De Ma Cuisine

Menu Planning Archive

Saturday

18

July 2020

0

COMMENTS

Feeding Myself

Written by , Posted in Burlap & Barrel, Menu Planning, Otamot, Thoughts

I notice a difference when I’m feeding myself well. For example, a couple weekends ago I didn’t eat enough, and what I did eat was a lot of empty calories. “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” (Julia Child quoting Oscar Wilde) has a place in my diet for sure. But, I feel a difference physically when I really feed myself. When I ate that way I felt bad all weekend. Physically poor, mentally and emotionally drained, zero energy for anything. Some of that might be unrelated (hello trauma, life, Covid, BLM, hormones, relationships, grief, work, stress…). But, the expression “garbage in, garbage out” seems fitting for my imbalanced food-life relationship of that weekend.

Since then, these last couple of weeks, I’ve been more mindful about what I’ve been eating. I ate things like Tofu with Cabbage and Crispy Rice, Brothy Beans on Toast with Creamy Coleslaw, and a Simple Garden Salad topped with tuna and seeds. And I feel great. The tricky part is the weekends. I’m going to try to make mostly good choices this weekend. It means doing some prep work ahead of time: washing and cutting fruit, making sure there are good options for meals, and picking greens from my garden and washing and drying them. And, remembering to show myself grace when I don’t follow my healthy eating plan perfectly. That’s ok too.

One of my goals for today is to plan our menu. It helps me to start the new week well when I have ideas in place. Here are some healthy-ish meal ideas to help with your menu planning for the coming week.

Dinners

Lunches

Breakfasts

Happy Eating!

*These are affiliate links. I get a small commission for any sales generated from these referrals.

Monday

4

January 2016

0

COMMENTS

Kick-Start a Healthy New Year

Written by , Posted in Menu Planning, Thoughts

It’s a new year. And with it comes resolutions and plans to make changes. Some of the most common resolutions are to eat healthier and to exercise more. These can be very realistic resolutions, but they’re not always easy. With our weekly Abundant Harvest Organics box that makes the healthy eating resolution much simpler. Tons of great fruits and veggies are at our disposal. But, you still need to know what to do with those fruits and veggies once you’ve got them home. That’s the challenging part. It’s also one of the things I love to do, so here are five ideas for great recipes to kick-start your new year in a healthy way.

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Loaded Chicken and Rice Soup

Take the name literally. It’s loaded with veggies, rice, and chicken. It’s hearty and healthy in a bowl. If you don’t do meat, skip the chicken, no big deal. Add some more veggies, some tofu, or tempeh. Make a big batch and enjoy it as a great lunch all week long.

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Heart Healthy Chard Wraps

These wraps are vegan, but you wouldn’t know it. They’ve got nuts, quinoa, and raisins that kinda mimic a meaty filling and pack in the protein.

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Massaged Kale and Tuna Salad

When people are trying to eat healthier, salads often come in to play. But they have a pretty bad wrap. This salad doesn’t. It’s heartier and tastes great. Massaging the kale helps with digestibility. Tuna adds a meaty punch (crispy tofu would be fabulous too if you don’t do fish – maybe the leftovers from the Stir Fry that’s below). And, carrots (or whatever veggies you’ve got hanging around) add great crunch.

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Vegetarian Soft Tacos

Tacos are a great way to pack in the nutrients and eat well no matter what the season. During the hot summer months we enjoy Eggplant and Summer Squash Tacos. Other times in the year it might be beans and cabbage. You can throw in whatever you think will taste great, top it with some Greek yogurt and salsa, and you’ve got dinner (and maybe a lunch for tomorrow) in a flash.

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Red Choi Stir Fry with Tofu and Almonds

Stir Fry is a great way to load up on veggies. Plus, it’s quick and easy, so it makes for a great weeknight dinner. As a bonus, it usually tastes even better for lunch the next day.

The recipes and a weekly box of AHO produce are a great place to start (along with a good menu plan). But, it can still be a challenge to keep up with all that you’ve resolved to do. Here are some suggestions/tips/things that have worked for me.

