Category: Food

This week in food and fitness

I’ve cooked too much food over the course of the last two or three months. I blame my Instant Pot. Yes, it’s as wonderful as everyone says it is, but all of the recipes I tried were designed to feed the family. I am but one woman with a husband who refuses to eat the healthy meals I cook because he doesn’t want to take it away from me. My life is weird.

What went wrong

Cooking ahead and freezing seemed like a great idea, but it restricted me to eating the same things over and over. Plus, frozen food looses its appeal after a week or two.

The lentil soup I made was tasty, but it started to look like an unappetizing brown mush. I also discovered that I don’t like whole wheat pasta. It just didn’t work in the Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe I tried. My Instant Pot tortellini dish was good the first night, but it didn’t hold up well after being frozen. I’m ashamed to admit that I threw some food away.

A new approach

This week I’ll try cooking something every couple of evenings. My goal is to have food to take to work, and an option for dinner. I’ll aim to eat the recommended 5 servings of vegetables a day. Adding a serving to breakfast should help with that.

Check out the Nutrition Diva’s tips for getting more veggies in your diet.

Illustration of eggplant with human characteristics.
I’m good for you!

150 minutes a week

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. I’m aiming for at least 30 minutes each day. Strength training for all the major muscle groups is also a must. The government says to do it twice a week. Exercise is not a problem for me if MS fatigue doesn’t get in the way. If I happen to catch a cold, or the flu, exercise becomes difficult. Gentle stretching and some yoga poses are an option for me then.

I have chiropractor appointments three times a week for the next two weeks. I’ll try and make it to Planet Fitness on the evenings I’m not being adjusted. I’ve been having a lot of fun with Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, and Wii Fit. I want to get back to a more regular yoga practice. And there’s that Tai Chi app I downloaded.

Should I make a workout schedule? Maybe. I could be making better use of that Happy Planner of mine.

Figure exercising on mat.

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Supermarket Meal Kit #2

I tried the Stouffer’s Roasted Tuscan Style Chicken meal kit a few weeks ago. I was pleased with its easy preparation and good taste. This week I tried another one from Stouffer’s — Braised Pork.

Front and back of meal kit box
Front and back meal kit box

The meal’s four components (pork, potatoes, broccoli, and sauce) came frozen and packed in plastic.

Frozen pork and sauce in bags
Frozen broccoli and potatoes in plastic

Step 1:

Thaw sauce in its bag in boiled water.

Saucepan and frozen sauce in bag

Step 2:

Heat some oil in a skillet and cook the potatoes.

Potatoes cooking in skillet

Step 3:

Heat more oil and cook the pork.

Pork cooking in skillet

Step 2.5:

Microwave the brocolli in the plastic while the other stuff is cooking.

Illustration of microwave and photo of broccoli in bag

The whole thing takes about 25 minutes (like it says on the box). The instructions say bto mix the pork with the sauce and serve the potatoes and broccoli on the side. I mixed it all together. There was enough sauce for everything.

Completed meal. in skillet
The finished meal!

The pork tasted great! The veggies weren’t spectacular, but still good. I liked this meal better than the Tuscan Chicken.

One of these days I’ll talk myself into trying one of the meal kit services like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. I’ll keep your informed.

Instant Comfort

I tried another Instant Pot recipe, Healthy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese from The Girl on the Bloor.

The ”healthy” component of the dish is broccoli. You could add other greens to up your veggie game. The recipe called for regular pasta. I wanted to use whole wheat, but I found none at Walmart. I used the Colby/Monterey Jack cheese I already had in the fridge instead of the white cheddar on the ingredient list.

Overall, the cooking was quick and easy, and I got a little more comfortable with my Instant Pot.

The flavor wasn’t spectacular, but it tasted good and did feel like comfort food. Switching to a tastier cheese might improve the flavor.

I’m liking the Instant Pot more and more. It’s helping me to make healthier food choices for myself. For me, better eating means less trouble with those everyday MS symptoms like fatigue and the dreaded ”brain fog.”

What tricks do you use to make healthy eating happen?

