Monday, October 5, 2009

Food prep mania

This past weekend was just lovely, as evidenced by my Saturday pictures taken during a very brisk walk through lovely Ridley Creek State Park. (Though this brisk walk was peppered with numerous stops for picture taking:) ) Sunday here in SE Pennsylvania was just as beautiful and mild, though with just enough crispness in the air to confirm the arrival of autumn. I always say autumn is my favorite season, until the beginning of spring after a brutal gray winter, when I note that spring is my favorite season. But for now, fall is IT. After the extreme humidity and heat of summer that inevitably stretches well into September here, cool air and the beauty of dying trees breathe new life into every aspect of my routines.

Yesterday I did something I haven't done for awhile...I cooked for most of the afternoon, preparing some healthy dishes to have at the ready for both lunches and dinners through the week. Not having food on hand when I'm hungry or in a hurry to get out of the house in the mornings can lead me down the garden path to junk food, processed crap and overeating. I do keep some processed stuff on hand, like Lean Cuisines in the freezer, lean deli turkey and ham, and Trader Joe's grilled chicken, to name a few. There are plenty of other chemical-laden processed stuff that taste good and aren't too detrimental to the food plan or the waistline, but I try and steer clear of them. Damn! Why do chemicals taste so good? Like sugarfree, fat free pudding for example...if I have one measly 60 calorie cup, that would serve as more than my daily allotment of chemicals. But it's one of those foods where if I have 1 cup, dollars to donuts I'll have another, and another... It doesn't take long to scarf a 6 pack of diet pudding! And probably enough chemicals and food dyes to render me multicolored.

So yesterday, I spent many hours chopping, slicing, dicing, crock-potting, simmering and stewing. Oh, and roasting. I actually took a few pictures of some of the stuff I made (I'm loving my newfound ability to use the digital camera I've owned for over 2 years), but I left the camera and cable at home, so you'll have to visualize.

1. A big crock pot of beef stew, with beef cubes, potatos, carrots, pearl onions, celery, tomatos, fresh herbs, seasonings, garlic and a small amount of beef broth. We had it for dinner last night and it was yummy. There are plenty of leftovers for a couple of meals.

2. Inspired by Lyn at Escape From Obesity, I made my own version a Ratatouille. she did hers in a crock pot, but mine was in use (see #1), so I did it in a couple of steps and then put all the components in a larger pot to simmer. The vegetable stew contains: zucchini, summer squash (yellow to Northerners), red and green pepper, onion garlic and baby egg plant. All the above were sauteed in a very small amount of olive oil, allowed to soften, then moved to the larger pan to make room for more. After all the sauteeing was complete, I added a can of diced tomatoes, and about a 1/2 cup of pureed tomatos. All was salt'n'peppered, then covered and stewed at medium heat for about 2 hours. It is AWESOME. Thanks for the great idea, Lyn.

3. I baked 4 small sweet potatos to have to bring to work for lunch. Eating a sweet potato with the ratatouille is a flavor and texture sensation not to me missed! Delicious. Add a helping of low fat cottage cheese, and you have a wonderful, satisfying and nutritious meal. Having some chicken or fish as the protein would be good as well.

4. I roasted some brussel sprouts, turnips, parsnips and carrots in the oven. I cut them up (not the brussels), tossed in less than 2 tsp. olive oil, salt and pepper, and let them roast about 40 minutes at 350. They got it little browned in places and are great. Almost finger food-esque, which means I need to be careful and not overdue with them...sigh.

That's it, but that Sunday cooking is going to give me a lot more peace in the food prep arena this week. My lunch just now was 4-star restaurant quality (in my mind only!), and there will be more good stuff waiting at home. I also wanted to make some banana bread and zucchini bread, but I just don't trust myself to even have it in the freezer for now. Leslie likes frozen bread with butter!

I'm hitting the gym after work and am not going to slack on the strength training, which I've been doing lately. I can cardio with the best of 'em, but by the end of that, I start thinking, "what's on Oprah today?", and decide to vamoose before finishing the weights and ab stuff. I tell myself I'll do the ball crunches at home, but since my ball isn't inflated, you'd think I'd at least stop THAT lie to self! Today I'm doing it all. And I feel pretty perky for a Monday.


  1. I do the same thing, cooking several meals at one time. Hell, if you're gonna mess up the kitchen, then go ahead and mess up the kitchen. That's my motto. Well, it's not really my motto. "Don't live your live by mottos," that's my motto.

  2. Wow Leslie,
    It all sounds so good! And a very sound plan to boot. I try to go this route whenever I am able. Because just like you said, if I find myself hungry and heading out and nothing to eat, well it can only lead to trouble.
    And personally, I find those little pudding cups to be absurdly small. Who can eat just one I wonder?

  3. Oh ,you have made me so hungry. Everything sounds so good. I have never tried the diet puddings or anything but the TV dinners. I could live on TV dinner's just cause I am so lazy. I find most diet food does not fit into my budget. I did make hamburger soup today cause it is so cold out and I had all the makings. IT is cheap and easy.

  4. Dinner at Leslie's place tonight? :D Wow, you are going to have some goooood eatin'! Wish I could get so motivated. I should do that, too, but my cooking repertoire is a bit limited. Not sure I would know what to cook. And all those chemicals? I LIVE off those chemicals. Bad, huh? Good for you for avoiding them!

  5. Enough chemicals to render you multicolored?? Love it!

    You did so good. I agree completely. It is best to have the right food available. Otherwise, disasters can happen. Wayne made a chili Saturday and we are still eating it. The older it gets, the better it gets. Beef Stew is like that, too. You will be enjoying those meals this week.

  6. Hi Leslie. Sounds like you had a productive weekend! And a wonderful and successful week to come with all that healthy food. Frozen bread with butter ... speechless!

    Best wishes,
    Bearfriend xx

  7. Sounds like you are on the right track. Like you I like to cook and love the leftovers for lunch at work. My husband and I did some calculations and since we stopped buying junk foods and prepared stuff, we are saving money. So, that is the extra bonus. It more than pays for the gym membership. Have a wonderful week.

  8. mmmm I want to come to your house for dinner. you sound like an amazing cook - lucky hubby