real food for busy women: when you really can't cook

when you really can't cook

This series, "posts for Pat" is inspired by my friend Pat, who lives a life where frugality is better applied to time than to finances; hence it's sub-title: "real food for busy women".

We've covered several topics thus far: why you need a crockpot with the world's easiest crockpot recipe, how keeping a fruit bowl improves your nutrition just by spending a few minutes in the produce section when you grocery shop, a roundup of crockpot recipes that can cook all day unattended, and a bizarre post in which I timed a vegetarian recipe to see if I could make it in 15 minutes.

Today we're going to cover how to eat well when you really, truly have NO time to spend in the grocery store let alone the kitchen.

You know the week, we've all had them. The big project is due next week, and there's no telling how much overtime there'll be. An 8-10 hour window on a crockpot meal won't work; you'll be working 12-14 hour days. You REALLY, REALLY can't do anything about food this week...

butter is a true superfood

stick of butter

As a survivor of a big, ol' unpleasant heart attack (with an unsuccessful angioplasty and subsequent CABG, followed by years of disability), one of my primary strategies to avoid a recurrence is to eat stupid amounts of butter. Luckily, butter is utterly delicious, so this is no hardship.

I have been babbling about butter as a superfood for some time, with a particular emphasis on pastured butter, so it startled me a tad when I began this post and found the research hard to find. The USDA database has an entry for ordinary butter, but nothing on the grass-fed stuff. It took a day in PubMed finding the original references to justify the advice I've been giving for years now as well as my own ridiculous butter consumption.

But before we get to discussing the benefits of the pastured stuff, let's just start with plain ordinary butter, which has many advantages in and of itself.

eating seasonally in spring

eating with the seasons in spring

For me, spring fruits and vegetables do for my taste buds what daffodils, dandelions and johnny jump ups do for my soul. Spring is just so celebratory for me, especially after such a nasty winter as this one was. I laugh at the least provocation, my energy levels rise and I feel all bouncy, the world is full of such promise... and there are sugar snap peas.

The reasons for eating seasonally are several: seasonal vegetables are more likely to be locally produced rather than shipped for long distances, foods in season tend to be more abundant and thus great bargains can be had and finally, foods are just yummiest when freshest.

about me

my avatar

It occurred to me that every blog in the whole world has an "about me" page except mine; so here you go!

I have both fatigue and pain issues that are ongoing.

Some days, you'd hardly believe I was disabled at all, I do things just like a normal person, running around in the garden, mowing the lawn, cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

Other days, I need assistance getting dressed and can sit for several hour thirsty, too tired to get up and get a drink.

Contest Results: Grocery Time

by Jackie Patti

I've been a fan of Mark's Daily Apple for quite a long time. If you don't know the blog, Mark basically invented the "Primal" diet, which is sort of paleo with dairy added.

Mark espouses the 80:20 principle of eating: basically to eat well 80% of the time and compromise a bit around the edges the other 20% of the time, as more realistic than aiming for perfection.

Mark does a lot of contests on his blog and because he has a large readership, gets huge numbers of entries. This particular contest involved sending in a picture of a week's worth of groceries; the winner was chosen by random drawing, so it didn't matter if your picture included processed foods or not. For this contest, he specifically instructed his readers to send in REAL pictures, not idealized ones, which makes the results even more intriguing...

stir fry vegetables with eggs

stir fry vegetables with eggs - finished dish

This stir fry vegetables and eggs recipe was created by serendipity. I'm going to give you the back story of how it came about to show you the weird and wonderful way a blogger's mind works. I think the story is entertaining, but if you want, you can just scroll to the end of the page and grab the recipe.

