How I survived my CSA

For those that don’t know, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.

Yeah, I know. Even spelled out, it is descriptive but not…explanative? Which is evidently not a word and why you’re expecting clear language on this blog after 13 years is beyond me.

A CSA is usually a local farm (or collection of growers) that distribute “shares” for their “agriculture” to the “community” which “supports” them.

You know those monthly subscription-based services like wine of the month club? It’s like that. But usually weekly. And with more cilantro. (DAMN YOU CILANTRO.)

We have a nearby organic farm, EverGood farm, who does both 1/2 and fall shares for 8-16 weeks during the growing season. Every week we stopped at one of the farmer’s market they attend and picked up our box of goodies.

I love that we have a CSA available to us even though we’ve moved hours away from civilization. And that we have a farmer’s market just minutes from the shop.

But.

(Of course there’s a but. Did you read the title?)

1) The CSA is available during the time of the year when we are our busiest.
2) The farmer’s market just minutes from our shop happens on a Wednesday. This has meant lots of produce sitting around until Saturday or Sunday when I may have time to cook and prep.
3) Even with two very adventurous palates and willingness to try new things, there have been some items we just don’t use (I’m looking at you, CILANTRO). Although the cost is small considering the amount of produce we receive, it is a waste to receive items we truly can’t or won’t eat.

(Cilantro tastes like soap to me. It’s genetic. I’ve tried using it in varying quantities in different recipes. And every time I think, “This is an awesome dish except for the soap.”)

The first year we struggled with some of the above issues but decided it was worth it to continue. Last year I was much more prepared and didn’t waste as much but at the cost of my free time and sanity.

So looking forward to year three, we’ve decided instead of participating in the CSA, we will pre-purchase credits to use at the market. This gives us flexibility in both the amount of produce (in case it’s a particularly busy week) and the actual product itself (we, uh, won’t be purchasing any cilantro). At the same time by purchasing credits in advance we are committing ourselves to eating local, organic produce and helping EverGood with a small economic boost in their non-growing season.

All that said, if you happen to not work 14 hours a day during the time CSA shares are distributed I think they are wonderful. Some of the positives (besides supporting local farming):

1) Usually fresher produce than you would find in a store.

2) Variety of produce including items you may not pick out on your own.

3) One-stop shopping for most of your vegetable needs for the week.

If you find the idea interesting, but are similarly concerned about being overwhelmed, here are the ways I made participating in a CSA easy:

1) Keep it Simple – Think Salads, Soups, and Smoothies

Sometimes confronted with a new or special food, I feel I must do something new or special with it. And if you have the time and energy, go for it! Let your CSA share be the canvas on which you paint a beautiful and tasty gourmet meal.

But if you don’t have the time and energy? Remind yourself the point is to eat a variety of local, hopefully organic, produce. Any format you choose to get it in your belly is an acceptable way to accomplish that. The Three Ssss’s are my favorite.

Salads. Just about any vegetable and many fruits can be chopped up and thrown in there. Keep your favorite “salad extras” (think canned beans, crumbled cheeses, sunflower seeds) on hand with two or three favorite dressings to rotate. This is an extra bonus if you have a heat-wave in the middle of CSA season. Great, easy dinner without turning on the stove!

Technically A Stew, But You get the Idea

Technically A Stew, But You get the Idea

Soups. I once was at a loss with a particularly large CSA share that included leeks, eggplant, fennel, zucchini, and potatoes. One long ass google search later, Soup! Yes, I needed several other vegetables to complete the recipe. But eating vegetables was the whole point, yes? A lot of vegetable-based soups will be very forgiving with omitting or adding ingredients; just start with good quality bases and use your favorite herbs. You can also translate many soup recipes to the crock pot which helps with time constraints.