How To Make It Happen

Start Now! Start today. This moment. You want to make a change? Do it. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Even if it’s just a small step in the right direction, take it. Then write it down – keep a food journal or an exercise log. Keep track and check up on yourself. Take an honest look at where you started and then track your progress. I find it much more motivating to see some improvement along the way. Inches lost, pounds shed, veggies consumed – it’s a great way to keep up the good work. As you become a healthier version of you, jot down how you feel. At the end of each week, note things that have changed (more energy, pants looser, sleeping better).

Find an accountability partner. Share your goals and plans, then keep up with how your doing. If it helps, workout together, cook together, share meals, and recipe ideas.

Exercise! For me, exercise and eating well go hand in hand. It needs to be a priority. Not only do I feel much better physically when I’m active, but mentally. I may look exactly the same, but I feel so much more confident and fit after I’ve exercised. It’s an ongoing battle for me. It’s easy to turn a day off into a week off into months off. But, I know better. I’ve known better for a long time. I used to teach aerobics classes and was a certified personal trainer (a long long time ago). No more excuses or “I’ll do it tomorrow”. Today today today, get moving!

#FreeToFail! Be free to fail, to skip a day, to indulge. Just don’t let it become a way of life. So you skipped a workout, you ate a huge piece of cake. Not the end of the world. Tomorrow is a new day. Get back to it.

Your healthy lifestyle will look different from your best friend’s. So do what works for you. Push yourself, challenge yourself, but don’t get caught in the trap of comparison. We are all uniquely made and that’s a good thing. Own it, enjoy it, and treat yourself with love and respect.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday

17

November 2015

0

COMMENTS

Thanksgiving Sides

Written by , Posted in Dinner, Holiday, Menu Planning, Sides

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Thanksgiving is a week away. As I wrote in the post about prepping your kitchen for the holidays, now’s the time to finalize your menu. Are you going traditional? Are you mad about mashed potatoes and gravy? Serious about stuffing? Crazy for cranberry sauce? P… p… I can’t think of anything for pie… Pleased! Are you pleased about pie?!

I’ll stop now.

I love a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I want a bit of each component in every bite. But, while I’m a traditionalist with this meal, I think there’s some fun to be had with the menu… if you’re willing.

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Here are my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes, with a non-traditional option for each. And, of course, we can’t forget about the turkey (or for a non-traditional option some Herbed Roasted Chicken Thighs).

Green Bean Casserole: Green Bean Fries

Mashed Potatoes: Twice Baked Potatoes or Crispy Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes: Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potatoes

Turkey Gravy: Mushroom and Savory Gravy or Pumpkin Bechamel

Stuffing/Dressing: Bread Pudding

Rolls: Apple Rosemary Flatbread

Pumpkin Pie: Apple Bourbon Gallette 

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I’ve heard that some throw the entire traditional Thanksgiving menu out the window (gasps… heart stops) and opt for something totally different. If you want to go that route, here are a few ideas.

Taco Bar with Eggplant and Summer Squash Tacos or Vegetarian Soft Tacos (or both!) – Tacos are quick and easy to make, and with guests assembling their own, everyone gets to choose just what they want on their plate.

Beef Stew and Cheddar Biscuits – One of my favorite comfort foods. I’d say that if I had to be without a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, I’d choose this as a substitute.

Red Choi Stir Fry with Tofu and Almonds and Spring Rolls with a Spicy Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce – You could prep many of the ingredients in advance, to make this quick and easy meal lightning fast. The spring rolls could be served as an appetizer (and could be fried or served cold), or with the meal.

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Lasagne!! Two great choices are a Classic Meat and Cheese Lasagne or a Vegetarian Lasagne – I’d serve either with a big green salad (which would probably end up being a Caesar, since that’s one of my favorites).

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After it’s all said and done, you’re gonna have some leftovers… More on that (and a Potato Pancake recipe that I think I could eat every day) the day after Thanksgiving.

Happy Eating!

