Who Wants to Outsource Cooking?

This girl!

Today’s prompt was: Would you ever want a personal chef, or do you enjoy cooking your own meals?

Would I ever want a personal chef? Emphatically YES!

I have never enjoyed cooking. Sure, there have been times when I had fun cooking with someone else, but usually only when it was planned in advance and we had lots of time, trying something new and slightly adventurous. Making lobster for the first time comes to mind…

Usually, I hate cooking. I’m too rushed, I don’t have time to look for new, interesting recipes, and I’m not good at just throwing things together. Me? I’m a baker*. I follow a recipe. I rarely just fly by the seat of my pants.

A cook would be so very appreciated around here. Someone else to plan the menu – ideally a healthy one – and do all the shopping and prep work? Amazing.

Still, I imagine an elusive someday when I have the time to plan menus and cook. It’s probably one of those somedays that will never happen but hey, I can dream!

*this is one of those conundrums: why is it that people are usually either a baker or a cook? Why not both?

How do you eat?

Prompt: Tell us how you eat: do you sit down to three meals, eat several small meals, or grab a granola bar on the run?

This was one of the prompts that caught my attention when I swiftly reviewed the list of daily prompts for May’s NaBloPoMo theme, mostly because it’s something I want to improve in my life.

Looking at my own eating habits, I have to cringe. I eat most of my meals in my car on the way to a job. When I’m sitting down to eat, odds are it’s at my desk and I’m working on the computer while I’m doing it. Even when I’m home to eat (maybe once or twice a week), I’m reading a book or email. The meal doesn’t always include vegetables, unless I’ve done a good job of planning ahead and cut them up the Sunday before or make a smoothie the night before. Sometimes, all it is a fruit and nut bar. Frequently, it’s take-out.

I’ve seen the positive results of actually sitting down for meals without the distractions of electronics. Last Christmas, I visited my parents and expected to gain weight over the week I was there. After all, I didn’t work out at all and I was drinking more than I usually do. But, to my surprise, that wasn’t the case. After looking back on my time there, I had to attribute this to the fact that we sat down to eat and talked to each other instead of watching TV or playing on a phone. It surprised me that such a small thing could make such a big difference. Other than not eating out, the meals weren’t that much different than what I would make for myself were I to make the effort.

Because my eating habits are mostly determined by my schedule, this isn’t something that’s easy to adjust. But it has made me more aware of what I do while I’m eating. It’s such a temptation to turn to a book or my phone because I nearly always eat alone, but I’m making an effort to put these things aside and just pay attention to what I’m eating. I read French Women Don’t Get Fat recently, and the author’s comments about paying attention to what you’re eating tied this all together for me.

This month, I’m not only looking forward to a vacation and seeing my family, but I’m looking forward to meals spent in the company of others, and not electronic gadgets. Hopefully this will help me to develop new habits of enjoying the food I eat and not just inhaling it on the way to the next activity.

What about you? Do you find yourself distracted during meal times?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I’ve been thinking a lot about the stages we go through in life and how things change. For some of us, that means family growing larger, smaller, or growing apart. Or perhaps it’s the same as always and it’s you who have changed.

Reflecting on the familiar changes in my life today has reminded me that we can choose how we view situations. We can look at them negatively or positively. I can’t lie and say that I consistently view things positive. I don’t. I tend to take the negative view. So today, I’m going to be thankful for the fact that, while I am celebrating alone, I am not far from my family. In fact, they are texting me on the phone that is inches from my hand as I type this. And the alone time isn’t unwanted. Life has been crazy for the last few months and I’m savoring the quiet, the music I’m playing, the wine in my glass, the laundry that’s getting washed, and the pumpkin pie baking in the oven and filling the house with its spicy aroma. I’m thankful that I have a job to have a holiday from, when so many either don’t have jobs or are working today anyway.

And I pray for each of you. That wherever you are, whatever your situation, that you would find joy today. That some little event or blessing would touch you exactly where you need it. That God would speak to you today.

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you. May the next year be a blessed one!

Whipped Cream Frosting Recipe

My roommate and I were browsing Pinterest and the web for home made frosting recipes a while back and stumbled across a recipe similar to this one. For some reason, we can’t find the original recipe, so we’ve started using these guidelines. This whipped frosting is easy and fun to make and has become a favorite. It’s so easy to whip up (pun intended) and to create different flavors.

A few weeks ago, we split the cream in half and made two types: chocolate and cinnamon vanilla. The cinnamon vanilla was great with graham crackers! What a perfect little dessert.

Whipped Cream Frosting

Charms of a New Year

There’s something about a fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning. No tainted memories, no bad experiences, and a pristine plain ahead of us, completely untouched. Whether or not it’s tangible, it still feels fresh and new and alive with possibilities. Especially as Americans; our country was founded on the American Dream, the land of opportunity, after all.

Is that what appeals to us about New Year’s resolutions? It’s a brand new year full of promise. An easy starting point to count off, although our calendar is neatly broken into 12 of those, there’s something seductive about starting at one.

I read somewhere (this should be my signature phrase – I read things lots of places and can’t remember where even though I remember what I read) that stating your goals out loud makes you more likely to complete them. Isn’t that the purpose of yesterday’s Writing Challenge? State your goals and aspirations, your New Year’s resolutions. Put them out there for the world to see!

