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Food

Welcome! and The Food Convo

My phone has been beeping its phone face off for the last few days.

Months ago, something automatically set itself up on my phone (this happens more often than you would think) to brrriiingg this magic wand sound anytime someone likes or follows my blog. Over time, it’s turned all pavlovian. I hear that sound and my eyes dilate, I salivate. “Blog attention!” I chirp to AJ. He’s even started to say the same thing back (with enthusiasm, even!) when he hears the bbrrriinngg.

Over Memorial Day weekend, my phone had a bbbrrrrriinnngg-a-thon. The invisible powers that be chose to feature my recent post about eating and body image on Freshly Pressed. Thank you Invisible WordPress Powers–it’s been a fun few days.

So welcome to all you newcomers, to this special corner of the world where we encourage complaining, openly judge others and poke fun at pharmaceuticals.

And in the spirit of truth telling:

Its been a little over 2 weeks since I started to practice my new mindful/intuitive eating thing. I’m shocked to discover that my body requires much less food for survival than I originally thought. Growing two babies in utero and then on breastmilk is a distorting and delightful experience in that eating more is necessary and celebrated. But since I’m not with child and barely nursing Cal anymore, my nutritional requirements have tapered off a lot, and I hadn’t even noticed until I recently started to pay attention.

Also, I don’t always get it right. Just like any conversation, sometimes you fall off and stop listening, sometimes you misunderstand, sometimes you interrupt because the thing you have to say is just so damned interesting. Sometimes I convince myself that I really am hungry so I can have the slice of lemon cake. One night, at Prime Celebration Time, I knew I wasn’t hungry and was straight about that with myself. And I still wanted some cookie dough. So I had some. Maybe 3 spoonfuls after my body politely raised it’s hand and said, “Thanks, I’m good. No more, please.” And then I put the lid on the container and Put The Cookie Dough Back In The Freezer! VICTORY. Three weeks ago I wouldn’t have even heard my body’s subtle commentary over the gnash and hum of my own Desperate Need For Cookie Dough. And I would have finished the whole container.

And this morning. I was hungry. Ordered 2 poached eggs and latte. Didn’t listen for when I should stop. And now my stomach feels gross.

bkfst

But it’s okay! I get to try again in 2 hours. Maybe 1!

Just like any conversation, it’s a back and forth. It keeps unfolding. And forgiveness is important. You can always say “Sorry.” and “It’s okay.” and keep on going.

Learning to feed my hunger

I will never let another pair of pants tell me I’m fat again.

This from the mouth of my friend Rachael, as she speared another piece of perfectly roasted cauliflower off of the plate in front of us. We met for drinks, Rachael and I, and as the fathers of our children readied our kids for bed, we ordered another cocktail.

I eyed that tiny plate of cauliflower with resentment. It was so good. And there was so little. What a tease tapas can be.

R’s declaration convinced me of what I already knew—I must go buy new jeans.

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Familiar, anyone?

Oh, the ever changing expanse of the post partum body. I’ve been rail thin with huge boobs to very squishy and everything in between. The rail-thinness was the product of exhaustion, depression, and breastfeeding in my first four months with Jo. I remember being stunned by the sight of myself in the mirror after a shower–I finally had the body I’d been told to strive for. It was strange and thrilling to see it on me. And I enjoyed it, guiltily, like a $50 bill you find on a busy street. Does this really belong to me? I didn’t work for it. It simply came through suffering over those early months of becoming a mother.

My current squishy reality, were I to guess, is the product of going to dance class less, breastfeeding less, and a little practice I’ll call The Celebration. It starts around 8:30 most nights when the boys are in bed. AJ will make some popcorn. I’ll grab another glass of wine and the cheese puffs. And then we’ll trot out a pint of ice cream while watching some show on the computer. It’s such a miracle to Eat and Watch without having to share or explain to the children. To be left alone to make terrible health choices and then to fall asleep on the couch. Don’t ask about the couple weeks when I worked through a box of 24 Haagen Dazs ice cream bars.

