Cereal for Good Health

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The other day, someone in my family sent me a photo of their cereal breakfast and asked me what I thought about it. Specifically, the photo depicted a bowl filled with (more than one serving) of cereal, a carton of almond milk, a cup of orange juice, and a coffee.

I know that overall, this breakfast doesn’t really sound unhealthy (and this person did choose a cereal that was mostly whole-grain). However, from a nutritional stand point, I felt that it contained a lot of sugar without much variation in nutrients. So, I decided that I wanted to provide this person with suggestions on how to get more benefit from a cereal breakfast, as well as with some general nutrition information. I presented the information using Prezi to make it more interesting, and anyone can access it through this link:

https://prezi.com/-imvy3c9cv8_/healthy-breakfast-cereal-edition/

I thought I would share this here, so that my readers could also use it as a resource. Enjoy! ❤

Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown: A Resource

Good and Cheap is a cookbook I have been excited about for a while now. It was designed with low-income individuals in mind; particularly those receiving SNAP benefits.

Coincidentally, I had somehow discovered the book at a time when we were going over SNAP benefits (what used to be food stamps) in my community nutrition class. So, I was especially fond of the concept behind it and I’ve been keeping it under my “resources stash” ever since.

It’s cool, because Good and Cheap is available for download as a free PDF online; making it accessible to virtually anyone. But free doesn’t mean the quality is cheap!

The pictures in this cookbook are phenomenal! They just make the food look scrumptious. I love this, because it is intended for an audience who may not be inclined to try things that are new or “different.” But presented with pictures like these, anyone would be enticed to try a recipe or two or three or four!

You can also tell that the cookbook was prepared with a lot of love and consideration. Yes, the recipes require butter, and I am fearful that someone may lash out against me advertising this, being that I am a nutrition student. However, the author is really only keeping in mind that someone eating on a limited budget is also depending on staying full from a limited number of meals. Therefore, the meals need to be filling, and the fat in butter does help with satiety, not to mention flavor.

Furthermore, each recipe in this book was prepared with the knowledge that SNAP provides a single person with about $4 a day for food. The cost to make most of the recipes conveniently fall below $4, and the total cost and cost per serving are provided for each recipe.

It did take me a while to try a recipe from this book myself, but I managed to pull it out the other day, when my husband and I were completely out of inspiration for our grocery list. The two of us had gone through the recipes together, and we decided on trying out the following:

Chocolate Zuchinni Muffins

Egg Sandwich with Mushroom Hash

Mexican Street Corn

Toast 8 Ways

Creamy Zucchini Fettuccini

Spicy Broiled Tilapia with Lime

Deviled Eggs 6 Ways

Potato Leek Pizza

So far, we have made, the street corn, the toast, the tilapia, the fettuccini, and the pizza. All of which were (in sing-songy voice) AMAZING. I can’t wait to try the rest!

But I did want to get this cookbook some extra attention, because I think it was wonderfully made and can be helpful for anyone, regardless of their budget. However, I am hoping that the more people know about it, the more people will be able to share it with those for which it was intended.

Happy cooking everyone! Let me know if you end up checking it out! xx

So Let Me Tell Ya What’s Cookin’

Veggie Soup

I am cooking! That’s what!

I am really excited to report this–as I feel this is the first time I am actually reporting on some progress.

It’s funny to think that the last time I posted I was lamenting that I had lost my relationship with food and cooking. But the “almost married” life can do something to a person aha. At this point I vaguely remember that feeling I had. Yet, I know it was pretty strong.

At the time I was writing–I hadn’t cooked in… well… in forever. I think I had just put too much pressure on myself and then a couple of traumatizing experiences involving food got in the mix. It’s really easy to stress yourself out about healthy eating–especially when you don’t really understand what you are doing. On top of that, I had an autoimmune disorder I was hoping to fix and thought going “Paleo” was the magic cure. It wasn’t. And although I didn’t hate it–I wouldn’t do it again. In hindsight, and now that I understand nutrition a little better, I realize that eating Paleo cut too many calories out of my diet. I was too active at the time to be doing that. My body needed nutriment, and so I lost too much weight at a rate that probably wasn’t healthy. I also obviously didn’t understand the connection between eating carbohydrates and optimal muscle/brain performance. And then, you know, there are the not so fun stories I could tell of being cheated on amidst trying to put Thanksgiving dinner on the table and stressing over anatomy and physiology exams. Needless to say, those types of stressors are just enough to make a gal want to drop the spatula (or whatever) for a good year or so.

And it was hard to pick that spatula back up again…

But it was helpful that I found my soulmate who also cares about nourishing his body with healthy foods. I didn’t realize what a difference it could make to be with someone who is on the same wavelength as me when it comes to eating and nutrition, but it certainly helps keep the right things in perspective.

He did intimidate me at first, though. His swiss upbringing made him a lot more competent and confident in the kitchen than my American upbringing had made me. Not that I mean to bag on my American upbringing, but as far as I’ve learned in school, witnessed around me, and experienced personally–few of us Americans have a similar relationship with food. Mealtimes are associated less with family bonding time, and lunch time is often an opportunity to eat out, not to go home and cook. And thus, it seems that few us are truly competent in the kitchen these days. Anyways…

So–for a while, my fiancé was dating a health peanut (nut sounds negative and I don’t mean to be negative) who didn’t cook. That was–until he got sick, and to my horror, unable to cook! It was a frightening realization to see that not only did I suddenly have to step up to the challenge and cook for my family, but that also my fiancé’s health depended on it! I was mortified. Now, in the past I’d have just served some canned chicken soup as my family had done for me and call it a day, but I knew that wasn’t happening this time. Canned chicken soup is all salt and really just awful in my opinion. It wasn’t real food to me, and I was sure my fiancé would only feel the same. So, I got to work. I found a healthy chicken soup recipe, and I went to the grocery store without my man for the first time since we’d been together, and I did some cooking without him to lead or hold my hand.

