlic "Fried" shrimp:

1.5 pounds of medium shrimp peeled and deveined
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1/2 red onion sliced thin
1 Tbsp ground or minced ginger (or more if you like)
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp soy sauce or more to taste
olive oil
soy sauce to taste

Put a bit of olive oil in the bottom of a hot pan. Stir fry the onions with the bell peppers. Add the ginger, garlic and shrimp and stir fry until the shrimp is done. Add a little bit of soy sauce to taste at the end. Serve hot alongside some stir -fried rice!

Fried Rice

use leftover or fresh white rice (or brown- whatever you have is fine)
1/2 bag of frozen peas
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 Tbsp. of butter
soy sauce to taste

Melt the butter in a very hot pan. On high heat, toss the rice in the butter with the onions, add the peas. Move the rice mixture to one side of the pan to make room for the eggs. Add the eggs on the empty side of the pan and scramble them until done. When they are done, mix the rice into the eggs. You can add some fresh bean sprouts to give the rice some extra texture at this point. Finally, add some soy sauce for color and taste. Enjoy!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Beets... it's what's for dinner!

One of the most satisfying and comforting vegetables out there, in my opinion. Biting into a beet is almost like biting into a perfectly cooked piece of beef tenderloin. It IS the beef tenderloin of vegetables. I mean, take away the the "t" at the end and replace it with an "f" and what do you spell? BEEF! This is one kind of "red meat" that you don't have to worry about, though.
To bring out the best in this curious root vegetable, you'll want to oven-roast them. This is my favorite way to cook almost any vegetable- it really brings out the vegetable's best qualities and it is a very simple cooking technique.

Set the oven to 400 degress F. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up.
Begin by cleaning the beets under running water and then cut off the tops with the greens. If you need to, cut some of them in half to keep them all the same size for even cooking. Toss with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Cook in the oven at 400 until just fork-tender. It's usually about 20 minutes, but it may take a little less or a little longer depending on the size of the beets. Once you take them out and they have cooled completely, you need to peel the skin off the beets. If you have cooked them just right, the skin will peel right off. Don't be afraid of the red tinge on your fingers... it's the sign of a true cook! Everyone will know you're quite a cook the next day because of the tell-tale red all over your fingers! The beets are now ready to eat...
My favorite way to enjoy my freshly roasted beets is by tossing them into some fresh baby greens (delicious with arugula!), plenty of fresh, crumbled goat cheese and topped off with a nice Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil. Mmmmm... absolute comfort food to me in terms of a good salad! That dark jewel-tone color just seeps into me and makes me want to eat them all (at which point the jewel-tone color actually finds its way back out shortly after-you have been warned! wink, wink)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Valentine's Birthday Dinner

My Valentine has a Valentine's Day birthday. As I mentioned earlier, it was known growing up in my family  that the birthday boy or girl got to ask for their favorite dinner on their birthday. I didn't have to ask twice to get Maverick to tell me what he wanted his birthday meal to be: "Ajiaco!"

Ajiaco (pronounced "ah-heeya-co") is a delicious, heart-and-soul warming potato soup with chicken and corn along with other toppings like avocado, cream, and capers. The chicken gets 'fall-off-the-bone-tender' as it cooks slowly, the potatoes cook down to lend their texture and flavor to the broth, and the corn-on-the-cob adds its extra special flavors at the end. In Colombia, they use three different kinds of potatoes for Ajiaco: "criolla", "pastusa" and "sabanera." "Guascas" are also a typical herb used in the ajiaco for flavor. Everywhere else in the world, a "guasca" is known as a "weed" and they have been known to be found almost everywhere, unbeknownst to me until now. (And I consider myself Colombian? I'm off to go look in my backyard to see if I have any "guascas" growing back there!)
Originating in Bogota, ajiaco is one of the most typical dishes of the Andean region and it happens to be one of my favorite foods in the world. The thought of it alone conjures up every memory of mine in Bogota, many times eating a bowl of ajiaco, and mostly of my mom's perfectly cooked ajiaco on Christmas Eve. This is a really tough dish for me to measure up to in my mind as it is one of the main dishes that I turn to for real comfort. I don't like to cook it because I am literally afraid of messing it up. I don't feel like this about any other dish that I can think of.

