Tag Archives: nutrition

The pretty good not from a recipe soup I made

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I am not a great cook. This is not something I hide from people. In fact, normally the fire alarm is an indicator of if dinner is done or not. However I have had some interest of improving in this area.  I don’t do recipes. Now don’t get me wrong recipes are fine, they just don’t work for me. On the logical level I know cooking is a science. It is however, also an art. That is really the only explanation of why recipes don’t work for me. Often I base what I make for dinner on what I am craving, sometimes a family member. This time it was my daughter. She wanted okra. The only ways I like okra is fried or in soup. We are trying to eat healthy and clean so soup it was! I was telling my friend Jen about this after the fact and she said you should totally blog that. I laughed because see above sentences about cooking. As far as I can tell it is both vegetarian and vegan. The wheels started turning however and I was thinking how healthy this turned out to be and good. Did I mention it came out good?

This is what you need based on what I remember.

1 bunch of kale Chopped

1 chopped and diced bulb of fennel (good for calming the stomach and intestines)

4 large carrots

1 bunch scallions

8-10 red creamer potatoes diced

2 yellow squash

1 Large zucchini

2 1/4 inch ginger minced (muscles really like ginger makes them all loosey goosey)

1 tablespoon ground ginger  (only because I didn’t feel like chopping up more fresh stuff)

1 tablespoon basil (its yummy and it fights bacteria and virus’s , Boosting immune system is important stuff)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Green beans cut up

1 tablespoon rosemary ( I really love Rosemary and it helps muscles as well as it supposedly helps memory, circulation and immune health. However I really like it. )

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup green lentils

a container of Veggie broth ( I get organic low sodium but that is just me)

All measurements are from me eyeballing it.

Toss all ingredients in a large pot. Add the entire contents of the broth fill up with water and dump that in too. Let all this simmer for an hour.

Toss in the lentils and let it simmer for another twenty minutes or so.

Boom! Soup! It passed family inspection even if it didn’t have meat in it. I was not at all bothered by the lack of meat.

I don’t like it, but I do it.

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It started in an attempt to make sure my husband ate healthier. At the time he had been eating oatmeal for breakfast and often ramen noodles for lunch and dinner. I had a genius idea to cook a lot at once and portion it out and freeze it for him to have better meals with all the work he has been doing to support our family.  Then one night I got home and I was just done. There was nothing in me to cook. We were out of milk so cereal wasn’t an option. I used two of his freezer meals and felt better about what my daughter and I ate for dinner. Soon after this I started working part-time. When I picked up my daughter she had been fed. I just had to feed myself. Cooking for one just does not appeal to me. Some weeks I go really crazy and prep lunches for my daughter and me plus the freezer dinners. One week was going to be really really busy so I even prepped breakfast.

Chronic illness takes so much from us, taking back my nutrition has been one way to fight back. True I do have to plan for most of the day to be spent cooking and prepping and resting. It really does take a lot out of me however, I have found it’s value far out weighs the energy spent doing it. When I first started doing it took me a lot longer. The more I have done it the more efficient I have gotten at it. This is what works for me. When I first started this was almost a six hour process for me.  I really don’t cook using exact measurements. The food you will have to use your sense of judgement of how much your family would eat. Some I know the amounts only because I was able to dig up Farmers market receipts and find the amounts I got. So if you are looking for exact measurements, this is not for you.  However, I do know that the more nutritious meals I can eat the more my body will thank me for it. The easier I can make it to get veggies and fruit in my diet the better I function. When I have complete meals like this ready,the less likely I am to resort to cereal for dinner or other crap, like pizza.

Here is how I do my food prep/cook days.

Grocery store list:

8 pounds of chicken

one head of cauliflower

1/2 lbs Green beans

Baby Carrots

Two sweet potatoes

1 lbs Parsnips

Quinoa

Brown Rice

 1 head of Broccoli

about 1/2 a lbs Sugar snap peas

2-3 Squash(whatever is in season) I normally stay with acorn or butternut squash as they will hold up the best.

Eggplant- I often get the baby eggplants as they are easier. I get between six to nine

Tin foil

Olive oil

If you don’t already have them Ziploc or Glad entree containers (this normally does about 12-14 individual dinners)

So then I come home and clean all the veggies. Turn the oven on to 350

Line two trays and two baking pans with tinfoil(this makes clean up simple) (and by the time I am done I need simple)

Place your chicken in one of the foil lined baking pans. Add olive oil and seasonings to your liking. I have found the best combo is garlic rosemary and sea salt.

