One of its main tenets of Brazen Careerist's latest post on making resolutions you'll keep is that you should make only one or two goals. As someone who has made only one resolution that I've ever actually kept (vowing to lose weight January 8, 2005, doing so, and then keeping most of it for those three years), I've learned that a goal is not unlike writing an outline for a school paper: break down one idea into smaller, manageable parts. My overall culinary aim this year is to eat consciously, to really think about what I eat. Not obsess or create an eating disorder but to, as often as possible, think about if what I'm eating is what I want and if it supports my beliefs. To that end, here we go:
1. Learn how to grow a container garden
I don't know what happened this New Year's Eve but while my mother and stepfather were out partying (with silly string, no less) until 3 AM, Brian and I spent the evening making and eating hot-sauced glazed tempeh (recipe courtesy of Veganomicon), roasted sweet potatoes, and too-bitter rappini; doing a crossword puzzle; watching an episode of My So-Called Life; and then setting the alarm for 11:30 PM so we wouldn't miss the ball drop at midnight. The next day, I spent a few hours at Barnes and Noble looking through gardening books and decided that, this year, I really want to grow a plant of some sort without killing it in a few weeks. I'm very much settling into my slide into domestic middle-age. Anyways, I don't want to spend $4 for a bag of out-of-season sugar snap peas anymore. And I'm sick of buying fresh parsley and only using a few sprigs of it. With the world as crazy as it is, peak oil and all that stuff, I'd better learn to grow at least some of what I eat.
2. Eat more fruit (and a little dark chocolate in moderation) and less refined, processed sweets
Before I started Weight Watchers in 2005, my downfall was greasy Chinese takeout and lots of it. I enjoyed sweets but never gorged on them. Then after dieting for a while, my sweet tooth grew. Most of the extra weight I've put on this last year is due to my need for two desserts: one after lunch and one after dinner. I'm vowing to eat more fruit throughout the day and substituting my after lunch treat with fruit and if I want to be really decadent, maybe some dried mango (yum).
3. Eat out less and cook at home more
The rest of my weight gain is due to weekends of greasy vegan Chinese takeout, not bringing my lunch to work and eating out, or bringing an Amy's Organic frozen meal or another paltry serving of food to work and supplementing it with vending machine goodies. A main culprit of eating out more is not because I have an aversion to cooking but my lack of sleep and poor menu planning. To make sure I have the energy to cook at night, I'm aiming to go to bed just an hour earlier so I am less tired and have more energy and time to devote to properly planning what I'll eat all week.
4. Eat less cheese
This gives me no pleasure but it is an attempt at virtue. Do it for the cows. Besides, cheese has no nutritional value whatsoever, unlike eggs and fish (says the pesceovotarian). Any calcium and protein in cheese is negated by all the fat. Oh, the luscious fat. I'm no monk though so I think I'll start by just eating less of it. Rather than buying grocery store cheese every week and melting it on anything edible, I'll save my cheese indulgence for the really good stuff, the stuff that isn't neon and melted.
5. Eat more beans
Listen to the recent Food for Thought podcast on beans (the episode from December 14, 2007). Beans are a staple in many culinary traditions, including the Puerto Rican one I come from. As a child, I wasn't a fan of beans. I would only eat pigeon peas, or gandules, which my grandmother would make for me. Now there isn't a bean I won't eat. I'm particularly fond of pink beans, black beans, chickpeas, and cannellini beans . Canned or fresh, I'm going to make an effort to eat beans everyday. There's really no reason not to since canned beans are readily available, priced right and just a can opener away. My lunch salad today was elevated with the addition of chickpeas with sauteed onions (recipe below). And I'm not hungry nearly three hours later, miracle of miracles.
6. Cook and more soups and chilis
I'll concentrate on making soups, chilis, rice and beans and other large servings of beans, grains, and veggies that can go for a few days. If it tastes good, I don't mind eating the same thing three days in a row but I'll keep on hand some avocado, nuts, different sauces, already cooked tofu, an egg, etc. to keep things interesting for lunch and dinner.
7. Make my own granola and trail mix bars
This might be one of those pipe dream resolutions. I may just continue to buy Clif Nectar bars. But considering bars are just some grains, nuts and dried fruit binded together with some sticky syrupy sugar, it would be much cheaper to make it. If I get around to it, I can follow this recipe from Mother Earth Living.
8. Sign up for community-supported agriculture
With Philly's own Greens Grow right in Brian's neighborhood, we have no excuse not to buy shares in a local farm and pick up weekly boxes of fresh produce. Here's more information on their CSA.
Quick Chicks with Onions (vegan)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ medium yellow onion, diced
1 can (15 ounces) organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
sprinklings of the following spices to taste:
ground cayenne pepper
dried Italian seasoning
freshly ground pepper
Heat olive oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent and just slightly browned—about five minutes. Add chickpeas, cumin, cayenne pepper, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir well, cook for another 5 minutes or so (until chickpeas start to pop open) and taste and adjust seasonings to your liking as you go along. I like a lot of cumin and a generous dose of cayenne for flavor, bite, and a nice orange tinge. Chill and serve over salad or eat immediately.