First Instant Pot Experience

People have been raving about the modern day pressure cooker/multi-cooker. I jumped onto bandwagon and got one for Christmas. This is the cooker with the brand name Instant Pot.

Instant Pot
Instant Pot

Recipes

My Instant Pot came with a cookbook, but all of the recipes require a lot of ingredients. I searched the internet for Instant Pot recipes with 10 ingredients or less and found this one for Black Bean Soup.

This recipe called for: dried black beans, a small red onion, 3 garlic cloves, a red pepper, vegetable broth, and a few other ingredients.

I decided to watch a video to learn how to chop an onion properly.

I also wanted to get better at handling garlic.

I was surprised to find out I only needed half a bunch of cilantro and only the stems. Now I have a bunch of cilantro leaves that I will end up throwing away. I appreciate the fact that meal kit vendors send you just the amount of herbs and spices you need.

Cilantro stems and leaves
Cilantro stems and leftover leaves

I used the pot’s saute mode to cook the onions, garlic, stems, and red pepper. That step was nice and easy.

A steamy saute.

Then came the beans, broth, spices, and some extra water. Total cooking time was 30 minutes. Once the soup was done I used my Ninja to blend it. I should probably buy an immersion blender to do this task in the future.

I was happy with the soup’s flavor, but I should have added more water. The soup was more like a paste.

The important thing is that learned how to use my new Instant Pot! The best part of the experience was not having to use a skillet to do the sauteing. Oh, the wonders of modern technology.

Supermarket Meal Kit

I’ve been intrigued by the meal kit services that cropped up a few years ago. I want to try them, but I’m a little scared for some reason. Also, they’re not cheap.

When I saw this Stouffer’s family meal kit in Kroger’s frozen food section, I decided it would be worth a try.

The box contains packaged chicken pieces, broccoli, a rice and quinoa mixture, and some sauce. You start by boiling water in a pan. You’ll use the hot water to melt the frozen sauce.

Illustration of saucepan

While the water is boiling you heat some oil in a skillet to cook the chicken.

Illustration of skillet

You’ll heat the quinoa mix and broccoli on a plate in the microwave while the other stuff is cooking.

Illustration of microwave oven

Put the chicken, the sauce, and the broccoli together and serve the quinoa on the side.

Plated meal

Conclusions

  • Easy to prepare
  • Not too pricey
  • Tasty
  • Healthy
  • Would be good to cook for a small dinner party

I’m glad I tried this meal kit and I will definitely buy it again. I imagine the offerings from Blue Apron and the like are more flavorful since they included herbs, spices, and other fancy food elements. But if you don’t want to spend the extra money, and do a little more work, this kit might be the next best thing.

Nutrition information
Find nutrition info here

Veggies!

I’ve got vegetables lined up for this week.

I roasted frozen broccoli and a medley of broccoli, green beans, carrots, yellow peppers, wax beans & red peppers (frozen) from Sam’s Club.

I used my FoodSaver FreshSaver handheld vacuum sealer to package them for the freezer.

FoodSaver vacuum sealerFoodSaver bags

Here they are:

Vacuum sealed vegetables

For the moment, I’m very pleased with myself.

Bacon, vision, and being mindful

Bacon in frying pan

Several years ago, I noticed that there was a lot of talk on the internet about bacon. I don’t know if it was something that the bacon cartel engineered, or if all the talk about the breakfast staple came about organically. It feels like a ”bro” culture type of thing.

I like bacon. I eat it sparingly, usually when I have breakfast at a sit-down restaurant. I had some at Bob Evans yesterday evening with my goat cheese veggie omelet, hash browns, and toast. Real butter on toast can be such a delight!

I!d like to do some real cooking. I’d like to have a new kitchen, and an art studio, and a dance studio. I should make a vision board to manifest the things I want.

Illustration: pig and woman in lotus position

I discovered a part paranormal, part true-crime podcast called And That’s Why We Drink. The hosts, Christine and Em have spoken about using vision boards. It seems to work for them, so I may as well give one a try.

