Saturday, August 6, 2011

Meal of the Week

I have an idea for the blog - to feature one thing I made each week that I especially loved as the Meal of the Week. Maybe it will become a regular Saturday post...(and this was originally supposed to post on Saturday, but life got in the way).

This week, we grilled fajita meat for the first time. We have never been too adventurous on the grill, mainly sticking to burgers and sometimes chicken and recently, corn. A few weeks ago my brother told me he had grilled fajitas and used this recipe. Well, we tried it and I have to say it was the BEST meat I have ever made! (Well, technically Travis grilled it but I prepared it and marinated it.)

I had to make a couple of changes to the recipe. They didn't have skirt steak at the store so I used flat iron steak (the butcher's recommended substitute). Also, we don't use soy sauce so I just kinda threw in some balsamic vinegar and red cooking wine.

And I planned to make corn tortillas from scratch. Oh, the tortillas. They did not turn out like they are supposed to. The dough would not stick together at all, and I don't have a tortilla press (well, I have one now!) so they were super-thick anyway. Ahhh, this kind of mishap would have totally thrown me for a loop in the past. But, I decided to roll with it and we ended up with a tortilla-type bread on the side of our meat and veggies. They tasted fine, and Levi certainly didn't complain!

So aside from the meat and tortillas, I cooked bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions, guacamole, and corn on the cob. It was a truly delicious meal. This is how it turned out (and bear with me, I am not a great photographer).

What was YOUR favorite meal of this week? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The one-ingredient rule

I thought I'd stop by and let you know how we are defining "processed."

I guess it could be defined a number of ways - I mean, there are some foods that are processed that are not bad - they just aren't in their original form anymore. Example, raisins. Since they aren't in their original form of grapes, they are technically processed. But they are dried, and nothing is added, so to us, they are ok.

We decided to go by a "one-ingredient" rule. So, if there are any additives at all, we won't buy it.

This will require us to do all of our cooking from scratch! So, if I want sweets or a loaf of bread, I can have it, but I'll have to learn to make it from scratch. (And gluten-free baking is a delicate it may be a while before I dive into it.)

[A side note: I've already found (well, my mom found) a nice alternative to eating half a bag of chocolate chips every day. Chocolate-Covered Katie has a recipe for fudge babies that uses just walnuts, dates, and cacao powder (I use raw). Seriously, they are so good. And they have three ingredients - none of which is sugar - but they are sweet! Love this site...she has so many more recipes to try, too.]

So, cooking from scratch - here we go. The one-ingredient rule is in full effect!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The hardest time to eat healthy

We had a barbeque today. It was a get-together (or support group) for Travis and his Montessori teacher-training classmates. They went through a lot together and now they get to share triumphs and struggles about teaching in the classroom. For some, it is the anxiety of preparing to teach. Whatever the occasion, though, a barbeque is always fun.

We hosted this one at our place, so eating fresh during the barbeque wasn't that hard. We had burgers on the grill (no bun), grilled corn, and berries and watermelon. Juliet grabbed some bread and sausages from some other folks but we're not being too strict with her. The food and company was great and the kids played in the water and sunshine. It was a great time.

Then comes dinner, and we were exhausted and hungry and not wanting to cook. These are the times where it is so convenient to just run to the store to pick something up or order from a restaurant. We haven't been doing much eating out lately, but we have become reliant on the rotisserie chickens from the store. And while that isn't too processed, it is something that I can make myself (for cheaper) so I'd like to stay away from those this year. Anyways...

This is all to say that the hardest times to eat healthy are when you are dead tired and just want something quick and easy. Those are the times when you're tempted to spend a little bit more or eat something a little less healthy. But, if you're dedicated to eating fresh and cheap, it's likely you can find something to eat without going for convenience foods.

Which I did. I ate two bananas and some leftover beans and tortillas (the last of the store-bought ones!). And it was cheap, easy, and tasty.


This is unrelated, but I wanted to share a picture of our meal from the other night. I don't take great food pictures, so if you're looking for fine photography, you won't find it here. From time to time, though, I will post pictures of food just because it was so yummy.

These are just taco salads, but they were so yummy. It included lettuce from our garden, ground meat, fresh corn cut from the cob, black beans (recipe below), homemade guacamole, and homemade tortilla chips (baked from corn tortillas). They were so yummy! (Did I say that already?)

The black beans recipe is from our friend Laurel and I hope she doesn't mind me posting it. I have always wanted to know how to cook black beans and have them taste good and flavorful, and I think this is the first time I've done it, thanks to her.

Black Beans de Laurel
1.5 cups black beans or 3 cups cooked black beans, salt and pepper to taste, 1 minced red bell pepper, 1 minced medium red onion, .25 cup minced cilantro or parsley and 2 Tbs of red wine vinegar plus more, if needed. All these things are just added together.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Feeling great!

Even though I have not been completely successful at eliminating all processed foods, I have been feeling a lot better overall since starting the Legers Eat Fresh diet.

I have felt lighter and healthier and (well, if I'm going to talk about my diet I'm going to talk about how it affects my body) I'm no longer gassy or bloated. And I'm even on my period right now, which is when all women are supposed to feel bloated, right? Not me.

I'm going to work out today, and that makes me so excited. In addition to this diet, I also recently started the Couch to 5k running program. I think it's funny calling it Couch to 5k, in my case, because the only time I ever sit on the couch is when I am nursing my son. But, I am going from being out of "running" shape to hopefully in "running" shape, and I am using this program as guidance. I used to be a college athlete, and since having kids, I have never found the motivation to get back in shape. Now I'm doing it.

