Friday, January 18, 2013

Breaking out of the Box

Okay, seriously, before signing up for the veggie box delivery, I pretty much bought the same things week after week: broccoli, baby carrots, shredded carrots, salad mix, potatoes (sometimes red ones, but usually russet), onions, red onions, green onions, corn-on-the-cob, green and red peppers, and tomatoes. An occasional zucchini, avocado, cucumber, jicama, jalapeno or tomatillo would be thrown in if Lee wanted to make his tomatillo salsa or something. I have always enjoyed cooking, and prefer to make things from scratch rather that from a mix or boxed or frozen premade thing, but I need to expand on my cooking repertoire. While I was in Weight Watchers last year, I tried a few new veggies like beets and parsnips and kale, but they didn't become a weekly staple. Fruits pretty much included apples, oranges, bananas and strawberries. Every now and then we'd splurge on raspberries and blueberries.

Yes, the chore of cooking and meal planning was becoming monotonous. 

Somewhere (I think at the Health Fair at Madonna Inn), we picked up a card for SLO Veg. A crate of fresh, organic and local fruits and vegetables delivered to your doorstep...great idea! We would start that sometime.

Well, New Year, new resolve to eat better and morph into a healthier lifestyle. We are just getting to fat, too old and too tired. Its gotta change. My parents lived into their late 80's and 90's...I can't imagine my body in its present shape holding up to that challenge. So for Christmas, we gave ourselves another year at the gym and signed up for the SLO Veg service. After two deliveries, we are upgrading to the large box. I still don't think I need it every week, but that could change. Right now it is a challenge to find recipes and cook all that we have, but since the kids are enjoying it too, a larger-portioned box seems like a good idea. 

My husband also wants to "Go Primal". It's a Paleo-based idea where you eat more fruits and vegetables in season and eat less farmed-type foods, like grains. Eat more like a Caveman. Nuts, berries, fish, lean meat. The meat should be grass-fed, organically raised meat. The exercise is based around constant movement: walk more, sprint occasionally, lift heavy things. I get the basic concept, but I haven't read all the literature. My husband has downloaded several books and publications and recipes for this stuff, but I am so busy planning meals and cooking in my off-time that I don't have much time for reading. I will work on that too, I guess! What I'd really like, however, is a chart: eat this, not that! Quick references. Plus, I really don't want to give up pasta and rice, because those staples are quick and easy to prepare, and I don't have to think about it. 

The best part about having a box of fresh fruits and vegies delivered is that we automatically are eating seasonal foods. Meal-planning has changed from protein-based "Here's the beef, now what do we serve with it?" to "Wow! Kale! How do you fix it and what goes good with it? Do I even need meat?" 

Today was a work day, so I pre-packed salads for the hub and myself. I started with an orange, a kiwi and a few strawberries. I cut them into chunks and put into a tupperware bowl. I tore up some of that fresh head of lettuce and put it on top. Then I added some feta cheese crumbles, some sliced almonds, and cut some lunch meat into strips and put on top. I would have used leftover tritip roast, but somebody ate it (Taylor). I mixed some Ranch dressing with Balsamic vinegar for the dressing. I also included a half of a banana and a nice, sweet and crispy Fuji apple in our lunch boxes. It's a very fruity day! Next time, I don't think I will even include the lunch meat for myself. It really didn't need it.

After work I started dinner preparations. I made a stuffing for the Acorn squash out of quinoa, hamburger and chorizo. I browned the meats and then added chopped onion and garlic, plus some shredded carrots. I seasoned it with sea salt and pepper, thyme and fresh, chopped parsley. The halved squash needed to cook for about 30 minutes before stuffing it. While the oven was on, I decided to roast those golden beets by drizzling on some oil and sea salt and pepper, then wrapping each beet tightly in foil and placing in the oven alongside the squash. The beets needed to cook for about an hour. I will make some sort of salad using them tomorrow. 

Anyway, I mixed a cup of shredded Mozzarella cheese into the quinoa mixture, and after filling up the cavity of each squash, I sprinkled a bit more cheese on top and popped them into the oven at 350° for 20 minutes more. 

Acorn squash stuffed with a hamburger-chorizo-quinoa mixture. Roasted the squash upsidedown in the oven for about 30 minutes, then stuffed it and cooked it for another 20 minutes. It was a lot of squash, but it sure was good eating!

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