A Bowl of WTH: We are Food Container Hoarders

A Bowl of WTH: We are Food Container Hoarders

Also known as meal prep. And we get pretty excited about it and like to take pictures. Look what I did! It takes a fair amount of effort in meal prepping. It doesn’t need to be difficult or extremely time consuming. However. Hard truth. You will pay for it one way or another. It is your choice and not my place to judge it. I make the choice to put my efforts before hand which is less costly than paying afterwards. It’s easier to get organized and create healthier options when meals are planned and prepped before hand. It makes your life easier to be well and there are hacks. It has little to do with salads. I love salads but it can get old, quick.

Foremost is understanding your ingredients and materials. Prepared foods and boxed foods can help or hurt you. Lots use terms to catch your attention in hopes you never become aware of what is actually in it. Watch sugar and salt content. Avoid chemicals as much as possible. Organic and natural is best. It’s not just a health nut lifestyle choice. Those chemicals GMOs impact your health in every possible way, physical and mental. Reduce or eliminate when possible.

Please be environmentally friendly. Avoid small packaging when you can. I get it. Prepackaged makes it easier to grab and go. Opt for recycle-able or reusable containers. Small changes make a difference!

Meal prep Hacks

Bulk it and repeat it. This is where we reduce costs in this house and it’s much less work. You need variety but it can be every other week or by season. Rice and soups can be frozen. If you need more variety. Create your own frozen meals. Just eat within a month or two (soups hold longer). Canning, if you’re in to that, is another great way to maximize your meal planning efforts. Vegetarian meals tend to be cheaper in cost. Intentionally creating left overs when you cook dinner is an excellent way to simplify meal prep.

Go raw. This isn’t recommended for everyone. For digestive issues, it may be safer to lightly cook your food for it to absorb better. However, creating raw meals cuts out cooking time. Salads, sandwiches on multigrain, or wraps in lettuce or multigrain tortillas work. Sushi grade fish with some rice and veggies works. Lunch meat wrapped with veggies works. Veggies and dip. Fruit and yogurt. It all works.

Semi done prep or prepared is allowed. I do it all the time. Buying some salt free or flavored nuts then mixing and putting in small containers is a stable in this house. I buy string cheese or spreadable cheese wedges to go with veggies and fruits work. Precooked meat with veggies, sweet potato, or pre cooked rice is done. I will buy chicken or turkey meatballs or beans to create meals. It truly is about checking the labels for sugar, salt, and chemical content.

The Snack Station in the Riley House

Stay seasonal. Many vegetables and fruits are out of season where we live. I love pea protein and buying them frozen in bulk to go with carrots, brown rice pasta (watch portions), and olive oil plus herbs. In the fall I was all about sweet potatoes, brussels. In the summer, it’s wraps and salads. Don’t think you absolutely must eat something right now that is expensive. Watch produce and a quick search about your area will let you know what is in season when.

Eat what you like within reason. If you don’t like salads, don’t eat them. If you are quesadillas like we do, there are a variety of ways to make them. It’s always beneficial to try new things. But don’t continue to eat something you know you just cannot stand.

Think Herbs, not salt. When creating flavor, stock up on herbs and spices. A link is included for the basics with expansion soon. I love my herbs! They do so much for your body. https://notjusthealthnuts.com/2018/04/17/no-salt-added-spice-up-your-food-life/

Watch fillers. That means chips. Veggie chips or home made veggie (not potato) chips or parmesan crisps are okay. I love doritos but it is in the rare occasion box. For good reason. It’s a filler food and horrible one at that.

Quick Meal and Meal Prep Ideas:

  • Baked chicken and salad
  • Pizza (limit) and salad
  • Turkey lettuce burgers and sweet potato fries
  • Some groceries offer griller veggie options
  • Breakfast
  • Quesadillas: chicken or choice meat, just veggies, avocados, and/or beans. Watch cheese portions and often I will reduce cheese amounts by mixing in a reduced fat cream cheese.
  • Burrito or taco bowls with brown rice or whole grain rice
  • Asian bowls: choice lean meat, chick peas, veggies with jasmine or basamati rice. For flavor, I love Asian sauces but go sparingly as they tend to be high in salt.

Meal planning is often cost effective and allows more healthier opportunities. The most important benefit is investing in yourself. You need well and to create your well being.

Prep on and Namaste

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Health Foodie: Messing with Iconic Dishes Part One

Health Foodie: Messing with Iconic Dishes Part One

As my love affair with all things spicy cools off, I have to find ways to live in between.  I am between my love of food relationship exploration and the need for it not to kill my stomach.  Creole food is one of those perplexing situations for me. About a year ago on a pinning spree I took on gumbo and LOVE it.  I love the earthy and fiery flavors with the simple base.  Recently, a more palatable version found my bowl as tweaking to remove shellfish allergy and reduce reflux triggers.  This reworking of a Creole icon reduces the spice, lowers fat content, and switches to a low acid tomato.   Make your shopping list, grab your pots, and find the zydeco music.  It’s time to channel that not so spicy but spiced up food encounter.