Smoothies. When in doubt, throw that ish in a blender, add some frozen berries, and suck down those nutrients! Almost any greens are blender-worthy, as well as any fruits, cucumbers, celery, and even some herbs if you’re feeling spicy and adventurous. I have a green smoothie daily, that usually incorporates 1-2 servings of vegetables at 1-3 servings of fruit. (If you are not used to green smoothies, I would suggest starting with your favorite fruit smoothie with 1-2 cups of spinach added. Spinach is by far the easiest vegetable to incorporate without noticing a different taste or texture.)

Not quite "green"...blueberries will do that

Not quite “green”…blueberries will do that

2) The freezer is your friend

At some point, you will be faced with an item you can’t for love or money work into a recipe in a timely fashion. I had a head of cabbage stare at me for a week and a half for this exact reason. My husband had obliged me with two heads of cabbage earlier in the season by frying up cabbage and bacon. But I don’t like cabbage and bacon and I was sick of him solely reaping the cabbage benefit.

I had just the week before made baked egg rolls for the first time, using up some Napa cabbage. I definitely wanted to make them again, but not so soon. Again, google to the rescue with directions on how to prepare cabbage for freezing.

You can freeze cabbage? Who knew? But CSA desperation calls for pulling out all the stops. Now that cabbage has been quartered and blanched and is sitting right next to the leftover egg roll wrappers.

Every once and while I am also smart enough to freeze something ASAP. I grate carrot and extra zucchini then freeze for all sorts of sweet and savory treats later. I immediately freeze my rhubarb because I’ll want to make jam later.

Some items can be frozen raw with no (berries) or little (grated vegetables) preparation. Some items need a bit of coaxing (herbs made into a “pesto-starter”, chopped fine with olive oil) and some need actual heat before they cool off (blanching cabbage). But I promise you the small amount of work put into packing away frozen goodies is worth it.

3) If not the cold shoulder (freezer), how about some hot air?

I’m talking dehydrating, y’all. And it’s awesome. I immediately put herbs in the “dehydrate” pile. I just can’t use up the amount we receive fresh before they start to rot. I’ve also found that dehydrated scallions will plump back up for most recipes just fine.

Another thing I dehydrate a lot is tomatoes. Tomatoes are the sort of produce I received in small enough amounts in my CSA that unless I put them in salads, I rarely feel I have enough to “do” anything with while they are fresh. I dehydrate them and then use them in place of sun-dried tomatoes in recipes for months.

I store my dehydrated items in clean plastic containers with good lids in a pantry spot that won’t get a lot of light.

Those are my tips on getting the most out of a CSA and trying to not get overwhelmed.  I do recommend trying a CSA if you have one available in your area.  It is an easy way to get tons of fresh produce.  Most CSAs will give you a heads up as to what is planned to be in a share so you can be prepared with recipes and menus for the week ahead.

I am really looking forward to this next season with Ever Good farms. I am a little concerned we will get so busy that we won’t use all of our credit, but that is why I purchased it now – to force us to shop where we really want to.

I Feel Like There is a “Nacho” Joke In Here Somewhere. Please Find It.

Somewhere around today probably marks the one-month anniversary for me becoming a vegetarian (again).

It was a bit of a gradual transition due to my habit of making large amounts of a recipe so leftovers are available for either freezing or next week’s meals. Since Tom is not a vegetarian, I did not need to “use up” every single piece of meat in the house but I do remember there being a day or two of meat leftovers after I had specifically purchased only vegetarian groceries.

Overall, I am very happy with the decision and find it extremely easy. Again, beforehand we usually had at least one completely vegetarian meal a week for dinner and I was not eating lots of meat at lunch. This was not such a huge switch for me as it might be for others.

I am a small bit concerned about my energy level. But that is probably more related to stress and my forced resting state as my skin infection healed. I had started a very active morning routine (after the vegetarian switch). I am finding it difficult to re-start but I think that would be the case no matter what my diet.

I will be due to have blood work (thyroid) done shortly, so I feel comfortable continuing my veggie quest with the knowledge I will have a mandatory doctor’s visit where I can share these changes.