The Celebration also unfurled itself during the first few months of my job. It was just so miraculous to sit, unfettered at a desk—no one needing a snack or crying or hitting. So I would buy a tub of dark chocolate peanut butter cups at Trader Joe’s and polish of half (or more!) in an afternoon. Partytime.

The women’s group I attend every month? It is an oasis. Smart, interesting, engaged women, their beautiful child-free homes, wine and food. Last month, when I walked in, I thought, “Get ready, self. Time to over-eat.” I do it every time. The Rosé and cheese platter and berries with homemade whipped cream are just so damned abundant and miraculous that I have to pack it in so that it will last until next month.

I’ve felt uneasy about The Celebrations, just as I feel uneasy inside my jeans. And it took writing this to really see it:

I’ve gone and confused food with relaxation.

One feeds my body. The other, my soul.

In the confusion, both my body and soul have gotten squishy.

When I’m experiencing a significant break, rest, respite from the relentlessness of motherhood, I pack food into myself. As though the food will tide me over until next time.

It doesn’t.

And then, instead of really sinking into the moment, feeling the rest, the support, the entertainment, I zone out on food.

This week, I’ve been reading Women Food and God, and I tripped over this sentence several times because it was such a zinger.

To discover what you really believe…pay attention to the way you eat. You will quickly discover if you believe the world is a hostile place and that you need to be in control of the immediate universe for things to go smoothly. You will discover if you believe that there is not enough to go around and that taking more than you need is necessary for survival.

Guess which one I am, piling more sesame noodle salad onto my plate at my woman’s group like it’s the last meal I’ll see for days?

So, I’m turning over a new leaf. The concept of mindful or intuitive eating. I learned about it from this insightful TED Talk, and while at first I was left laughing off the possibility of mindful eating, it’s been surprisingly helpful in practise:

I eat what I want when I’m hungry. Eat till I’m full. If I’m not hungry, and I want to eat, pause the food train and be in the moment.

It’s felt like a homecoming to listen to and trust my body.

The new jeans aren’t too bad either.

Homesteading Update: Chicken Mutiny

The homestead has been pretty idyllic with the days getting longer. We celebrated an unseasonably warm February by planting a long-sought-after fruiting red-leaf plum.

IMG_3976 - Version 2
Brave Irene, our Delaware hen, is keeping an eye on those blossoms for good things to come.

We’ll do some grafting and pruning so this lady grows low and bountiful. We popped her in the ground right next to the chicken run so that when and if we can’t keep up with the plum glut, they’ll be easy to toss in for the chickens.

Ah yes. The chickens. Those longer days have turned our 0 or 1 egg days into 3 or 4 egg days, so omelettes are back in season! But along with our egg bounty came The Mutiny. It started innocently enough. I peeked into our nest box one afternoon and found a cracked egg. While I sighed over the loss, I wondered if any of the girls had helped themselves to a sample. Somebird must have. In the following days, instead of eggs, I found yolky wet spots in the nest box.

I’d heard about this dreaded development–the Marxist chicken revolution. Apparently, once chickens get a taste for their own eggs and owning the means of production, the habit can be pretty hard to break. I tried collecting eggs more often and put some golf balls in the nest box as a decoy. This did not break their revolutionary spirit. Yolky wet spots abounded.

I suspected Mavis, our Auracana. She was the sweetest little sweety as a pullet, sitting on my shoulder and burrowing into my hair for comfort.

Gone are the days of my sweet little Mavis.
Gone are the days of my sweet little Mavis.

She tossed that meek fragility aside in her old age. These days, she rules the roost with an iron beak, so to speak. The ruthless glint in her eye says, “Given the opportunity, and if I had them, I’d kill you with my bare hands.”

So I couldn’t stop a satisfied “I knew it!” from escaping my mouth the day I caught Mavis in the act, gulping down broken shell with the glisten of yolk on her beak. After that, I stomped into the house and broke out the big guns: emptied some store-bought eggs and coated the insides of the shells with dijon mustard. I popped those little dijon bombs back in the nest box and thought I might have won when Mavis rejected the shells after a single, suspicious peck.

