You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘foodstuffs’ category.

breakfast“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  I can’t even imagine how many times I’ve heard that phrase, and I’ve spent most of my life waking up with that thought in my mind as I try to psyche myself up to eat something at that hour of the day.  The problem for me, and probably many other people, is that I want to live forever.  In aid of that goal, I devour articles about the latest trends in the business of health.  I follow fitness bloggers, and I learn about all the new diets–even though I never really try any of them.  The point is, I do my best to keep myself healthy, and for many years that meant forcing myself to eat breakfast.

But here’s the thing.

I hate eating breakfast.

I don’t really like breakfast foods, but that’s a small problem, the bigger problem is that I am not hungry in the morning.  After doing nothing but sleeping for 7-8 hours, I have no appetite, because I haven’t been moving at all.  When I get out of bed, all I want is a cup of coffee, and the last thing I want is solid food in my stomach.

According to Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, these are the reasons why a person should eat breakfast:

  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Breakfast provides you with the energy and nutrients that lead to increased concentration in the classroom.
  • Studies show that breakfast can be important in maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Hunger sets in long before it’s time for lunch, but because it’s not convenient to eat properly, many people who have not eaten breakfast snack on foods that are high in fat and sugar.
  • People who skip breakfast are unlikely to make up their daily requirement for some vitamins and minerals that a simple breakfast would have provided.
  • Breakfast provides energy for the activities during the morning and helps to prevent that mid-morning slump.

Point one: Breakfast is supposed to provide you with energy to start the day, but when I eat breakfast it makes me sluggish and distracted.

Point two: Since I started forcing myself to eat breakfast, I’ve gained about ten pounds.

Point three: I don’t get genuinely hungry until at least noon, unless I’ve gone for a run before work.

Point four: I take a multivitamin.

Point five: Breakfast makes me sluggish and creates a mid-morning slump–actually a whole morning slump.

Other reasons I hate breakfast:

  1. When I eat breakfast, it just makes me hungrier.  I’m often not hungry until noon, but if I have breakfast I’m hungry an hour later, and then just feel like I’m starving all day.
  2. When I eat breakfast, that means I consume an extra 200-300 calories per day that I don’t need, hence the weight gain.
  3. I don’t like eating when I’m not hungry, and that’s not something you’re supposed to do, but no one ever acknowledges that for breakfast since it’s “so important.”
  4. When I eat breakfast, my stomach is literally growling an hour later and it hurts.  It feels like my stomach is digesting itself, and is far more uncomfortable than being just a little bit hungry like I am when I don’t eat breakfast.

I went to the doctor yesterday and she praised me effusively for losing about seven pounds and then asked how I did it.  I told her that I stopped forcing myself to eat breakfast, and her face just fell.  Then she went into lecture mode, and told me that maybe I’m just meant to weigh what I weigh.  Is the entire medical profession in bed with General Mills?  What the hell?

So I’m done.  I’ve tried eating breakfast, and it does not work for me.  It makes me unhappy, it makes me fatter and people are not one size fits all.  In my mind, the most important meal of the day is one you want to eat.  If I’m hungry in the morning, I’ll eat, but I’m not going to guilt myself into forcing some food down my throat at 7am just because people like to say its important.

Advertisements

I’m a sucker for a good deal, I mean, isn’t everybody?  It’s logical that if you can get something for cheaper than you’re supposed to, it makes you feel both very happy, and also smart.  I remember my mother, when I was growing up, coming home with something like ten tins of SPAM because it was “such a good deal!”  Then she would struggle to find recipes using SPAM that didn’t sound totally disgusting, eventually churning out a cold noodle salad or something, and bringing it to church/homemakers club/insert other activity that requires you bring food.

I’ve always been the type of person who buys in bulk, for several reasons:

  1. I grew up in a very small town where if you wanted a variety of products you had to drive an hour and a half, so you don’t want to run out.
  2. Most of the stuff you can buy when it’s on sale doesn’t really go bad, so why not just buy a bunch on sale?  I’m talking things like body wash, face wash, shampoo etc.  Yes, you look a bit crazy when you leave Target with 12 bottles of shampoo, but if it’s your favorite brand that never goes on sale and now it’s $1 each–why not?
  3. I hate shopping, more specifically, I hate shopping for necessities.  What is less fun than buying toilet paper?  Maybe going to the doctor, but I don’t really do that either. Why not buy toilet paper once  every six months, and save the dread of knowing that this week, you have to buy toilet paper–again.
  4. I always have, or make a lot of storage space.  Every apartment I’ve had, I’ve been very lucky in this regard.  My current apartment has the smallest bathroom I’ve ever had, but I’ve created storage space because of the reasons listed above.

