Thursday, February 26, 2009

Real Food

If you've been here before you know that I do a lot of low-sodium cooking because of my mother's chronic congestive heart failure. It's been an interesting journey learning new ways to cook and also going back to some old ways from back when we didn't have quite so many processed and "convenience" foods. I've enjoyed experimenting with new recipes and re-tooling some of our old favorites and with a few unfortunate exceptions we've enjoyed some good meals.

This year I have decided to give up more in the way of processed food and plan to eat more "real" food during Lent. I've done things in previous years like giving up chocolate or sugar and I have to confess, I usually look for ways to still eat what I want to such as eating white chocolate or still eating desserts but with artificial sweeteners. It's not quite as bad as the church selling indulgences to allow parishioners to eat butter and such during Lent but I know it's just violating the spirit of the whole thing. I'm thinking that in giving up even more in the way of processed food I can keep my focus on just being mindful about generally trying to live a healthier life in body, mind and spirit. To me the idea of fasting isn't about punishment or suffering, it's more about paying attention. We live so much of our lives on auto-pilot that I don't think we even realize how much we're missing because of it. So for the next 40 days excluding Sundays I'm going to stick to eating food that is as close to it's natural state as possible and I hope that by paying attention to that I'll make other choices that are good for my body and my soul as well. I just made some cookies to take on a trip with my bell choir from church this weekend and I forgot just how awesome a home made oatmeal raisin cookie is. I'm also packing fruit and veggies, some cheese and my favorite edamame to help me resist all the goodies that are sure to be in abundance on the bus, in our cabin and in the retreat center dining hall. Wish me luck with that! I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I Recommend...

Update: This one turned out great. I actually used a pork roast because Publix had pork loin on sale for $1.99 a pound and I did it in the crock pot while we were at church Sunday morning. I just heated up the leftovers tonight and made a mustard bbq sauce for the pork and that is mighty tasty too. The best part though is how pleased Mama was with the beans. We used to enjoy baked beans a lot but have had to cut them out because of the ridiculous sodium levels of canned beans but these turned out really well. I love being able to add some of the things she really likes back into her diet so this recipe gets an A++ on the Feedin' Mama rating scale.

I've mentioned Dick Logue's Low Sodium Cooking newsletter here before, it is such a great resource. In the latest edition Dick reminded me that he has a comprehensive membership website with tons of recipes, information and resources available. It's a few dollars a month and you can pay directly or by Paypal and it looks to be well worth the small investment to have an easily searchable collection of such useful information at your fingertips. The newsletter itself is, of course, still free and you can sign up for that here if you haven't already. But the online community site has 1600 pages searchable by ingredient, sodium content and category so you can easily navigate all that information and find just what you need. You can see a sample and/or sign up here. In the current economy we can all use the extra support and all those recipes can sure make low-sodium cooking a lot more interesting so go on over and support Dick if you can manage it in your own budget.

Here's a recipe from the latest newsletter that I'm going to try this week, I think Mama will really like this one:

Brisket Of Beef With Beans

Kind of like baked beans with the addition of the beef. The cooking liquid gives the beef a nice flavor and the beans go well with it. The beef also makes great sandwiches.

2 lb beef brisket
2 sl Low Sodium Bacon
1/2 t black pepper,freshly ground
2 c water
1 lb navy beans
1/4 c maple syrup
1/2 c brown sugar,packed
1/2 t dry mustard

Soak beans in water overnight. Drain the beans. Brown the fat side of the brisket in a Dutch oven or heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and brown the other side. Add the pepper, water and beans. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, covered for 2 hours or until the beef and beans are tender. stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove the beef and keep warm. Add the maple syrup, brown sugar and mustard to the beans. Mix thoroughly, and simmer over medium heat for another 10 minutes. Slice the brisket thinly and serve with the beans.

Yield: 6 Servings

Per Serving:
417 Calories
40 g Protein
7 g Total Fat
3 g Saturated Fat
1 g Polyunsaturated Fat
3 g Monounsaturated Fat
47 g Carbohydrates
8 g Fiber
133 mg Sodium
912 mg Potassium
65 mg Cholesterol

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Seek and seek and seek...

I've started a virtual support group over at Living Pollyanna for folks like me who are having the psychological life sucked out of them by an extended job search. It's tough out there and being over 50 is not working in my favor I'm afraid. Do you think being on the "mature" side of 50 makes it harder to find a job or is it just hard for everybody across the board? I'd like to hear what people think about that. And I'll be happy to e-mail my resume to you if you're hiring!