In This Edition of HeatCageKitchen
Hi, Dear Readers:
Well, finally, we’ve reached the beginning of another year. It’s now 2013, and I’m hoping this will be a very lucky 13 year. Last year was a difficult one for me, and I’m hoping for good things to come.
Just because I could, I took my little camera out and took a few pictures. Hope you like the new portrait.
So, one of many American traditions is to have black eyed peas on the first of the year. Many people include cabbage with that, but I didn’t do the coleslaw this year, I just opened up a can of the black eyed peas. My mother does boiled cabbage with them. Now that I live in Texas, I’m glad not to be around when everyone starts farting.
Yes, I said “fart.” Because everyone gets it and it’s funny.
This morning, I put my on-sale grass-fed pot roast in the crock pot with some carrots, onions, garlic, thyme, and salt/peppered the roast. Set it on low before I left, and now it’s so good.. I intended to put some of my back-patio rosemary in it, but didn’t have time. That’s OK–it’s good like it is.
And now I only have to wash dishes for a few days. No more cooking for a while. Just the way I like it.
I’ve done that a lot more lately, (open cans of beans) particularly with garbanzo and cannellini beans. I love both of those, and love to make a quick and delicious hummus with the garbanzos frequently. I just eat it with a spoon–who needs crackers or chips? If you’ve never had hummus, or are accustomed to buying it in big tubs at Sam’s, try this just once. I cut the lemon down by half, because I don’t like the lemon to SCREAM at me. I also add the paprika in the food processor, and it all comes out delicious. Tahini is a sesame paste found in grocery stores in the international foods aisle, as well as specialty grocers; you can probably order it online, too. It’s a little more, but you only use a couple of tablespoons at a time, so a big jar will last you a while.
I know, big deal, right?
But everyone’s making resolutions, so I have a few suggestions to offer while you are thinking about all that. Especially if, like me, you had some delicious holiday treats–like the amazingly delicious pralines my neighbor brought back from her sister’s place. I gobbled three by myself when she offered them to me, and took half as instructed. I then asked another neighbor if she’d like some. She said yes. Thank heavens. Neighbor #1 has finished them off and said “that’s it for the year.” They are SO good. . .but good riddance.
The ads come during the holiday week and say, in essence, “And now it’s time to get your fat ass back into shape.” You know what I mean. Weight Watchers. South Beach Diet. All of them, telling you what to do. Up to you, but I have a few suggestions. Work with me on this. . . .
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nurse, scientist, or medical professional. Just a patient who reads and pays attention, likes to cook and stay OUT of a doctor’s office. I can’t promise you won’t ever be ill, but I can promise that healthier eating is a good thing.
Consider clean eating. In other words, eating real food instead of a lot of processed foods. Canned beans are already prepared, but there’s not much in it besides beans, salt and water. Processed hummus, on the other hand, like the myriad of processed convenience foods available in American grocery stores, can have any number of preservatives, fillers, and chemicals you don’t need in your system.
Remember that your liver has to de-toxify your system and metabolize stuff out, including chemicals that don’t belong there. You don’t want to slow that down, especially if you already have liver issues, right? (Ditto for your kidneys.)
Food Network star Rachael Ray says it best when she says, “when you make dinner at home, you can control the quality of the ingredients.” Simple, and very true. For instance, if you see “oil” on a box or can of something, it usually says what kind. However, I’ve seen products (like salad dressings) that claim to be made with olive oil, but the bulk of the oil is soybean oil, which is cheaper. Ditto for hydrogenated vegetable oil, given a great shelf life by the addition of a hydrogen atom–and turning it trans-fat.
Salad dressing is six parts oil, three parts acid, salt, pepper, and anything else you wanna toss in–green onions, garlic, raspberry, sour cream, dry cat food–your choice, what ever YOU like. The acid can be leftover wine, lemon and/or lime juice, or any kind of vinegar you like, from the cheap and frugal to the fanciest, priciest imported balsamic stuff you can find. Put it in a jar and shake it together. Make it fresh, as much, or as little as you like, Takes a couple of minutes. If you have an immersion blender, put it in a wide-mouthed jar and give it a buzz–it emulsifies quickly.
That’s clean eating. Made with real ingredients that are pretty much as nature intended that digest easily and properly. It doesn’t always take a long time. If you don’t believe me, start reading labels on stuff you buy. Next time you go to the grocery, check out bottled salad dressings. Or whatever stuff you normally buy.
Here’s what happened to me many years ago: I used to eat for lunch a whole wheat sandwich for lunch, maybe some salad, and a fruit-on-the-bottom cup of yogurt. One day I got introduced to low-carb, and while in the HEB on Bellaire, discovered that the yogurt I was eating had MORE sugar than one of my favorite ice creams. Which would you rather eat? I quit eating yogurt forever. Frozen yogurt, BTW, is even worse. No kidding.
Did you know that ordinary tomato ketchup generally contains about 25% sugar? Not necessarily sugar from the sugar bowl, either–something called “high fructose corn syrup,” which is a super-charged version of sugar made from corn that’s been added to foods since the 60’s. (You can read more about HFCS on Mercola.com and HotzeHWC.com.) If you’ve been struggling to lose weight, that’s one of the first things to look at.
It’s stuff like this that can make a New Year’s Resolution go bad.
