Thursday, March 8, 2012

From Battling the Grinch, to Battling the Bulge; Cooking Healthy for a Month

This is going to seem really tame and maybe boring after the excitement of the last week or two with the "Battle of the Grinch" as I've come to call it. By the way,  Dr. Levine (who coined the term Grinch Syndrome) wrote a response to the excellent article on about POTS and the Grinch controversy, featured here.   Levine danced around the issues, and you can see my thoughts in the first comment listed if you care to.

From "Battle of the Grinch" to "Battle of the Bulge," and I do like a dramatic transition - I have been struggling with blood sugar swings, and eating out of a cooler of pre-made/pre-packaged food daily that my husband kindly puts together for me (I can't sit up long enough to make food or last long enough in the kitchen to prepare anything).  Add to that being gluten intolerant, having random anaphylactic reactions to foods/smells (possible MCAD), and you have a recipe for linited and fearful eating habits. Not to mention fat thighs and a post baby belly that looks like my daughter could still live in there at 6 months old.  My son actually told me I have a big butt tonight.  He was being silly, but kids don't lie!  Talk about a reality check.

And admittedly, I have been emotionally eating my cares away (at least they are alleviated while the eating is taking place, but then the nausea and digestive issues set in, and it's not so fun anymore), as 15 months indoors in this condition warrants a gluten free woe-is-me brownie once in a while.  And by once in a while I mean a lot.   I have never really been overweight before, and had always been very active, even with eight years of POTS.  But 15 months in bed not able to do much exercise, or any at all, and having popped out a baby and been on steroids (florinef), has really caught up with me.  It's not healthy, or fun, or good for my self esteem.

So we bough a food processor a few weeks ago at my urging, thinking my husband could muster up more magical powers and squeeze in time to make healthy food for us all while taking care of me, my 4 year old, and my 6 month old when he is not working full time.  Did I mention I married superman?  But alas, this has not happened, because he is as tired as I am, just minus the POTS. So I have been eating lots of GF pizza, chips, cheese sticks, Amy's GF meals for lunch, cereal (with soy milk - that's healthy!), eggs, and bacon.  Oh yeah, and GF brownies with ice cream once in a while.

So this is phase one of Battle of the Bulge (I haven't figured out the other phases quite yet, will decide that later):

I have been going bonkers on my new love - Pinterest - and came across a novel idea that I wanted to share for anyone who is sick, busy, works, or basically doesn't want to - or have time to - cook every night.  Pre-made, frozen bagged recipes for the crock pot that you prepare only once a week or once a month - and they are healthy!  We are going to try this, and modify them to be GF and without the sugar.  I'm so excited!  My husband really liked the idea as well - less work for him.  I can dump a bag into a crock pot on most days, so its totally doable. Here's the blog article, with links directly to the blog:

Freezer Cooking with Slow Cooker Recipes

Welcome, Pinners!  Please be sure to check out my Real Food tab at the top to find more slow cooker freezer meals!

Like I mentioned in my post the other week, the last time I did a big cooking day, I had big ah-ha moment.

Although, I had a blast with Lauren, it was logistically very difficult to accomplish, between the juggling of cooking and childcare, the prep work, organization and scheduling, it can be overwhelming.

So this latest big cooking day, I did it by myself and only did slow cooker recipes.  Basically, all I was did was chop vegetables and assemble ingredients.

Even with doing it this way, it was still a 3 hour affair, but during this time I was able to finish all the cooking AND the cleaning.  Most importantly my feet didn't ache at the end like they normally do.  I also didn't have any sort of panic or anxiety leading up to the big cooking day like I normally do. HUGE.

I chopped all the vegetables with Penelope in her Learning Tower before nap (which was really fun, I went through all the colors of the vegetables with her and talked about rainbows and made it a fun learning experience).

Then I assembled everything during her nap (thank you Jesus, I can now skip a pump session here and there and can do other things at nap time than sit in front of a computer) and finished cleaning up after nap, again with her in her Learning Tower.  

This time she played independently with a bowl of soapy water, she made a huge mess,  but the rags I used to clean up her mess where the same rags I used to clean up my mess so it wasn't that bad.

I just dumped the veggies into the gallon ziploc bags, then added the meat, then added the spices.

Once I was done and cleaned everything up, I felt like I had invented electricity!  I thought I was such a genius for finally (it took me over a year, people) getting once a month cooking down to an efficient and easy art form.

I am telling you it will change your life! Give it a try and tell me how it went!

Here are my recipes.  I use a ton of vegetables in each meal, because I don't tend to eat a lot of veggies through out the day, so I try and get them all in at dinner.  And Peter is more apt to eat veggies if they taste like barbecue or curry than as a plain side dish.

Healthy Mama Barbecue Chicken
3 medium unpeeled  sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 large green pepper, cut into strips
1 large red pepper, cut into strips
1 zucchini, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tablespoon quick cooking tapioca
2 pounds chicken thighs or drumsticks
1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard (I wasn't sure if this meant actual mustard or the spice so I did a little of both)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt

Dump everything into two gallon freezer bags, shake it up, seal, label and put in the freezer.

Stephanie's Goulash
3 cups chopped onions
2.5 cups coarsely chopped green sweet peppers
4 large beets, peeled and diced
2 cups of carrots
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 pounds beef stew meat, cut into one inch cubes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
4 teaspoons Hungarian paprika or regular paprika (I used regular)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups hot cooked noodles
1/2 dairy sour cream

Dump everything into two gallon freezer bags, shake it up, seal, label and put in the freezer. EXCEPT the sour cream, that is for garnish after the meal is cooked.

Chicken Curry
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons curry powder
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1.5 pounds chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups chopped peeled sweet potatoes
2.5 cups baby carrots
2 cup coarsely chopped mango
1 cup chopped onion
1 zucchini chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chicken bouillon
.5 cup raisins (for garnish)
.5 cup peanuts or cashews (for garnish)

Dump everything into two gallon freezer bags, shake it up, seal, label and put in the freezer.

To cook, take out of freezer and set on counter for about 30 minutes, then dump contents of bag into slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours.



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