Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Forget the Quinoa, Here is a Collection of Some Friendly Tips & Tricks Instead

     Well don't really forget it, I will be writing all about it...again but since I am still mad at the computer (actually my blog) for doing that, I am taking out some kind of twisted vengeance by NOT writing about it right now. Ha, so there foul demon piece of hardware!
     I decided to focus my energy a little on some fabulous tips I have conjured up over the last week or so. Not that most of you haven't figured these sorts of things out already probably, since you are much more accomplished cooks and housekeepers than I, but I am going to pretend that I have some good inklings of wisdom to provide having 3 busy little ones at home while I am trying to juggle food, house, husband etc. (Plus I really just like to hear myself talk!) I know that some of these will change as my life changes, so you'll probably hear about them more later. Still, it's fun to share.

     Home Tips (Let's dispense with the boring first shall we?)

Let me first begin by restating I am NOT a fantastic house cleaner. Once I finally have to stay in one place for longer than 1-3 years at a time, I will really be in for a surprise as one day I will have to really clean my house, and not just when I move out or move in. I have learned a couple of things though.....

#1.      At this point in my life, I try to do AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE during the week and my daily routine. This pretty much has to do with anything related to house cleaning, laundry etc. I like my home to at least appear moderately taken care of, and I cherish my weekends with the kids and hubs so I do whatever I can when I have a few minutes. Say I finally call my mom back, or have 10 min before picking kids's the perfect time to quick Lysol Wipe down the bathroom. I have made a list ahead of time for what I want to accomplish each week (ex. clean bathrooms, do laundry 3x, mop2x etc) That way I have control over what I do, and when I do it. And if I need to leave things for the weekend when I get extra help OR do a few extra things that week because we all had the flu and need to disinfect, I can!

#2.      Try to include your kids any chance you get. In our house my kids are old enough to help, but not old enough to really have many specific chores (dishes and taking care of their laundry are some...) And I like fostering the idea that we are all family and we all help each anytime I am doing something they can help with, I bring 'em in. For example, we just cleaned over at my parents the other day and since they have been in the house more often than normal they were great at doing things like scrubbing toilets, transferring laundry, vacuuming, etc. Later I will give them quarters for all the help during the week, or allow them to pick out a toy at the store or something to show I recognize their willingness to help. There are also times when they decide not to do dishes that morning (or something) and I just remember that later when they want something special from me. Not to be vindictive, but to show that I do what I do to serve them, and that those are some of the little "core values" of our family. P.S. I always notice how much better their "behavior" is when we are on track with sharing responsibility in our house, kids thrive on that!

#3.      There is a difference in "cleaning" and "straightening" and I will often just straighten so things look nicer and more organized, and leave the cleaning for other times. It helps me again to feel more in control, to get help from my kids, and to have more time for more important things. Almost every night I go through at bedtime and do the "laundry basket straighten" with the kids, which is where we gather everything up and put it all where it belongs. Again, this makes it so they help and it is not solely my responsibility, AND so things look nice without too much effort. I am all about as little effort as possible!

     Food Tips

#1.     If you are cutting more meat and adding more whole grains/veggies to your diet, be sure to still have the important fats, like olive oil, coconut oil, pure organic if possible butter etc. Your bowls will thank you later.

#2.     Speaking of coconut oil, try using it the next time you make homemade popcorn; use a sturdy pot for popping, about 1 tbsp coconut oil to 1/2 c or so un-popped kernels. Heat the oil thoroughly, add the corn and cover. You'll know when it is done! The tiniest bit of sea salt is fantastic to top it. Believe me, you don't even need butter!

#3.      One of my lovely Vegan friends (thanks Lisa!) told me that whenever she cooks with Tofu, she bakes it for 15-20 min or so first, just to help firm it before cooking or sauteing it. I read that in a couple of recipe books too, and am going to try my hand more at Tofu, once I get a little more settled of course...

#4.     Again, olive oil makes everything better! Try brushing your thin vertically sliced eggplant with a little o.oil before a quick broil for 10-15 and then using it for your veggie bakes, or just right out of the oven! A little drizzle of olive oil goes a long way when roasting or sauteing any vegetables because it helps to bring out the flavor and aide in the cooking process.

#5.     Try a large portobello mushroom cap grilled (with a little olive oil!) instead of actual meat for a nice change to a burger. This is my new favorite tip from The Healthy Kitchen cookbook I started reading. Yum!

#6.     My dad is a member of the periodic paralysis (PPD) group via the web and they pass out tips every once in a while. This one was great. I guess those who have PPD often have a hard time digesting carbs. They found that eating vinegar with a meal helps the carbs go down better. For ex. if it is spaghetti night (with actual noodles!) than they start their meal with a salad and light vinegar/oil/lemon dressing. Something about the chemical side of digestion that makes this a great idea. Brings me to the next one...

#7.     Start each dinner with salad to fill you mostly up, then add the main dish. Or try the old drink a full glass of water within 30 min of eating any meal to help with not only flushing your system but filling you a little more before eating. There have been actual studies that show sometimes when we are super dehydrated we feel hunger rather than thirst. Why, I don't know, but make sure you ALWAYS get your 8 glasses a day!

#8.     My mother-in-law gave me this tip when I was visiting this last week or so on the way out to Denver. She got it from somewhere, sorry I can't remember where, but we tried it and it was not that bad! Add some canned peas when you mash up your avocado for guacamole. It adds more nutrients and makes the avocado go farther. Other than being a little more sweet, we could hardly tell, especially since it was going in our tacos.

#9.     I've said it before and I'll say it again (or maybe I haven't, whatever though!) Eliminate meat just 2-3 times per week saves a ton on your food bill allowing for more veggies, and new exciting dishes with beans, legumes, or complete protein grains like quinoa!

#10.     Read your labels! Eliminate as much as you can from your cupboards that is not mostly whole foods. Your kids will survive just fine on an apple or veggie sticks with ranch or whatever for snack. Just be consistent!

And above all, Have Fun! Life is too short to not enjoy your food!

1 comment:

  1. P.P.P.S.
    the portabello burger ROCKS! try it with a light super green side salad, and some quick oven potatoes (mandolin sliced thin, spray the pan and the potatoes after you lay them out and then sprinkle with season salt and broil til just browned...try the Yukon Golds and be amazed!) I heart food!


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