 All of that being said, this is how the rest of the story goes:

I consider myself very fortunate to have married a man that appreciates my Colombian heritage. Maverick not only loves all Colombian food you put in front of him (who doesn't???), he also wonders why I don't cook the stuff for him EVERY. DAY. So when he asked for ajiaco for his birthday dinner, he knew what my first reaction would be.
"No. I don't have the right ingredients to make it taste like it should. Sorry. Pick another dish. It just won't be the same."
To which he very pragmatically replied, "I knew you would say that. I was just kidding. Cook me whatever you would like."
I love that man, and so then I thought about it. And the more I thought about it, the more I knew that I HAD to cook ajiaco for his birthday dinner. So I (reluctantly) went to the store and got the potatoes, corn, chicken, chicken stock, and cilantro that I needed. I kept going over my plan-of-attack in my head and I couldn't shake the overwhelming feeling of reluctance to cook this dish. And then I called Chef. (I should really have a red phone with a direct line to him for moments like this.) I usually have a pretty good idea of how to cook things, but I needed help here because the last couple of times I had attempted ajiaco it took me literally ALL day and that did not fit into my Monday plans. This is one of the few dishes that I have encountered that really brings me to my knees. Ajiaco seems to be my challenge as a chef and I was about to meet it head-on for the third time. The first two times were forgettable...edible, but forgettable nonetheless.
Chef was his usual brilliant self. He dumbed the dish down enough for me to not feel any anguish over it anymore. It was just a "stew", as Chef put it. It's just a slow cooked, potato and chicken stew... then add the other ingredients. I could do this.
So I set to it. And can I just say... it turned out really, really, GREAT! ... even by my own impossible standards. Thank you, Chef! You saved me, again!
So if you would like to attempt this quintessential Colombian dish, just follow this very simple recipe. It is the perfect dish to feed your body and soul on a cold winter's day!

Ajiaco (Colombian potato and chicken stew with corn)

You will need:
1 whole chicken cut into quarters
Baby potatoes (or any small potato)
2 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 Russet potato, peeled and cubed
1 onion, finely diced
4-6 pieces corn-on-the-cob
1 carton Chicken Stock
3-4 c. water
salt (to taste)
Heavy Cream

Add about a Tbsp. of butter or olive oil to the bottom of a stockpot and melt over high heat. Add finely diced onions and cook until translucent. Salt the chicken on all sides and brown chicken on both sides at this time. (You may trim the excess fat and skin off of the chicken before cooking, or leave the skin on. It is a matter of personal preference.) Add the chicken stock.
Dice the 3 large potatoes into about 1-inch cubes or smaller and cook slowly with the chicken in its broth until the potatoes have essentially cooked down almost completely in order to thicken the broth. At this point, add the corn-on-the-cob and then the baby potatoes, cut to bite-size.  The soup will have simmered on low for the total of about an hour to an hour and a half. Add almost the entire bunch of cilantro at the end and let simmer for 10-15 more minutes before removing the cilantro (to prevent bitterness). Take the chicken and corn out of the stock pot. Shred the chicken and serve separately with the corn for each person to add. Serve the ajiaco in bowls, allowing each person to add their desired amount of fresh, shredded chicken, and corn-on-the cob. As a final touch, add some fresh avocado, a drop or two of heavy whipping cream, and some capers over the top. Enoy!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My 20 Minute Meal (...on a good night!)

 We had just gotten back from a mini-vacation in the mountains and it was time to get back into our daily school and after school routines. We're not even in the car yet after swim practice and the two older kids start in on me...

"Mommy, what's for dinner?"

I love it and I hate it when they ask me this. I love it because it means they are starving and so I could cook mostly anything and they'll eat it without a fight. I hate it because now the pressure is on and I will not get to relax while I cook. (The kitchen is usually my haven.) The questioning will not cease until the children see the finished meal set out before them on the table, ready to eat. And so it went...

"Mommy, what are you cooking?"
"Mommy what are you making?"
"What is dinner tonight?"
"I'm starving, Mom!"

I am driving the 14 minute drive home from the Y racking my brain about what will be the quickest, healthiest, and most satisfying meal to put on the table tonight. What can I put together in less than 30 minutes? I had just been to the store the day before and stocked up on everything, and so I went through the contents of my pantry and my refrigerator in my head. On a high-pressure night like this, a simple fall-back plan for me is always any type of meat for the main dish (as long as it's cut into individual portions for easy thawing) and rice.
Rice. It has almost become a therapeutic ritual for me to put a pot of rice on the stove, and yet I find I don't do it often enough. My mother made a pot of white rice with dinner almost every night. My brothers and I could count on that rice being on the dinner table as a side... if we didn't like anything else on the table, we could always count on my mom's rice. My mother unwittingly became famous for her rice recipe in our entire extended family. And now, even she has admitted that I come pretty close to her own recipe on my own... that is quite the complement. But what I have figured out is that once I put that pot of rice on the stove, the rest of my meal planning just falls into place. The rice takes 20 minutes to cook once the water has boiled, and in those 20 minutes I can make an entire meal happen. Add an extra 10 (or what seemed like another 20) this night since I had starving kids hanging on my every culinary move.
I pull into the driveway, unload the kids and all of our stuff from the "Swagger Wagon" and I beeline my way to the kitchen covering my countertop with the day's sippy cups and choo-choo's from the car. I greet Maverick and the kids start in again...

