Monday, October 17, 2011

Celebrations are good for the body

It was a very busy weekend here with errands and family parties. A birthday celebration for my mother in law and a baby shower for a nephew. I kept thinking with the baby shower that it was only a month ago that we gathered for the baby shower to mark the nephews impending arrival. Where do the years fly by ?

Both events were the standard party environment filled with foods that are meant to feed a crowd and no emphasis is paid on watching calories or so forth. It's food that says celebration to the occasion , and it is in abundance. For someone who is on your standard weight loss type plan, such events require a lot of forethought, management strategies , potentials for grief and more ( "Oh my gosh- I ate three pieces of cake " sorts of grief) . It was the first party I have attended for a while because of my knee injury, and one that happened well into my decision to simply eat real food and nourish my body. In past  times there was always this compulsion to try a little bit of each thing, lest you insult someone who brought the dish or hurt their feelings. Not so any more- I went for the things that appealed to my appetite, ate till I felt satisfied, did not give a care about meeting any kind of health goals with my intake ( must eat a veggie serving) or any such thing. At the party on Saturday I had a soda, an Italian sausage sandwich on a bun and a small piece of birthday cake. At the baby shower I had a cup of punch, a piece of fried chicken ( a thigh) , two bites of a pasta dish and a small square of cake ( scraping off the frosting because I don't like frosting). I spent a lot of time in conversations or listening to conversations, and I was satisfied on many levels. Both were experiences that I am glad I have. It was refreshing-celebrating family milestones without any thought to food.

While I have never had emotional eating issues, I have had calculation issues. Counting calories, points, grams, servings or whatever before an event and after an event so that they did not do damage. Holidays and celebrations became  "cautionary events". How realistic is that ? What does that say to the deepest levels of our minds about family, joy and even basic enjoyment ? Do we really need to become these bodies that fit someone's mathematical idea of perfection but yet are fearful, bitter and selfish within ? Do we need to see things like a cake or a high fat dish as a mortal threat ? Isn't that just a little like seeing a demon under every doily and living in constant fear ?

We are more than bodies. We need to feed not only the body , but the spirit as well. Simply gathering with your loved ones to say "hooray" for someone's event does the soul good. Same with indulging in some of great grandma's  strudel or cheesecake at such an event. Leave the math for places and things where a numeric figure is the only game.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A weigh In

Life has slowly moved back to the more normal pattern here, but some things will never return to the way they were. One big move has been the decision to live with TV Trays instead of an actual dining set , to save space and allow the existing flow of the living/dining area to remain.  Funny thing is that there is something about eating on a TV tray that really alters your menu planing ideas. While you can justify eating things like salads and soups, things like a Thanksgiving sort of meal just do not fit. We plan on reclaiming our dining room table sometime after the first of the year, with a move to completely wireless laptops . Currently the dining room table is serving as the media room, and we are questioning the value of having completely static wok stations.

Unpacking is finally done,m and I have been able to get back to exercising once again. Stairs are still a challenge I cannot met, so exercising has been with the Wii fit. I stepped on and learned that I have lost 8 more pounds without dieting, eating real fat, sugar and real foods, and using salt to taste. I have also given up the arbitrary water rules that say you must chug 6 8 oz glasses of water per day. If I want a sweet, I eat one.If my day is too full of must do activities like the laundry or vacuuming, I do not try to cram in exercise , nor do I worry about it. This plan has seen me losing 19.5 lbs over the last 3 months or so. I also feel very well.

