I am constantly re-evaluating my bulk goods usage. Using my bulk goods to determine whether or not its worth keeping things in my pantry and recently conclusions have been reached. Let’s begin with the Mason Jars.
1. Red Lentils: Keep
I constantly make a dish with red lentils once a month. They are easy to make, can be used in many ways and are great fillers for meals. I have been through two jars, I currently only have a 1/3 of a third jar left, so I will continue to keep Red Lentils as part of my bulk food storage.
2. Chickpeas: Re-purpose
I do not soak and cook beans enough to justify their place in a Mason Jar. I more frequently use canned beans because I usually make beans on impulse. I do eat beans a couple of times a month, all different kinds. Resultantly, the beans in my jars rarely get used. Meaning, it makes more sense for me to keep canned beans in my pantry.
3. Popcorn: Keep
This one is a must! really do eat quite a bit of popcorn and I may buy a large Mason Jar for popcorn storage because I find myself filling my current Mason Jar quite frequently. Its definitely a must have for me.
4. Kidney Beans: Re-purpose
Its the same story here. I like beans and eat them frequently enough, but I rarely soak and cook beans. I will keep canned Kidney Beans on hand, but once these are done, I will put something else in this jar.
6. Wasabi Peas: Keep
I consistently put Wasabi Peas in my homemade trail mix. Its a must! No way will I stop eating this sweet treat, so I will keep my little jar stocked up.
7. Pasta & Rice: Keep
I have brown rice, brown Basmati Rice, and brown rice pasta. All of these work well for me. When I make saucy chicken dishes, Basmati Rice is ideal. When I make dishes where I just need a filling grain side, I read for brown rice or quinoa. I make a pasta dish every couple of weeks with whatever type of pasta I have, and I always try to keep red sauce and spaghetti on hand for last minute food ideas. I also keep Egg Noodles on handle for my frequent impromptu Chicken Noodle soup.
8. Israeli Couscous: Re-purpose
This jar is just about as full as it originally was. I need to purposefully use that couscous and then not purchase it again. I simply find myself going for the Semolina version of Couscous with much more frequency than I do the large round ball option (Israeli option). Thusly, I will replace that with hemp hearts once I run out.
9. Couscous (Semolina): Keep
I like this version of couscous because it truly takes flavor quite well. Just needs the addition of hot water to be ready for consumption and lasts longer because it is such a fine grainy substance.
10. Quinoa: Keep
I had tri-color Quinoa, and then I move to just one color, but either way, Quinoa is a must in my pantry. Its a great grain that soaks up flavor, is packed with nutrition and is filling. Yep, I will keep this stocked in my pantry.
11. Rolled Oats: Keep
Yea, I need these in my life. Its funny because I do not Oatmeal. Cooked oats does not appeal to me, its a consistency issue. However, raw oats in Yogurt equals breakfast perfection, lunch ease, and a tasty sweet snack. I have yet to get the courage to put oats in my smoothies, maybe one day.
12. Milled Flaxseed: Re-purpose
I prefer to get my flax in Omega pills or by chewable vitamins. I rarely put this in my smoothies because I do not like the affect it has on the taste of my smoothie. Its not nearly as cheap as everything else in my bulk food storage, so I am going to use that jar for something else in the future.
12. Chia Seeds: Keep
I almost always add a tablespoon of Chia seeds to my cream of wheat and my green smoothies. They are so filling, filled with nutrients, and, are for the most part, flavorless.
So I’m keeping a little over half of the items in my bulk storage and re-purposing the jars for the rest of the items. If I see anything else I want to try, I will, but of the moment, the only swap will be hemp hearts.
Pasta with Veggies
Lately I have been trying out new recipes for lunch each week, so this week I tried a vegetable and pasta recipe mix. I used brown rice angel hair pasta and my veggies were broccoli, red bell pepper, green onion, and tomato. I followed the recipe, even adding some freshly grated parmesan cheese on top.