I recommend you give the show a listen.

Circling back to bacon. We can speak about the cured meat cavalierly, but we don’t think about the pig who lost its life. I’m no vegetarian, but I probably should be. Who am I to snatch away the life of a living creature? Maybe if you eat meat, think about what you’re eating.

Maybe give some thought to all that you do. Mindfulness, grasshopper.

Casserole Experiment

We bought a 6-pack of Amy’s canned soups at Sam’s Club a while back because I was going to start eating more soup. It seems that on the days I remembered we had the soup, I wasn’t in the mood for it.

Yesterday I had the thought that I could use one of the soups to make some sort of casserole.

I tried it today

Can of Amy's lentil vegetable soup
Canned soup

I mixed the soup with three eggs and little plain soy milk. I added some shredded parmesan and cheddar, and a little frozen chopped kale.

I sprayed an 8 inch round baking pan with cooking spray, poured in the mixture, and baked it at 425 for 25 minutes.

Casserole in round baking pan
It looks edible.

The Verdict

Casserole serving on plate
It didn’t slice nicely.

This casserole is not great.not It tastes a lot like the lentil soup it’s made with. Apparently, the reason I haven’t been eating this soup is that I don’t like it.

I’m calling this one a failure.

Fail

Finally

After trying for years to convince my husband that we needed a side-by-side refrigerator, we got one! It arrived yesterday and just fits where the old one was. If it were any wider, we would have had to send it back. I believe this fridge will change my life. Does that sound like an exaggeration? Sure, it’s a bold statement to make, but having more space for fresh and prepared foods will make it easier for me to eat healthfully and lose that 20 or so pounds I’ve gained over the past couple of years.

I made a tomato sauce today loosely based on a recipe in The Vegetarian’s Bible: 350 Quick, Practical, and Nutritious Recipes, by Inga-Britta Sundqvist. Cooking is so much more fun when your kitchen is somewhat usable. My space is far from perfect, but the new refrigerator has already made a difference.

I roasted broccoli and prepared some frozen tortellini to serve with the sauce. Here’s tomorrow’s lunch and probably dinner.  I might add some blackened salmon to the evening meal.

White side-by-side refrigerator.
My beautiful side-by-side refrigerator.

Tomato sauce with onions, garlic, carrots, and misc. spices.
Tomato sauce with onions, garlic, carrots, and misc. spices.

 

Roasted broccoli, tortellini, and tomato sauce for lunch.
Roasted broccoli, tortellini, and tomato sauce for lunch.

 

 

 

 

Meditation Dream 

I knew I wanted to write today, so I thought about it and then got nervous.  I got myself a little worked up about what to write. Now I seem to be writing about the process of thinking and worrying about writing. Is it supposed to work this way?

Dreams are the New Reality

In one of my dreams last night, I was in some unknown location when a guy (I think he was Asian) asked me to meditate with him. I agreed to do so, and we sat down on the floor holding hands with eyes closed. The session was successful. The guy acquired lots of good energy from me, and I felt as if I helped him. The dream tells me that I'm on the right track in my spiritual pursuits.  I am sure now that when I dream, I go to real places. I visit other planes of existence. I may have thousands of lives.

Food

I bought some baby spinach the other day. I think I'll do a salad with strawberries. I need some almond slivers and red onion to add to it. I can either make my own vinaigrette or buy some.

Another food thought is to prep an onion or two and freeze them for later use. I think you can do that. What about garlic? I'll have to look it up.

I have sweet potatoes to cook as well as frozen salmon.

Yoga

I've been doing yoga fairly regularly. I think it has improved my gait, but it could be that I'm just at a good walking time of my nutty hormonal cycle. It seems to work for me to do a session at 9 pm most weeknights.

Jewelry

I've been spending a lot of time practicing wrapped loops. I'm getting better at it. I made a necklace for Linda, one of the residents at my dad's assisted living facility.  It's not perfect, but I'm happy with it. I thought the pendant was an angel, but I realized it must be a fairy after looking more closely at it.

Wire wrapped loop necklace with fairy pendant.