I am very surprised with how supportive Tom has been. We try to split housework fairly and I do the majority of the cooking. I have offered to make recipes where meat could be added at the end to complete the dish for him, but he has so far declined. I also agreed to purchase meat if he wants it on the grocery list. That offer has probably been declined because since I never did eat a lot of meat, I was never the person to send over to the butcher to select the best roast.  It usually helps if someone knows what animal a “Boston Butt” comes from.  (A pig.  But I did not know that before Tom and I am pretty sure I have still never purchased one.)

An added bonus with him purchasing whatever meat he chooses to eat is that grocery shopping is a lot faster. I also feel less guilty in choosing a non-sale or expensive “treat”. Last week’s Ranch dressing and veggie nuggets? No remorse over the calories or the dollars!

I should also say that most surprising so far in Tom’s support is that he is eating vegetarian a lot of the time as well. I make enough for there to be leftovers and many nights Tom prefers the convenience of re-heating a vegetarian dish than making something else. It makes me happy to know I can cook vegetarian (or vegan) meals that are tasty enough to appease a meat-eater. It also makes me happy because I believe eating more vegetables is healthier and I like the idea of him being healthy.

Please note that I did not make this change because I thought I would be automatically “healthier”. I am aware that Oreos are vegan and you can find processed junk to fit any dietary restriction. When I ate meat, I aimed to eat homemade meals that didn’t call for a ton of prepackage foods. Now that I am a vegetarian, I do the same.

This diet change is prompted by concerns over animal welfare and the environment. Because of that, I would prefer to seek out vegan meals. On the one hand, the only dairy I eat on a regular basis is cheese and yogurt. On the other hand, I do eat both regularly. If anything, my cheese consumption has gone up since this change. (There I go, not being “healthier”.)

In order to shift myself to eating less dairy, I have purchased a book on vegan crock pot cooking and I’m working through one recipe a week. Once I feel like I have a good enough collection of recipes to work from, I will likely start looking at some of, what I feel like, are the harder vegan decisions like butter alternatives and how to still bake without eggs.

I have already tried one vegan cheese recipe. It was…interesting. It was nacho cheese and if we define nacho cheese as tangy and salty and gooey than I would say the recipe was a success.

If we define it as something we would call cheese and eat with a spoon straight out of a container then…fail.

Not a Math Major Or On A Diet

I decided we would have spaghetti for dinner.  And that I would use the whole box because I hate having silly extra portions leftover that aren’t enough for two people.

But when it got to the point of pouring pasta into boiling water, I hemmed.  Hawed even.

I checked the number of servings in the sauce (5), the number of servings in the pasta box (6.5.  Who the fuck has ever eaten a half serving of pasta?), tried to take into to account that we would want to get a 2nd dinner out of this….and put in 4/5 of the box.

Only afterwards, once the spaghetti was cooked and I was combining everything did I realize that I somehow purposely decided that we were only going to eat 1 serving of pasta at each meal.  And while that perhaps does not automatically result in the same swearing a 1/2 serving might, it certainly does in this fucking house.

The really annoying part is that Tom will get home and if he likes it (it has…dun dun DUN…vegan meatballs in it), he will not care that our meal plan included a x2 by this.  While I have tried some moderation with the idea that I can fill up on pecans and dark chocolate chips later – completely guilt-free!  it was just 1 serving of pasta when obviously I need 3 for basic survival! – he will just snarf down the whole bowl.

Oh wait, that’s not the really annoying part.  The really annoying part is that I now have a silly extra portion of spaghetti in a box that isn’t enough for 2 people.  Good job on those math skills!  Thank goodness I went with my gut reaction and didn’t overthink myself into a too-little-pasta corner!  Again!

Merry Cheesecake!

Merry Christmas!

For Christmas so far I have:

  1. Emptied, cleaned, replaced the cat litters.
  2. Washed dishes.  Thrice.
  3. Washed my “delicates”.  (I’m thinking once you get to a certain band size and  a certain cup size, they are no longer “delicate”.  Check and double check.)