Once finished, the result was just “meh.” Nothing spectacular, but also not bland or unappetizing. I made enough for 4 lunch sessions, so I will finish the left overs tomorrow, and I will not make this recipe again. Healthy and tasty pasta recipes seem to be challenging. I mean spaghetti with red sauce is always an easy option, but I am looking for variety. Any suggestions?
Some time two weeks ago I had all of these vegetables in my fridge and I said to myself, how about a veggie only dish, something asian. So I took stock of what I had, and I almost just threw some oil in a pan, threw in the veggies an ate them. Instead, I said to myself, check out Youtube, see what creative ways people are cooking their fresh veggies. I wanted something simple, tasty, easy and versatile (meaning it wouldn’t matter which veggies I used). After many videos, I decided to try this approach:
I did take a quick trip to the store for fresh ginger, otherwise I had everything else in my house. I used peanut oil as my base oil because I have it. I was very happy to have something to use my peanut oil for as I have had it for a year and only used it twice prior to this dish. In an attempt to come as close to the veggies used in the video, I used broccoli, carrots, yellow bell pepper, red cabbage, and onion. I didn’t add celery because I do not like the taste of cooked celery.
The first time I made this, I followed the video exactly, and I was surprised at how the veggies came out. They were the perfect consistency, not too hard and not too soft, yet flavorful. Who knew oil infused in ginger could produce such wonderful results! The second time (and yes I have made this two times so far), I added a couple of squirts of soy sauce to the finished product just to experiment with flavor. Next time, I plan to use oyster sauce and see what happens.
If you can’t tell by the review above, I LOVE this vegetable medley, and the only calories come from the oil (I’ll speak on why I do not care about calories in another post). Initially, I was concerned that this plate of veggies would not fill me up enough to be satisfied, and then once I finished prep I wasn’t sure that I could eat all of the veggies in front of me, but in the end, its a perfect dinner portion. Like I stated above, I plan to do this again, this weekend, and use oyster sauce, this dish takes no time to make, the prep is the most time consuming part, aside from prep it takes about 7 minutes total to make this dish.
The vegetables aren’t pulverized in this vegetable medley, so I consider this a seriously healthy and tasty dinner option.
I have spent a good portion of the year developing MY pantry staples, determined by what I actually eat. I mostly refill my pantry from the bulk foods section of my local health food stores. I refill the spice containers with spices bought from my local Indian Store as well as the bulk food section of my local health food store.
M y Pantry
Once I run out of Milled Flaxseed I will replace it with Hemp Hearts. I prefer to get my Omegas from nuts and fish oil pills. I put the milled Flaxseed in my smoothies, plus it does take away from the great taste just a little.
You may have noticed that I now have a brown rice arsenal! I enjoy pasta and brown rice is often a perfect side dish, so I keep it all stocked. I am in love with brown rice pasta as a healthy tasty alternative that just soaks up sauce.
There really isn’t anything more important in my kitchen than my spice arsenal. There is no better way to compliment your meats, vegetables, soups, stews, etc than with spice. Like I stated above, I buy a spice from the grocery store and once that container is empty, I replace it with spices from my local indian grocery or health food store. I find that those spices have more intense flavor and the containers provided at the grocery store last forever. Plus I do not have to buy separate expensive spice jars, nope, I recycle and reuse. About a month ago I did a spice overhaul in which I wrote down my most used spices and got rid of the expired ones. If I need a spice that I rarely use, I just go buy a tablespoon or two in the bulk foods section and use it up, so that no spice in my pantry expires. Let me know if you want a full listing of my spices and how I use them.
Not pictured are my stash of nuts, and cans. The cans include tomato paste, whole tomatoes, curry sauce, garbanzo beans, black beans and vegetable broth. The current nuts are sunflower seeds and almonds.
I am so happy with my pantry now, it truly supports healthy habits. There is no candy stash, no sugary cereal stash, no juice stash, no cans of soup, no cans of fruit, etc. It took over half of a year, but I now have a pantry that supports healthy eating habits. I am still working on my refrigerator staples, just when I think I have a good base, I change something, that may take all year.