Instead, she got a recruit. The next day, Mavis and Rosie were at it together. And LemonCake might have been in on it too. Mutiny. I was incensed. I fantasized about slitting chicken throats to protect the daily food source for my lean, sunburnt family, just trying to survive out on the frontier.

Luckily, my smart homesteader friend R, the one who used to have the goats we milked, offered an alternative to death: the rollaway nest box.

IMG_3974AJ and I spent all of Sunday retrofitting, and I am proud to say that our frontier spirit prevailed! We set the nest box floor at an incline, so that once the deed is done, the egg rolls via padded board into a slot which empties into a padded aluminum paint tray.

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Brave Irene seeks out the camera yet again.

I am proud to report that our frontier spirit prevailed! No yolky wet spots for the past 3 days. Means of production successfully wrested from Mavis’ crafty beak.

Homesteading update: eggs

Let me catch you up on the chickens.

In short, they’ve grown up. Sometime in July, Goldie layed her first egg. She graced it upon our neighbor who was chicken-tending during our victorious summer of camping.

I’ve never experienced the chicken coming-of-age transition before, and let me tell you it is A Thing. In the days before The First Egg, the girls were small, skitterish, made little peeps and clucks, and made staying out of our way their main business. Here is what our neighbor relayed to me about The Day of The First Egg. Before she’d  even discovered it, she knew something was going on. The ladies were strutting and squawking like narcissistic high school seniors at prom.

Bless our neighbor for recounting this by shuffling around our front yard with her elbows angled just so, her neck bobbing out and in, and for saving the first few eggs for us to see. She intuited that this was also a very big moment for me. It was.

I crooned over them. They were so perfect and small. Little starter versions of real, live eggs.

First Eggs

And they were delicious. It was a miracle to see them sputtering to white in the cast iron skillet I inherited from my grandmother.

Over time, the eggs have gotten bigger, and now they’re your standard medium/large that you get at the supermarket. Except for the fact that they’re a sepia rainbow. And Mavis’ are always this amazing blue-green color and more oblong than the rest.

We’ve also gotten a few whoppers. Like one from this morning that we cracked open to find 2 yolks inside.

BigEgg
When I first layed eyes on it, I audibly winced. I hope she did some deep breathing when that one was coming out.

Now, our gals are routine and established layers. We usually get 3-5 eggs per day. The bounty is amazing.

And of course I have slipped into the mundane routine of it all, but I still get shocked into awe by the cycle we’re part of. We throw our cast off cheerios and weeds and apple cores and rotting pumpkins into the run (in addition to their pellets and scratch), and in exchange, these birds make us food and fertilizer. Every effing day. That daily wheel of give and take brings me back to the human animal I am. And even though I can be found hemming and hawing in bed about having to go outside to let the chickens out, I can also be found whispering “thanks gals” into the nest box in the afternoon.

Really. Thanks gals. You’re doing a bang up job.

Slow-cooker bone broth for dummies

I love food. And I have a love/hate relationship with all things related to food preparation. To be honest, since Cal was born I skew strongly to the hate side of that relationship. This is why I instantly replied YES PLEASE! to an email I got from a personal chef named Brooke, asking if I would like to try her organic soups. I’ve never gotten an email like this before, but Brooke sought me out because I’m a doula and she and her business partner are trying to cater to new moms in the Bay Area.

When someone else is cooking, I’m pretty easy to please. Even so, I guzzled down Brooke’s chicken vegetable soup (made with bone broth!) like my life depended on it. It wasn’t just good. It was a complex-flavor-y, nutrient-dense delight. Cal kept wanting MOWAAHH, and as I spooned it into his open-baby-bird mouth, I did what many mothers are amazing at doing: I transformed a really nice moment into a guilt-laden one.