This summer, my summer of underemployment, I decided to use this deluge of free time to become a savvier shopper, and start using coupons.  To that end, I also discovered a whole host of frugality blogs that give people like me the low-down on upcoming deals, printable coupons, etc.  What I also found, was that a lot of what the women who write these blogs (and it is ALL women) spend what little money they do spend, on basically garbage that I don’t really want.  Yes, it’s impressive when they take pictures of a whole kitchen table full of food and tell you that the original total was $176, but after double or triple coupons and other deals, they paid only $23 (and earned the wrath of store employees and managers), but I still don’t see anything on that table that I would actually eat.  Is it really a deal if you save 90% on Go-Gurt, but never really wanted it?

One of the bloggers actually addressed this issue by saying that often she re-sells things she buys but doesn’t want, or she barters them for other goods and services, or she gives them away.  This all sounds suspiciously like my mother spending hours looking for a SPAM recipe, and you have to wonder, at what point are you not really saving anything?  What is your time worth?

This summer, when I had a lot of time, it seemed worth spending it on saving–simple cost/benefit analysis.  Except, I spent a lot more money and time this summer finding deals, clipping coupons, and going to the grocery store three times a week.  Looking at my budget for the summer, I may have acquired more food, etc, but I also spent a damn lot of money, ate a lot, and made my friends listen to me talk about couponing and saving.  I have to say– not worth it.

I still look through the Sunday circular and clip coupons for things I actually want, but I’m passing on that 10/$10 PastaRoni deal because I already have a cupboard full of it, and eating it gives me a tummyache–not worth it.

This is possibly the easiest thing I’ve ever made–simple, simple, simple, and made easier by the fact that I got myself a new immersion stick blender!  Wow, life changing. This will be a winter of soups.

I’ve tried to use the hand mixer in lieu of the blender, and that was a splattery disaster, plus a cleanup hassle.  This time around, I made a bit of a mess, but not bad at all.  Plus my hand mixer is silver–it’s so sexy.

Cheddar Broccoli Soup

Ingredients:

1 14-ounce can vegetable broth, or 1 cube bullion + water
1 cup water
1 pound broccoli crowns, trimmed and chopped (about 6 cups) –I used 1 bag frozen, rinsed to get the freezer burn off
1 14-ounce can cannelloni beans, rinsed (Canned beans are super high in sodium, so next time I’m going to buy dry beans and soak them)
1/4 teaspoon salt (I did not add salt because the canned beans are salty already, as is the bullion–tasted great)
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

  • Bring broth and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add broccoli, cover and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in beans, salt and pepper and cook until the beans are heated through, about 1 minute.
  • Transfer half the mixture to a blender and puree, or use kick-ass hand blender.
  • Transfer to a bowl and blend the other half of the mixture.
  • Stir in cheese.

Yes, this looks like throw-up, but it is delicious and fantastically fast and easy.  I will be making it again soon.

I always buy the giant tub of baby spinach, and always end up throwing away 1/3 of it, but the smaller tub is just not enough!  Bittersweet irony! Finally, one day I noticed that my spinach was looking a bit peaked, and decided to cook something with it, so I wouldn’t end up tossing it.  That was the first time I make creamed spinach, and it changed my life–sounds dramatic, totally true.

Once I untapped my love of quinoa, I decided to marry the two into a beautiful, tastey dinner treat.

The original recipe was Emeril’s, and it took a while to find one online that used fresh spinach instead of frozen.  His also called for nutmeg, shallots, and heavy cream.  I subbed in half and half, and skipped the shallots and nutmeg.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds spinach (not really measured precisely, I used what I had left) washed.
  • generous splash of extra virgin olive oil–Emeril called for 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (the kind in the jar)
  • 1/2 cup half & half

Directions:

Bring pot of salted water to a boil, add spinach and cook until bright green (about two minutes).  Dump into fine mesh strainer and press to release as much water as possible.  Chop finely and set aside.

–Note: I rinsed the spinach in cold water before dumping in the strainer so I could squeeze it out with my hands–hard to get all the water out.

Pour olive oil and garlic into sauce pan, and turn heat to medium. swish around until garlic is distributed, then add spinach.  Stir to coat spinach in olive oil garlic mixture, then slowly pour in half & half.  Keep stirring until all or most of the liquid is absorbed.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Then, dump the creamed spinach into another container–a “holding” container, if you will, and use the same pot to prepare the quinoa.  Fewer large dishes!  What’s better than that?

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup qunioa to 1 cup water (that’s what it says on my package, anyway)
  • 1 cube vegetable bullion (adds salt and flavor to the quinoa, I’m a genius)

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly using french press or other fine sieve, add to saucepan, add water.  Once it’s heated up a bit, add the vegetable bullion cube.  Stir, stir, stir until it’s broken down, then cook until quinoa are uncrunchy.

–Note, I ended up having to add more water than the recipe called for.  That might have something to do with the salt in the bullion (?), either way, be prepared to add more.

