Friday, May 15, 2009

This is why Fresh food is important to me

I would like to point your attention to a blog that I read this morning on My Brown Thumb. The author's blog says most everything I want to say, so I won't rehash it.

More reasons not to eat processed food, as if you needed them

One thing I pride myself upon in my home is that I cook a good 80% of my meals from Breakfast to Dinner. I do have the occassional TV dinner or fast food bite when I just don't feel like cooking, and chips and crackers are my prepared food guilty pleasures. But for the most part, when I made the commitment to live a healthy lifestyle, it was primarily commitment to prepare the vast majority of my meals myself so that I could be responsible for what I was putting in my body.

While I'm happy I made this decision, it's not exactly easy business. Between the job, cat fostering, caring for my elderly dog, costuming, and joining in making the occasional short film, I'm basically running on near empty a lot. Thus my meals need to be trouble free cooking. I can't waste time slaving over prepping 30 ingredients. I can't "stir constantly" to make that perfect risoto. I have to cook things that I can either set and come back to in 10 minutes or it has to prep and cook in 5. And that's where the TV dinners get me. I can turn on the oven, take the dog out and feed the cats, then put the food in, and do some other chore for 18-30 minutes while the dinner is cooking. That's a pretty efficient deal! I will often cook soups and casseroles in bulk on a weekend when I have a weekend to cook, but those have been few and far between lately.

As much as convenience really does rule the way we eat, we have also come to find out in recent years that eating conveniently has a price. Mostly that price is our health, but in addition, convenience foods have begun to change the places we eat as well as the manner in which we eat. Thanks to convenience foods, family meals around a dinner table are a different story if they even happen at all. But I digress, the point is that if we want to be healthy, it is up to us to take charge of our own health and the contents of the food we are putting into our bodies. As is indicated by the linked blog, food companies are now trying to wash their hands of responsibility so that they can carry on as usual and just point the finger at us. So this begs the question, if we are now being hung out to dry with no one to be our health advocates, When will we stop buying this crap? And where can a person find easy, healthy, recipes to be prepared at a decent cost, especially for a single income home?

This is always my quest. And to my surprise this month I was greeted at the grocery store with an interesting new magazine prospect. I have to admit that the first thing which caught my eye was the Beautiful chocolate cupcake on the cover. After that I noticed the name of the publication, Clean Eating. Upon seeing the name, I was Immediately intreagued. Most people I've come across who "Eat Clean" are pretty serious into exercise and nutrition, so that cupcake Must be a healthy version. Holy Crap it looked fantastic! Then I looked at the cover again and saw the point which made me actually buy the magazine.

Homemade Frozen Meals

Yup, that hooked me. I cook a lot. I collect a lot of recipes. But I've yet to come across a healthy recipe designed specifically for freezing with freezing instructions. Except soup. I know all about freezing soup. There were only a few recipes for freezing, but I'm itching to try out the quesadilla recipe and now I may have a better idea on how to freeze what and for how long, etc. An added bonus is that the rest of the magazine was fabulous as well! I found many recipes that I am excited to try out soon and most of them use readily available ingredients which don't cost an arm and a leg. This is still not discount, recession menu planning, mind you, but it does fall into the price range that a single income family can afford on occasion. And the double bonus is that because the entire magazine is based on a Clean Eating diet, the recipes are as little processed as possible. Most recipes are completely made from scratch. Hallelujia! Finally a magazine with recipes that aren't half canned!!!!!

I already have a commitment towards cutting down processed foods. It sure would be nice if I could find the nerve and the will to cut out chips too!!! For now, I think I'll call this new magazine subscription my step towards upping the ante on my commitment. Maybe one day I will be entirely processed foods free, but for now I'll just to the best I can by making myself responsible.


Melanie said...

Very cool post :) I try to do the same thing, but my attempts are usually more to do with saving money. Making your own cupcakes or pasta w/chicken and sauce is so much cheaper when you do it from scratch, though admittedly more time consuming. Having Rachel makes me more conscious of what we eat too. I don't like the idea of a lot junk going into her system (of course, i seem to have no moral problem shoving Twinkies into my mouth...go figure!). Where did you get the magazine at? It sounds really interesting :)

Melanie said...

I forgot to mention don't have to stir risotto constantly like all the recipes say to! I'm a strict "stir occasionally" risotto cook :) and it always turns out fine. Also, if it want a really nice, creamy risotto, I use a trick from Nigella Lawson's risotto recipe: mix one egg yolk, a couple tablespoons cream, and a couple tablespoons parmesan cheese together and add to the risotto once it's's awesome! She also adds lemon juice, lemon zest, and rosemary, but I've used the same technique for other-flavored risottos too.

Maggie ~:) said...

Thanks Melanie! There may be risotto in my future after all! Hmmm...

The magazine I saw at Whole Foods. You can also order through and I bet Central Market carries it too. I can't remember which y'all have up near you...

Melanie said...

Ha! Neither...:P but there's a Whole Foods being built in Allen that hopefully will be open later this summer. I'm very excited about it! I try to get over to Whole Foods in Plano though about once every 4-6 weeks. I'll definitely look for it! Thanks :)

Maggie ~:) said...

Looks like you have a Sprouts Farmer's Market (really a groceyr store, not a FM) in Frisco and one coming soon in McKinney. They may carry it too.

If you haven't been to Sprouts, you should check it out. It's like a no frills, cheaper version of Whole Foods. We just got a Newflower, which is Very similar, in my neighborhood to replace the WF that moved. I'm trying to wean myself off of WF because its so expensive and there's now other options. But there's some items, like one of their specialty breads that only they carry and I can't live without, hahahaha!!!!

Valerie said...

Hi Maggie! Thanks for the link love.

I actually have a trick for cooking risotto that saves time, effort and broth. I got it from America's Test Kitchen. Microwave 3 cups broth, 1 cup risotto rice, and a few pats of butter in a tightly wrapped bowl for 10-15 minutes. Then melt butter in a saucepan, cook your onion until tender and add the rice mixture. Cook until the rice is tender for 5-7 minutes. Then add whatever risotto ingredients your regular recipe calls for.

I'm a big fan of simple recipes and tricks that make cooking easier.

Maggie ~:) said...

Rock on Valerie! I'm always happy to spread the love! Thank you for your blog. It's sparked a bit of great discussion around my circle of friends.