Weekly Meal Plan 12/21-12/26

Just a few days left before chaos erupts… or not. I was reminded today by a very dear truth teller that the level of chaos and the degree to which it has anything to do with me is at the very least partially within my own control. Breathing deep, rolling along. Kids have one more day of school. My studies are on hold for two weeks. I’m going to start seeing this whole thing as one big breath. Rolling along. With chocolate… And maybe wine.

In the meantime we have to eat some scraped together meals that can be made and consumed between baking and choral practices.

Monday: whole wheat pasta with raw spinach and the Easiest Tomato Sauce Ever, cut veggies

Tuesday: Leftover Pot Pie  – taco pie style with Slow Cooker Burrito filling from last week (frozen double batch, oh yeah), green salad

Wednesday: Lentil, Mushroom, and Sweet Potato Soup, green salad, wheat bread

Thursday: Dinner at Bigg Sis’ house

Friday: Dinner with Super Stepmom and Sweetie Dad

Saturday: Dinner with Mr. Little Sis’ family

Sunday: Homemade pizza, cut veggies

  

That’s it for me this week, friends. Got presents to wrap. I’ll chime in sometime tomorrow or Wednesday with the last installment of Whole for the Holidays. I hope your preparations are going at your pace and your holiday season honors your heart.

On Becoming A Creative & Healthier Home Cook

Well Hello There!   It has been an exceedingly long time since we’ve posted, and mostly that was because we were visiting with friends and family every single minute.  It was a truly wonderful holiday and, speaking for myself, I am oddly both rejuvenated and completely exhausted.

During an extended visit with the best friends a gal could have, someone asked how I moved away from cooking from recipes – how I started making recipes up and how I knew what substitutions would work.  I know, those of you who’ve been playing along for a while are likely laughing as I’ve presented my move away from recipes as a basic inability to follow directions and recipes of any kind…. this being different from choosing to cook without that level of guidance.  The truth is that I do both – I regularly screw up whilst following directions and, hopefully more often, I make conscious decisions to abandon the dictates of the recipe for one reason or another, usually either to make the recipe healthier or because I lack an ingredient and I do NOT shop for a missing ingredient or two (lack of control in grocery stores demands limited exposure).

Since my friend asked, I’ve been thinking a lot about how this evolution occurred, wondering how I got to the point of really only being inspired by a recipe rather than actually following it, and I think there are some basic steps that could prove useful to folks in trying to branch out and/or health it up in their own kitchens.  There are myriad lovely cookbooks and blogs full of healthful recipes in the world.  There are also ways to change most recipes so that they are 1) healthier, 2) more affordable, and 3) easier to prepare. Here I’ll offer three approaches that have made me less recipe bound and have therefore made me able to adapt all kinds of recipes to my own tastes, dietary needs, and available time: the ingredient swap, the recipe mash up, and flavor profiling. Continue reading

Peeping in our Pantries?

Little Sis here.  In Baby Step 3, Big Sis (against all rationality) offered you all a look into our pantries. Mercy.  Despite my many fine qualities, I have to admit to being somewhat (and I am being uncharacteristically generous with myself here) organizationally challenged.  But since my sister showed you HERS, I guess I have to show you MINE.  Yikes….  Yes, we are still talking about the pantry, not our panties, although we have been know to go that far for your entertainment. Really, this blog is getting a little personal… but all in the name of Food.  Real Food!

Now that I’ve given you a visual, let’s talk about what’s in that puppy. Big Sis was kind enough to compile her pantry list first (since she offered, it only seemed fair) so I will share hers and add the things that I keep in my pantry that she hasn’t included.  Before we get to the lists of ingredient staples that we both keep on hand in order to ensure that we can cook real food, we both have some processed bits to confess, just so’s you know that the road just keeps going before all of us and neither of us would dream of claiming to be at the finish line.

 Mr. Little Sis and I keep coffee and tea on hand as both parents in this house are nowhere near ready to drop that crutch.  We keep a few boxes of cereal (all under 5g of sugar per serving or they must be mixed with a SUPER low sugar cereal).  We also keep the occasional box of whole wheat and white cheddar macaroni and cheese for Daddy’s traveling and Mommy’s had enough emergencies.  In addition we usually have a package of storebought cookies (of the fig newton variety) to bridge the gap between baking bursts.  There are also our beloved Triscuits. 🙂   – Can’t believe I didn’t mention Triscuits!  We also keep these simple gems on hand.

You want to peep in my pantry as well, eh?  I’m going to leave out the staples like coffee and tea (decaf for me because I’m a little (Big Sis is also generous with herself ;-)) high strung shall we say?), but I’d be remiss if I did not share a few smudges on an otherwise clean enough to put the scraps on record…I do keep a steady supply of boxed cereal in my pantry.  I get brands with no additives / organic once in awhile and all on sale – but there you have it.  I do make granola and we do eat hot cereal but we all like a little bit of boxed cereal with fruit as a bedtime snack.  But that’s it… except for the not-as-bad-for-you natural tortilla and potato chips that my son takes to school.  There!  I feel cleansed and refreshed, and I hope some of you are feeling better as well… We all have skeletons in the pantry, don’t we? Here are the items that I always keep stocked so I’ll be prepared to make healthy food rather than get fast food or eat something pre-made. Grains:

Dried Beans:

  • black beans, navy beans, pinto beans, garbanzos, etc.
  • lentils
  • mung Beans for sprouting

Part of Big Sis’ pantry is not IN the pantry. Pretty jars, eh?

Canned goods:

  • canned beans
  • canned (or boxed)tomatoes and paste
  • canned pineapple
  • artichoke hearts, olives

CONDIMENTS

  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (I use in place of soy sauce)
  • sesame oil
  • olive oil
  • safflower oil
  • salsa
  • mustard
  • bouillion
  • ketchup – I buy organic with no added sugar
  • rice vinegar
  • balsamic vinegar
  • coconut oil and butter

VEGGIES:

  • sweet potatoes
  • Yukon gold or red potatoes
  • onions
  • winter squash when it’s cold out

NUTS & DRIED FRUIT

  • cashews
  • peanuts
  • sunflower seeds
  • almonds
  • pecans, pumpkin seeds
  • raisins
  • other dried fruit purchased on sale 😉 cherries are a favorite of ours, dates, occasionally figs

REFRIGERATOR:

  • eggs
  • whole grain bread
  • milk (both dairy and almond)
  • cheese
  • carrots and celery
  • qpples
  • whole wheat tortillas
  • flax meal for vegan eggs
  • tofu 
  • sunflower cheese

FREEZER:

  • whole grain flour
  • frozen peas, green beans, corn, spinach
  • nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds – all raw)
  • frozen herbs
  • frozen leftover pancakes

Whew.  When you list it all it seems like a lot, but it’s really NOT so much.  And truthfully, neither of us ALWAYS has all of these things. I don’t keep this list in my pocket and freak out when one item is low.  This is simply the list of things that we have discovered make it easy for us to keep our promise to ourselves to NOT turn to takeout out of desperation.  It would be lovely to have oodles of time for every dinner, but that ain’t life, and some nights there’s a shortage of time AND patience.  Being stocked up on REAL ingredients makes these nights a lot easier to face healthfully and economically.  Stick with us and we’ll show you how.  Do it for a while, and you’ll know why.

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