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Here is a metaphorical cup full of guilt…er…bone broth.

Photo by superphoebe

I know how great bone broth is, and given enough time and supplies, I’d bathe my kids in it. But the last time I made one was eons ago. And that’s because every time I try, it takes hours and winds up tasting like greasy animal water. So how the hell did Brooke get the bone broth base of her chicken soup to taste so terrific? And would I ever have the energy or desire to do such a thing?

Titillated? Well continue on, dear reader. Brooke is about to illuminate the finer points of bone broth for those of us with teeny-tiny attention spans and even less desire to cook.

What is bone broth?

Bone broth is the result of simmering bones (usually either cow, chicken, or pig) in water over very low heat for anywhere from 6-48 hours.  Over this time, all of the nutrition in the bones is leached into the water leaving a rich, nutrient dense broth.  You can drink the broth on its own, use it as a base for soups, or use it in place of water to cook grains and legumes like brown rice, quinoa and lentils.

Why Bone Broth?

Bone broth is known as a healing tonic.  The gelatin in bone broth heals the digestive tract, the glucosamine can help to repair damaged joints and reduce inflammation, and minerals like calcium and magnesium support bone health.  We especially recommend bone broths to help new moms heal after the birth of a new baby.  To get these benefits and not spend a fortune, here is a very simple recipe for a chicken bone broth below.  I

Helpful bone broth tips:

  • You can store chicken bones in the freezer until you have enough to make a broth.
  • If you don’t have vegetables on hand or you are missing one, do not let that stop you.  The important thing here are the bones.  Everything else can be left out if needed.
  • If at any time the broth is boiling turn down the heat. It should be at a quiet simmer.

Slow-cooker Chicken Bone Broth recipe

Equipment Needed:

  • Slow cooker (I have an 8-quart Hamilton Beach, so this recipe is for that amount.  If you have a smaller slow cooker, simply cut the recipe in half.)
  • Quart sized wide mouth mason jars
  • Fine Mesh Strainer
  • Canning funnel
  • Ladle
  • Masking tape and marker

Ingredients:

  • Bones from 2 whole chickens that you’ve previously cooked and eaten (no need to clean the bones- just throw in whatever leftovers you have, but don’t include any skin)
  • 1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Water to cover

Procedure:

  1. Place all ingredients in slow cooker and cover with water.  Turn slow cooker to low, leave slow cooker lid off, and let simmer for 8-12 hours or overnight.
  2. Turn off slow cooker and allow broth cool in the slow cooker for an hour or until it’s no longer too hot to handle.
  3. Place the canning funnel on the jar to help avoid spillage. Set the fine mesh strainer on top of the canning funnel. Ladle the broth through the strainer into the jars leaving 2-3 inches of space at the top of the jars (in case you want to freeze it).  Any fat in got into your stock will rise to the surface as the broth cools and can be skimmed off later.
  4. Toss the bones and the veggies in the compost.  All of their nutrients will have been leached into the broth so they will have very little nutritional value left.
  5. Place your broth-filled jars in the fridge to cool.  Label them with the tape and marker and include the date.
  6. Broth will be good in the fridge for 7 days or freeze to use later!
  7. *Freezer tip: Freeze with the top off to allow room for expansion- it will help keep the glass from breaking.  Once frozen put the top back on.

Yield: 4 quarts of nutrient dense, delicious, healing broth

Thank you, Brooke, of Bee & Biscuit, for making bone broth seem like an attainable goal!! And thank you, even more, for bringing a jar of delicious soup to my house that day.

3 minute sugar-free, dairy-free homemade ice cream

Ready for the easiest, breeziest ice cream ever?

I stumbled upon this on one of our last days of summer when Jo was on repeat, “I want a frozen treat. I want a frozen treat. I want a frozen treat.” We were popsicle-less, and I had a feeling that waiting 3 hours for the homemade ones to freeze was not in the cards for him or me. I wanted a frozen treat too, damn it. It was hot. So I improvised with the few things we had and Voila!