I bought a lunch bag last month because its a very simple way to bring lunch to work each week. However, as you know, I ate out for lunch most of the time last month out of sheer laziness and lack of preparation. Well, as part of this months pledge to only eat from Home, I went to Walmart in search of food containers to bring lunch because the Ziploc bag option is just so very wasteful to me. After standing and looking at tupperware for about 30 minutes (its actually a mind numbing experience), I decided on this (plus a couple of small .5 cup snack containers):
It was only about $7. I didn’t buy it for the purpose of a sandwich, even though that is a great option, I bought it for its potential to hold fruits, nuts, and vegetables. I feel that if I fill the bottom portion with veggies, the top small container with dip, the second small container with fruit, and the side with dessert, nuts, or more fruit its perfect. I still plan to take an entree in my larger 2 cup pyware because they are microwaveable. I feel that this container is the perfect balance of fruits and veggies for a balanced and healthy lunch, regardless of my entree, which could really be anything (pasta, soup, sandwich, salad, etc). The containers are small, which means I will be eating proportionately.
A couple bottles of water and/or tea always accompanies me from the house, so I almost never buy a drink when I am out and about. I can definitely say that this is a step in the correct direction for a more fit me. I will finish my day with a green smoothie pre-run and Salmon with grains/veggies for dinner. By the way, I usually post my day to day food interestingness on Instagram, Missmusic12.
Oh and I bought my lunch bag from Target for $9.99
I finally tried my second batch of Brown Rice Pasta, this time Cannellini, and I tried an Avocado Cream Sauce for the first time. The Pasta is wonderful, it seems to be fresher than the regular store bought pasta, and it hold flavor quite well. As for the cream sauce, I may make it again, but it will be awhile.
Let me just say that I am always leary of eating raw garlic, its not usually a good idea. I was trying this recipe for the first time, so I decided to go with it, but I quickly regretted this decision. All I could taste from the sauce was the bitterness of raw garlic, it was quite unpleasant and off putting. The sauce spread well, even though it was thick, which was probably due to the warmth of the pasta. I managed to get through a bowl of pasta, but its going to be awhile before I forget the taste of that. I will make it again, eventually, with cooked garlic, thus I will change the recipe. I think this recipe was a good idea, its just the execution that needs to be tweaked, at least as far as my taste buds are concerned.
Recipe can be found here: Creamy Avocado Pasta
I have been out for a couple of weeks for two reasons, I’ve been sick and there was a death in my family. It was more the second thing than the first that made me unplug for a bit. I made a delicious chicken and veggie soup while sick, but other than that, there really wasn’t anything remarkable about my eating. It was still good, but my exercise was not as spectacular, as I just felt sad and sluggish. I’m at a lovely 144 lbs and am happy about it, although I still want to lose 14 lbs.
Resultantly, I’ve pledged to myself for the month of August to not eat out more than once a week and to exercise at least every other day, religiously. With my new job, I kind of got into the habit of buying lunch, nothing unhealthy, but not homemade none the less. As tomorrow is August 1, I figured there would be no better time than the present to get back into the swing of things. I decided to not renew my ZGYM membership as I do not see it as being much different than the ZWOWs already offered on Youtube. However, Yoga and running is and will continue to be a constant. Plus, I still plan to run a 5k by the end of the year.
I am currently contemplating the Simple Green Smoothies 21 Day Cleanse, just for the purpose of recipe ideas really. I plan to eat from home at least 28 days this month, so why not give my body a nice cleanse. Its nothing major, just clean making a pledge to eat whole foods. Means that it wouldn’t be much different from what I already do, and it would give me some new ideas for healthy eating.
The only hitch, $47. That’s really not a lot of money, but its enough to make me pause and give the idea some thought first. The green smoothie challenge was free, so a pause is necessary, but I have savings, so why not?
Tonight I am making Brown Rice Pasta with an Avocado based sauce. I will post a recipe review tomorrow. Does anyone want me to post my delicious chicken and veggie soup recipe?