Splenda and Equal/Nutrasweet/Aspartame–just leave them alone. Saccharin has never given anyone cancer. Carry your own if you find yourself someplace like McDonalds, which only has Equal. Suzanne Somers carries a great natural sweetener she calls SomerSweet. You can also get Sweet N’ Natural from Physicians’ Preference. Both can be used for baking.
Or you can be like me, eating everything in sight, HFCS or no. Sometimes I just get hungry, darnit. And sometimes, that chocolate is just THERE. (But you KNOW there’s sugar there, right?) But on a day-to-day basis, I avoid sugar best I can.
Here’s another health resolution for you: give up soft drinks forever. All of them. One of the healthiest things you can do. Seriously. They do not do a body good, diet included. ‘Nuff said.
Drink WATER. You need it. Don’t go overboard, just drink water when you’re thirsty. Drink decaf iced tea you make yourself, cheaply, in a big jar in the sun. Drink real coffee (I have to have decaf) you make yourself. Iced coffee is easy and cheap at home, too. Much as I love to visit Starbucks, the expensive stuff with all kinds of drek in it is expensive with lots of sugar in it. It’s easy and cheap to make your own.
I recommend the French Press coffee pots–easy, quick, inexpensive and environmentally friendly, too. Great for the office, if you have hot water available, too.
Carrying your own coffee around is also easy & cheap. IKEA has great vacuum flasks that are inexpensive and work great. Just fill them with hot water before you put your hot coffee in it, and use the button on top to dispense it. Easy!
Look, we have technology that makes food prep and cooking infinitely easier than in our grandparents’ time, and now have available the widest variety of foods in the world. There is no more “drudgery” unless you want it. Easy and quick are readily available in healthy. Sure, you boil eggs the same way, but you can chop meat and veg with a knife, or go for it with a food processor. It’s not necessary to suffer with onion fumes if you don’t have to. Throw it in the dishwasher when you’re done.
Speaking of throwing stuff, if you have a crock pot that collects dust, now is a great time to learn to use it. There are lots of recipes online and in books, but the basics of slow cooking are:
- Put the food in
- Put the lid on
- Plug it in
- Turn it on
- Leave it alone
Seriously, that’s all there is to it. Today’s pot roast is pretty much what I always do with a pot roast, except I was going to use the Pioneer Woman’s recipe and never got around to it. That’s why there’s some fresh thyme in it.
Crock pots are great for less-expensive cuts of meat, because the low temp and long cooking time breaks down the tough fibers to make a tender, delicious result. Pork is also excellent in a crock pot, whether it’s pieces, chops or roasts. Chicken works too, but can be over-cooked if you leave it too long.
It’s trial and error to find out what you like out of a crock pot. Just do a search on whatever cooking site you like, or go find one. If it sounds good going into a crock pot, it probably is–except that one I tried once with frozen artichoke hearts. Not so much. But go find out, and you’ll be using them all year long!!!
Another thing I’ll toss out for resolution time is this: if you have consistent heartburn, take a prescription medication for it, have been told you have GERD, or have things like allergies, persistent infections, or you just don’t feel good all the time, you likely have Candida albicans, or yeast overgrowth. Just cleaning up your diet won’t get rid of it completely–you need a diet and a plan. A LOT of people have it and don’t know it. You can find out with a simple blood test. If your doctor refuses you the test, find another one who will. In fact, find another doctor, period, and get yourself healthy and well!
If you’re going to do something healthy this year, consider doing the yeast-free diet and getting rid of the digestive issues for good. Dr. Hotze’s staff is again doing Yeast free With Me, and you can join in on that website. You can read more about yeast overgrowth here, and do a self-test here. Both men and women are susceptible, and I’ve had it myself–it’s easy to get rid of with a little diet change and persistence. If you can’t get a doctor to write prescriptions for Nystatin and Fluconazole, you can also use Yeast Control from The Green Willow Tree. I’ve used it before, and it also works. Green Willow Tree is a great company, and they also have some additional information and articles on yeast.
Additionally, you can try something called Betaine-HCL, available at most health food/vitamin places. You may not have ENOUGH acid. I know this from listening to Dr. Hotze’s radio show for many years.
If you’re going to get healthy, do it. Don’t just think about it. Exercise is another thing altogether, whether you do some walking around the block or train for marathons. I’m going to get back to Pilates so I can take it easy on my knees for a while.
If you are by yourself, there’s no reason not to cook healthy food for yourself and use that freezer for something besides ice. If you cook for a family, you owe it to them make sure they aren’t eating just eating frozen pizza and pre-packaged lunches. Sure, sometimes that’s what’s available–ask me, I know, I’ve been on travel myself. Those chocolate muffins with cream cheese in the middle from the Residence Inn last year were so good I considered sneaking into the breakfast bar at the RI here in Houston and snitching a couple. I had them in Seattle one week and Washington, DC the next. But I didn’t, I was good.
Now’s a great time to start improving your overall health. If you slip up on travel, or you’re out and can’t get a salad or veggies and meat, make sure your next meal is healthier. I love salads, but that’s just me–if you don’t like them, don’t eat them, you know?
Sure, today’s resolution can become tomorrow’s forgotten thoughts. Do it in steps, and develop healthier eating habits that will last all year long. Then when the holidays come around next year, you won’t feel so bad about having some cake, candy or whatever takes you off your virtuous path. And if you lose some weight in the process. . .well, won’t that be nice?
Happy Healthy Dining!