Tag Archives: Real Food

Cultivating Simplicity

I think we can all relate. Life gets too loud.

So much information coming in that we find it hard to give anything back.

At least that’s been me.

I’ve been working on simplifying my life a bit more over here. I’ve come to learn that “garbage in, garbage out” has close cousins: “excess in, nothing out,” or its fraternal twin, “excess in, negativity out.” I’m not sure which is worse.

So I’ve been working to cut down on the overstimulation. Sometimes. No, often times . . . we just need some quietness. Then we can perhaps make some sense, no?

One of the ways I’ve been trying to cultivate simplicity is cutting down on the excess internet information. That’s a hard concept. I’ve been glued to the computer since I was a toddler, evidently.

I’m an observer. I love to learn and absorb information in brief bursts. I can get carried away easily on the tides. But sometimes the surf just knocks me down. So I’ve whittled down my exposure.

My google reader has been cut in half. There are so many valuable blogs out there, but I can’t manage to read them all every day. Least of all several times a day. I’ve limited my reader to what I can manage every few days. To blogs I can relate to or learn from. People I feel an urge to actually interact with. I’ve made my reader more personal.

I’ve done the same with Facebook, in essence. Over the past three weeks I’ve made it routine to go through my news feed and “unsubscribe” (but not un-friend) from the feeds of all but a select few—mostly close family and friends, and a few peers whose updates always prove humbling, yet uplifting.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Indeed.

My pursuit of simplicity hasn’t just been limited to my media exposure. I’ve also been implementing this in the kitchen. First of all, I’m working on simplifying my gluten free cooking and baking by limiting my ingredients. At best, I like to use a few high-quality ingredients in my cooking. This process goes against a large majority of specialized GF baking which incorporates a laundry list of ingredients, half of which are highly processed and starchy. “Wholesomeness” and these recipes do not co-exist. So I’m cutting back. I’ve found my favorites of the grain world (raw buckwheat, quinoa, masa harina), and I plan to experiment with a select few alternatives (almond flour, cashews, maybe chestnut?). I’ve decided to hold back on (though not entirely eliminate) the others that do not fully meet my taste in some way or another (coconut flour, amaranth, starches, etc.). I am a real foodist. I like my food to be recognizable as what it is. Simple and true. Nature, not a lab. Art, not a science. I don’t get that feeling when I use xanthan gum and tapioca starch. But that’s just my style.

Lastly (for now at least), I’m implementing some routine in my meal planning. It’s not a new concept. Many families have “fish night” or something (I knew a family who had weekly “Chicken Express nights”). We have started pasta nights on Thursdays after our evening workouts (Zumba+modified Crossfit for me; Running+Crossfit for him). I like pasta. Pasta is creative. Pasta is quick. I wear pajamas and a sweatshirt when I make it. I don’t need a recipe for pasta. I don’t think you do either. So I’m just here, sharing my dinner with you. It’s just a little of this, a little of that. And a heavy dose of simplicity and sincerity. Because sometimes we just need a quiet meal.

untitled-6926

My Homeschool is Showing…

 

Haha! That’s what I put as my latest Facebook status. And I say this because many of the ideas that I’m developing and beginning to practice were seeds planted in my mind during certain times in my homeschooling years.

For example, I’ve baked three loaves of bread in the past two weeks. I always loved fresh-baked bread, but it wasn’t a common practice in my house. When we did bake bread, it was in the breadmaker, and for some reason, breadmaker bread gives my mom heartburn. Baking bread reminds me of my middle school “American Girl” class (which my mom taught at our homeschool co-op), when we brought a pack lunch in a tin can  (a la Addy). My mom baked bread for my sandwich that day. Winking smile It also reminds me of my junior year of high school when I took this elective class (also at my co-op) called, “Before You Say ‘I Do’.” It was a class that focused on home economics, and on one particular day another homeschool mom came in and talked about the importance of whole food nutrition. The ladies in the class ground some of their own whole wheat flour during the class, and we were given dough to knead and take home to bake. I loved homemade bread at the time, but I wasn’t into the idea of “organic everything” and it seemed to be to be very strict, perfectionistic, holier-than-thou, and impractical. I thought, “healthier food is expensive!” as I at my fun-sized Snickers bar with an attitude of rebellion.