Serve delicious spinach on a bed of quinoa, open a beer, and watch LOST season 5.

cooking poisonI love squash–love, love, love it.  When I was a kid, my mother tells me, I would eat squash every chance I got until my skin turned orangeish. I also ate pumpkin pie mix straight out of the can when I couldn’t get squash.  Turns out that Gentleman Scholar doesn’t care for squash, but if he told me that before, I didn’t believe him.

“You should cook with different ingredients” he told me.

“I love squash.” I told him.

“You should get some hobbies.” he told me.

“Cooking with squash is my hobby.” I told him.

He was less enthusiastic about this recipe, but I loved it, and I’m excited I used quinoa successfully the first time.  When I’ve had it in the past, I didn’t really care for it  (I didn’t dislike it, but was ambivalent), but it came out really well in this case.

Quinoa Butternut Squash Gratin
1 ½ lb. butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and diced
1 cup organic quinoa
2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cup Gruyere cheese, shredded– I actually used Jarlsberg because it was on sale.
1 cup Italian Bread Crumbs– I bought a Rosemary and Olive oil loaf and tore it up into chunks rather than buy breadcrumbs.
salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400. Spray a 2-quart baking or gratin dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Note: Who the hell has a gratin dish? I used my one casserole dish that I use for everything from baked mac and cheese to Gentleman Scholar’s Apple Crisp.  I don’t know if I could even recognize a gratin dish if I saw one–silly.

  • Peel and cube a whole squash, then put in a ziploc plastic bag and seal. Then pierce a few times with a fork and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes until squash is soft and tender.
  • Note: I just heaped the squash in a bowl and covered with a paper towel.

  • Wash the quinoa in a fine sieve thoroughly (about 5 minutes) until water runs clear. This is very important, as quinoa has a bitter protective coating that can linger even after processing.
  • Note: I used my French Press to accomplish this, and it worked perfectly.  I had been planning to MacGuyver something with paper towels and a colander, but that seemed like a disaster waiting to happen. French Press was exactly what I needed, I didn’t lose a single grain of quinoa (except the stuff that stuck under the filter, which really wasn’t much).

  • Transfer squash and quinoa to a large (2 or 3-quart) pot. Add water and salt to pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and the quinoa blooms into little spirals. Remove from heat and let rest.
  • Mix quinoa and squash mixture, egg cheese, and salt and pepper to taste, then transfer into baking or gratin dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs over gratin. Drizzle 1 Tbsp. of olive oil on top and bake for 35-45 minutes or until top is golden brown.

This was seriously delicious, and hearty without being heavy.  I might add a bit more cheese next time–cheese rules, but otherwise no complaints.  The egg and quinoa made a dense but springy kind of texture, which was delightful.  I did notice that about an hour after eating this, I started to feel really, really full.  Perhaps quinoa continues to expand after eating(?)  Either way, pretty happy with the results.

cooking-poisonThis cooking venture of mine is really starting to take off. A while ago, I mysteriously started getting Shape Magazine in the mail. I’ve given them no money, but it just keeps coming, which is fine with me because free things are awesome. I guess Shape also includes recipes because I found what sounded like a delicious recipe for corn chowder–one of my favorite chowders.

It turned out so well, that Gentleman Scholar looked at me with amazement and said “I hope we can have this again sometime.”

I said, “Of course we can, this is America.”

Since it was in Shape magazine, it may actually be a healthy recipe, but I also added cream cheese, so it may not.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter 1 tsp minced garlic–the original recipe called for both onion and celery, but as I hate both those ingredients, I left them out.  Also, I think you could sub in olive oil for butter without ruining anything.  I’ll do that next time.
  • 2 small Russet or 3 medium red potatoes, cubed small–I used Russet
  • 3 cups whole-kernel corn
  • 2 cubes vegetable bullion–since I left out the onions and celery, but this definitely made it more flavorful (I imagine)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup milk–recipe called for whole, I used 1% then added 1 tsp of cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Other spices to taste–I used Rosemary, Basil, and Oregano

Melt butter and add garlic, pour in water, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add vegetable bullion and cubed potatoes, and simmer for fifteen minutes, or until potatoes are tender.  Add corn, and milk, bring back to a boil, add cream cheese (if you like), and stir in.  Reduce heat and let sit for five minutes or so.

Serve with crusty Italian or French bread, or oyster crackers and watch LOST while eating.

lentil-loaf_bannerLentil Loaf recipe (best lentil loaf ever!)(the picture is not my lentil loaf)

Ingredients:

Lentils, 1 bag soaked for 1 hour (place in a pot of water, bring to a boil, then let sit)

1 cup (ish) either rolled oats, or I used leftover challah bread–if using rolled oats, moisten first or they will dry out everything!

3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar

1 whole egg, + 1 egg white

1 can tomato paste

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp basil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350

mix all ingredients in bowl

taste test

add more stuff, if needed

make sure it’s mixed well, then pour the whole mess into a greased loaf pan

bake uncovered 30-40 minutes, let cool for 10

cut into slices, melt Gorgonzola over top, or enjoy without