Monthly Archives: December 2010

About the Photos

A quick note about the photos on here.  I generally do not upload the photos right away.  I’m usually working on the fly, so I try to take the photos and then when I find myself with some extra time or I feel extra avoidant about the things that I really should be doing, I upload the photos and put them where they belong.  That’s just how it’s going to be for now.

You’ll notice that the photos are also not high caliber.  I’m using a regular point and shoot camera and while I would love to have a high quality DSLR and take wonderfully artistic photos, I just don’t have the time.  I have much love and admiration for all the wonderfully photographed food blogs out there.  I hope that some day this will evolve into more than just on the fly photography, but for now, bear with me.

Lastly, I’m not completely averse to my current method because the photos show that cooking is messy.  Life is messy.  You’ll see things freshly mixed and glimpses of my dirty stove.  Don’t worry, I’m a clean freak, but I’m not going to clean my stove before I take my photos to impress you.  That’s just silly.

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Kashi Seven Grain Pilaf

I’m a big fan of Kashi products (most of the time).  Today, I made some of the Kashi Seven Grain Pilaf and added some stir fried vegetables to the mix.  (See photo below)

Here is the thing, though.  Whenever I make any sort of grain product according to the package directions, it usually ends up mushy or watery or both.  Today, was the both category.  I don’t like mush.  I like my grains to be plump and have some structure to them.  I grew up eating rice and this was never a problem.  I don’t think we ever used directions for anything, but tonight is further proof that I should never ever follow the cooking directions for the water to grain ratio on packages.  I should just go with my instinctual knowledge.


Sweeteners – It’s what’s for breakfast

I like to start my day with a bowl of high fiber cereal, kefir yogurt (or greek yogurt or skim milk), and berries.  I have a bowl of that, one egg, my vitamins, and coffee.  Coffee is optional.  I have tried not to develop a coffee/caffeine habit, but I think it’s inevitable when you’re in medical school.  At the very least, I try to stay away from caffeine on weekends.  I can’t say I’m always successful.

But, back to the point of this post.  Cereal.  I eat high fiber cereal for breakfast.

Well, today I went to the grocery store to replenish my dwindling cereal supply.  (Right now, I’m not eating a particularly high fiber cereal, but I am eating a tasty pumpkin and flaxseed cereal.  As long as I’m in the healthy range of things, I’m good.)  I went to pick up a box of All Bran and then saw the Fiber One on sale.  So, I picked up both boxes and compared the nutrition facts.  Well, in that process, I glanced down at the ingredients and I nearly fell over when I found out that All Bran has high fructose corn syrup in it!  The cereal that so many people have told me tastes like cardboard is loaded with high fructose corn syrup!  And then in another interesting twist, the Fiber One cereal has aspartame in it!

Hello, people, what are we doing?!?!?!  This is breakfast cereal.  The thing that is supposed to be all wholesome and good for you.  I’m not even talking about your regular kid’s stuff that is loaded with sugar.  I’m talking about the supposedly good for you, high fiber cereal that people try to stay away from because it tastes bad.

This is why ingredient lists need to be  read along with the nutrition facts.  Even a supposedly healthy product like high fiber breakfast cereal has ingredients that you would have never guessed hiding out inside of them.

Conclusion:  I went with Kashi GoLean cereal.  Sure, the stuff has sweeteners in it, but at least it’s stuff I recognize and not substances that are known to cause cancer in rats (aspartame) or substances that are man made (high fructose corn syrup).  I want my food to be food, whole food.  This is why I usually don’t eat prepared foods.

The next time you decide to eat something because it’s good for you, take a closer look at the ingredients.  What you find may surprise you.  I sure was surprised today.


Breakfast

So, following the suggestion on the chili recipe from last night, I made chili baked eggs this morning for breakfast.  I overcooked the eggs a little bit, but the result was pretty and tasty.  I forgot to take a picture before I ate breakfast and lunch (I know I shouldn’t eat two eggs in one day, but work is being done in my kitchen and cooking wasn’t an option.).

I love eating an egg for breakfast.  I think my favorite way to eat eggs is over easy, but I like eggs all different ways.  I’m a huge fan of the egg because not only is it very tasty, but it’s extremely nutritious.  In fact, nutritionists call the egg “a perfect food.”  The humble egg has all your important nutrients and is used as a comparison for other foods.  For all you vegans and non-egg eaters, quinoa is also a perfect food.

** update: I had every intention of taking a photo of the baked eggs, but I ate the whole pan and kept forgetting every morning to take a photo.  I’ll add one when I make another pan.**


Starving

I went through a whole week of not really feeling hungry and now I’m finally feeling hungry.  I have a portion of my version of 101cookbooks baked pasta casserole in the oven right now.  I added some frozen corn and great northern beans to the mix.  While tasty in its original form, I need a little more variety to make it meet my nutritional and taste needs.  It’s a great recipe to modify for your own needs.  I’ve added tuna and corn before, but I’m trying not to overdo my mercury intake, since I did have my tuna version for a whole week just a couple of weeks ago.  I’m sure adding chunks of any sort of meet would be tasty, especially for all you carnivores.  Extra veggies are tasty, too.