1) Dump the following into a blender:
Ice
Half and half or coconut milk for the dairy free option
Lemon juice
Stevia

2) Blend.

Behold your frozen treat!

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I secretly save the best for myself – my messy beautiful

The boy across the street is incomparably generous. He lets Jo borrow all manner of toys for weeks on end. He often intones, “I have soooo many toys. Sure, Jo, you can borrow.”

Jo, on the other hand, is like a stingy old codger on his death bed, bony fingers wrapped around whatever happens to be within reach.

Photo by Skesis

He gets it from me.

When I’m portioning out food for a meal, I constantly evaluate AJ’s plate against mine, and if his looks better or has more meat or sweet potatoes or sauce or whatever I might be after, I do a little switch-a-roo before smacking the plates down, and no one is ever the wiser.

My stingy little codger gets fed, eyes twinkling. “I got the best one.”

I know at this very minute that there are 4 chocolate chip cookies remaining in their crackly plastic sleeve on top of the refrigerator. I hid them under the tortilla chips last night so that Jo won’t notice them. If he asks for one later today, after having eaten an entire kale salad topped with steamed broccoli, I will give him one. Maybe half. And I tell myself it’s because I want to keep him healthy. But mostly, it’s because I want them for myself.

I have a friend, Clio, who I laugh with while our kids bounce around on her back yard trampoline. She brings out bowls overflowing with berries. Platters of cut cheese and crackers. There is an industrial size box of sustainably-manufactured, organic gummi candy in her pantry, and she doles out those little packets like they’re going out of style. I love going to her house. Shockingly, so does Jo. I often imagine–nay, hope–that heaven is like Clio’s house. Laughter in the back yard and delicious snacks neverending.

I know the basic concepts that are behind all this. My mother was also a food stasher, and likely her mother, who grew up poor in a dusty Texas town. Scarcity vs. abundance, blah blah blah. And I’ve tried to shift the dynamic—boldly buying a big $5 clam of strawberries and just polishing off the whole thing with Jo in one sitting on our front porch. Those moments of abandon feel good. But my default is the codger.

The bony old hoarder who thinks there’s never enough for her.

Pull up a chair, old gal. What are you hungry for?

***

I was inspired to write post by Glennon Melton’s Messy, Beautiful Warriors project on her blog, Momastery. The very first post I ever read there was this one. So I’ve kept in touch with her.

Learn about how to add your voice to the project here, and check out her book here.

(And no one paid me to write this, despite the commercial feel of that little banner down there. I just harnessed the inspiration this morning and thought you might enjoy knowing about Glennon’s stuff.)

Easy, dreamy German Baby Pancake recipe

We like German Babies at this house.

This kind:

cal booty

And this kind:

German Baby!!!! Recipe forthcoming @j_garrr.

A post shared by An Honest Mom (@anhonestmom) on

I’ve been particularly devoted to baking the latter on the weekends, since I started craving it a few months ago. It had been years since I’d eaten one, but I never forgot. We had a magical first meeting, the German Baby and I. My friend Kat whipped one up for me years ago on a rainy Portland morning. I was allured by how it just curled its golden edges up out of the skillet. And how it tasted sort of like a crepe, but thicker and more hearty. And how you could just top it with any delicious thing and have a miracle breakfast.

Apparently, some people call it a German Baby, others a Dutch Baby, or a German or Dutch Pancake. One thing is for certain. It is easy and magnificent. And it has brought much joy to our lives these past few weekend mornings. Jo is now an expert baking assistant, cracking the eggs and stirring in the flour and milk.

Dutch German Baby Pancake

3 eggs
1/2 cup milk, divided
1/2 cup flour, divided
salt
butter

Preheat oven to 450 with a cast iron skillet inside. Beat eggs and add a pinch or two of salt. Add 1/4 cup of the milk and mix. Add 1/4 cup of flour and mix. Then repeat–remaining milk, mix, remaining flour, mix. At some point in this process, throw a knob of butter in your hot skillet and let it melt. Make it a serious knob, folks–1-2 tbsp. Once butter is melted and swirled around bottom and sides of skillet, pour in batter. Bake at 450 for 5-10 mins, until you see the edges start to curl up. Turn the oven down to 300 and bake for another 5ish minutes. Until she puffs up in all her glory.