But it’s not all fun and games here.  I DID open Christmas packages, go on a very long walk in snow-covered majestic-ness, and cook all sorts of tempting goodies which meant my very long walk should have been a very, very long walk but whatever.  It’s Christmas.

One item I made for myself for this holiday season was a cheesecake.  It came out wonderfully.  I’ve had three pieces now (breakfast, lunch, dinner…what?) and each time I marvel at how genius it was to make the crust out of  spekulatius (German spice cookies) because nothing says “awesome dessert” the way step 1 of a recipe calls for, “Take a complete dessert in its own right (cookies) and mash it with 6 tablespoons of melted butter.”

 

Thanksgiving Menu Addition – Brought to you by Merlot

I meant to surf somewhere else, but google decided to auto-complete with my WordPress admin page so here we are.

I have a pie crust blind baking in the oven.  And I’m going to go ahead and guess that 5 minutes into the oven is the wrong time to realize you didn’t fork-prick that crust to death.

I am using Deb’s All Butter Pie Crust (follow the link at the end for rolling instructions.  First time I followed them and first time in forever I haven’t had to piece-meal a crust back together in the pie tin!) and blind baking it to make a French Silk Pie (following Martha Stewart’s recommendation which seems very similar to Pioneer Woman’s version just less volume).

Tom is in charge of the turkey.

I will make Paul Deen’s Corn Casserole (less butter, more cheese possibly) and back to SmittenKitchen for Green Bean Casserole (although I’m using pre-fried onions.  Ingredient list is basically the same and maybe ONE pot will remain clean tomorrow).

There will be some willy-nilly sweet potatoes, possibly roasted in disks or just plain baked.

And I made Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip bread from Betty Rocker’s latest email because I had some pumpkin puree left over from oatmeal and what’s Thanksgiving without pumpkin?

TBD if tomorrow will include Merlot.  Depends a lot on the blind baking outcome.

A very happy to you and yours.

Weather To Be Wary

I am in one of those FitBit weekday competitions so I am trying to not sit still period this week.  That, plus hosting commitments (SOMEONE has to introduce Mom to Boardwalk Empire), have kept me from writing much.

I will save general “I got a FitBit” details for another post (I have it already started!  Twice!) but for those that don’t know – a FitBit is an activity device, specifically one to measure the steps you take in a day.  And if you have friends through their software, you can compete against each other.  I have some that have been competing weekly.

This was all well and good a few weeks ago when some people were new and still gearing up.  I got first place twice without even trying.  Then I skipped last week because I felt like it would be “cheating” what with our 42-mile hike.

I should not have skipped.

All of a sudden people are pulling crazy numbers.  And some are friends-of-friends whose personal life I know nothing about but I’m thinking NONE OF THEM have two jobs, one which requires me to sit at a desk.  (Maybe I shouldn’t ask for a raise this year, but a treadmill desk instead?)  I am now just roaming rooms in circles and pacing like crazy in some hope of generating enough steps that the tracker can keep me on the same graph as them without resorting to using exponential tick marks.

And the weather is not cooperating.

Yesterday it was rain.  A misty, delicate rain most of the day.  Then we needed to go to the post office, three blocks away, and I volunteered to dash out.  The rain will make me go faster!

Not only did it choose black 1.5 to have a downpour, but the wind picked up with a vengeance.  I was soaked and had to pretty much go straight home to change.

Today, it is snow.  Specifically, a snow as hard and windy as yesterday’s rain that hit me on my morning walk and I wondered for a few minutes if I’d get to see anything in front of me until I got back inside.

Now it’s snowing worse and I’m stuck doing laps at the shop.  I’m beginning to wish I had looked for a used treadmill instead of an elliptical machine.  I loved the elliptical machine at my old gym because I could do High Intensity Interval Training while saving my knees.  But it is HARD to get the FitBit to count steps on the elliptical.  Even though I sweat more during the workout, I’ll log about 1/3 less steps than if I’d just hoofed it down the road for the same amount of time.

