We've talked about how to take yourself on a journey to eating a better diet by eliminating sugar and processed foods. And we've looked at how to find and grow your own vegetables and fruit.
(Berries. I forgot berries. Raspberries, black berries and strawberries are easier to grow than you thought. Give your raspberry plant some room, at least a space that is five feet by five feet. Same goes for your blackberry plant. First year will not give you a noticeable yield. By year three you will be eating raspberries and blackberries like a King! You'll have so many shoots you'll be able to share them with friends. And strawberries? There are dozens of varieties available. You can grow them anywhere there is soil and sunshine, or plant them in pots. There are places you can pick your own too. Easy peasy!)
This is where the fun stuff begins. Recipes! And easy to make recipes to boot. We'll start with breakfast. Ready? Set... GO!
EGGS: Soft (3 to 5 minutes on boil) boil and serve with 1 tsp real butter, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a sliced avocado and red grapes on the side. Or hard boil the egg. Make two eggs. Excellent source of protein. Want to make it easier? Use the same teaspoon of butter and fry your egg. Or scramble your egg. Delicious combination of flavors and textures. You can add beans, any kind, with tomatoes as a side for a truly hardy meal, English style. Try this first on a weekend when you're learning timing and experimenting with cooking. After that you'll find yourself fixing a meal like this on week days even when you're zooming around, trying to get things done so you can get your day started.
OATMEAL : You can use any kind of oatmeal (except for those wretched oatmeal in a pack things, with added fake flavors...total yuck!) but I like the whole rolled oats. A good rule of thumb is 1 cup liquid to 1/2 cup oats for rolled oats. It's 1 cup liquid to 1/4 cup steel cut oats. That's for one serving. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmer until creamy, takes about five minutes. Want to dress it up? Throw in a handful of cranberries or raisons, a handful of walnuts or pecans or a couple of teaspoons of whole ground flax seeds at the beginning, maybe a pinch of ginger or cinnamon and use 1/2 cup milk or soy milk and 1/2 cup filtered water. Serve with honey or 100% maple syrup and milk or soy milk (or any other milk substitute such as almond or rice milk).
YOGURT : I love yogurt, eat it everyday. Sometimes I have it for breakfast, sometimes lunch or a snack. My favorite store bought brand is NANCY'S YOGURT (No, not my brand. Wish it were! I do like the name. Has a certain ring to it that appeals. Big smile here!). It's organic and has a delicious texture to it. All natural and organic, no additives of any kind. I would stay away from yogurts with added flavors and gelatin. Put your own toppings on it. Drizzle some honey or 100% maple syrup on it, add berries, sliced pears or apples, raisons, cranberries, bananas, pecans, walnuts, cashews, peanuts. You get the drift. I use whatever I Have available in the kitchen. It's never dull. Add a pinch of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, cocoa nibs, a sprinkle of cocoa powder. Sprinkle on top ground flax seed meal or whey protein powder for an extra boost.
Want a smoothie? Get out your blender and toss in any of the above, adding juice (the real stuff, no fake sugary gunk) of any flavor. Experiment. There are more combinations than I can write here and it's all raw, full of probiotics and fiber and delicious!
Now, let's move on to lunch. Here we go...
Oh, I should stop here and tell you that I really do believe in the old adage ; Eat like a King at breakfast, a Prince at lunch and a Pauper at dinner. (Or make that Queen and Princess, as you will)
I love a quinoa salad with vegetables and fruit added to it. It only takes fifteen minutes to cook quinoa. Use 1 part quinoa to 2 parts liquid. You can do this the night before if you're taking your lunch to work with you. Mix it with any combination of vegetables (like cucumbers, diced onions, tomatoes, zucchini or yellow squash, peppers any colors you like, sweet or hot (your preference) and add in diced cheese such as feta, grated parmesan, raw cheddar, again whatever you love or have as leftovers in the fridge. Mix it all together with some kind of vinegar, olive oil, lime or lemon juice and herbs with a bit of salt and pepper. Or make a dressing with yogurt, lemon or lime juice, herbs and salt and pepper. This is another one of those easy does it ideas with endless variations on a theme. I like to mix fruit, vegetables and cheese to keep it interesting.
Want something light, satisfying and easy? How about slicing an apple in to eight, twelve or sixteen pieces and putting peanut butter on it. Add some slices of cheese (cheddar is the classic with this lunch), some Botija Olives, a glass of kombucha. Voila! Fast, raw, cheap, filling, satisfying.
Or yogurt in any of it's many combinations. It's good for both breakfast or lunch. And there's a real craft to making it too. You can buy cultures from all over the world on the net. Once you get one going you can make it for yourself overnight. Not to shabby!
Dinner is all kinds of fun. I love to focus on color when I make dinner, which means a lot of different vegetables, fruits, pastas (whole grain organic only), whole brown rice, quinoa, tofu, tempeh, soups, stew, frittata.
My all time favorite dinner, especially in the spring, summer and fall is salad. A good salad comes in endless combinations of greens, vegetables, fruits, cheeses, eggs, meat if you like meat, dressings. It all depends on the day and what's growing in season.
Here's my Friday Night Movie Night Special.
CHEATER'S PIZZA : Things you'll need...
Pizza pan or stone, an oven turned up to 425 degrees F, a chopping block for grating cheese and vegetables, imagination. If your oven cooks a bit cool, turn the temperature up to 450 degrees F. Shorten the cooking time.
Start with whole grain tortillas. You can buy them as whole wheat or whole grain . And there are always organic choices now even in ordinary grocery stores. I like the smaller tortillas for individual pizzas and the larger for extra hungry teenagers.
Put a white dressing or tomato sauce on the tortilla, keeping it thin. They get soggy if you put too much on. I love to use Annie's Organic Goddess Dressing. Sprinkle on top of that oregano, minced garlic or garlic powder, freshly ground pepper.
Next layer is going to be spinach leaves, always fresh. Add minced onions. On top of that a thin layer of mozzarella.
Layer on top of that thinly sliced mushrooms, green and or red sweet peppers either sliced or chopped and another thin layer of mozzarella. (We shred the cheese but you can slice it really thin too).
Last layer is zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, whatever colorful veggies (even thinly sliced radishes!), a last bit of mozzarella and Botija Olives, chopped on top.
Variations on a theme : use different cheeses. Be careful if you use soft cheese. It melts and burns. Might add it the last few minutes.
Cook for 12 minutes and check. It will probably take more like 16 minutes. You'll want the cheese bubbling and edges beginning to brown. Cut it on a wood board in to fourths, serve with parmesan and romano cheeses, shredded.
Adults can have a good red wine with this, a side salad if you're especially hungry. Kids can have sparkling mineral water mixed with organic apple cider or Lemon Ginger Echinacea by Knudson. Pop your favorite movie in to watch, sit back and enjoy!
There are endless variations on a theme with this kind of wicked bad, ever so good for you (and they won't even realize it!) dinner. Have homemade popcorn for desert. Homemade cocoa with the popcorn tops off the meal.
You are going to have so much fun learning how to cook and eat like this! If you want to, put out the ingredients and let your friends and kids decide what they want to put on their pizza. It's fast, easy, cheap, fun and just "junky" enough to satisfy.
I am, ever yours, Nancy, smiling and anticipating Friday Night at the Movies!