Molasses Muffins and Cheesy Turkey Pie: My Review of Too Many Cooks

By Katie, 5:55 am

Have you ever read a book that just made you feel good? One that you couldn’t wait to pick back up because you knew you’d be grinning with each turn of the page? Too Many Cooks is one of those books.

I recently joined a group called the Bloggers’ Book Club, figuring that anything that combines my love of reading with my love of blogging must be a good thing. This month the book club provided me with this lovely little gem called Too Many Cooks: Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids, and 102 Recipes, by Emily Franklin.

Although this book contains recipes, to call it a cookbook would be a huge understatement. It is, as Franklin herself describes it, an “eating book,” or a “narrative of family eating.” The premise is simple: Franklin dedicates a year to expanding her family’s culinary horizons; she wants to show her children that sampling new foods and exploring new cuisines can be one of life’s purest joys.

But even though the focus is on the unknown, both the stories and the recipes are extremely accessible. Franklin shows how basic ingredients can be combined quickly and easily to produce a myriad of different flavors and textures. She illustrates how children (and husbands!) can learn to love new foods by combining them with familiar ones. And most of all, Franklin demonstrates the fact that good cooking need not be burdensome; indeed, keeping a carefree attitude in the kitchen often produces the most delicious results.

I’ve made two of her recipes and bookmarked at least a dozen others. This Cheesy Turkey Pie (referred to as “Culver Pie” in the book, after the town where Franklin acquired the recipe) is an easy but hearty meal that would certainly leave even the pickiest eaters satisfied.

And these Molasses Muffins, with a touch of brown sugar on top, have just the right amount of sweetness.

Franklin’s stories have encouraged me to rely less on exact recipes and more on the intuition of my taste buds. Fittingly, I served the molasses muffins as a side to an impromptu meal of white hominy topped with baked beans and sweet potatoes. No recipe, no formula – just a great meal off the top of my head.

I only wish the text was accompanied by photos of the food! Although honestly, I was already drooling all over the pages without them.

I will admit, however, that on a few pages I felt a twinge of frustration; it seemed that Franklin was occasionally forgetting that her readers might not have her level of experience in the kitchen. The writer has both a personal and professional background in cooking, and the ease at which she maneuvers large holiday meals can certainly spark some envy. I strive for Franklin’s degree of calm amidst two burners, the oven, and the food processor all going at once.

Cooking aside, perhaps the best part of Too Many Cooks is the way it seamlessly switches from baking to parenting, from making dinner to teaching children important life lessons. Franklin eloquently writes that “cooking, like parenting, is sometimes a leap of faith – that the dough will rise, that the tenderloin won’t be too rare or too brown, that the wobbly Jell-O will set…That babbles and drool and mumbling baby sounds will form, one day, all of a sudden, into a single word that will alert you to all that lies ahead.”

I am not yet a parent (although it is no secret that I cannot wait to become one!), but this book got my wheels turning about how I will teach my future children about food, about the pleasure of eating, about the excitement of new dishes and new restaurants. It also has me on a mission to discover more interesting, tasty ways of preparing vegetables, so that no one at the table – be they age 5 or age 35 – can turn them down. ;-)

All-in-all, Too Many Cooks is a fast, enjoyable read for anyone who loves food and wants to share that love with their families.

Are you familiar with this book? Does it sound like one you’d like to read?

AND

If you have children or work with them, what is your strategy for getting them to try new foods? If you want children in the future, how do you think you’ll approach the subject of food with them?

Paralysis by Analysis

By Katie, 5:23 am

When I was in middle school, a few of my friends randomly decided that they didn’t like one of our classmates; we’ll call her Susie. They teased Susie relentlessly, calling her mean names, purposefully excluding her…basically going out of their way to make sure Susie felt humiliated.

Of course I knew what my friends were doing was wrong. And deep down I wanted to stand up to them. So every day when I left school I would think about how best to make my point. Should I make a big scene and risk losing all of my friends? Should I subtly hint that I was uncomfortable with their behavior? Or maybe Susie wouldn’t want me standing up for her in the first place; maybe she wanted to fight her own battles. What were the pros and cons of calling out my friends?

This thinking went on and on and on, until eventually the teasing stopped because Susie moved to a different school district. While I wavered back and forth about what to do, my chance to stand up for what was right had passed me by. :-(

I was recently reminded of this experience while listening to one of my father-in-law’s sermons (have I mentioned before that Dave’s dad is a pastor?) in which he used the phrase “paralysis by analysis.” He was preaching on the topic of courage, and one of his points was that sometimes we spend so much time thinking about doing something that we never get around to actually doing anything.

Lightbulb moment! 8-O

I confess: I am an analyzer.

Correction: I am an over-analyzer. Instead of jumping right into things, I prefer to sleep on it, carefully deliberate, consider all of my options, mull it over a bit, make a list of pros and cons.