So when I get hit by snow plow this winter, and they finally uncover my body in the thaw, please remember to sync my FitBit one last time.

What Goes Down Must Come Up

I’ve had a touchy stomach the past few days.  It’s very odd because I usually do not succumb to ailments below the throat.  (Internal ailments that is.  Ankles and knees, I am not speaking about you.)

My cast-iron status quo is somewhat confounding if you knew how much IBS and other digestion-related diseases run in my family.  It is less confounding if you knew how my father melded exotic foods with a laissez-faire attitude towards expiration dates and food spoilage.

Even when things do get on an uneven keel below the neck, I tend to roll the punches pretty well.  So I was surprised yesterday morning by how persistent a stomachache I had.  I drank water, ate a little food, and went to the bathroom.  I had done my part, but my stomach refused to stop complaining.

I figured it was a combination of stress (we have left much trip planning for this hike to the last minute) and non-sleep.  I muddled through the rest of the day, did indeed feel dead tired by 6:15pm, and went to bed at 7:30pm.  For a while it seemed my stomach might keep me up, protesting the blandest of dinners (roast chicken), but things settled down and I felt very refreshed this morning.

I was still careful about my coffee and breakfast.  But returning from my usual morning walk without any unusual morning twinges, I decided I was still hungry and made myself my usual breakfast green smoothie.

And promptly threw up a small amount of it.

That was, while unpleasant, educational.  Because it was very evident that what my body was trying to expel was not the smoothie, but gobs and gobs of phlegm/snot that had made it to my tummy.

Evidently my sinus issues, which I have SO frequently I barely notice until I can’t breath or have an elephant sitting on my right eye, are a little worse than I realized.  And my just-to-combat-the-dry-air nettie pot session first thing in the morning helped move things along.

While it’s not fun to feel under the weather before planning a rugged and athletic vacation, at least I know I will be getting plenty of fresh air in the next few days.  And not be making green smoothies.  That trend may continue a few days more.  Because as much as I have come to love the taste of pureed spinach, Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, and even kale on its way down, the taste on the way back up leaves a lot to be desired.

A lot of question marks just to eat some Brie

Did you watch Hannah Hart’s latest My Drunk Kitchen?  Baked Brie?  In her series of Over Achieving Under A Budget for college kids?

And did you then say to yourself, “Self, you are 40 years-old and stopped eating wop-wop* biscuits/rolls over two decades ago?  And you have been trying to create a shape for your body that looks less, not more, like a wheel of Brie?”

Or did you run to the grocery store and pre-heat the oven?

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I don’t even LIKE BRIE.  That much.

**Seriously, I have not opened a “can” of pre-made crescent rolls in forever and figuring out how to get that wonderful artificially flavored dough out of its packaging was the hardest part of this calorie-laden recipe.

Non-Toxic

At the beginning of February, I mentioned wanting to “detox” my system a little by going without my take-as-needed prescription pain medicines*.

I also abstained from any sort of over-the-counter drug for pain or sleep relief.

This went on for about 2 weeks.  I then developed a sharp pain in my right knee that was not part of the preexisting pains produced by my assorted parts.  I took my prescription anti-inflammatory that night and felt 6000 times better in the morning.

Since then I’ve taken medication sparingly compared to my old regimen.  But it feels pretty decadent after even that small window of abstinence.  I learned/deduced/randomly correlated a few things from this experiment.

1) I’m not in pain all the time.

For 15 years, my life has not been pain-free.  I may have good days, even weeks or months, but my body remembers the damage previously wrought and it won’t let me forget for long.

Going into this, I could not remember the last time I truly felt like I had a pain-free day.  And I’m not sure I’ve had one since.  However, during this experiment I became very aware of moments where I felt comfortable. And being aware of comfortable moments seems to lead me to more of them.

