Five Things I Usually Eat/Drink

I’ve really liked reading others’ Life in a Day posts, so this is somewhat inspired by that and it’s five things I eat/drink in a typical week.

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  • Breakfast burritos for breakfast. I am really good about making time for breakfast even if it’s just something quick. Breakfast burritos are perfect for a quick meal you can heat up before you run out the door. I make mine on the weekends and wrap them individually in foil and freeze them for later in the week. They’re super cheap, filling, and as healthy as you want them to be and you can fill them with just about anything and change the spices to what you like. This week I’m eating a spinach-kidney bean-egg-gruyere mix with some Ethiopian berbere spice thrown in on a whole wheat tortilla.
  • Coffee. I wouldn’t say I’m an addict, but I definitely have made coffee part of my morning routine. I love to drink a cup before I work out and a cup for breakfast and  possibly some in the afternoon as a pick-me-up. I used to use my Keurig a lot, but I’ve switched to a reusible K-cup pod and have been using my French press a lot more lately since I’ve been working through the bag of whole bean coffee I got from Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. I usually add either flavored creamer or just a little cream and sugar to the coffee. I can suffer if it’s just sugar, but I can’t drink it black.

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    I made a little coffee station at my new house. I’m not completely done with it yet, but I love having all my breakfast things conveniently next to each other.

  • Water. I have a nice collection of water bottles going on so I can always make sure one is full and that I have one somewhere. I’ve never minded the taste of tap water but I like to add flavoring sometimes. I used to use just a splash of lemon juice, but I recently bought a premium starter kit from Young Living and now I love using dietary essential oils in my water for flavor. Lemon and tangerine are my absolute favorites for flavoring water and I love using peppermint for an especially hot day as it just feels so much more refreshing.

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    Seriously, SO good in water! Or even tea.

  • Sandwiches for lunch. I’m getting better about packing lunch for myself so I don’t end up wandering the commissary aisles during rush hour or worse, end up wandering the gas station nearby at 2 p.m. and wind up eating cupcakes and Icees for lunch. Making sure I have a full lunch really goes a long way to prevent that, and the cornerstone for me is a sandwich. I like to be able to mix it up a little bit so I keep some deli meat and cheese available but I also still love a peanut butter and jelly sandwich any time of the day. The best tip I’ve figured out for myself is to have a cute lunchbox or two and those cold blocks like you used to have in elementary school.
  • Salmon. I’m still getting over the fact that wild caught salmon is going to be less available to me now that I live on the opposite side of the coast, but I ate salmon at least weekly for years now between living in Washington and then Alaska. Most of it was what we’d caught and frozen and there is nothing more delicious than king salmon. My favorite way to cook it is to soak a cedar plank all day and then grill the salmon on it, or even to smoke the salmon over cedar chips until it’s infused with the flavor and just falls apart. Wild salmon is sustainable, delicious, and so good for you. I know some people say it tastes too strong, but I think they just haven’t had it in a way they liked yet.

Beverage Tasting

Most of the time Alaska feels like it’s an alternate universe where it is both still 1970 and we also have Internet and Netflix. Everyone is concerned about the price of oil since the state depends on it, but also concerned for the environment (and actually it’s pretty common to not have any Internet except for rural dishes). So that means we’re a little slow to receive and adapt to change.

Fred Meyer, one of the grocery chains up here, has done a good job of stocking a wide variety of things and new things too. I was so excited when I came home from deployment last year and saw Tim Tams in the store. They recently started stocking La Croix, so I wanted to try it and a few other beverages in a healthy replacement for wine or beer tasting since I gave them up for Lent.  In further thinking, this could be a fun social event with friends – get a bunch of healthy-ish drinks and some snacks and get together and everyone can still drive home safely at night.

 

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Anyway, the drinks I chose were Suja Drinking Vinegar peach ginger, It Tastes RAAW pineapple cucumber, Cherry Pure 100% tart Montgomery cherry concentrate, and La Croix grapefruit.

P was also really interested in the drinking vinegar. I did some information searching and drinking diluted vinegar is supposed to help lower your blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity. It also surprisingly tasted really good, faintly like apple cider vinegar but more of the peach and ginger flavor.

I was especially excited to try La Croix after seeing so many people love it. Honestly, I wasn’t a huge fan. I don’t love mineral water and it reminded me of that slightly bitter taste and the grapefruit flavor was more of a smell than an actual flavor for me.

If I’d had friends over, I could probably get one of them to take home the remaining 7 cans with them.

Next up, the It Tastes Raww in pineapple cucumber. This was pretty tasty and I could also taste the lemon juice they’d added as well. It was very refreshing because of the cucumber flavor and would be a delicious drink during the summer months.