 (Source)

Don’t get me wrong – much of the time this tendency has served me well, especially when my natural cautiousness has led me to pray and meditate before making an important decision. But sometimes all of that caution isn’t about tuning into my God or my heart; sometimes all of that caution is a way of avoiding what I know I need to do. The over-analyzing becomes a way of indulging my fear of moving forward, leaving me stagnant, motionless, and comfortable.

But sometimes it’s not supposed to be comfortable.

Again, I’m not talking about being thoughtlessly impulsive, about rushing into things that truly deserve thoughts, prayers, and meditations. I’m talking about those situations – like mine in middle school – where I know the right thing to do, what I’m being called to do, even, but am over-thinking it instead of just going for it.

At its core, “paralysis by analysis” is about fear. And while I’m perfectly OK with being the cautious type, I do not want to live my life in fear. Because in the end, my life will be defined not by what I thought about doing, but by what I actually did.

Have you ever experienced paralysis by analysis? Are you the type to over-think things, or do you jump right in?

Au Revoir, Hunger! What the French Language Can Teach Us About Intuitive Eating

By Katie, 5:45 am

Ah, the French. They have given us so many wonderful things.

Like French toast.

(Source)

And French onion soup.

(Source)

There’s the French horn.

(Source)

And the French press.

(Source)

Can’t forget the French kiss.

(Source)

And, of course, French fries. ;-)

(Source)

Our culture has often admired envied the eating habits of the French. “How can they eat all that butter and still stay so slim?!?” we exclaim. I won’t go into that question here – considering a whole book has been written on the topic – but I will propose that the actual French language has something to teach us about intuitive eating.

More specifically, about how to stop eating when satisfied – after the sensation of hunger but before the sensation of stuffed.

In Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, he notes the interesting fact that English speakers and French speakers use different wording when they push their chairs back from the dining table. We tend to say the phrase “I’m full,” while the French say, “Je n’ai pas faim,” which translates to “I do not have hunger.”

It’s a subtle but extremely insightful difference: “I’m full” versus “I do not have hunger.” It’s the difference between eating to quell a physical need for fuel and eating to fill ourselves up to the brim.

I’m not trying to imply that there’s anything wrong with eating to the point of feeling full. I’m saying that when I eat for the purpose of being filled, it’s often because of an emotional need rather than a physical one. But when I eat for the purpose of eliminating hunger, I know I am in tune with my body’s cues.

I’ve found that, when I sit down at the table with the intention of eating intuitively, thinking about the French phrasing is a helpful way to judge when I am satisfied but not stuffed. I don’t ask whether or not I’m full (because for me, that usually means too full), but whether or not my hunger has been abated, whether or not that sensation is still present.

And when I follow that guideline – stopping at the point of “Je n’ai pas faim” - I am able to pop up from the table and go about my day. I feel energized, and I welcome movement. When I’ve ignored that guideline in the name of filling myself with food rather than whatever it is I really need, I feel tired and sluggish, and the couch looks much more appealing than anything else.

I find it amazing how that small change in wording can connote such a different mindset toward the eating experience. It’s enough to make me want to up and move to Paris! Just kidding, Mom, don’t worry! ;-)

Bon appetit!

Do you ever struggle with the fine line between eating until satisfied and eating until stuffed? Do you think reminding yourself of the French phrasing could be helpful?

AND, just for fun…

Do you speak any French? I studied French in high school and college, but what I remember is really hit-or-miss at this point.

Veggie Ice Cream Winner!

By Katie, 6:47 pm

The winner of two pints of veggie ice cream from Dominion Ice Cream in Baltimore is…

Kara from MyWellnest!

Congrats, Kara! Send me an e-mail (katie@healthforthewholeself.com) with your shipping address and I’ll get your ice cream to you right away!  8-)

Globetrotter Wanna Be

By Katie, 5:34 am

Mondays are made for dreaming big, don’t ya think?

I was very fortunate to spend the weekend with sunshine on my face and sand between my toes.

It was a perfect little last-glimpse-of-summer getaway.

But here’s the trouble with vacations: they always make me want more. They make me want to travel and explore, which are both things I haven’t done enough of in my life thus far.

So today I’m dreaming big, letting my mind wander from hot spot to hot spot, from journey to journey. Will you join me?

My Dream Vacation Destinations

Ireland

(Source)

Partly because I married an Irishman, partly because I love the color GREEN.

Austin, TX

(Source)

Dave’s the music buff, not me, but I’ve heard such great things about the overall vibe of this city.

Portland, OR

(Source)

The perfect location for those of us who can never choose between the bustle of a city and the serenity of nature.

Quebec City

(Source)

I’ve actually been here before, but I really want to go back because I just love the charm of old-yet-well-maintained towns like this one. And I want to break out my (hit-or-miss) French skills.