"Mom, what are you going to cook for dinner?"
"Mommy, can I have a snack?"
"Mom! I'm HUNGRY!!!!"

So I get out a smallish pot and pour a little olive oil into the bottom. I season the olive oil with a little garlic salt, add 4 cups of water and let it all come to a boil. (I make 2 cups of rice because my family eats the stuff up and it is great the next day for lunch!) Time to begin the rest of the meal.
I had taken out 4 pork chops earlier, so I seasoned those with Worcestershire sauce and garlic salt and pepper on both sides and let them sit. I would cook these last as they would only take about 4-6 minutes on each side, and no one likes cold pork chops!
Once the water had boiled, I added the rice (remember- 1 c. of rice per 2 c. of water). Let the rice come to a boil on medium high heat and then lower to medium heat. Once the water reduces by about a half, turn the burner heat to low, cover the pot and simmer the rice for about another 10-15 minutes or just until the rice is fluffy and tender. You'll know if you take a bite into hard rice that it needs more time. Don't be afraid to add a little more water at that point, if needed.
When I had opened the fridge to grab the Worcestershire sauce I saw the brussels sprouts in the vegetable drawer and decided on them as our greens. I had no idea if my children liked them, but I decided to go for it since they were so hungry. I put on another pot of boiling water, salting the water just a bit. Since I could only picture the brussels sprouts sprinkled with fresh bacon bits (this is what running on a treadmill at the gym does to me), I grabbed the thick-cut bacon out of the fridge, sliced it into small pieces, and threw it into a saute pan on medium-medium/high heat. Mmmmm... now the kids were really salivating, along with the dog. Everyone's running circles around me. The baby is clutched to my leg crying for me to pick him up. Meanwhile, I need to be slicing the Cippolini onions (soooo sweet and sooo delicious!!!) to caramelize in butter with some fresh mushrooms that jumped out at me when I opened the fridge to get the bacon.
At this point, I am completely frazzled, but dinner is still coming together despite the barrage of questions, leg grabbing and tears...
I caramelized the onions in 1 Tbsp. of butter and a Tbsp. of bacon grease (that's right, I said bacon grease!!!) and I added the mushrooms with a bit of garlic salt- or just plain salt and pepper. I love a tiny bit of garlic with mushrooms, though! Remember... this is a shortcut night, so don't be afraid to use the powdered stuff. We're busy moms and we have to have our shortcuts!
While the rice was simmering to perfection, the bacon had cooked to a crisp, sweet Cippolini onions had been caramelized and cooked with mushrooms and I had also been boiling the brussels sprouts for about 7-10 minutes. I checked to make sure they were just fork tender, but not mushy. I drained them quickly and transferred them to my corningware dish. I melted a small pat of butter over them and tossed them. I squeezed half of a fresh lime over the sprouts and added the fresh, crispy bacon bits over the top. The sprouts were ready and I set them on the stove to stay warm.
I turned off the burner on the rice at this point. It was done but could sit on the burner a couple more minutes to stay warm. Everything was done except for the pork chops. As I asked Cakes to help me set the table (I always loved helping my mom set the table when I was little, and I love that she loves to help me, too.), I put 2 Tbsp. of butter in a hot pan and put the pork chops on. About 4-6 minutes on each side and we were done! I set out the dish with the brussels sprouts, the pot of rice, and a dish with the caramelized Cippolini onions and mushrooms on the table. The kids were already sitting down, waiting for the pork chops and, to my pleasant surprise, actually salivating over the brussels sprouts!
When we all sat down to eat the meal, (the very stressfully prepared meal) my family couldn't stop singing the entire meal's praises! My kids LOVED the brussels sprouts and actually asked for seconds! I gave Maverick a look of disbelief.
"Brussels sprouts taste like broccoli, Mom," said Cakes and the Baron several times!
"Oh! Okay, great!" I said, knowing how much my kids actually DO love broccoli. The Baron even asked us to leave some brussels sprouts for him to pack in his lunch tomorrow. Insane!!! I talked him out of that one, though, because they're just never as good left-over. So Mav and I quickly took our second helping of the yummy greens. Brussels sprouts had become a new favorite. Of course, who wouldn't love anything covered in bacon? 
And the rice? The rice is always a crowd pleaser in my family. I think my kids love to have the rice to fall back on like I did. Although, this night, the entire meal had turned out to be a crowd pleaser. What an awesome ending to a meal!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cashew Butter- a little piece of heaven!