Lastly, I tried the Cherry Pure 100% tart Montgomery cherry concentrate. I mixed it in with some cold water for breakfast, though you can also mix it in soda, lemonade, or even top ice cream with it. It tasted like its name – pure, delicious cherries. It was a little syrupy towards the bottom because I didn’t stir it much, but it was still very good. I imagine it’d taste good in soda, like a natural flavoring. I may try it in the La Croix to see if that makes it taste better to me.

 

Run Fast, Eat Delicious Food

I finally bought a copy of Run Fast, Eat Slow after seeing so many rave reviews online and I am so glad that I did. I’m a pretty good cook and so is my husband and as a result we eat in most of the time, but I’m always game for new healthy recipes.

I’ve made a few recipes from the book now and two things stand out each time:

  1. The food actually looks like the photographs in the cookbook. No fancy plating needed, it actually looks like the pictures. This isn’t a deal breaker, but I was surprised and impressed.
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This was the picture in the cookbook

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Before baking. I used chocolate chips and chopped dates this time.

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And finished muffins

2. The food actually tastes good. Like, really good. This is mostly surprising because I often things that taste good are not actually good for you. See Figure 1.1 below

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Fig 1.1

I even made adjustments like swapping out coconut oil for regular oil and all purpose flour for whole wheat flour or almond meal and the recipes came out delicious. It may be the first cookbook that I haven’t had a single bland recipe from.  P even likes the recipes and has been happily devouring them as fast as I can make them, they’re that good. I’m looking forward to cooking my way through the book and adding more delicious (and healthy) food to our lives.

 

 

 

 

How to Spend Less Time Cooking + Bonus Recipe

Since I got back, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most is making my own food. As much as I enjoyed not cooking for an entire year (and not doing the dishes!) it’s really nice to be able to eat what I want instead of what is on the schedule for the week and after a year, it got really predictable (Monday-grill day, Tuesday- some sort of protein and mixed veggies, Wednesday-Tacos, Thursday-Mongolian barbecue or German, Friday-Pizza/wings, Saturday – soul food, Sunday-more grilling).

It is kind of a pain to menu plan every weekend though. I like to shop early in the morning when all the shelves are stocked and before the store becomes a zoo later in the day so I pretty much have to menu plan Friday nights or early Saturday mornings and lately things have been so draining at work that I come home feeling like a zombie.

Before I left last year I had started getting into freezer meals. Not the TV dinners you find in the freezer section, but meals already prepped and ready to slide into the oven or just heat up and eat. I made a bunch before my husband moved in thinking it would give us more time to get settled and then I made a bunch more before I left so he even if I couldn’t be there this year, he could have some dinners made by me and ready for him.

This past week he mentioned how much he’d liked those meals and I thought I’d give it another go. A massive amount of cooking over a long day with a day to prep beforehand surely is worth two weeks’ of meals, right?

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These are what’s in the main freezer, I put most of them in our deep freezer

I used Once a Month Meals because I used their free trial of Mini Meals and loved them. Their subscriptions are very affordable and I liked that I could customize the menu and swap recipes out. We don’t sit down for breakfast so I swapped those recipes for dinners and lunch recipes ins instead. I also like that they have different menu types – paleo, traditional, vegetarian, vegan, and an allergen-reducing menu.

It gave me a consolidated shopping list organized by section (I don’t do that for myself so this was a huge bonus alone).

I slacked on the prep work and jumped in. It took me about a day and a half of prep/cooking but the end result is we have dinners and lunches for the next two weeks and the total cost was under $200. Not bad at all. There’s still a couple of produce things I have to buy to serve with the meals, but overall it’s a really good value for the money. I also picked the paleo menu and meat-heavy dishes tend to be more expensive as well.

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Chicken Cilantro Soup

A couple of things I’d do differently maybe, or would recommend

-writing what ingredient goes in each dish. I thought P hadn’t found Thai chiles so I used jalapeños instead and then later found the Thai chiles hiding in the fridge where he’d put them…so some of our food is going to have more of a kick than intended!

-Seriously, clean your kitchen before you start.

-If you can get someone to help you by cleaning dishes as you go, that would help a lot too. My kitchen is really small and since P was busy resurfacing stairs, I went it alone.

-Do the prep day. I wish I had. About 3/4 of the way through I almost had a breakdown because I felt overwhelmed.

-Make sure you eat during the day. I bought half a dozen cinnamon rolls from the new bakery across the street. Yesterday I ate: four cinnamon rolls, a package of TimTams, too many cups of coffee, movie theater popcorn, movie theater soda, and half a package of movie theater Sweet Tart ropes, and a beer. I felt awful. Don’t do that.

Also, as promised, a bonus recipe from Once a Month Meals, “Aunt Sissy’s Poppyseed Chicken“. This recipe is my husband’s favorite freezer meal and it’s great for two hungry adults. For more people I’d double the whole thing and buy a larger casserole container. I used the cheap disposable ones you can get in the baking section.
chicken recipe