Instead of just anticipating that I would feel pain because I am someone in pain, I began to check in with myself and how I felt before and after activities.

This revelation and continuing the inward reflection is helping me return to exercise in a better way.  As someone who loves a good endorphin high, I have previously “pushed through pain” for a workout in part because I believed there would always be pain so I might as well go for it.

2) I don’t need drugs to feel better.

I’ve already written about my gratitude for hot water and the analgesic properties a shower provides me.  And while I cannot think of other specific tools I use to alleviate or eliminate pain, I would say in general I feel better by just the knowledge that I CAN feel better.

My caveat here is that my shoulder pain, while instigated by trauma, seems to be very muscle-orientated.  Stress, body position, environment, etc plays a bigger role in this pain than with others.  Some pain does require drugs.  It goes too deep and is too, well, painful, to be alleviated with a new chair or special pillow.

3) Drugs can be good for me.

Last month I also was smacked with the health issue of hypertension.  It is partially environment and partially hereditary and I have dipped in and out of the pool of hypertension medications three times so far.

I was heavily using my “as needed” pain medication going into the prognosis that my recent dip in the pool needed to wade a little deeper (my hypertension medication dosage was increased).  Part of my decision to take a break from my pain medications was to see if that had any affect on my blood pressure.

It did.  It seemed to make it worse.

So this is where I am taking a correlation and turning into a causation.  After upping my hypertension medication but still abstaining from pain medication, my blood pressure lowered to OK numbers.  Not great, still pre-hypertention, but good enough the Dr said we’d leave the dosage there and continue monitoring.

Then I had one or two bouts of really bad pain.  I went back to my pain medication for those.  And after those doses, my at-home readings (which were erring higher than the Dr’s) were absolutely perfect.

My hypothesis is that the stress of being in pain will slightly raise my blood pressure.  And by taking my drugs when needed, I am doing my heart – and the rest of me – a favor.

I am happy overall about this experiment.  I do think I had become somewhat resistant to the affects of the drugs.  The first few days I felt horrible pain and wonder if that was a partial withdrawal symptom.  I also managed to have a few nights of decent sleep in a row right at the end.  And have continued to have better-than-normal-for-me sleep.

The best result is that I feel more in control of my body and my pain management than I did before the experiment.

Obvious disclaimer:  I’m not a doctor.  I’m not suggesting that eliminating any medication from anyone’s routine is a good idea.  My doctor was aware I did this and did not object.

*My pain medications are a common muscle relaxer and anti-inflammatory.  I’m not talking about messing around with Vicodin, Tramodol, or other narcotic substances.  Just in case you thought I was being rather cavalier about all this.

Because I Don’t Use Instagram

Today I spent about four hours on meal preparation.  It was longer than usual because of new recipes and roasting a chicken.  So I wrote about it during breaks.  I took a lot of breaks.  If our food choices don’t interest you, please come back later!

I always wanted to be a meal planner. I became one over this summer. And I haven’t looked back.

Four things that have made meal planning successful for me:

  • I write it out on pen and paper. I use my Bullet Journal and then I have past meal plans to look back on.
  • I use my taste buds and our current pantry, not the ads, to plan. If it’s a really great sale, I buy it and incorporate it next week or freeze it. Planning foods I want and making sure nothing we already purchased goes to waste are my priorities.
  • I do a bulk cook and prep session one day of the weekend. This helps me not forget meals during the week or omit them if I get busy.
  • My husband is on board and pitches in with the extra dish load.

I don’t plan every day, just in general 7 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners with snacks and sides.

This week’s Menu:

 Breakfast

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-Groats. (Think steel cut oats without the steel cut.) We have these every other week. I make a big batch with a little less than twice the water recommended, boil them for 10-15 minutes, then add a tablespoon of vanilla extract and put them in the fridge. They finish soaking up the water overnight. I like to add cinnamon, raisins, pumpkin puree, and grated carrot to mine. Tom likes raisins, brown sugar, and nuts.