Baked Pasta Casserole a la Funny Eater

The meal plan for this week is baked pasta casserole a la funny eater style and some chili.  I’m going to try my hand at the Pierce Street Vegetarian Chili off of 101cookbooks.  (Is anyone else noticing the 101cookbooks theme here?)

My one gripe about using recipes is that grocery shopping ends up taking longer than I’d like because I’m trying to chase down ingredients.  I’m also not a huge fan of having to figure out substitutions when the grocery store doesn’t have what I want.  Thus, I’m hoping that as I build my base of recipes that I can spin off from memory, I can cook more naturally using what I find and what intrigues me during a given grocery store trip.

While I find myself impatient to eat and aggravated at the cooking process, I did persevere.  Evidence of tonight’s cooking can be found below.

Pierce Street Chili with some modifications.


Free Food

“Free tastes better.”  A lot of people walk around saying this.  In fact, I had a classmate last year who calculated how much money he could save by going to events serving lunch or dinner.  And, he made it a point to show up to those events.

Tonight I attended such an event.  I haven’t gone to one in a long time because my new eating habits and guidelines don’t really fall in line with what is served.  A friend asked me to come tonight and I figured the event was homemade cooking, so I would show up.  I ate a little bit of the vegetarian chili and then came home to eat again.

I wasn’t really keen on eating something that I didn’t know the contents of.  I know that with chili you can usually look and see, but I like to know what I’m eating.  If I didn’t cook it, then I can’t know.

The problem with free food is usually one or all of the following.

1. It is some variation of fast food. This usually means pizza, soda, subs (which in the grand scheme of possible entrees isn’t too bad, but cold cuts have cancer causing nitrates), chips, candy.

2. The food is excessively high in sodium. I really don’t like feeling like a salted fish.  I shudder to think what kind of nutrition facts the foods being served have.  I was feeling lazy at the beginning of the semester and looking for a way out of cooking, but when I read the nutrition labels of the microwave dinners, I couldn’t stomach the idea of eating 1/3 of my daily sodium in one tiny bowl of not so tasty food.  And these stats are from the backs of the “healthy” microwave dinners.  They cut down the fat and the calories, but the sodium is sky high.

3.  The food is high is fat. We usually get pizza and that pizza is dripping with fats.  Probably not very good fats.  Add some pepperoni and you’ve got a heart attack waiting for you some years down the line.

4.  What would constitute one serving would never be enough for someone to feel full. This really falls in line with the high in fat, high in sodium theme.  Free food is usually high in calories.

5. Free food lacks nutritional value. You might be getting all the sodium and fats that you could ever need, but you’re not getting any vitamins, minerals, or anything that would be useful to your body.

Now, I’m not saying that I never ate any of the free food.  Sometimes after a long morning of lectures and having starved since a 7 am breakfast, I will eat anything.  Last year I did.  This year is a different story.

Ever since I started working out at the gym and working with a trainer, I am loathe to put anything into my body that isn’t healthy for it.  I don’t count calories or do any fancy diets or obsess over what I’m eating, but I try to follow a few rough guidelines (I’ll write these up in a separate post).  The guidelines give me some general rules to follow and following those rules means that free food is no longer part of my diet.  If I don’t have my own lunch with me, I either wait it out by eating a piece of fruit or a protein bar or I just go home and get the information that I missed some other way.  Most of the time, I’m not really missing much by skipping out on the free food.  In fact, usually I gain some extra time (which I’m always happy to have).  I’m also probably healthier for resisting.

So I urge you to think about what you put into your body and how it makes you feel.  Is free food really a good idea?  I don’t think that free food is worth feeling bloated and sluggish later.  Plus, I’d like to save myself from hypertension, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes if I can.  This is just one part of the plan – eat healthy.


Dinner Tonight

So I forgot to tell you about my escapades with Feisty Green Beans off the 101cookbooks website last night.  It went well.  Other than the fact that I substituted regular paprika for hot paprika and cayenne pepper powder for crushed hot pepper flakes.  Still tastes great.  I also left out the raisins.  Not really interested in eating whatever they use to preserve those things.

More importantly though is dinner tonight.  Recipes and standard plans, while helpful, sort of bore me and seem unnecessarily complicated.  I’m more interested in developing a sense of cooking on the fly.

I wasn’t feeling the two dishes I’ve made this week.  I had them for lunch and dinner the last couple of days.  I wanted something light, but nutritious since I just got back from the gym.  What I ended up with is a noodle soup.

My mom made me some anchovy broth (I think that’s what those little fishies that she uses to make the broth are called in English), which I had in the fridge.  I poured some into a pot and added a splash of soy sauce.  Then I cut up a chunk of the left over tofu from yesterday’s cooking, tossed in some frozen corn, and tore up some of the kale left over from Monday’s cooking.  At the same time, I cooked up fast noodles, which are thin, white noodles that cook in three minutes.  So in about roughly five, maybe more like 10, minutes, I had a protein packed, tasty dinner ready to eat.  Fresh made and hot is what I need on a cold, wet, and snowy day.

Proof that tasty, healthy, and fast is possible!

Fresh, hot noodle soup