food, food, glorious food

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Yesterday, I shared a little about the changes our family has made in our eating and exercises habits--and I said I'd share some of our favorite new foods.

When we stopped buying fast food and eating out, we made a conscious choice not to replace that food with highly processed packaged foods (something we've done too often in the past). Instead, we started buying more basic ingredients, and figuring out what foods we could make ourselves that would be healthy, filling, and...most importantly...tasty.

Starting this process over the summer was ideal, because even long-time-veggie-hating-me couldn't help but be tempted by the bountiful produce at the public market and even the local supermarket. Some things were no-brainers, like fresh berries and tomatoes. Others I grew into, like zucchini and eggplant (both of which I found were quite delicious when roasted). The public market was also ideal from a financial standpoint...in fact, I've started a series of photos on what $20 can buy you at the market (besides the attitude boost that comes from being in such a happy, high energy place).

So, here are some of the key things I keep in the house now so that when I'm hungry, there's something healthy I can snack on:

  1. Wegmans Cocopop Rice Cakes
    These are not the rice cakes that you're familiar with. They're made fresh every day (in a machine that makes me laugh, because it fires the batter against a plexiglass wall to flatten the cake), and they're thin, light and surprisingly tasty. But I don't eat them plain--they've become my favorite delivery mechanism for a variety of treats, discussed below.
  2. Hummus
    Simple to make, and relatively inexpensive to buy when I'm short on time, hummus is both healthy and delicious, and makes a great filling snack when scooped up with some of those Cocopops.
  3. Homemade Pita Chips
    You can buy pita chips in the organic section of the grocery store, but they're expensive. A cheaper and still delicious option is to buy the cheapest pita pockets you can find, slice them into wedges, spray them with olive oil, shake on a little salt, and bake them until crispy. Then use them to scoop up that hummus--or just snack on them instead of potato chips.
  4. Caprese Salad Makings
    I don't actually make caprese salad, but I almost always have tomatoes (preferably cherry tomatoes), mozzarella, and either basil or pesto on hand. A particularly great and healthy treat is a Cocopop with thin-sliced mozzarella, halved cherry tomatoes, and basil leaves or a touch of pesto. It's like a delicious cold mini-pizza, at a fraction of the calories.
  5. Baked Zucchini Chips
    Yes, a green vegetable...which will amaze anyone who's known me for very long. I love these chips, and they're ridiculously healthy and easy to make. Who knew? (Don't answer that...)
  6. Reddi-Wip Fat Free Whipped Cream
    I was prepared for this to taste like a chemical disaster, but I was extremely surprised and delighted by just how good it is. Rich, creamy, decadent...and only five calories in two tablespoons! When I have a sweets craving and nobody's looking, I've been known to squirt this right into my mouth. But an even better option is to put a layer of it on one of those Cocopops, and then top it with fresh berries. Feels like an incredibly fattening dessert, but has next to no calories.
  7. Extra-Churned (or "slow churned") Strawberry Ice Cream
    I buy the Wegmans brand, but there are plenty of comparable national brands (Edy's, Breyer's, etc). At 100 calories for a half-cup serving, I can indulge my sweet tooth with very little guilt.
  8. Quaker Instant Lower-Sugar Oatmeal
    I know it would be healthier to make old-fashioned oatmeal, but in the morning I'm always in a hurry, and I love that I can make this in just one minute with minimal effort. I buy the box that has four different flavors, and I make it with 1/2 cup of 1% milk rather than water so that I get some calcium and protein. The whole bowl comes in at under 200 calories, and it's filling enough that I'm not craving a snack an hour after I get to work.
  9. Boneless Chicken
    We're regularly buying the big club packs of boneless chicken (yes, we should be buying free range/organic, but it's out of our price range for regular use right now). I like to cube it and cook up big batches--which can then be eaten as snacks, or tossed into a variety of dishes.
  10. Lean Ground Beef
    We gave up fast food, but we didn't give up hamburgers. :) Now we make our own pretty regularly, which means better portion control, lean beef (often organic, from Seven Bridges), and healthy toppings.
  11. Potatoes
    I'm a potato junkie, and now that I'm not indulging in french fries and potato chips, I've found better ways to get my fix. One of my favorites is to cut new potatoes into quarters, toss them in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and/or spices, and roast them in the oven. Yesterday I bought ten pounds of Yukon Golds at the public market, so I'm going to try roasting them using a recipe from Cook's Illustrated.
  12. Fresh Fruit
    Gerald and the boys all love to snack on fruit, so we keep whatever's currently fresh on hand--right now it's apples, plums, and pears. (We also buy bananas year round, even though they're not local.)

I'm also finding that I'm not an awful cook--much to the surprise of both me and my children. (Gerald is less surprised, but no less appreciative.) God bless the internets for providing me with an endless source of not just recipes, but also tips and tricks and techniques. I'm slowly getting better at peeling, seeding, and chopping tomatoes. And I can finally chop an onion without blubbering through the whole process. I'm doing this often enough now that the boys no longer stare in surprise when they find me taking fresh-baked muffins out of the oven in the morning, or simmering a from-scratch tomato sauce for dinner.

So...apparently you can teach an old mom new tricks. I'm living proof of it! :)

1 Comment

that is a GREAT list - I'm going shopping and taking this with me!

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This page contains a single entry published on September 26, 2010 6:23 PM.

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