  • While researching and thinking about starting the Pats for posts: real food for busy women series, I ran across Jamie Olivier's 15-Minute Meals. Though I don't watch his show, I'd seen his Ted talk, and knew he was a proponent of better nutrition. So I watched a few of his videos thinking they might be helpful for my series, but they really weren't. Each video begins with mise en place, which is French for "I have someone to cut and measure everything for me before the camera is turned on." Jamie himself is a young and healthy guy who pretty much bops around the kitchen with more energy than I ever had after a long day at work. And finally, he finishes up with so many pots and pans dirtied that it's going to take some serious time to repair that kitchen if you don't have staff. So while the concept of preparing a meal in 15 minutes was attractive, my understanding of what it would take to translate those videos in my own kitchen was more like an hour.

healthy cornbread

homemade cornbread recipe

As promised in my post about my plans for planting corn and corn nutrition, here is my simple cornbread recipe.

This homemade cornbread recipe produces a real cornBREAD, not crumbly stuff only suited for crumbling into a bowl of pinto beans. This stuff holds together well enough to make sandwiches, though admittedly long, skinny ones.

This is also a real CORNbread, not your typical wheat bread flavored with some cornmeal. Thus it's gluten-free.

Finally, this CORNBREAD is not an abomination with sugar that tastes more like cake than cornbread.

And while I think this is a relatively healthy cornbread, it is the yummiest freaking cornbread I ever tasted.

how to cook dry beans

cooking dried beans

Canned beans are nutritionally problematic because they are not soaked to reduce phytic acid, yet the high heat processing reduces phytase so there's no hope of reducing it through other means.

Dry beans can be prepared so as to minimize the phytic acid and even the lectin content and are a more frugal way to add beans to your diet.

The problem is, dried beans aren't convenient. They involve planning ahead, so you can't just make some bean-layer dip right now. Maybe you have a hankering for chili, but didn't start soaking beans two days ago.

I am going to share with you a kitchen tip that will make cooking dried beans just as convenient as canned beans - and it's easy! In 5 minutes a day for a week, I make enough cooked beans to last for MONTHS!

planting and growing corn for nutrition

field corn growing

I suspect we don't think of corn as a useful grain because we're all so accustomed to avoiding it on processed food labels: HFCS, modified corn starch, corn oil. Or we're accustomed to thinking of it as that cheap subsidized stuff they feed to cows and chickens instead of pasture to make nutritionally-deficient CAFO meat, eggs and dairy. And we know that the majority of the corn crop in this country is GMO. In short, we tend to think of corn as "bad stuff" except for a few ears of sweet corn in summer.

But corn can be a great addition to the diet, unless you are allergic or eat grain-free. Corn has a rather high protein content for a grain (14% on a dry grain basis). And while rarely included in the lists, it is a gluten-free grain.

Corn is often ignored by gardeners, though some of us grow a small patch of sweet corn for summer enjoyment. But corn is the only grain that it's reasonable to grow and process on a small-scale. It can be harvested, husked and shelled with hand tools; no combines required. Corn is the only grain you can reasonably be self-sufficient in, something particularly worth considering if you're a gardener with celiac or NCGS.

But in order for corn to become a useful part of the diet, we have to learn how to use it properly. Native Americans didn't process it into HFCS; settlers didn't bake with modified corn starch; the colonists didn't press it into corn oil. We need to learn how to make REAL cornbread (which has no wheat flour), sweet breads, polenta, johnnycake, sponge cake, parched corn, hominy, tortillas, and corn gravy. All are possible if we learn how to use the appropriate types of corn.

February Favorites - 2014

link love

February was darned cold here, with another stupid amount of snow falling, but given this is the third month of this ridiculous snow and cold, I guess it's not news anymore, but olds. I, for one, am damned sick of this.

Apparently, at least 22 people have died in the storms in February. :(

Also in February, something called the Superbowl happened; I had to Google to find out the Seahawks won for this post as I had ignored the whole thing. I am aware of it at all because the grocery ads push lots of snacky foods, as do many of the blogs I follow. Apparently, 111 million people watched it.

There was an Olympics in Russia, who won both the most overall medals and the most gold medals. The interesting bit to me were the protests against Russia's law forbidding talking about gay issues, objectionable both due to free speech issues and gay rights issues.