All of this just solidifies what so many " rebels" have been saying about weight loss. Calories mean nothing, the body needs real saturated fats for health, and you do not need to use a Gym.  Ever. What we do need is to simply move, eat real foods and eat them in a way that our grandparents prepared them. We need to devote time in our days to making real, nourishing foods. One of the most harmful behaviors we have adapted is to treat food as an afterthought in our lives that can best be provided by a corporation ( who's interest is more in profit than in nourishment). Rather than plunk down money for a gym membership of piece of exercise equipment, we need to pick up the brooms and mops and rakes in our homes and put them to good use. We need to skip the chemicals to clean and simply apply elbow grease to get the surfaces clean. We need to skip watching things like Biggest Loser or The Real Trainwrecks who Happen to be Vampires of Hoboken New Mexico and move our furniture to vacuum under it. It will make us feel less stress, more peace and allow us to lay down our heads at night with a feeling of real accomplishment . And in the process, the scale will show positive progress, the lab tests will return favorably and we will all spend a whole lot less time worrying about things  .

Monday, October 3, 2011

A visit to my kitchen

It's now October, and suddenly our cooking habits turn from quick and light to comfort food it seems. With all of the apples, squash  and other produce, how can you resist ? Summer meals seem to be the stuff that you can grab and go or grill, but come the fall we all seem to crave meals that say slow down, linger and rest. The earth shows a brilliant display of colors before settling in for a long winter's nap, and our very instincts mirror that sentiment.  Here in my kitchen, it is time to start building up some serious resources so that our meals can be nourishing and frugal. An empty freezer is a terrible thing !

Let me show you one of the things I am proud of- my created pantry. This kitchen is small, high cabinets that are not very user friendly for my short legs, so I converted a coat closet right off the kitchen into a pantry space for herbs, flours, baking supplies and so forth

This is the view as you open the metal doors. Two bookcases and a rolling butcher's cart have been pressed into service here. The bottom rack of the butcher cart holds Tupperware containers of bulk flours, oatmeal, rice and so forth.On top is a book rack that holds my cooking herbs, and on the closet shelf I store those over sized cooking pans and bowls that are used but not every day. In the drawer rests parts for my stand mixer, frosting tips, food processor blades and so forth.

Close up of the herbs, bulk nuts , dried fruits and leftover junk food from the move - needed to have something available for quick energy during the move and for the very crazy packing and unpacking days. At times, junk food does have a purpose !

Second bookshelf  holding baking supplies, stock of teas, steam mop and so forth. Odd sized knives and the sharpener are also stored in here.

And here is the actual buisness work area of the kitchen. A caddy with cooking utensils, block of knives, can opener, timer, broom that I need to find a better home for and my trusty stock pot/pasta pot. Today it is being used to convert these guys into Liquid Gold

Chicken feet !!! Yes, actual feet of actual chickens. While they look disturbing and sound gross, they create some of the finest gelatinous stock. I am tossing these guys into the stock pot , along with a collection of chicken bones that I have been saving in the freezer for the last month. This will render about 30 cups of nutrient rich chicken bone broth. Once it has cooked on a low heat for about 12 hrs, I strain out th bones and veggies , and it is better than any commercially prepared chicken stock.

On the other counter, which is home to the rice cooker, crock pot, Kitchen Aid mixer and food processor, est 3 pie pumpkins that will be roasted in the oven, pureed and then frozen for soup, pies, pumpkin oats and a lot more. I am expecting to get 20 cups of puree from these guys. Mister crock pot is not getting a vacation today- he is going to work on these :

Ox tails ! These make a wonderful soup. In my childhood, oxtails were one of those dirt cheap foods that we would all relish. They are beef, but have an incredibly rich beef flavor. Sometime in the mid 80's their price went from pennies to several dollars per pound, and we stopped eating them, except for the rare occasion when they went on sale. I am making a big batch of oxtail soup today ( for dinner and the freezer) , and then tomorrow I am using the actual bones to make beef bone broth. Did you know that you can re-use bones for a couple of batches of stock ? I was not aware of this. Chicken bones can be used 3 times before they lose their flavor but beef bones ( tougher) can be used over and over and over. Considering the price of these , I intend to get as much bang out of them as possible. Between the stocks, soup, pumpkin, pulled pork that I made the other day and vat of spaghetti sauce I made last night and forgot to snap a picture of, I think I am getting a good start to this stocking up project.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen ! It's small but very functional. What is going on in your kitchen today ?