Gumbo/Stew

Ingredients and Prep

Roux

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of all purpose flour or all purpose gluten free flour

Gumbo

  • 2 garlic cloves diced
  • 1 tsp of Creole Seasoning (cayenne will do in a pinch)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley (1 tbsp dried parsley can be substituted)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 2 stalks of celery sliced
  • 1 lb of chicken cooked and diced
  •  oz of smoked turkey sausage (if you can handle the spicy go for chicken andouille sausage)
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 9 ounces of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Optional add ins: crawfish or shellfish

Cooking

  1. Roux: this mystical beast is the wonderment base.  The key is to never leave it alone and constantly stir.
    • Heat skillet to medium heat then add in oil.  Gentle stir in flour with a whisk and keep stirring.  The goal is a medium to medium dark brown.  Once you reach the desired color, give your arm a break and head to step 2.
  2. Add in: garlic, red bell pepper, celery, and tomatoes.  Cook for 10 minutes
  3. Add in broth, meat, and spices
  4. Simmer on low for about an hour

How you address or dress this dish when it’s done is up to you.  The classic is with rice.  We went for corn polenta (pictured), but it’s up to you and any idea you dream of.  Classics like this have staying power as it carries tradition, memories, and iconic flavors.  It doesn’t mean you can’t mess around a little in your food relationship.

Namaste

Check out part two next week!

Thriving on Nutrition and a Budget

Thriving on Nutrition and a Budget

With my littlest red in tow we set out for our biweekly marathon of food gathering in the urban jungle yesterday. For a family of six plus my niece at times,  it’s all the marathon I ever care to participate in. It’s not the worst chore I have to complete as my laundry piles on my dryer.  However, we do love to eat with the goal of our health. There is strategy involved to keep our wellness goal and less my pain in the after math.

Before the marathon

1. List. List. List.

I am a list freak.  Largely to help me regulate my thoughts and ADHD. But I do love them and labels.  I like being able to find things too. But that’s beside the point. It does mean meal planning and less reliance on emotional eating when you use a list.  That’s a good thing.  Pad in your health favs and a few not so healthy favs for those cheat days.

2. Develop a love affair with the stores in or near your neighborhood.  The close you are the less gas which saves and the more you shop there the more you can recognize sale patterns which leads into three….

3.  Shop sales and in season. Healthy food on sale. Not junk food on sale.  Companies are starting to recognize the demand and putting natural/organic/healthy items or produce on sale more often.  This past month at one of our local stores, between sales, in season produce, and digital coupons, I cut my bill in half.  We saved almost $150.

4.  Use loyalty programs and digital saving programs.  If I receive a paper coupon in store or the mail I will use most of the time. Otherwise all my coupons are on a loyalty card.  Saves paper and money.  The more I use the loyalty program at one of our stores the more I am rewarded. There are grocery apps that do the reward the same way just for uploading a receipt.  Use them.

5.  When you have some extra budget room and sales are really good take advantage of the abundance.  If you have the room, squirrel it away.  My kids have organic crackers for months thanks to the sales last month.

6. Take advantage of shopping clubs, online services, and pick ups.  If you benefit from buying in bulk then a shopping club like Cosco or Sams may be worth it for you.  Our shopping club is online and delivers right to our door- my make up, laundry, toothpaste, etc. Which is my absolute fav- safe products and value that I didn’t have to fight the urban jungle to get.  During this summer we used store pick ups alot and delivering to your door is becoming an option.  For us it was necessity as I was recovering from a foot injury.  Now its just nice when time is tight. Pick ups prevents impulse shopping if that is a struggle of yours.

7. Meatless Mondays, Tuesday, Wednesdays….

Meat can be expensive, especially lean meat.   Lately, I am finding one of our stores putting meat substitutes crazy cheap.  We are riding that gravy train for as long as it last. We also like using cauliflower and cauliflower in every form is suddenly every where. Cauliflower is cheaper than most meats.  Cauliflower is a great substitute because of it’s nutritional value and protein content. Another plus.  Too much meat protein can be hard on some of your organs, especially kidneys.  Just a thought to keep in mind on how many meatless days you want to try.

We survived our day and meal prepping began today (future blog?).  If you have a small family, family of two, or just you then a meal delivery service may be a better option for meals.  Our family is just too big and I find I can keep the cost lower in shopping myself.  Blessings in your endeavors to eat well and thrive.

Namaste.

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