Monday, February 29, 2016

Eating (Not) by the (Cook)Book

I am not a big planner when it comes to dinner. I am currently going through a big purge of things in my life and I was pretty brutal on the cookbook front. I donated hundreds of books to local non-profits and many of the books were cookbooks. I just don't use them anymore. I rarely even look online either, I just wing it. For me, being able to put together a delicious nutritious meal within a matter of minutes takes a well-stocked pantry and freezer.

Many meals go like this...

Oh look, we have a red onion. I put my favorite pot on to heat with a bit of organic extra virgin olive oil and I start chopping the onion. 

Usually, while I'm chopping, I think of G-BOMBS* I have on hand.
I love this picture from Dr. Fuhrman's site.

I have the onion covered pretty early on since that is often my inspiration. The greens will vary, but I try to have frozen peas, broccoli, and kale at all times. I try to make a couple types of beans a week, but I also keep canned beans around for convenience. We like mushrooms, but it is one food I need to be better about having around all the time. Thinking of GBOMBS as I shop really helps.
This is a pretty typical lunch or dinner. Brown rice, red lentils, mushrooms, kale, peas, onions, chickpeas, quinoa, turmeric, black pepper, za'atar, and the other spices vary depending on what I feel like that day.
Spices are not an afterthought, they are one of the reasons I'm cooking. My family loves full flavors and I appreciate the health benefits of many of our favorite spices. Turmeric and black pepper has been a winning combo in my kitchen for a long time, but now you many want to add them to your diet as well.
For years, I have made "yellow sprinkle" which is a mix I grind up and we sprinkle  on almost everything savory.
This week the yellow sprinkles is a mixture of raw organic pumpkin seeds, raw organic sunflower seeds, raw organic cashew pieces, za'atar, dried hot peppers from our garden, organic turmeric, organic black/red/white pepper mix, organic nutritional yeast, and a dash of iodized sea salt. I mix it together in a bowl and then grind it in an old coffee grinder we bought to grind flax seeds and spices almost 20 years ago. Rob put sprinkles on toast, Josie eats sprinkles with whole wheat pasta, I add it to almost all soups, curries, marinara sauce, bean dishes, mac and cheeze, get the idea.
I bought a glass container with a shaker lid at my local food co-op and we keep the yellow sprinkles on the table like other people might keep salt. This week, I made a large batch and it might last us two weeks. I change up the ingredients depending on what seeds and nuts I have available.
Meals have to be quick and nutritious around here. I have three very active kids going in different directions every day. Combined, they spend 16 hours at the gymnastics gym per week, one hour at dance, 4-10 hours at theater rehearsals, private school for one child, homeschooling co-op for another, my eldest babysits several times a week (today alone he sat for six kids in three different families at three different times), and this doesn't even add in the playing with friends, school events/clubs, etc. We also have a dog daycare business so we often have an extra dog or two or four. I like being able to start a meal and then let it cook itself for a bit so I can run to pick a child up, walk a dog, or do a child's hair. Dinner also needs to be able to warm up easily for the child who isn't super hungry before gymnastics at six, but is starving when she gets done at eight. We do get a chance to all sit down and eat together more often than you would think, but there is a lot of grabbing leftovers as snacks or eating more after rehearsals.

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