Saturday, February 1, 2014

Don't Forget to Tip Your Cook....

I'm here to report on the results for January's healthy habits challenge, talk about February's, and give you this week's lineup.

Project Eat at Least 5 Meals at Home per Week was a stellar success, not only from the standpoint of our health and my waistline, but our wallet is now fatter. I track our monthly spending on a spreadsheet. During the month of December, we spent $600 dining out. In January, we spent $249.82. And that $249.82 included the school hot lunch account deposits for my daughter, my work lunches, and my morning coffee. That was a savings of $350.00 in one month! That, my friends, is pretty freaking awesome.  We all feel better physically and have more energy. You can't put a price on that. This is a habit we will most definitely continue.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Project Incorporate Fish into Our Diets. This was not a phenomenal success. At the request of my husband, I have reduced the fish meals to once a week, as trying to make someone eat something he is honestly disgusted by isn't fair to him. If we can have one fish meal per week, that is a compromise I can live with - I still get fish, and he doesn't get exposed to as much fish.

For the month of February, Project Incorporate More Whole Grains into our diet is going into operation. I'm not sure how this is going to play out, because there is resistance to whole grain from both of my family members. I love whole grains, and would happily eat as many as I could get. With that spirit in mind, here are this week's recipes. I'm going heavy on the crockpot this week.

Turkey chili
Chicken Fried Rice
Vegetable Beef Soup
Chicken tabbouleh with couscous (prepare for the whining to commence on this one)
Salmon cakes with red beans and rice (which I never got to make, so it's our fish meal this week)

I'm pre-soaking the lentils in a pot of water today and plan on making them in the crockpot tomorrow morning. The recipe calls  for 11 hour cook time on low, so I have to get up early tomorrow. The turkey chili recipe is one I invented and the chicken fried rice and chicken tabblouleh are from the Cooking Light Healthy Habits cookbook, as are the salmon cakes.

Also this week, I had cooking class on Thursday night, where we learned everything there is to know about soups, stocks, and sauces - I have picked up some useful pointers regarding these items as well as some fine knife skills, and I can now tell you the difference between white stock, brown stock, bases, and broths. I can also define mirepoix (a mixture of 50% onion, 25% carrots, 25% celery that you use to flavor stocks).

Thursday was our first live lab, where we had to partner up and choose a soup to make. I chose seafood bisque, because I adore it and it also involved skill sets I don't use every day. I'm not there to do things I already know how to do - and it was game on. My partner and I learned how to make stock out of lobster and shrimp shells, prepare a roux, and add a little flambe to the pan when sauteeing the stock mix with brandy. It was a lot of fun - and at the end of class, we had a tasting for everyone's dishes. People brought in containers to take soups home - and the bisque was the first to go, so I am proud of that.

I am glad I signed up for this class, because it is making me realize I have a lot of very good skills in the kitchen that I do not give myself enough credit for, while still being able to hone other skills and learn some new tricks.

Have a great week - and I will report back on how week one of project whole grains goes. 

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