Then you top that sucker with whatever you want. Fruit, nuts, yogurt, all 3… We’re especially into apples, sauteed with butter, sugar, cinnamon and some lemon juice and topping the whole thing off with some greek yogurt.

apples

And I bet this can be easily modified into a gluten-free recipe. I’ve been subbing in 1/4 cup of buckwheat flour and will try one with all buckwheat this weekend, just to see how it goes. Let me know if you perfect a gluten-free recipe, and I’ll post it.

This recipe feeds Jo and AJ and I for breakfast. I also recently discovered the joy of eating all of it myself, when I was home with a sick baby and feeling a little under the weather.

germanbabysickday

This was certainly the high point of the sick day. Things quickly degenerated, and I posted the gory/hysterical family GI distress details on the Facebook page. Let’s just say it was a doosey of a Friday.

So now that I’ve whetted your appetite and possibly made you feel a bit queasy, go forth and enjoy!

Easiest gluten-free carrot cake-bread-muffin recipe and 40 weeks pregnant

A lot of you has asked for our gluten free carrot cake recipe after I posted this picture of its production on the Facebook page.

Photo on 2013-04-17 at 07.35 #3It’s a fabulous recipe that I’ve made successfully many times, and I am no baker. It comes to me from my friend R, who happens to be a dreamy cook and baker. Luckily, this recipe is easy enough to translate into my culinary skill set. And it features buckwheat flour, which I love for it’s nutty, heartiness.

Ingredients
1 cup buckwheat flour (R has also used teff flour, with good results)
1 cup rice flour
1 TBSP baking powder
2 TBSP ground cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 and 1/2 – 2 cups shredded carrots  (you can even use 3+ cups w/ great results!)
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 cup corn or canola oil
1 TBSP vanilla extract
I also add chopped walnuts b/c I love them and they make the end result more protein-y

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400
Sift flour, baking powder, spices, salt
Mix in all the wet stuff
Pour into a 9 and 1/2″ bundt pan (a loaf pan works just fine too.  Or a square. Or muffin tins…whatever)
Bake 40-50 mins, until top appear crusty and you can insert a toothpick and have it come out clean.
Cool for 10 mins, then carefully invert pan onto a wire rack and finish cooling.

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Enjoy!!

***

I’m writing this on what happens to be my due date with baby #2. And even though I know in my head that it’s normal to go past a due date, that I went 13 days past with J, and that I fully expected to go well into week 40 or 41 again this time, I’m feeling a bit deflated today.

Does my body really know how to do this?

Of course it does! says my confident, relaxed, birth-loving doula self.

But my 40 weeks pregnant self is a doubter. So I’ll leave you all (and my doubter self) with a little excerpt from an email that I wrote to one of my doula clients a couple of months ago:

Your body and this baby are on some mystical, goddessy, lunar schedule, and there’s some magic behind the mystery.

I really do find that births happen the way they do for a reason. It’s hard to know why before they happen, but there are so many things that have to come together for a birth–the right people, timing, environment. Who knows, maybe your baby is tuned into the time when the PERFECT nurse will be on call at the hospital. Maybe your body is waiting for the perfect day for everything to just start and work beautifully so that your labor is shorter and smoother. Maybe your kiddo is choosing a birthday that he won’t have to later share with some big douchebag in his kindergarten.
If possible, try to tap into any trust you might feel that there are larger forces at work here. And if that’s hard, go eat a doughnut. I find trust and doughnuts go together nicely.
I think it’s my turn for a doughnut.

Recipe revelations: 8 ideas towards easy, plentiful eating

Not surprisingly, you are all amazing.