So here is a perfect example of something that I must have a little bit of...
Please forgive the out-of-focus picture.
About two years ago Chef introduced me to Cashew Butter. If you have not tried cashew butter yet, you absolutely MUST! I remember thinking, "yeah, whatever. How good can this actually be?" I took a tiny bit off of the spoonful that Chef had given me and I think I saw the little firework bursts that Remy sees in "Ratatouille." (Love that movie!) I've never had anything like cashew butter, and I'm not a peanut butter fanatic. I mean, I like it, but not enough to put it on my chocolate. Well, let me just tell you that when I've had a stressful day I immediately go for the (very) dark chocolate and cashew butter... and then the wine! Seriously, just one spoonful of this stuff will put you in a much better mood... who knew? Cashew Butter! I've never seen it anywhere, but the Brooklyn Larder (another shameless plug for Chef) grinds it fresh from real cashews and jars it right there. I can only describe the taste as a buttery, nutty, fresh delight!
Merge sent us a "his" and "hers" (although I've yet to label them) of Cashew Butter this year for Christmas that we will be working through! They know us so well... now there is no fighting over who finished off the jar of Cashew Butter. And to top it all off, they also included some amazingly indulgent 75% dark "Colombie" Francois Pralus french chocoloate! Oh my... is it time for another mommy time-out yet? Thank you, thank you, thank you, Merge! Peace and Love!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A New Year Reminder

It's the time of year when everyone makes promises to do something to improve themself or their life. This year, I am merely giving myself a reminder instead of making a promise. Let's face it: every time I make a promise to not eat something or to omit something from my diet (for my own good) I eventually end up compensating for what I am missing (or what I've deprived myself of) by overeating something else. Anyone else out there with me?
So I have fallen back on my mother's famous words: "Everything in moderation." I have taken that to "everything is OK in moderation!"
I am not a fan of fad diets, or diets of any kind for that matter. My only diet is the one with those previous words, "everything in moderation" and keeping food as natural as possible. (Except for when I give into that Chik-fil-A craving! I'm not perfect!)
Endeavor to live better this year by allowing yourself to have a little bit of everything in moderation. Get back to food basics and, in turn, a healthier you! Endeavor to live better this year by eating better. Eat and live more naturally. Here are some of my "back to basics" food tips for the New Year. I am constantly working on all of these myself. I'd love to know if you're a fan of any of these, or if you have a strong opinion about any of it, too!
  • Stop looking at certain foods as being bad. Butter, cream, eggs, cheese, nuts and beef are just some of the foods that get a bad rap in our society due to high fat and cholesterol content. Unless you have serious cholesterol and/or allergy issues (and then you should be followed by a Dr.) these foods taken in moderation are good for you. And they are filling... naturally filling! This is a very good thing!
  • Use real butter instead of vegetable oil spreads. It tastes so much better! When was the last time you poured some liquid vegetable or canola oil with added preservatives and other stuff on your toast? I didn't think so...
  • Frequent your local vegetable stand or Farmer's market.
  • Find a local farm (or as local as you can get farm) that raises their own grassfed cattle for beef. You won't believe the difference in the smell and the taste of the beef!
  • Buy only free-range organic chicken. Again, you won't believe the difference in texture, taste, everything!
  • If you're not convinced by the organic, free-range, and grassfed arguments in food then do your own reading and research on it. I find reading about food to be very interesting. I started reading up on these topics about 5 years ago and I can only get more passionate about it. I learn something new about what we eat all the time.
  • Find out what the Slow Food Movement is all about.
  • Get passionate about what "foods" your children are putting into their bodies.
  • Make it a point to eat around the dinner table and try a new food on occasion.
  • Enjoy good wine with your meal. Try different wines and find out what you like!
  • Watch "Food, Inc." and form your own opinion on food policy in our country.
Food in it's natural state, or as close to its natural state as it can get, has the power to heal, nourish, entertain and bring us together! So make 2011 your year for a new attitude in food! Everything is ok in moderation!