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Thursday, May 08, 2008

And Adventure in "Real Food"

*Blink* *Blink*

That was pretty much my answer to my primary care physician a couple of weeks ago, when she asked me a question I had NO answer for. (Me speechless? I know- it's shocking.) We were discussing my (now plateaued) weight gain. "Trouble shooting". (As if I may not KNOW what I've been doing wrong.) It started off fine... until she asked whether we'd had any dietary changes.... I said "You know, we're probably eating more pre-packaged and convenience foods..."

That's when she asked me "Why?". My response was exactly this:

*Blink* *Blink*

I didn't want to say what I was thinking. "Laziness...convenience...ease."

I left with a prescription for blood work and to eat breakfast. My answer, which I finally gave after losing the "she who speaks first, loses" game- (my doc can be brutal when she needs too be she just stood there looking at me waiting for an answer! ) has bothered me, ever since.

I did a pantry/fridge evaluation. My pantry and fridge, both flunked. Almost everything had an expiration date further in the future than my youngest son's graduation. Instead of actual foods listed in the ingredients, there were chemical combinations that sounded like diseases. That can't be good.

So- I'm doing a little experiment. We'll call it a "real-food experiment". My goal is not to lose weight or diet... (alhtough that would be nice;) but to eat actual food as opposed to chemical cocktails in ever-fresh packaging. It's May- and farmers markets are opening up, it should be fairly easy to find actual- real food. I love to cook- and actually can do it... it's time to stop being lazy.

Yesterday- we baked whole wheat flax seed bread and had whole wheat pasta with easy homemade pasta sauce. Yum.

Today- Noah and I are making a second attempt at home made Mozzerella (yesterdays shall remain unmentioned... gross:( ) We'll toss some more ingredients into the bread machine (I and I put chicken, canned tomatoes, black beans, onion, green peppers in the crock pot to cook all day. I'll serve it up over brown rice with a salad on the side. It wasn't hard... but it's all actual food. No powdered cheese... no rice mix of salt with pseudo-flavoring.... just, real food. There will still be plenty of treats and snacks...some "real food" and some "junk food"... but definitely a move towards the "real".

I can do it.. and I have the time... so I will.

Stay tuned- you'll get to watch the wins and losses- enjoy:)

From the top left: Whole Wheat Bread with ground flax. Home made pasta sauce. Second row- OOPs thats not food... thats my Tuscany Shawl from "No Sheep For You" .. Indigo Moon Fingering weight yarn in Aubergine. I love it;)

Bottom row- What was supposed to be Mozzerella cheese- but someone accidently let it boil....That's a loss. and real ingredients for today's chicken dinner;)

Whole Wheat Bread Good for Toast- I added 2 tablespoons of cold milled flax seed, and instead of oil, I used fresh butter;) .

Tracey's Homemade Pasta Sauce:

fresh mushrooms, sliced

chopped onion, minced garlic, green pepper diced

turkey sausage (1 lb)

1 lg can tomato sauce

1 can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion

1 small can tomato paste

salt and pepper to taste

Brown turkey and drain, add onion, garlic, green pepper, mushrooms, salt and pepper sautee until veggies are slightly softened.

Add tomato sauce, tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir and simmer until pasta is ready. (about 45 minutes) Serve with your favorite whole wheat pasta;)

Today's dinner-

Chicken and sauce-

Whole chicken cut up

Can tomato sauce

can tomato paste

can of black beans

onion, garlic and green pepper chopped, salt and pepper (I'm part Italian.. can't cook without these ingredients;)

toss everything in the crock pot, and cook until you are no longer afraid to eat it;) (I usually cook on high for 5-6 hours) Serve over steamed brown rice;) Maybe with a few grates of parmesan or fresh mozzerella.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Knitting Breaks the Language Barrier...

tuscany shawl in indigo moon fingering weight- Aubergine- pattern from We were in our "fence free" yard. I was knitting away, DH was doing the "commentary" for my youngests' individual soccer tournament. (Interestingly enough, he always wins when he plays with invisible opponents- however it's usually a close game ... he's all about the sports drama. ) Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed 3 varied sized potential soccer players, hovering at the invisible line that divides our yards.

"Hey- go ask if they want to play" I called to the soccer meister. 3 "real" players joined him almost immediately. My youngest introduced himself- and they returned in kind. However- my little guy kept asking their names. They were not names he was familiar with. Finally, he shrugged his shoulders and just went with it. An epic game of "make up the rules as you go" soccer soon unfolded. A chair and a soccer net were the goals. Dandelion clumps marked the sidelines. Much cheering and laughing rang out. soccer game

After awhile, the soccer game dissolved, and all of the kiddos were watching me knit. I have a few ideas why watching my knitting was more interesting than the playscape or soccer net. Magic, rhythm and color are kid magnets for sure! But, even I, was surprised by what happened next. "I always wanted to learn to do that! Can you teach me?" Said the doe-eyed female soccer player who had held her own playing against 2 boys.

"Sure can" I went inside to search out needles and yarn that would work for a quick project. In a few minutes, she had caught the basic stitch. She quickly declared she'd "Teach everyone at school." Then she started planning her next projects..."How long will it take to finish? I want to finish this today!" Her excitement was contagious, and soon her older brother wanted in on the fun.

I came back from inside with another set of yarn and needles. He was quick to catch on as well. We all chatted and knit until their mom's voice called from next door. "Time to go!" They were next door visiting Grandma. I told them they could keep the knit supplies, and to keep practicing. It was getting chilly and nearly dark- so my youngets and I went int too.

After a few minutes- I heard happy chatter out back. The staccato of foreign language filled the yard. I went out to find my neighbor- (who speaks little english- I'd assumed) Happily helping her grandkids knit away. The gentleman soccer player was telling Grandma she wasn't do it the way I'd showed him. I went over- and found that yes- actually she was. I learned to knit "middle eastern... eastern uncrossed" or "combination or continental" style. My lovely, Lebanese neighbor knit the same way. Funny- continents-religion and language barriers instantly seemed to melt away.

We've always done the "suburban smile" greeting and said "Hi". However, that has been the extent of our conversation. (If that even counts as conversation) But this day- I heard about a sweater knit for her husband and her enjoyment of knitting with her grandkids. I met her daughter-in law- and found myself sounding like an older female version of my youngest, as I asked and repeated her name several times, before I finally got it right. In the 7 years or so that we've been neighbors, this was the most conversation we've had.

I'm excited about the potential knit- pal I've found. And about the kiddos who'll be coming back to visit, knit and play soccer with my little guy. This week- instead of knitting in my house- or knitting in the backyard- I think I'll move to the porch and see if anyone want to join me;) Amazing, what finding a common interest can do for your neighborhood;)

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