Posts tagged ‘healthy cooking’

Saturday Morning

This morning, after rising early enough to make a healthy breakfast for my boyfriend before he jetted off to work, I sat down with my coffee and built my shopping list and clipped coupons. In my world clipping coupons really means planning far enough ahead I can use sites such as Websaver.ca, Gocoupons.ca and Save.ca to pre order my coupons before I go grocery shopping. While Save.ca is usually good about sending out coupons the next business day, they often don’t arrive for 2-4 days, the other sites are recent discoveries, and I have high hopes for how fast these with come.

I’m also trying to plan far enough ahead so that I can participate in what I hope will be a helpful event for both my girl friend and I. With my oven on the fritz, I’ve been limited in what I prepare for dinner each night, not to mention unable to bake our goodies; while my friends specialized diet, requires time and planning she doesn’t necessarily have the energy for each day. So, when I suggested we get together for a day of precooking and stocking up, it was a chance for us to motivate each other and hang out together.

I’m a big fan of this, especially for people who find meal planning and cooking intimidating or time consuming. Grab some friends and have some fun. You are able to keep each other motivated and prevent a lot of midweek stress. For those on specialty diets due to health or diet constraints, cooking your own frozen dinners will help you to keep on track without getting discouraged by the time your meals take.

Hopefully we’ll have some pictures up of our cook out later this week.

The Search For Allergy Friendly Foods

Over the course of the past few months, my boyfriend and I have been weeding out foods that aren’t working for us. We both seem to have food allergies, and without going and getting tested for the whole kit and caboodle, we’ve simply kept track of what we eat and how we feel afterwards.

We’ve narrowed out the following foods, much to my chagrin:

  • Beef
  • Processed ham, possibly all pork
  • Cheese
  • Pea’s (Ask my mother, I’ve been “claiming” to be allergic to pea’s since I visited my grandmother at 6 years old)

While this may not seem to be a lot, it was still a bit of a lifestyle change as beef and pork are two of the cheaper meats, and the ones I grew up with as a child. Almost every year, my family would purchase a quarter of a cow, and we would receive a large package of a variety of cuts of meat. This was common for our area, as in the heart of farm country; butchers featured fantastic prices on beef due to its abundance.

So, as much as I love the Better Homes and Garden’s Budget Cook Book, I was running out of recipes for Chicken and Fish, and decided to branch out. I picked up the Cheap. Fast. Good! Cook book by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross.

This book has a ton of great tips and recipes, my next meal plan features all of their recipes and although we haven’t had many yet, what I have tried is quite tasty.

The beauty of No-Recipe Recipies

Nothing is more chaotic than real life, take mine for instance. Starting a small business is crazy, so much of your time is eaten up by one aspect of the business or another; while I’m not complaining (having work is better than no work), I’ve had to rework my life once more.

The key for me is flexibility, yes some days I want to get creative and build beautiful, tasty meals from one of my cook books, however the reality is that sometimes I don’t have the time to think that far ahead. In times such as this, I fall back on the no-recipe recipies, to make fast, affordable meals that don’t stress me out.

Last night while battling the computer gods, I decided on grilled chicken ceasar sandwiches. By grilling the SuperStore no-name Chicken breasts on my new grill, and adding cesar dressing, parmesan and grilled onions with a side of asparagus cooked in olive oil and sprinkled with parmesan, I was able to eat a tasty, some what healthy meal in under 30 minutes.

If anything, not having a recipe inspires me to be creative. So the next time you’re strapped for time and don’t know what to cook, open up your pantry and experiment with what you have inside. It doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive or time consuming, you just have to use your imagination.

Cooking with the Master

Christmas has always given me some of my most memorable moments; the coming together of family and friends can have that affect.  This year I was able to see so much family, although with two large families to see, I never manage to see everyone I would like on Christmas.  I was also the happy recipient of some pretty nifty Christmas gifts and some amazing cooking insight.

My boyfriend’s family lives in Oliver, a small town in the Rocky Mountains that is home to some of BC’s best wine. We aren’t able to make the five and a half hour drive as often as we would like, but we make a point of going up for Christmas to watch the young kids open their gifts.  I enjoy my time with them.  I spent a large part of my youth as an only child and Christmas with them is very different from what I remember from my childhood.  Everyone in my boyfriend’s family is charismatic, vibrant and ready to laugh. They clearly enjoy spending time together, making it hard not to enjoy time with them.

With eight children and spouses, friends and other relatives to serve, ‘a small meal’ is not in the vocabulary of The Cooking Master (my boyfriend’s mom).   From shopping to breakfast, I’m blown away by how much goes into feeding such large groups of people.  Her level of organization, her eye for how much is needed and the quality of her food, is enviable. This is clearly evident by how many people will rave to you about one of her many popular dishes.

Being able to cook with someone who loves to feed her family is one of my favourite past times.  I like to follow behind a good cook and while watching what they are doing, clean up and prep for them.  You can learn so much just by watching and listening.  Often times they are more than willing to share with you all that they know.

The Cooking Master is no different.   I came home with tips and tricks galore.  She is the second person I have seen whose recipe book is actually an index card box.  This really sparked my interest and I liked how easy it was.  There was less risk of me wrecking the book if I spilled something and it was easier to manage an index card than an entire book.  I think this might be on my list of things to do next week.

The morning I offered to make french toast for breakfast, The Cooking Master chuckled as I pulled out a frying pan. “You’ll be at it forever if you use that,” she told me and directed me towards her counter top grill.  I quickly realized that when cooking for thirteen people, you go through about a loaf and a half of bread.  I was very grateful for the grill.

When Christmas morning arrived and I opened my very own counter top grill, my imagination took off.  When we got home, I whipped out this bad boy and reveled in how easy it was to cook breakfast.  Not having to squeeze bacon, eggs and hash-browns into my medium and large frying pans was heaven and my boyfriend laughed at my oooh’s and ahhh’s.  When I pulled it out for dinner, we were treated to a delightfully grilled salmon seasoned with McCormick Garlic and Herb Seasoning Mix, accompanied by scalloped potatoes and seasoned California vegetables.  For me, not having to wait an hour and a half or cook with any butter or oil, made this a highly desirable cooking utensil.  Cooking with my new grill gave us fantastic salmon in under fifteen minutes; turkey bacon was even faster.

As if that wasn’t enough, I received a silicone pig puppet/potholder and a fresh herb grinder, “for those who shouldn’t use knives”,  my friend said.  I think these gadgets are going to make cooking a lot more fun over the next few months.