But over the years I’ve obviously opened my eyes to the importance of eating real, whole foods that are as close to nature as possible. I’ve even learned that eating real, whole foods can be SIGNFICANTLY cheaper! Baking my own bread costs nickels per loaf, versus $2 for store-brand white bread, or $4-$5 for specialty sprouted grain bread. I’m certainly not perfect in the idea of eating only “real food” (Mint tells me I spent about $13 last month on diet sodas, at $1.08 a pop), but it’s obviously growing. I bought In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan last Sunday and it finally came in the mail today!

IMG_9015

I’m excited to read it! I have plans to take it with me on the plane to Europe on Thursday, but I can’t promise I won’t finish reading it before then!

 

On the homefront, this is the miracle that has been pervading our daily lives for the past few days…

IMG_9016-1

IMG_9017-1

A CLEAN KITCHEN!

My mom will be the first to say that I’m a SLOB. Edgar and I both HATE cleaning the kitchen, and I’ve been known to say, “life is too short to wash dishes every day.” I still believe that, but I think we’ve finally figured out a system to keep the kitchen clean with minimal amount of cleaning effort as possible. Up to this point, Edgar has been the one responsible for cleaning the kitchen, but I cook (ie. dirty up the dishes) at a faster rate than he can clean them. On Tuesday we were able to get the kitchen COMPLETELY clean, and for the most part, this kitchen has remained (or quickly returned to the state of…) clean ever since, even with my cooking ventures! What seems to be working are two distinct rules for myself:

1) I must start with a clean slate. This means the kitchen must be clean before I even begin cooking. It also means the dishwasher must be empty, or at the very least have enough enough room for whatever I will need to mess up in my cooking.  If I plan to “clean as I go,” I need to have someplace to put the dirty dishes!

2) I must NOT cook in a rush! I’ve found that if I’m rushed, cleaning is the LAST thing on my mind. This became a point of contention with my roommate while I was planning my wedding. I was working full-time, going to graduate school, AND planning the majority of my wedding in the three-month time span. I was in a constant state of panic and haste! This meant that by the time I got home, I had all my breakfast mess, lunch mess, and DINNER mess to take care of, and no energy to touch any of it. I can clean just fine if I can cook at a leisurely pace (and have a clean slate), but if I’m rushed, I know I’ll leave a mess. So this means, if I don’t have time to clean, I don’t have time to cook, and I need to make alternate plans.

This may be making things too complicated for some, but the state of the kitchen is the source of the most unrest in this house (and every living situation Edgar and I have ever lived since moving away to college!). This has definitely made things less stressful around here!

 

And speaking of homemade whole foods and keeping a clean kitchen while continuing cooking, I made my own granola for the first time last night!

IMG_9019-1

I am pretty good about purchasing real food at the grocery store, but when “fake” food does make it into my cart, it’s usually in the form of cereal and bread (soy protein isolate, anyone?). So I figured I might try my hand at making my own granola cereal! What I love about this recipe is that there is NO added fats (with the exception of what naturally occurs in the ingredients), so the end product remains relatively light in calories.

Basic Maple Spice Granola
Adapted from World’s Healthiest Foods
Makes about 2 cups, or 8 oz
Serves 4

2 tbsp grade B maple syrup
1 tbsp blackstrap molasses
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
pinch salt
2 cups rolled oats
2 tbsp (15 grams) chopped pecans

Combine syrup, molasses, vanilla, spice, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in oats until evenly coated with the syrup mixture.

Spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 45 minutes at 275 degrees..

Allow to cool, and crumble into bits. Mix in pecans.

 

 

I look forward to trying a recipe with some dried fruit and another nuts and seeds!

For now, it’s really good with some fresh fruit!

IMG_9026-1

 

Have you read In Defense of Food? What’s your opinion on it?

Is there a household chore you absolutely abhor? There isn’t really anything I hate more than cleaning the kitchen, but I also hate cleaning the fridge and mowing the lawn.

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On PinterestVisit Us On Google PlusVisit Us On Twitter