 Toss the chicken in the oven and set the timer for an hour. It does best on a top rack.

Then in the other baking pan I place the cauliflower and baby eggplants  and sweet potatoes. Cover well with olive oil. We like to use garlic and dill on the cauliflower and garlic and salt on the eggplant. The sweet potatoes I individually wrap in foil and just toss a splash of olive oil and salt in with it.  This normally takes me about fifteen minutes and I toss it in with the chicken.

Next up are the parsnips and carrots. Peel and place on baking sheet. coat in olive oil and season. Again we tend to do garlic rosemary basil and salt.

Toss that baking sheet in.

Half the squash and de-seed it. sprinkle some cinnamon nutmeg and clove on it.  Slap it face down on the baking sheet lined with tinfoil and a bit of olive oil. Toss that baking sheet in.

Now go lay down. There should be about twenty minutes to thirty minutes left on the timer.  I sometimes cheat and just sit down and snip green beans.

The timer goes off.

Take out the parsnips and carrots first and set aside. The cauliflower and eggplants are also normally done. The sweet potatoes if the very center is still firm that is fine. Remember you will be microwaving them so they will finish cooking.

Check the chicken. Most of the time it is done but it could need a bit more.

On the stove you will need four pots.  In one you will mix brown rice and quinoa and set it to boiling. I normally save the kale and spinach pulp in my juices and toss that in with it. I make quite a bit but as usual I don’t normally measure it. I would approximate a cup of each. It will make a lot which is what you want.

Then the green beans and sugar snap peas and broccoli in the others. Cook them to just shy of being done.  This way when you microwave them later they finish cooking the last little bit and are perfect.

Now you can line up the gladware or ziplock containers. I throw about a tablespoon of quinoa rice mix in all of them. A chicken breast. Then two veggies. Mix how you wish.

Quinoa rice spinach and kale mix

Quinoa rice spinach and kale mix

Quinoa mix, chicken sweet potato and green beans

Quinoa mix, chicken sweet potato and green beans

Quinoa mix chicken and caulflower. I believe the carrots got lost under the caulflower

Quinoa mix chicken and caulflower. I believe the carrots got lost under the caulflower

Sugar snap peas caulflower chicken.

Sugar snap peas caulflower chicken.

Quinoa rice mix, parsnips and carrots and chicken.

Quinoa rice mix, parsnips and carrots and chicken.

Top and toss in the freezer.

Take out as needed.

For lunches I normally do a salad with some cubed ham or turkey shredded cheese, hard boiled egg and mandarin oranges. In ziplock bag, fried noodles  or a seed mix(pumpkin and Sunflower) then in small containers dish out a squirt or two of dressing. This keeps it from getting soggy.

For breakfasts we like to do a layer of greek yogurt a layer of granola a layer of fruit drizzled with honey sprinkle on some ground chia and then a shake of cinnamon. These stay good for about three to four days. For the other days I normally portion out oatmeal and mix in ground flaxseed, wheat germ and some cinnamon. Then all I have to do is add water.

Another meal I normally toss in the oven after all the food prep is brussel sprouts mushrooms onions baby carrots, minced garlic a  little lemon zest and olive oil then season with whatever you wish. Toss that all in some tinfoil and wrap closed. Toss THAT in the oven for about thirty minutes or so. Most of the time I just turn the oven off after thirty minutes and leave it in the oven. I normally have a bit of quinoa rice mix left over so I spread that on plates and top with the brussel sprouts mix.

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Cheap easy and quick just the way I like it!

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For quite a while I was content to have the kid order hot lunch. Then I volunteered for a few months to help pass out breakfasts. The lowest sugar amount was 21 grams. The highest was 51 grams. I was appalled. What the breakfast printout said would never lead me to think there was this much sugar. The fruit was in syrup and rarely fresh. The whole grain breakfast bar had 31 grams of sugar all by its self. There were some good choices. Things I would give my daughter at home. However the other choices were so sugary and processed that it was decided we would not do school breakfast or lunch.

Grocery lunchbox

pretzel crisps $2.50

Bananas $1.16

Sugar snap peas $3.65

Carrots $1.69

Peaches /apples $2.93

Raspberries $1.67

Hummus $4.99

Turkey $3.89

Flatout bread $3.19

 Rice Dream milk boxes $1.00

Yogurt sticks $3.50

I had the cheese sticks from last week and celery from last week left over. This grocery stack will last us  a week worth of lunches and afternoon snack.  Some of this stuff I only have to buy once a month , like the bag of baby carrots. The flat-bread is also a once a month expense. My total for this trip was $26.67. Divide this by five days of school-it cost me $5.33 for lunch and snack.

