Changing my diet

I think when a lot of people use or hear the word “diet,” they think of a short-term calorie or food restriction plan to lose weight. In this case I’m talking about changing my diet -permanently- for health reasons. I’ve mentioned before that my parents were health “nuts,” before it was trendy. I grew up without sugar or salt in the household. If I remember right, I was 9 years old when I had my first chocolate bar (soooo rich that I had a stomach ache!). When I grew up and moved out of the house, I still had the knowledge that my parents had given me on how to cook and eat healthy, but because of a busy work schedule and the single life, I started to eat poorly.

When I got married and had my son, my husband and I made the decision for me to stay home. So for 2 years I spent a considerable amount of time in the kitchen, cooking healthy meals from scratch for my family. Then I went back to work, and the processed foods entered our lives again. It’s been a struggle the last few months. For the most part, we have still eaten healthy meals, but we’re not doing as well as I’d like. I’d say we’re eating about 60% healthy meals and 40% not (that would be processed foods, fast foods, etc.). Well, maybe it’s better than that…but I want it to be 80% healthy (at least) and 20% not, and I know we’re not at that point.

On top of that, my best friend was diagnosed with lupus and started an autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet, which is similar to Paleo, and that got me thinking. I don’t have an autoimmune illness, but I am genetically predisposed towards them. Environmental factors (like diet) along with genetic predisposition can trigger an autoimmune condition. Talking to my friend and reading articles online (albeit, many of them are anecdotal…so there’s that to consider), I’ve decided to avoid certain foods, specifically, refined sugar, corn, soy, and wheat. Instead, we will eat a mostly plant-based diet with lean meats. If I actually had an autoimmune condition, I would avoid legumes and nightshade plants, but since I don’t…I’m just starting with the foods I listed above. I’m also continuing to eat dairy products and eggs.

Healthy, healthy, healthy

One challenge I face is cooking vegetables in a way that both Hubby and Little J will actually want to eat! Below is a photo of curly kale boiled in half water/half chicken stock, chopped onions, chopped garlic, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. I thought it was tasty, but they were not impressed. 🙁 Well, one day at a time.

And now I’m off to work on my shopping list!

Do you have any dietary restrictions, because of choice or necessity? What are your go-to healthy food choices? Or maybe some foods you try to avoid?

Note: The opinions reflected above are mine and may differ from yours. Before making dietary changes, please always consult your physician first!

 

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Real cooking with Nicole Elizabeth at The Fresh Kitchen

I know I’ve talked about The Fresh Kitchen before, but I wanted to share again. My friend Nicole has really helped me grow as a home cook. I strongly believe in not only her cooking talents but her ability to help others, specifically moms like me. She really has taken the intimidation out of cooking for me. At one point in my life, I would never have cooked dishes that sound scary to me, like ratatouille or polenta. Turns out, a lot of things are easier to cook than I thought. And if they aren’t, Nicole talks me through them. If you have a cooking question, you can always ask on The Fresh Kitchen Facebook page!

Recently Nicole asked me and some other friends to come over for a dinner she’d prepared. I thought I’d share with you some photos of what she made. Some of the recipes are hers; others are inspired by Chef Yotam Ottolenghi, and Nicole has added her own take on the dish. If you’d like to know more about Nicole as well as view some of her recipes, check out her website www.thefreshkitchen.com.

Homemade pita and hummus
Salad made with baby spinach, pickled red onions, pickled medjool dates, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and toasted pita croutons made with butter, olive oil, sumac, Aleppo chile flakes, and kosher salt
Israeli couscous cooked in some of the chicken/apricot/tamarind braising liquid
Chicken thighs braised in apricots and tamarind
Roasted peaches over lemon pound cake with ginger ice cream and browned butter shortbread crumbs
What do you think? Which dish would you like to try?

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Fire up that grill! It’s a summer cookout round up. #july4th

We’re officially into summer! I don’t know about you, but after the rough winter we had, I’m enjoying this heat and getting outside every day.

One of my favorite parts about summer is grilling with friends and family. Sometimes it starts as a scheduled party, but quite often the grill makes it easy to have a fun, impromptu get-together!

To make your recipe hunt easier, I’ve gathered up a list of yummy-looking grilling recipes.

Summer Grilling Recipes on My Life: A Work in Progress
Photos used with permission
  1. Barbecued Spaghetti from Ottawa Mommy Club
  2. Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken Skewers from Ottawa Mommy Club
  3. Marinated Beef Skewers from Window on the World
  4. Perfectly Grilled Moist Pork Chops from Saving You Dinero
  5. Sweet & Cheesy Burger from Saving You Dinero
Summer Cookout Sides & Salads Recipes- My Life: A Work in Progress
Photos used with permission

And because you can’t stop with just the meat/entree, here are several of my favorite sides and desserts from The Fresh Kitchen. These recipes are sure to be a hit at any summer party!

  1. Mexican Corn Salad (Esquites) This is my favorite corn dish. The charred corn flavor mixed with Cotija cheese is amazing! 
  2. Mango, Lime, and Chile Salad
  3. Peach Basil Salad
  4. Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream
  5. Strawberry Ice Pops
Which dishes would you like to make?

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