Thursday

2

April 2015

0

COMMENTS

Substitution Guide

Written by , Posted in How To, Menu Planning, Thoughts

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I remember talking to a friend about a recipe once. She wasn’t sure what to do because she didn’t have the specific type of cheese needed for what she was making. This dilemma isn’t limited to cheese. It can be difficult to know what to do if a recipe calls for carrots, but all you have are parsnips. Or any other fruits and veggies for that matter. One solution is to go out to the grocery store when you’ve forgotten an ingredient. From time to time that’s essential. When you’re baking, for example, unless you really know what you’re doing, it’s tough to substitute and have it turn out, because all of the ingredients are there for a specific purpose. No baking powder? Don’t just substitute with baking soda. You’ll get a very different result. But, with regular cooking, making soups, pastas, frittatas… sub away my friends!

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I’m very thankful that I’m pretty good at substituting in recipes (the non-baking kind). I actually prefer to cook without a recipe. It’s much easier for me. A recipe makes me feel confined. I like to cook with what I have and am pretty good at figuring out what works well together (I also love to use The Flavor Bible and The Vegetarian Flavor Bible as tools for paring and substituting).

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Whether you like to use a recipe or not, it’s always good to learn how to substitute. The more that I’ve cooked, the more that I’ve gotten to know my ingredients, and I’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t.

Here are some of the things that I will substitute.

Original Ingredient Substitute With Substitute With Substitute With
Apples Pears Asian Pears Persimmons
Lemons Limes Oranges Kumquats
Peaches Apricots/Apriums Plums/Pluots Nectarines
Figs Grapes Cherries
Strawberries Raspberries Blueberries Blackberries
Watermelon Cantaloupe Honeydew
Beets Carrots Rutabaga
Broccoli Cauliflower Cabbage Brussels Sprouts
Celery Fennel
Carrots Parsnip Sweet Potatoes Winter Squash
Potatoes Rutabaga Kohlrabi Sweet Potatoes
Garlic Garlic Chives Green Garlic
Greens Cabbage Mâche Radicchio
Bok Choy Tokyo Bekana Red Choi Mei Qing Choi
Daikon Radish Red Radish Black Spanish Radish
Green Beans English Peas Snap Peas
Onions Shallots Leeks Green/Spring Onions
Winter Squash Sweet Potatoes Pumpkin
Arugula Dandelion Greens Arugula Flowers Mizuna
Broccoli Rabe Broccoli Broccoli Di Cicco Rapini
Turnips Rutabaga Radishes Potatoes
Fava Beans English Peas
Zucchini Pattypan Squash Crookneck Squash Scallopini
Acorn Squash Butternut Squash Delicata Squash Kabocha Squash
Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti Noodles
Corn Peas
Okra Sinqua
Bell Peppers Sweet Peppers
Beefsteak Tomatoes Cherry Tomatoes Roma Tomatoes
Cilantro Parsley
Basil Parsley
Chives Green Onions Spring Onions
Rosemary Thyme
Tarragon Fennel Fronds
Chocolate Mint Mint
Marjoram Oregano
Sage Oregano
Lemon Balm Lemon Basil Lemongrass
Rice Bulgur Wheat Quinoa Orzo Pasta
Cheddar Cheese Monterey Jack
Parmesan Cheese Gruyère
Sour Cream Greek Yogurt Plain Yogurt
Cream Cheese Ricotta Cheese
Ground Beef Ground Turkey/Chicken Bulgur Wheat Tempeh
Bacon Pancetta Prosciutto Ham
Chicken Stock Vegetable Stock
Tempeh Tofu Bulgur Wheat
Salmon Tuna
Sugar* Honey Maple Syrup
Butter* Olive Oil Coconut Oil Canola Oil

(Please note that many of these original ingredients can also be substituted for the ingredients to substitute with.)

*Except when baking, unless you know how to adapt the recipe. 😉

Kale

Happy Eating!