She has access to her lunch box for snack time as they have the earliest lunch at eleven fifteen.

Monday’s Lunch

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 Rice dream milk box, yogurt stick, cheese stick, banana raspberry peanut butter roll ups Carrots and snap peas.

Only half the roll up came home everything else was gone.

Tuesday’s lunch

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Snap peas and carrots with ranch dressing, yogurt stick, cheese stick, Rice dream milk box, Peaches, Ham and cheese roll ups

This time only half the roll up came home but she didn’t tell me right away so the cheese was all melty by the time I found it. We discussed why this made me upset and how she can help next time. TELL ME CHILD JUST TELL ME!

Wednesday’s Lunch

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Yogurt stick, cheese stick, Milk box, Carrots snap peas with hummus, Celery and peanut butter, apple slices and peanut butter.

One celery stick was all that was left.

Thursday’s Lunch

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Ham and cheese roll up, yogurt stick, cheese stick, milk box, raspberries, peaches, apples, Carrots and snap peas with hummus.

Today she did not eat the sandwich but only a few raspberries and a peach slice was left. She also said she was not hungry at snack time so the cheese stick was left as well.

Friday’s Lunch

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Ham and cheese roll up, Carrots snap peas and hummus. apples and peanut butter, milk box, yogurt stick and cheese stick.

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This is the bread I get for the roll ups. It is a sneaky way to add more protein, and grains.

We still have enough left over that the only thing I had to buy today for lunches next week was fresh fruit. I can easily get at least three more lunches out of last weeks groceries for lunches. This will actually bring the total daily cost down to $3.33 for eight lunches and snacks.  Our school lunches are $2.10 per lunch and no snack.  This makes packing lunch for us the more affordable and nutritious option.

Prepare prepare prepare

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The thing to do when you have chronic illness is pace yourself. There is something to do before that though. First you need to prepare. If you know in advance that is, if not its all about recovery.

We have a huge big group hike that we have been planning happening tomorrow. Well if it is Thursday it is happening today but, I am writing this Wednesday.So we kept activities very minimum and flexible as well. I even came home and took a nap. I really did not have much of a choice actually. I came home from a rather short activity for me and laid down. Tried to get into the computer with my tv on like I normally do. I knew  shortly after that I needed sleep. It was a good way to start preparing for tomorrow.

Tonight I will take an epsom bath and when I wake in the middle of the night, as I inevitably will, I will re-medicate without hesitation. I normally wait. I don’t like to take anything if I can get back on my own. Tonight however, sleep will be imperative. I will also stagger my melatonin and other night meds, for whatever reason they work better if I take them about an hour apart. The only thing I can think of is it is like stepping your body down from the day. I will probably take the magnesium first with half dose of melatonin. My heart meds the next hour and then the last one will be benedryl so I can breathe.  (I know there are other things to take, Benedryl was what my ENT and I settled on).

In the morning it will still be about preparing. Coffee of course will happen. A good breakfast will be vital today especially. A good bowl of quality oatmeal, some chopped almonds tossed in.  About an hour after breakfast I will drink some green juice mixed with some soy protein.  Lunch will be light. Probably Cheese and crackers and apple. A pocket full of almonds and cashews, a bottle of water and we will be off. It sounds like a lot. Especially when you think that is just to get me ready and not the kid. At eight though she pretty much takes care of herself. We go on hikes enough she knows to drink lots of water and she will probably have the same lunch as me.

The last thing I will do is take my multivitamin right before we go. Its kinda like a little pep before we go.Just one more way to give my body a little oomph.

This is what works for me. It has taken me literally years to know how to prepare and not just recover. There was a lot of trial and error. There was a lot of thinking or over thinking or under thinking going on. There were even a few I found by accident, like stacking my medications. Only stack your medications like that if they are not scripts. If they are scripts talk to your Doctor first. I can not stress enough the importance of water. When you think you are hydrated, drink some more. I would encourage only water but whatever it takes for you to be hydrated. Often we get the Mio electrolyte additive drops for flavor and a maintaining hydration. The key to finding what works for you is to journal it. Jot down notes when you can about what you did , how it worked. I kept mine in just a microsoft word file for the longest time. There are also a lot of good pain journal apps that will help as well. I still use one off and on.

The last bit of advice is remember to this will NOT stop you from hurting after a big activity. It is to reduce the impact. It is still important to pace and to recover. Do not consider this pampering yourself. This is self care and it is vital.

Also…if you have followed me for even a little bit….you know there is a hike post coming as well!