Like everyone else, I have fallen prey to the charms of a fresh new year. Pondering the many things I would like to change or improve in 2013 became my form of entertainment during my holiday travels. Perhaps not the most amusing thing, but it worked for a while. While these may seem prosaic, they are things I’ve been thinking about for a while, even before my airport-enforced thinking time. Below are my top three:

Faith: spend regular time with God, something that has fallen down the list of priorities this fall. Off to a good start with this today.

Fitness: run regularly and eat better, which includes getting back to more of a Real Food diet, a la 100 Days of Real Food. Started well with a run this morning but lacking the diet follow up. There’s some prep involved in that that’s hard to do when you’re out of town!

Blogging: post once a week. This is the first of my posts for 2013. Off to a good start with this too! Haven’t decided on a regular posting date so we’ll see on that.

Along with stating them out loud, I’ve learned that goals are more likely achieved when they include specific and measurable steps instead of just a blanket statement like “lose weight.” Each of my goals for 2013 has two of more concrete steps that can be objectively looked at to determine if they have been achieved. I’m not going to list everything here in detail so they look more like ambiguous statements, but they do have achievable mini-goals built in!

To provide accountability, I’m going to schedule regular goal updates, probably quarterly. Not only does that knock off three more blog posts (who hoo!) but it keeps me accountable for how I’m doing.

If Doompocalypse comes and makes this a short year, I might actually have completed all three of these! And even if it doesn’t, being a track for three months will have created a pretty great routine for the rest of the year, making the likelihood of achievement even better. Bring it!

What are your goals and dreams for 2013?

Lifestyle at the Cost of Health

Don’t you just love when things you’re learning in one area of your life agree and compliment things you’re learning in another area of your life?

Well, I do, anyway!

It’s always nice when two completely separate books come at the same lesson from different angles and then relate to something I’m learning at church. That is awesome.

Today I had one of those moments.

I’ve been a bit obsessed lately with the blog 100 Days of Real Food. This blog is about a family who pledged to eat only natural, non-processed foods for 100 days in response to Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. That was two years ago, and they’re still sticking with it. I’m intrigued by their dedication and the efforts they had to take for it. And I’m seriously considering trying it – probably for less than 100 days, but still. My life has been moving this direction for over a year with the help of my chiropractor, who firmly believes in natural eating, and several other books and films that scared me to death about our food supply. Food, Inc, anyone? In response to that, I started reading food labels and cut out meat nearly completely. When I can afford it, I buy organic which unfortunately isn’t nearly often enough.

There are a few things that concern me: mostly the cost, time, and the availability of local foods. The author of this blog, Lisa Leake, is a stay-at-home mom. Well, I work 40+ hours a week, which puts me at a bit of a disadvantage there. I do not have the time to make all the things she talks about. So I’m going to be scouring her blog for her answer to that question because I’m sure I’m not the only person to ask it in the last two years! As a follow up to their 100-day pledge, they did another 100-days on a budget. I haven’t read that one yet, but will soon so hopefully I will have all the answers to my questions before I try this. Oh, and I ordered In Defense of Food tonight and will start reading it shortly!

My roommate and I are planning to move soon, which seems like a great time to clean on my cabinets of things that don’t follow the rules. Plus, we’ll have more space (a pantry! What a novelty!) so I can make and store things or buy them in bulk if necessary, to help with the time issue. We might even get an extra freezer!

All of this is percolating in my head while I’m browsing Facebook and catching up on people’s lives. I ran across a post talking about how the doctor says this person are pre-diabetic. They go on to say that they knew it was coming but there won’t be any lifestyle changes.

Wait, what?

You KNOW that diabetes is coming but you won’t be making any lifestyle changes? That doesn’t make any sense to me. Wouldn’t you be in a hurry to make changes so that you can be healthy? Does your lifestyle mean that much to you that it’s more important than your health?

And that’s when it hit me. By eating all the stuff we eat because it’s convenient that is exactly what we are doing. What I am doing. I am living a convenient lifestyle at the expense of my health. There may not be symptoms now, but who knows what is happening in my body. With a family history of cancer and a grandmother who was just diagnosed with Parkinson’s, this should concern me. And it does. Isn’t my health worth the inconvenience and the possible embarrassment? Packing my own food for family gatherings? They already think I’m nuts for not eating meat! What’s a little more?

I may not be ready for the big plunge yet, but I am going to take the steps that I can! Reducing sugar and increasing fruits and veggies are all things I can do now, on my budget, to get ready for the jump. So here goes nothing!

Has anyone else made the switch to real food? How was it?

how far is that leap?

This weekend, I was stopped on a street corner by a non-profit group trying to gather support for their agenda.  The agenda item mentioned to me was the importance for change in government subsidies due to the rise in childhood obesity.  That seemed like a bit of a stretch to me, so I asked about it.  The answer I received was that by subsidizing corn production to the point where it’s cheaper to buy corn products than fruits and vegetables, the government is causing childhood obesity issues.

As someone who already avoids high fructose corn syrup and does not eat meat since most of our meat supply is grain-fed rather than grass-fed, I do agree with the premise and was initially excited to learn more, but further thought had me asking if it wasn’t a bit of a leap to go right to subsidizing obesity?  Part of the growing obesity issue isn’t just the food we eat; it’s also a lack of activity.  Both the PTA and the CDC have published suggestions for limiting TV and video game time and getting children to move.  This not something that can be blamed entirely on the government and the overproduction of corn.

I’d love to say more, but really the whole point of this post is the jump in reasoning made by this group.  Our government does need to make some changes so that the healthy living message is consistent – if a private corporation was preaching one thing and funding another, the public would be all over it – but huge jumps in logic for the sake of garnering support don’t improve credibility.