I always try to start with healthy ingredients. I am an avid label-reader! No additives like food coloring, preservatives, or chemical substitutes go in the basket, thanks. This means for the most part using unprocessed food, and making it myself. The good news is that it’s easier than it sounds.
The tasty part is secondary. I don’t use much in the way of seasonings, and I usually like what I make just fine. I learned years ago when I was doing the Pritikin diet that simple food tastes good all by itself. I don’t need lots of sauces or dressings to make it yummy. But if you do, just add it yourself afterwards!
The third part is beauty. If you use whole foods, you’ll end up with something beautiful to serve without too much effort. Arranging food on an elegant bowl or plate is an art-form in itself and fun! I have a thing for collecting all kinds of pretty dishes. They make dining just so much nicer. Take a picture, and preserve the memory before it’s gone.
Now, for the story:
I’ve been cooking in someone else’s kitchen or not cooking at all for eight months now. My body is 18 pounds heavier, and I’m really not feeling like myself. What have I done?
I was confused until I took a moment to reflect on what I’ve been eating all this time. A lot of it was stuff I normally don’t eat, or keep in my kitchen: ice-cream, ‘gourmet’ meals (lots of cheese, lots of cream, lots of meat, lots of bread), hamburgers, reuben sandwiches, shakes, cookies, cakes, grits, popcorn, chips, and lots and lots of nuts, which I normally ration carefully, but were always out on the table, and I’m a ‘see-food’ eater.
I prefer being in control of my diet, but that’s hard to do when you’re moving around like I have lately. Change is also stressful, no matter how exciting it is. I have a weakness for sweets, especially when in need of emotional comfort, so my policy is not to buy them. If I keep them out of the house they can’t get into my mouth.
Last week I arrived at the next place in my travels ~ Natick, MA, where Joachim and Emilie live~ and I’ve been shopping for the first time in months, stocking Emilie’s kitchen while she’s away with the food items I like and that I know like me.
My latest food creation is a Chinese cabbage and fresh kale salad~ It’s so good I can’t stop.
Here’s how to make it:
Chop off 4 or 5 1/4 inch slices of the cabbage, and some finely chopped kale leaves (not including the stems), and throw in a nice mixing bowl. Add a TBSP each of the blue cheese dressing and some mayo (or whatever else you may find in the fridge if you don’t have these), a few shakes of Balsamic vinegar for taste (be careful, it’s strong!), and a generous helping of olive oil. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds sprinkled liberally on top, and you have the makings of a very healthy and mouth watering side or main dish salad. The metal Korean chopsticks I found in my daughter’s kitchen made it perfect!
Next: The Soup
I love to make soups, and recently my two standbys are lentil and split pea. Here’s the recipe for a simple lentil soup that will make you feel warm and cozy on a winter’s day in Boston (or good anywhere you are, even in sunny Florida).
Pour half a package of dried lentils into a large cooking pot. Rinse with water, and then cover with 3 or 4 inches of water. Add 1 or two fresh chopped carrots and boil for 3 -5 minutes. Cover and lower heat to a simmer for 40 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally and checking to make sure the water doesn’t boil down below the beans. Add water if it does.
Add chopped onions and fresh garlic when carrots and lentils are soft, and simmer just a few minutes longer. For seasoning, I like to use a little salt, some cumin, paprika, and a liberal shake of curry powder. My new favorite taste enhancer is a tablespoon or so of barbeque sauce, any brand you happen to have on hand. It adds a meaty taste and so much flavor ~ Thanks to Laura for that idea.
I’d like to acknowledge my cell phone camera for doing such a good job replacing my little Aldi. Now I have one more reason to totally LOVE my phone.