Monday

2

February 2015

0

COMMENTS

How To Eat Well on a Budget

Written by , Posted in How To, Menu Planning, Storage/Prep, Thoughts

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Sometimes the word “budget” is enough to make me want to hide under the covers. It can be tricky to manage to eat well, whilst keeping the budget in check. When we were first married, we had a very small grocery budget. I started planning our menu in advance, so that I could go to the grocery store with a detailed list, knowing how much I would be spending. I got pretty good at it, and found that I really enjoyed it. In the years since, I’ve tried to keep to it, regardless of the state of our bank account.

It’s not always been easy, but it’s definitely one thing that has helped us to keep our budget a bit lower. (It’s so important to me that I wrote a three part series on it, for the Kitchen Basics section. Have a look! Here’s a link to part 1, part 2, and part 3.)

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I’ve been eating organic since before it was trendy. It’s always made sense to me. We’re thankful that Abundant Harvest Organics is so affordable. But, since other organic food is often a bit more expensive than conventionally farmed food, it’s not always possible to stock the pantry with all organic ingredients. The advice that I try to follow, is to do the best that I can. So, we eat as much organic food as possible, but during the leaner times, some foods take priority. For me, the foods that I try not to budge on are: fruits and veggies (but even there, there’s some wiggle room if needed – produce with a peel enables you to peel away the chemical laden skin, things that are sprayed directly – think berries, are not as easy to remove the pesticides, even when washed), milk, and meat.

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Speaking of meat, this is an area where we have cut waaaay back. We love meat. It adds great flavor to soups, it’s so yummy roasted, and the protein it provides is wonderful. But, it’s expensive, especially when you’re choosy about getting the best quality, like I am. So, here’s what we’ve done. We eat meat maybe 2-4 times a week. And when we do, it’s in small portions. For example, I like to buy a whole chicken, and then it will often feed Tim and I for 4-6 meals. The first meal, he might have a thigh and half of a breast, I’ll have the other half of the breast. The rest of the meat will be cooked, portioned out, and frozen, to be saved for 3-5 more meals. I can make it stretch by adding things like lots of veggies, rice, and beans to a dish or a meal. And with the remaining meat, I might be able to make: Chicken Pot Pie, Chicken Bean and Rice Enchiladas (add rice and sub chicken for the beef in the recipe I’ve linked to), Chicken and Rice Soup or Chicken Noodle Soup, Chicken Chili, and Chicken Stir Fry. For the other meals that don’t contain meat, I rely on protein from other sources (legumes, quinoa, dairy, veggies, nuts) to help to fill us up.

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When cooking meat, I try to not only make the most of the meat itself, but also to stretch it even further and save the bones to make chicken stock. It’s not even necessary to use veggies in there (although veggie scraps are great). Just some bones, herbs, water and an hour or two will result in a flavorful stock. Same goes for scraps from our veggies. I keep a compost bucket in the fridge, but I also keep a gallon ziptop bag or two in the freezer, to collect anything that’s worth saving (which is usually most of it). Then about once every month or two I dump the contents of the bag into a big pot, cover it with water, and let it simmer for an hour or two. Then, voilà, veggie stock! At about $4 for a 32 oz. box of stock at the grocery store, the savings adds up quickly.

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Other things that I like to make rather than buy: tomato sauce, dried tomatoes, pesto, hummus, pie crust, baguettes, pizza dough, biscuits, and jam. Soon, I’m going to attempt to make sandwich bread. Wish me luck. 😉

There are definitely things that I can’t make, grow, or produce on my own (although some I’d love to try making, just haven’t gotten up the courage yet). So, I keep these staples on hand: brown rice, lentils, quinoa, pasta, nut butters, balsamic and rice vinegar, olive oil, dried or canned beans, eggs, cheese, milk, butter, yogurt, salt, dried spices, garlic, honey, maple syrup, soy sauce, all purpose flour, and whole wheat flour.

It’s a journey, for sure. There are ups and downs, failures and successes, lean months and months with more than we need. But, following all of these self-set guidelines has really helped us to stay within an affordable budget while we continue to strive to eat well, no matter what the situation.