Is This Considered ‘Cooking’?

I don’t cook.

That is my standard answer when asked about cooking. However, I think I will have to change that statement because I now cook nearly every week.  Not because I enjoy it, but because I want healthy food in the house. Every Sunday I cook a bunch of stuff and have it for the remainder of the week.  My evenings are typically filled and busy with things I need to get done, so I like to finish my day job, eat, then move on to my projects/commitments.

After stating “I don’t cook” to a person I met recently, she looked at me and said, “Well, what do you eat, do you eat out all the time?”  I’m sure I had a crazy look on my face because in actuality, I DO cook.  I guess in the past I thought of cooking as preparing a meal that included all the food groups for people to eat and survive on.  I don’t do that. I just cook for myself, and there is no one to complain, and no one who has picky food choices, etc.  I cook most vegetables the same way, in a little coconut oil, salt, pepper, and lot of spices … boring but tasty.

So, a typical Sunday includes getting home from church and washing, dicing, slicing, sauteing, steaming food … I guess you call that cooking, huh?

Today, I decided try a new vegetable.  I went to a local farmer’s market and bought Swiss Chard.  I recently watched a video to see how to prep and cook it.  Looked simple enough;  like the way I cook collards, spinach, kale, etc.

Swiss Chard

I gave it a bath (in water, white vinegar and baking soda) along with the other fruits and vegetables I bought today at the market.  Everyone gets a bath, then a vegetable brush scrub – sometimes with dish soap. I know it sounds excessive…. but when I watch all the hands that touch vegetables at the markets its a wonder (if you know me) I don’t come home and throw them into the dishwasher.

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Anyway, I ‘cooked’ the Swiss Chard and it was pretty tasty.  Tastes similar to other green leafy vegetables but with it’s own distinct flavor.  I will definitely add this to the food rotation list.

The way I handle eating healthy, by cooking all at the beginning of the week, might not be for everyone because by Thursday, I am usually completely sick of whatever I cooked; but fortunately it is mostly all gone by the end of the week. I have to have a large number of options because I cook 3-5 veggies per week so I need enough options to rotate.  This week was this:

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  1. Red/Orange/Yellow peppers – I wrote about this in a previous post; a good snack veggie.
  2. Collard Greens – I cheated this week and used bagged ones – I knew I was not going to want to spend all afternoon picking greens.
  3. English Cucumbers – another good snack food
  4. Yellow Squash – I eat a lot of this during the summer.
  5. Swiss Chard – I bought one bunch.  It shrunk down to about 3/4 of a cup.  It was more expensive than I imagined – $2.49/bunch.  I will have to catch this on sale in order to have enough for the week. LESSON LEARNED:  Don’t be afraid to try new foods.
  6. Decided to try Quinoa too – I read it is a great source of protein, which I need because as you see, I didn’t cook any chicken, or other meat for the week. I’m not vegan or anything, it’s just that I had beef twice last week and I’m not craving anything ‘meaty’ so I decided to skip a week of meat and just have eggs, cottage cheese, and quinoa as my protein.  It was pretty tasty. Will likely add this to the rotation about once per month.
  7. Bag of apples – was really inexpensive at the market
  8. and Cantaloupe was on sale; not my favorite but will satisfy the craving until juicy, red, decently priced watermelons arrive.

Before you decide you can’t cook and eat like this all week, fret not, because I don’t either.  This food makes up about 70% of my diet now.

I might throw in a slice of Ezekiel Bread and peanut butter one evening, or I might go out with friends and have a salad with chicken on it … or sometimes I might decide to have popcorn with sprinkled with hot sauce for a snack.  The Sunday cooking is primarily a way to not get caught in a state of being really hungry and going for junk food because I don’t have good food in the house.  It works for me…. might work for you.

Sooooo, maybe I am a cook after all…. but I still wouldn’t count on me to cook a full meal for ya…. unless you want a Veggie Plate. 🙂 

Eat Your Veggies – They’re Free!