It. was. marvelous.

Although I was still quite uneasy about being in the kitchen, it felt so liberating to play with my old skills that I kept under wraps. It’s kind of like blogging, I guess–when you just have something in you you need to express. But there is also a feeling you get sometimes from cooking… from touching the raw ingredients. It’s like connection and creativity come together creating fireworks in your brain, and it’s extremely delightful.

So, ya. As much as I felt unprepared–I still got thrown into the lion’s den. Like Daniel, I survived. And–slowly but surely, I began cooking more and more. I haven’t really gotten into documenting any of my activity–like taking photos, etc. … Just to keep the integrity of meal times and meal prep (they are sacred bonding times here at our house). However, I think it may be a good idea to write more about my relationship with food. So–I do think that more of such posts are forthcoming.

Until then… Ciao ciao and happy cooking! Xx

Journey into Honesty

I should start a series on all my shortcomings as a dietetic student and call it training the retro-dietitian. I feel like my life is in need of some updates. But I guess that’s a perpetual feeling.

Although I do feel like I am progressing in some areas of my life (spiritual), I’ve almost completely lost sight of the healthy aspects of my life.

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 1.49.02 PMAfter taking a break from work, and thus, from my monthly gym memberships (having both a CrossFit and Bikram membership is a luxury, I now realize)…                                                 And after running heavy with my running group and injuring my knee, the level of physical activity scheduled into my daily activities is now close to none. This is kind of disappointing, even for myself, after having been considered one of the most active people in my network of people.

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Don’t even get me started about the healthy eating part. I have gone from being food-blogging queen, constantly photographing food I made for Instagram and Tumblr, to someone who doesn’t cook at all.

Now, once upon a time, I probably wouldn’t have even thought of disclosing these types of details about my life. I mean, I’m studying to be a dietitian-I should be good at these things.                                                                                                      And as a blogger, well, I am supposed to teach people something (I guess). I would seem a bit like a hypocrite if I wanted to talk about healthy living when I constantly make mistakes myself, right?

Well… Actually… I have changed my mind about that kind of blogging. That might be what some people say I need to do, but ultimately this is a space with which I am free to do what I want. Whether I want to teach people something, or whether I just want to write for the clarity of my own understanding. And anyway, don’t we sometimes learn by witnessing the journey of others?

be-the-change-you-want-to-see-in-the-worldAnd as far as being a dietetic student, I think honesty might actually be just what I need. We talk about nutrition counseling more now that I am nearing my last year in the degree, and I realize that I am subject to the same behaviors as my future clients will be. Thus, I need to approach my own wellness journey as I would a client’s.

For me, that means I need to stop expecting perfection, which can be hard. I’m usually afraid to do something if I do not think I can do it well or near perfect. But, that’s just not realistic. I am just like everyone else. I love deserts and lazy days just as equally as I love my vegetables and hot yoga. So, I am going to try anyway. Hopefully, I will be brave enough to risk making mistakes AND share the journey here, and then maybe I will learn a thing or two about being a better retro-dietitian and a better writer.

Woman’s Role

I guess I can be grateful that as a child, food to me was never about hunger. I grew up seeing a lot of hungry children having spent part of that childhood in the Philippines, but I was one of the lucky ones.

As a kid, I was always fed at set times. I don’t really have any memory of ever feeling starved. Only memories of feeling more than full. (My parents are the kind who make you eat every last grain of rice off your plate; every last spoonful of milk from your cereal).

Therefore, the feeling that I really attributed with food in those days was comfort.

When being good in Sunday school was completely painful, my only hope was that the cotton-candy man would be outside with his sweet clouds of pink and blue. In the afternoons, tired from playing outside all day, I looked forward to merienda-our afternoon snack. Usually a banana q-bananas on a skewer with caramelized sugar. And because the sun was unforgiving, I spent a lot of my earned money on tubes of ice candy.

These simple, little delights would be the role of food in my life for a long time. But as I grew a little older, I would begin to feel the need to be more involved with what I was consuming. I actually began to feel that food was MY role-being a girl, a woman in the family. In my young mind was the realization that I would eventually be the one feeding a child…a husband…

I don’t know where this idea stemmed from in my subconscious thoughts, because I hardly even saw my mother cook as a child. (In the Philippines, if you’re middle-class, the help usually prepares the food). However, I can certainly say that that same feeling of accountability still greatly affects how I think about food and cooking. (I am now studying food at university as a nutrition major).

I still have quite a long ways to go before I can have the confidence to consider myself some kind of chef, and it is quite intimidating most times, but to get there I have to continue to try!

I made a recent attempt the other day-stuffed mushrooms. I know a lot of people enjoy these, but no one ever has them unless they’re eating out! I don’t know why, because as I learned, they’re actually quite simple and inexpensive to make!

Here are some photos of the fun!

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The most time consuming part was wiping down each mushroom.

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Not bad for you! Filled with veggie goodness!

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O.k. -I guess not all veggie, but I love cheese!

As you can see, I tried to have fun. Also, I know I am studying to be a dietitian but I am not always trying to be super healthy. I want to learn technique first. But maybe next time I’ll start trying to make my own bread crumbs. I read the ingredients on that Panko stuff, and it’s unnecessarily NOT good for you!!

How about you? Any thoughts on food and cooking?