-Eggs with vegetables. Sometimes I make a quiche or frittata. But that can get tough throughout the week. Tom loves to cook scrambled eggs so this is sautéed mushroom, onion, and zucchini to add to them. It adds some nutrients, some heft, and most important for me, some flavor.

-Not pictured “Go To” fill-in ideas – Sprouted Grain Bread for French toast or toasted peanut butter sandwiches, Hormone-free Organic bacon, and Non-Hormone-free Non-Organic turkey sausage. These will round our breakfasts depending on time and tastes. (We usually eat only one meat a week for breakfast.)

Oh, and I eat a small salad with breakfast every day. Tom declines.

Smoothies

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I make a green smoothie for myself daily. On the weekend, I prep everything and re-use produce bags so I can dump it in my blender and go every morning.

I will use 2-3 kinds of greens, 2 kinds of fruit, and usually some cucumber and/or celery. I often add frozen blueberries or strawberries as I like, and chia seeds or hemp seeds when I remember.

This week all smoothies have parsley and spinach as the greens. Then I made four with ½ an apple and ¼ cucumber. The other three have a stalk of celery and a banana will get added when made.

Lunches

Lunches are a combination of: leftovers from dinner, freezer meals leftover from other weeks, eating out once, and one day of tuna salad made with avocado instead of mayo. That ensures I eat fish at least once a week.

This week I am going to thaw a batch of vegan chickpea and lentil curry from a few weeks ago to add to other leftovers.

Dinner

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-BBQ Chicken. Skinless thighs for me, regular drumsticks for Tom. This was to use up a bottle of sauce that turned out to be quite watery. I may have to find another sauce for slathering and dipping the day we eat.

-Chicken Stew with Dumplings. This is a new recipe for me based off of Tom’s request for chicken and dumplings. I have taken a lot of liberties with the ingredients based on what we already had in the freezer. (A bag of EAT YOUR PEAS is in there.)

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-Chicken Pesto. This is a variation I created from a Rachel Ray “30 Minute Meals” show. The basics are a rotisserie chicken, roasted red peppers, olives, and pesto. I add mushrooms for “umph”. And I take significantly longer than 30 minutes by roasting the chicken and the peppers myself. I wish I had the resources to make the pesto from scratch but it is hard to find mass amounts of good basil in northern Wisconsin in February. No, really.

Once the chicken is chopped up, this meal will come together in the time it takes to cook the pasta.

Not pictured: hamburgers and fish. The hamburgers will either be ground turkey breast or a local source of ground round. The fish will be tilapia. I dislike lots of fish.

Snacks/Sides

I lump snacks and sides together because I mix and match a lot for my lunch. This is more than we will probably eat in one week. I like to have lots of options so I don’t buy junk.

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-Fruit. Tangerines & Bananas. And apples for Tom. My TMJ makes it hard for me to eat them. That’s why I have them in smoothies a lot.

-Trail Mix. This is walnuts, roasted unsalted pumpkin seeds, and raisins.

-Muffins.  This week I created a new recipe for almond flour cranberry muffins because I have cranberries to use up. I used all apple sauce instead of butter or oil and they came out almost too moist. But very delicious. Less sauce, a little spice and I may have a new favorite.

Not pictured: Wild rice, yogurt and zucchini. Another vegetable you say? How about a bag of EAT YOUR PEAS?

(I have a bag and a half of green beans which will probably last the week. Otherwise I have some canned beets.)

We also might have some Baked Beans? This would be Tom’s contribution. He has a crockpot recipe for them he likes to make.

Dessert

Nothing special planned this week. Those muffins are my big treat. I am trying to cut down on refined sugar. There is some vanilla ice cream in the freezer if we get desperate.

And that’s it!  Now all I have to do is not eat it all before Tom gets home!