Eat your veggies!”
You don’t have to tell me twice.  Fortunately, I love vegetables; I mean from the hard-core, dark leafy green ones to the orange and yellow root ones.  OK, I’m not so much a lima bean and sweet pea girl, mainly because of the texture, not the taste.  However, Split Pea soup is one of my favorites – go figure.

In our house when I was growing up, my mother, cooked lots of vegetables, so I really never had a chance not to like them.  Although we ate corn, mixed vegetables and such, she didn’t consider those to be ‘real’ vegetables.  If she did make those, they were treated more like a side dish to go along with the hard-core vegetables (greens, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, etc.. haha!

I do remember when she introduced broccoli to me, at around 10 years old.  She steamed it and covered it in melted cheese.  Yum!  I could do that.  Then, eventually, the amount of cheese was gradually lessened and after a while no cheese at all was added… straight broccoli.  She introduced lots of veggies to me that way – never really forcing it but mainly just shared her love of them and it sorta rubbed off on me.

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Anyway, I’m not much of a ‘cook’ per se, but, I cook 3-5 different kinds of vegetables per week for two reasons; 1) because I really do like them, and 2) I call them my free food – they fill you up and keep you healthy too. In the beginning of my ‘get healthy journey’, I used to count every calorie throughout the day, but because I eat so many vegetables, I was not meeting my caloric intake by the end of the day.  Seriously,  you can eat mounds of vegetables in a day and end up eating only about 500 calories. That’s a good thing in a way but I had to start NOT counting any of my veggie calories – hence, Free Food! So now, whenever I am hungry, I go to any number of vegetables and the calories don’t even count.  Nice!

This week’s veggie menu includes:

Rutabagas – I have these about once per month!  I buy it fresh – yep, a big old wax ball of a vegetable.  They used to be really difficult to peel and cut but I noticed a couple of years ago that they are now really easy to cut. I’m guessing a new variety has been developed.

Green Beans – I buy Whole Frozen Green from Publix.  Publix frozen vegetables are so good – no stems, really fresh tasting, and they often have a sale of 8 bags for $10.

Spinach – I bought fresh this week; although in a pinch, I will buy these frozen too.

Cucumbers – Cucumbers are like the snack food of choice – looooow calories, crunchy, and filling because they are mostly water.  I sometimes will put them in a bowl, sprinkle with Himalayan salt and coarse black pepper, and spritz with Rice Vinegar for a bit of a sweet/tart flavor. You can down a ton of cukes and you’ll be weight safe.

Big Red Bell Peppers – Boy do I love these too.  I found out if I buy organic ones, they don’t get slimy by day 4 of being sliced in the fridge.  Interesting, huh?  Sometimes the organic ones cost less than the non-organic ones. I eat them raw, and treat them like the cukes with salt, pepper and vinegar sometimes.

(Frozen Whole Baby Okra ) – was on the menu to cook, but after making all the others stuff I decided not to cook these.  Might have been too much.  These are delicious too.  I get them from Publix also – they are small, tender, and tasty.  None of the big ‘ol tree bark tasting ones that are often put in bags of frozen okra.  I will steam them mid-week if I run out.

Y’all think I’m joking when I say I love veggies huh?  Well, get this … I do often eat them for breakfast.  I’m not a big fan of most breakfast foods.  I don’t like sugary and bready things in the morning because I found out that if I eat that in the morning, it triggers my hunger button and I end up being hungry all day long.  However if I eat protein and veggies in the morning my appetite seems to be more balanced all day and I have less of a tendency to want to munch.  I know it’s crazy – and I’ve been laughed at more than once over the years about it but it’s all in fun.  Broccoli, okra, salad, green beans, greens, and spinach have all been on my breakfast menu before.

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About proteins – I’ve never been a big meat eater, and at one time I could have probably been considered a vegetarian but after a few years of battling anemia I decided to eat more meat.  So along with all these vegetables, I throw in chicken and salmon quite often, and once every couple of months, I will buy 1-lb of the best, organic, lean grass-fed ground beef I can afford and make 2 oz patties for each day of the week.  It’s just enough to keep my body and mind happy.