I have been inundated in the best possible way with recipes and food planning tips since my recipe plea. I needed ideas for easy meals that  produce a lot of food for leftovers or freezing. Boy did you deliver. Lo and behold, such recipes exist and I have you to thank for a week of much better eating around here. The first and most helpful piece of advice that I got from my friend C?

1) Do a huge shop every 2 weeks or so.

I think I’ve been teetering on the edge of this since J officially entered the ranks of 3 year olds who eat entire meals. I’m still living in the past, as is the destiny of parents everywhere, and clinging to the idea that I can still feed him off of my plate. This, sadly, is not true, since he can and does easily polish off 4 bananas in one sitting at just about any time of day. So last time I went to the store, I bought 2 dozen eggs, 2 tubs of yogurt–essentially twice the amount of the things that I’ve been buying for my entire adult life. The result: we have food in our refrigerator for longer than 5 minutes. And I feel less resentful when I open the fridge before bed, desperate for protein, and find that all appealing options have been scavenged by the two men in my life.

2) Stock up on ingredients for high-protein snacks.

I found this list of snack ideas in a moment of internet desperation. Protein-Shake_LG_604
Some of the stuff was pretty basic, but there were some good ones–I have been especially loving smoothie #13, and I like it best with almond butter.

3) Make lots and freeze.

  • From E: Black bean sweet potato burritos
  • From S and C and r: Make a lot of soup and freeze it. (This was a revelation, since I often do make a lot of soup, and then we all go on strike on day 3 and I find myself leaving little tubs of the stuff on our neighbors’ doorsteps.)

4) Make lots and eat for days.

  • From r: “Roasted vegetables! You just have to cut them up, drizzle in olive oil, season, and stick them in the oven. Turn half way through.”
  • Anna: “Cook a load of cous cous (soaked it veg stock so it tastes of something already), chop up ( nice and chunky) a red onion, pepper, fennel( essential in my opinion), courgette and roast for about 20 mins, then for the final 5 mins chuck in chopped chilli and garlic ( plenty of) cherry toms and crumbled feta. Mix with all roasted goodies with cous cous and mix together with a dressing consisting of olive oil, whole grain mustard, lemon juice and loads of seasoning. Eat it warm and fresh then stick it in the fridge and it makes good cold lunches for a few days. Yum yum pigs bum.”
  • From me! Lentil feta tabbouleh (I make at least a double recipe and it’s also great with quinoa instead of bulghur wheat)

5) Pick recipes that are easy to throw together quickly:

  • From Laura: “Tilapia filets cooked in a skillet with Frontera sauce for fish and served over rice. Grab some salad from a bulk mix, toss it with some olive oil and soy sauce and BOOM, dinner.”
  • and Laura again: Noodles with broccoli and white beans
  • From S: Bibimbap–its a traditional Korean dish.bibimbap10 “Make a big pot of rice and toss with sesame oil (& toasted sesame seeds are good). Saute protein (tofu, beef, chicken). Add veggies: greens, mushrooms, carrots in vinegar. Last minute, fry and egg and throw on top. Eat with soy and spicy sauce.”

6) From my dear friend MM: “Here’s my two cents on cooking ahead. CROCK POT!”

7) Prepare certain ingredients in advance to throw into future meals.

  • From Shanyn: “For example, make a big batch of your favorite grain on the weekend when you have the time and then you can morph that grain into several meals just by adding a protein and veggie/fruit.”
  • From S and J: Make a huge batch of beans or lentils to freeze or add to multiple meals all week.

8) Ask for help when you need it.

Putting out the call to all of you was the single most helpful thing I did to improve our food reality. It made me feel less alone, impressed with your resourcefulness and lovingly envious of the beautiful meals you feast on with the ones you love. It also reminded me that I do have recipes I love and ways that I tend to cook, and that sometimes I go into lock-down mode because there is simply too much going on. Having some compassion and understanding for that topped off with some very practical help from a bunch of kick ass people–well, that is a recipe we should all keep around.