Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Best Menu Picks

Eating out can be a challenge ~

Not only do you have to find the healthy stuff ~ typically, portion sizes are much too big. But I've sampled a few dishes here and there that are quite good, and I'll share them here:

Palisade Cafe ~ GREAT chicken curry sandwiches. (I sampled it last year before I cut meat out of my diet.)

The Ale House ~ Wasabi Ahi Wrap (seared tuna with Japanese horse radish!)

Java City ~ Wonderful veggie sub for just $3!!

Naggy McGee's Irish Pub ~ Quite a few healthy options over there. I recommend their Vegetable Dumpling Stew.

Since I no longer eat meat, it takes me a lot less time to scan the menu. Sometimes you just have to settle for a salad ~ but local restaurants have also gotten pretty creative in that arena, too!

I suggest carrying an insulated bag to work or in the car where you can store raw carrots, raisins and nuts ~ or some other fresh combo ~ to stave off hunger pangs when you're most likely to eat stuff that's not so good for you. It's also a good idea to carry something along if you have children in the car. It might save you a McDonald's stop!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Centering Meal

Interestingly, as I was doing some work on the internet this evening, I was tempted to delay dinner.

But I was hungry, and I knew my choices wouldn't be as good if I waited. I had considered a new dish tonight, but I hated to divert too much from the mental track I was on.

Of course, that was exactly what I needed to do.

So I put everything aside and walked myself through the steps of preparing Spiced Chickpea Couscous. (A tip: I always keep my counterspace clear and my dishwasher loaded so I don't throw up my hands and consider carry -out!)

It didn't take long. A handful of shredded carrots and sliced onion sauteed, with some raisins, cumin and red pepper flakes added. Couscous (an African grain) is really easy to prepare ~ just minutes sitting in a cup or two of hot water (to boiling point). I ladled up the couscous into a soup bowl and topped it with the chickpea mixture, and I was done.

But here's what's interesting. I focused on the meal I was about to eat, and said a grace beforehand. A mindful prayer ~ not the rambled Catholic version our family recited at the start of every meal when I was growing up ~ but a true moment of gratitude for the nutrients I was about to receive.

There may be a lot of reasons - but I felt totally satisfied.

Lacking a sauce of some sort for the food to swim in, some might possibly feel deprived. But everything was good ~ so good that it seemed my very cells resonated with the energy I knew this dish was delivering.

My head was in a different place when I finished, and I'm still pondering all the reasons why ~

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

No Food Cravings Tonight

Evenings are a time when food cravings that may have been silent through the day rear up to me noticed. It's like a place in our heads that takes over ~ especially if we contemplate something sugary or salty!

Makes sense. That's the time of day when most of us are likely to ponder what's wrong with our lives. Potato chips can look like a long-lost friend ~ not unlike a rum and coke might look to someone who drinks too much.

My husband is out of town, so there was less of an incentive to prepare something. It would have been easier just to snack tonight ~ and not on carrots! But if we are what we eat, it occurred to me that I needed to raise my vibrational energy level. So I decided I would cook up some greens.
It doesn't take much thought ~ and many combinations of good things will work.

I had some kale and some spinach in the fridge, so I sauteed some scallions (like little onions) and a clove of garlic in a dab of olive oil, then added some red pepper slices and some raisins, and then the greens (minus the tough spines). It only took about 10 minutes for that to cook, then I topped it with a sprinkle of cider vinegar.

I dished it up into a cereal-sized bowl, and then added about a 1/2 cup of pasta noodles from the fridge that I had cooked the night before. A dash of basil, and I was ready to eat.

I found that the meal tasted really good, and I felt really good afterwards. I had a few sliced strawberries to top it off, but that was it. I was pretty satisfied the rest of the evening. Even my thoughts vibrated at a higher level.

Pretty intriguing, huh!?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Our Refrigerators Are TOO Big!

I decided I'm not going to replace my big refrigerator. I'm going to look for something much smaller ~ like they have in Europe ~ or long-term stay hotels.

Between my husband's and my shopping trips, our fridge is crammed ~ so while I've pretty much memorized what's at the front of each shelf, I have no idea of what's lurking to the rear. You know, we Americans toss 40 percent of what we buy at the grocery store or restaurant ~ and I think the way we store food contributes to that.

It's painful to know you buy all that stuff when you don't use it!

I understand that young families probably need a bigger unit, but for one or two people, it seems you could manage rather well. First of all, you'd know exactly what was in there, or what you needed to buy, for the next one or two meals. Secondly, your stuff would be fresher because you'd be shopping two or three times a week. We're talking produce, of course.

As for all the discarded food, I'm quite intrigued with the idea of a neighborhood compost project. Lots of benefits ~ and more on that later.

Below is my latest favorite dish:

Roasted Parsnips & Carrots

Slice some parsnips and carrots lengthwise into narrow wedges. Toss with a tablespoon or two of olive oil to coat, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (I always use sea salt!) While they're roasting in the oven ~ all spread out on a griddle or pyrex surface (450 degrees) ~ mix a couple of tablespoons of diced scallions and chives with a tsp of rosemary and a tsp of thyme and sprinkle that over the veggies just before you serve them.

If you slice the veggies really thin, roasting time is about 45 min.


Friday, June 11, 2010

A Challenge for Mindful Eating

I've just returned home from what what originally to be just a wedding celebration, but it was followed by a funeral. My large family all gathered for my nephew's wedding last Saturday, and as we drove back to our hotel after great celebration at the reception, we got the call that our brother had ended his journey with a terminal illness.

Our celebration shifted to mourning.

During those days leading up to the funeral, I noticed that none of us was taking time to eat. We "pieced" along ~ but mostly attended to each other. It was not too unlike the flurry of preparing for the wedding celebration.

But I had a chance to get a close-up look at my sister's eating habits because I stayed with her during my time in Ohio

While I noticed that her refrigerator is pretty sparce, she's frequently drinking water. She seems to have a lot of energy, and most of the time, she "grazes" on vegetables, fruit and nuts. But for all of her 30 years of working, she's always eaten breakfast ~ a standard fare of an egg, toast, cereal and milk.

She'll laugh and tell me it's so she has more money to spend on clothes, and while she could use a few more pounds of body weight, I noticed that she held up well with the pace and emotional demands of those days, and she slept like a rock as soon as her head hit the pillow.

The events of the week didn't affect her eating habits much ~ she still fixed her breakfast, and then just grabbed celery and carrot sticks ~ or some almonds ~ to keep her going.

But she drank five bottles of water every single day. (I'm going to buy her a filtered bottle that she can refill!)

It reinforced for me that water is central to nourishing our bodies, and our spirits.