Monday, October 12, 2009

A-Cooking we will go...

Today was a "cook ahead" day. I made two huge batches of food, to get us through the first half of a hectic week.

First, I made K's new favorite fridge-food. Two chopped onions, 1.5 chopped red peppers tossed into a hot pan with 2tsp olive oil. cooked until softened. 3 large sweet potatoes steamed in the micro until mostly soft. add to pan with peppers and onions. add three cloves crushed garlic, 1tbs lemon juice and a good sprinkle of salt. let it cook until the bottom is good and brown.

Next, I made a somewhat successful variation of White Bean Jumble from "Student's Vegetarian Cookbook." . Basically, leafy greens, white beans, onions, garlic, potato, thyme. My recipe was roughly this:

20 oz fresh spinach
3 cups chopped potato, steamed until fork-tender
3 cups cooked white beans
2 chopped onions
1/2 cup tomato juice (ingredients: tomato, lemon juice, salt.)
1 tbs dried thyme
1 tbs dried chives
1 tbs lemon zest
1 tsp salt
1 tbs chopped garlic

blonde the onions, stir in chives and thyme.
stir in spinach and garlic. wilt spinach.
add remainder of ingredients.
cook until beans start to stick to the bottom of the pan in tasty brown bits.

With these two large batch recipes, we had lunch and dinner today, lunch and dinner tomorrow and possibly one or two other small meals.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Living with dietary restrictions means learning how to avoid emotional triggers - it's not as simple as "oh, just don't eat those things." A friend of mine - who has been a huge influence in me tackling this bravely - has described the internal struggles as conversing with her NoNoGrrl - the teenager who does exactly what you tell her not to, in order to prove her independence.

K has a NoNoGrrl who used to throw her vitamins out the window. Used to take as many quarters as she needed for the vending machine in exchange for eating greenbeans and then stop. She ate a full ten vegetables - corn, creamed corn, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots... I can't think of many others.

Bread, cheese, sour cream. These things are important to her NoNoGrrl. Ice Cream became a crutch when corn syrup and many mass produced desserts went on the no list. Suddenly, all the things she was soothing with are gone - I suspect this will make our relationships with food healthier and less neurotic, but it's work. Psychotherapy by way of elimination diet.

One of the things I've used to make cheese-free less painful is to add peanut butter to our standby of zucchini-tomato-chickpea/whitebean stew. Usually, the dish gets feta. The peanut butter gives it a substantial mouthfeel, and makes it creamy. This is HUGE when leaving dairy suddenly.

Our stew:

2 zucchini, chopped
two red onion, chopped
three cloves garlic, crushed
tomato - either juice, chopped fresh, canned.
herbs - whatever moves you.
one or two cans of either white or chickpeas.
peanut butter
lemon juice

toss the onions in a pan and when they start to wilt, toss in the zucchini. add the tomato when the zucchini starts to melt.
stir in the garlic, the peanut butter, the lemon juice, the salt and your herbs. Sage with white beans, rosemary or thyme - I love to just throw open the cabinets and shake some of whatever looks good into the mix.

You'll note the lack of amounts - I cook by feel and will work on getting better about recording amounts.
We have a new slew of restrictions.

In addition to the prior list (no MSG or MSG mimicks, no preservatives, no artificial sweeteners, etc), we've now had to cut - at least for a while - dairy and gluten.

This means we're down to things we make at home that are grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes that we've cooked ourselves.

If we hadn't had a creative, generous vegan half-living with us earlier this year, we might be starving currently. I'm about to pop up a ton of "recipes" and posts related to this adventure, but let me just start by saying this: we use a LOT of feta. A LOT of pasta. a LOT of parmesan. Cous Cous.

When the neurologist, who I adore, suggested this course, we knew it was right, but knew it wouldn't be easy.