I'm going to go enjoy my breakfast (2 boiled eggs, 2 small oranges). And, if you're interested in seeing what we're eating throughout the day, I am tweeting about it. I'm LegersEatFresh (that's a no-brainer, huh?).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Full disclosure

As I said, processed foods that are in our house are fair game. I also said that I have become addicted to chocolate chips. Well apparently any sugar works.

We have this shelf, one of the kitchen's highest, where we keep ingredients for special occasions like sugars and sprinkles. You know, things to make treats for birthdays and stuff. Or, this afternoon.

I was sitting on the couch and hungry. When I'm really hungry, my brain does not think to eat an apple or carrot or something healthy like that. No, it thinks and thinks and thinks until I figure out something in this house with sugar that I can eat. NOW.

And so, just now nursing Levi, I recalled that I made a very simple icing with powdered sugar once and - WAIT! - I still had some of that powdered sugar on the top shelf. My quick googling fingers found a recipe for buttercream icing and sure enough, the ingredients were: butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla (but I skipped that).

It just so happens we had about a half-cup of almond milk left in the fridge, an almost-new tub of Earth's Best* in there as well, and yes, that powdered sugar. My sugar-craving mind was so in it that I threw the ingredients in a bowl and mixed it up using a (loud) hand mixer while my daughter was sleeping (and she doesn't nap easily) and then ate the creamy goodness, with a spoon, in a matter of minutes.

Ugh. Fail.

I know it's not technically a fail, because it is in the rules that we are allowed to eat stuff that's in the house. But, I was feeling SO WELL not having sugar for a few days. I had just told Travis (and all of my FB friends) that a few hours earlier. So the fact that I succumbed to my sugar cravings when I knew better kind of pisses me off.

So there you have it. I am not perfect and this challenge will not go perfectly. But, part of sharing our journey is sharing the ups and the downs, the good and the bad, the successes and the failures.

And sorry, no pictures of the icing for this post. I ate it too fast.

*Earth's Best, for those of you who don't know, is a soy- and dairy-free vegetable oil spread that looks, acts, and tastes like butter.

Monday, July 25, 2011

For the love of money and health

A little backstory: Levi, our son, was born last year and pretty early on we noticed symptoms of colic. As an attempt to help the little guy out, I cut dairy, wheat, and soy from my diet. It helped...a LOT. As the months have passed, I have tried to introduce those things again, but it seems like he is still having problems. So, as of now, our diet is dairy, soy, and gluten free. Our daughter, Juliet, does eat gluten in her snacks at school (cereal, crackers, etc.), and she doesn't seem to have any problems with it. But at home, we all eat a diet free from those three allergens.

Portland is the perfect place to live if you have food restrictions. At the local supermarket you can find gluten-free mixes for just about anything, and I've tried them all. Bread, pancakes, muffins, pizza name it (costing $5-$10 or so). Then, there are the treats made from coconut milk, such as yogurt and "ice cream" which, if you ask me, are better than the real thing because they don't leave you feeling bloated and yucky (yogurt = $1.99, ice cream = $5-$6). Brown rice pasta is also delicious and tastes just like the real thing (around $5 a bag). Allergen-free granola was also a staple ($5.50 per small bag). And, the mother of all allergen-free foods, for me at least, are the Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips. At $5 a bag, they are not cheap, yet I was eating 2-3 bags per week. I quite literally had developed an addiction to these chocolate chips, and if I didn't have any, I would go get some ASAP.

These are very convenient (and delicious!) options to have, but as you can see, they are not affordable and can really add up.

They are also processed. For a while now, we have been trying not to eat too much processed food. If you compared our shopping cart to the average American's, I know we would have fewer packaged goods. We don't drink soda or juice, no frozen pizzas or lasagnas, rarely do we buy chips, fruit snacks, or other junk food for ourselves or our children. So, you may think this isn't really a challenge for us.

Yet, it is. There are some processed foods we have come to rely on heavily. Aside from all of the allergen-free foods mentioned above, that we purchased on the regular, we eat a lot of cereal. The kids' main snack when we are out and about is cereal - not the sugary kind - but Corn Chex. Travis has a bowl of cereal as an after-dinner snack every night. We also cook several soups during the week and have been purchasing broth at the store (which is not cheap as it has to be GF). And rather than put fresh tomatoes in our soups and use them to make spaghetti sauces, we tend to buy canned tomatoes and jarred sauces. I use store-bought tortillas to make chips daily to dip in guacamole. And almond milk - we go through that stuff very quickly.

We think we will be healthier if we eliminate all of the processed and replace it with fresh. In some instances, we will try to make a substitute. Almond milk can be made at home, for instance (and if we don't have cereal, we won't need nearly as much). I will be challenged to find an alternative "on-the-go" snack for the kids that they enjoy and doesn't trash the car (although the cereal does get dumped every so often). And I'm not even sure how I'm going to handle not having my chocolate chips. Can we just not talk about it?

So, we will not be purchasing any processed foods for the next full year (if it's in the house now, we will use it). If we have a choice between say, rice in the bag or rice in bulk, we will always choose the bulk option. Helping the environment - added bonus! There will be at least one processed product we will continue to use: olive oil. I don't really see any way to not use oil for cooking, and olive is our oil of choice.

Come along for the journey! And feel free to comment - have you ever thought about doing a similar challenge? How do you feel about processed foods?

Our first shopping trip on the Legers Eat Fresh diet

Sunday, July 24, 2011

This is how we get a book deal, right?

Hi there. It's Travis and Rebekah from Legers at Home.

We're jumping on the "one-year project" bandwagon with our own 12-month challenge.

No processed foods for one whole year.

I'll pop in tomorrow with more about why we're doing this and a photo from our first shopping trip.