That’s it – so what vegetables do you plan to have this week?

Let me know if you have any questions!

Peace and Love!

Why, Oh Why, Can’t I Eat That?

Lots of people have asked, so here I am answering how I started losing weight.

On July 6, 2016, I was sitting around munching on some goody or another, just pacifying myself with some deliciousness, and watching a video about the current state of Venezuela that popped up on YouTube; people starving, eating their pets, standing in long line all day long just to end up with nothing to eat. Honestly, I felt a bit gluttonous watching the video.

At the same time, I started to think, ‘what if I was the one who couldn’t get food to eat?’  What if things were like that here in the United States?  People in the States like food, lots of it, all kinds of it, we like it all the time, we have food shrines everywhere.  Yes, we have people who have less access than others for sure, but we are by no means in a 3rd world situation with people by the droves who are starving. We have been, indeed, a blessed nation overall.  So blessed that the obesity rate is extremely high… and I’ve always been obese according to those little charts doctors use (… we all know those charts are wrong though).

Anyway, after a few pensive moments I wondered how much food do I really need; how much could I survive on and maintain good health?  I figured if a Venezuela situation happened in the States, there will be a lot of anger and rioting going on simply because people will be HUNGRY!  Imaging going from a daily diet of 3000+ calories of processed, chemically-laden, fast foods, mixed in periodically with an occasional vegetable cooked in butter or fat back, then suddenly (or even gradually) having to live on about 1000 – 1500 calories (or less, God forbid).  People are going to be MAD!!! I’m talking food fight kind of mad…. without the food. It certainly won’t be a pretty scene.

My curiosity took over and almost instantly I decided to retrain myself to eat less.  I had no real weight goals.  At the time I was not on any medications for anything so that wasn’t a real motivation.  I just wanted to find out the minimum number of  calories I needed to live and be healthy. ‘Healthy’ by my standard was hair and nails staying healthy, not feeling tired all the time, and mostly not feeling hungry all the time, because hunger was always a deal-breaker. Like I said, I didn’t have any high blood pressure or diabetes issues so that wasn’t a goal.

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Initially, I thought about all the ways I could accomplish this: Weight Watchers, NutriSystem, Boiled Egg Diet, Grapefruit Diet, Cheez-it Diet ( I did that in college once, yep, Cheezits and grapes – lost a lot of weight… lol) … I even thought about accomplishing this with some sort of surgical procedure.  Surgery was not an option however because although I was overweight (or obese according to some uninformed medical people) I was not overweight enough to have Bypass or stomach bands. I was too cheap to spend money on Weight Watchers (and didn’t want to fit group meetings into my schedule), and somehow having little processed boxes of food delivered to my house seemed to be the opposite of my new goal of healthy eating.

So, I had to stick with one of the old-fashion weight loss methods:  eating less and moving more.

Honestly, the change started in my mind.  I wanted to be healthy, and able to sustain myself on a normal amount of calories, which after some Googling, I learned should be around 1500 calories per day.  I also learned that 1500 calories would mean cutting my calories to more than half what it was.  Dang!  I was munching back to ton more than I realized. I had to do it though.

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What I didn’t do was toss all the food in my pantry, or go out and buy diet food.  To this day I still NEVER eat low-fat or substitute sugars.  I decided to eat real foods… i.e. real sugar, real butter, real milk, just less of it.  My 1,500 calories today had to be a good mix of fresh veggies, fruit, good grains, and a tad of any of the sugary things I liked (still got a  Sweet Tart stash).  I wasn’t about deprivation and denial, just using good sense in making choices and deciding to used my calories wisely.  I always think of calories like money.  I am a decent money manager (OK, some would say frugal) so to me calories became money.  I have 1,500 per day, use them wisely or you’ll have to wait til the next day to get your bank filled again.  That worked for me … I’m a good ‘saver’, so I started saving calories and using them when I really wanted or needed them.

Now, all of what I just wrote about was way easier said than done.

In my next blog I will tell you about the drama and trauma of the first couple of weeks of doing this…. food really is a drug people.