Cooking Goals

So, the first week of my revamped weight-loss efforts went fairly well.  :)

I exercised four of the seven days since my last post.  Not a bad start!  I’m starting over very slowly.  As someone who’s dealt with shin splints and other workout-woes in the past, I know from experience that starting out easy then increasing the intensity of activity gradually is key to avoiding injury.  I’ve done too-much-too-soon in the past, and it makes you want to quit when you’ve barely even begun!

Today was my first day back at work after Christmas break.  Let’s just say it was a Monday…ten-fold.  But exhausting day as it was, I managed to use what little stamina I had left to cook a healthy dinner.  It wasn’t a very fancy dinner – pork loin, green beans, and rice – in fact, it’s very dull – but it’s a step toward a new goal I’ve set:  cooking at home more often.

I like cooking.  I’m not very good at it, but I enjoy it.  I’m way better at baking – sweet treats, especially – which I’m sure accounts for a good portion of my waistline problems.  But I am not a very experienced cooker-of-dinners.  Why?  Several reasons.  First, my mom wasn’t a very fancy cook.  Everything she prepared was delicious, but it was usually pretty basic.

Second, I never really bothered to learn to cook beyond my comfort zone when I got married.  There were only two of us, and as many newlyweds have discovered, it wasn’t really worth all that effort to cook for two people.  Eating out was way more fun, and since we didn’t have kids or serious financial commitments early on, we could afford it!

Now, if you know me, you know I love my husband more than anything on God’s green earth.  Anything.  Even chocolate.  But you also know that he is the single most picky eater I have ever encountered.  That is…until our children were born.  Our firstborn is almost as bad as his father.  Our second-born is a hundred times worse.  Oh. My. Word.  It boggles the mind.

So I have a house full of picky eaters.  Or, people with “very selective palates,” as my husband says in attempt to make it sound classy.  Nice try.  You’re picky, honey.  It is next to IMPOSSIBLE to get them to try new foods.  I’ve even bribed the children (and the hubs) with trips to fun places…like Disneyworld.  No dice.  They’d rather go hungry.  So I am resigned to cook very plain, simple meals that they will eat.  While I’m happy to eat anything and everything under the sun!  Except olives and mushrooms.

<shivers>  I shudder just thinking about them.

I have decided to try what lots of people out there do:  fix a large (healthy) dish and take it to work with me during the week.  I’ve added this goal to my weight-loss plan, because eating out for lunch was one of several contributing factors to my putting on ten pounds of the twenty I lost.  I used to treat myself to eating out for lunch once a week.  That was a splurge I allowed myself to have when I went back to work full-time.  I love taking the opportunity every week to sit and have lunch alone.  Occasionally I will go with a friend, and that’s lots of fun too.

But this summer and fall – during and after the dreaded auction preparations – I was so stressed out that I stopped making an effort to pack healthy lunches.  There were weeks when I’d eat out two or three times for lunch.  Couple that with eating out a few nights every week, and I was eating out waaaaay too much.  So I would like to start cooking healthy dishes that I can take to work.

New, bold, exciting dishes that no one else in my house will want.  :)

Does anyone out there have a stack of magazines like this:

Cooking Light

Magazines that you’ve saved for reasons you can’t explain?  Pictures of home décor you keep meaning to cut out?  DIY projects and crafts you think you might try someday?  Vacation spots you’d like to visit?

Back when I started this blog two years ago, I started a subscription to Cooking Light so I could discover fresh, new, healthy recipes.  I think in two years I have cooked one recipe from this magazine.  Because I kept waiting for a dish I thought my family might enjoy.  Clearly, I will never find new favorite recipes if I factor in their “selectiveness.”  So I am going to forge ahead and cook new dishes that I want to try.  I am going to revisit these old issues of Cooking Light, looking only through the lens of what I think sounds appealing.

I’m thinking maybe cooking on Sunday nights will work.  We almost always eat a big family meal on Sunday afternoons, so I rarely eat dinner on Sunday nights.  If I do, it’s just a bowl of cereal or a small bag of popcorn.  Occasionally, my husband has to be gone overnight, so those nights will be good for adventurous cooking, too.

If you have a favorite recipe that 1) is healthy, 2) doesn’t have lots of pricey/hard to find ingredients, and – most importantly – 3) is easy to prepare, please share it in the comments section.  I’m open to anything!  :)

Happy cooking, friends!

Birthday French Toast

Good morning!  I am SO glad the weekend is finally here!  It’s been a wild week.

This week we celebrated my youngest son’s 6th birthday!  Woohoo!  As I mentioned in my last post, he is a very picky eater.  He doesn’t eat a wide variety of foods, the only plus being that he doesn’t eat hardly any sweets.  He doesn’t like cookies, cakes, candy, or chocolate.  Sometimes I wonder if the stork brought me the right baby, but then I remember he gets some of this rejection of sweets from his father.  The only “treats” he likes are things like Teddy Grahams and the occasional Nilla Wafer.

The one sweet my son does like is French toast.  He even likes to dip his French toast in syrup (a BIG deal for this boy with sensory issues).  As soon as we discovered his love of French toast, I set out to find an easy recipe and perfect my French-toast-making skills.  One of the easiest recipes I found was Robert Irvine’s, available at Food Network.  It is super yummy!  And I’m proud to say I have perfected making it on our Cuisinart Griddler.  I’m a French-toast-making machine.

Because my son’s birthday fell on weekday – when the odds of me making a large breakfast and still getting everyone out the door on time are not very good – I promised him that I would fix him a big French toast breakfast today, the day of his birthday party.  Which I did.

French toast

Knowing that today would include French toast for breakfast and birthday cake and ice cream at the party, I have been saving most of my splurge calories for today.  One of the books I’m reading allows two cheat meals each week.  My first cheat meal this week was two slices of pizza with our college students Wednesday night at church.  My second will be today.  :)

Here’s to a great weekend!  Hope you have fun whatever your plans!