Anywhere with Clear, Blue Water

(Source)

I’ve only ever seen the cloudy, murky stuff.

San Francisco

(Source)

Another city whose overall “vibe” I want to get swept up in.

Australia

(Source)

Just because of that photo.

Namibia

(Source)

Dave’s family helped start a Christian orphanage there, and I’d love to meet the children and share in the compassion that surrounds the place and its supporters.

Yellowstone National Park

(Source)

Because I’m on a scenery-that-takes-your-breath-away kick right now.

Alaksa

(Source)

See above explanation.

Bali, Indonesia

(Source)

And not because of Eat, Pray, Love. Or at least not entirely.

Taipei, Taiwan

(Source)

I have several Taiwanese  friends, and they assure me I won’t be disappointed!

Whew! Those are some far away dreams for a Monday morning! Now I’m off to go plant my money tree… :roll:

Have you ever been to any of my dream destinations?

AND

What’s your dream vacation? Is it in the cards for the near future? The far future?

Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups!

By Katie, 5:10 am

Have you entered my Veggie Ice Cream Giveaway yet?

Oh, the things I ate as a child. 8-)

Animal crackers in a box that had its own handle…

(Source)

Candy eaten directly off a roll of paper (meaning that I often ate as much paper as I did candy)…

(Source)

Candy eaten directly off of my own neck…

(Source)

And, of course, the famous Fruit Roll-Ups (a.k.a. more candy eaten directly off a roll of paper).

(Source)

I honestly hadn’t thought about fruit roll-ups for years until a few weeks ago, when I learned that my 16-year-old sister-in-law kind of has a thing for them. Then, a few days later, I came across this post on the blog Stephanie Cooks about making homemade fruit leathers. I took it as a sign that I was supposed to do just that. :-)

So I did.

Making homemade fruit roll-ups is so simple it’s almost silly! All I did was mix high-quality strawberry preserves with some cornstarch, then spread it out on strips of parchment that had been lightly sprayed.

I could have taken the time to make my roll-ups perfectly straight, but whatever. The beauty of homemade food is its lack of perfection (or at least that’s what I constantly have to tell myself!). Actually, you could just use one giant slab of parchment, spread your jelly-constarch combo on the whole thing, and then cut it at the very end. You know, if you’re one of those perfectionist types. ;-)

Then all you need is 45 minutes in a 225º oven, plus sufficient time for cooling. They’re not totally solidified after baking, but they reach the right texture once they’re cool. I actually popped mine in the fridge for a bit before rolling them up.

I asked Dave what it was like to come home from work to find his wife, complete with a very serious furrowed brow, concentrating hard on taking photographs of a fruit roll-up. :lol:

He said, quote, “It looks like a tongue.”

I made both square ones and long ones. I preferred the long ones as a kid, for absolutely no logical reason. Kids’ preferences are funny like that, no?

All rolled up!

Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups
As seen on Stephanie Cooks, originally from Food Network

Ingredients
2/3 cup fruit preserves (you can use whatever flavor and style you like, although I personally think jelly is the easiest to work with because it’s smooth)
2 tsp corn starch

1. Preheat oven to 225º.

2. In a small bowl, combine fruit preserves and corn starch.

3. Cut parchment paper into strips, squares, or whatever shape suits your fancy. Spray lightly with cooking spray, then spread evenly with the preserves mixture. (You can make them whatever thickness you like; I prefer them a bit on the thicker side.)

4. Bake for 45 minutes.

5. Cool completely before rolling them up.

Did you eat Fruit Roll-Ups as a kid? (Or do you eat them now?)

AND

Have you ever tried making a homemade version of a packaged childhood favorite?

The Illusion of Control

By Katie, 5:21 am

Last week a very insightful post on Medicinal Marzipan started with this instruction:

Raise your hand if you’re a control freak.

I think my palm almost touched the ceiling. ;-)

“Freak” doesn’t even begin to describe some of my controlling tendencies. I used to be obsessed with controlling everything in my life, from the grand (like my relationships and my destiny) to the everyday (like my schedule and my to-do list). I literally planned out every waking minute of my day, every morsel of food that passed my lips, and every major event in my life.

Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration…but only a slight one. :-?

Why, oh why, was I so controlling (and some days still am!)? I think it was all a feeble attempt to avoid the unknown, to prevent my steady self from being shaken or hurt in any way. I believed that if I could just keep everything in order – within the confines of my life’s comfortable little boxes – all would be well.  

All I can say is that it hasn’t worked so far. :roll:

Despite my constant controlling efforts, I still manage to be shaken. I still get hurt…sometimes a lot. And I still have to face one unexpected dodge ball after another…you know, just like everyone else.

What’s more, when I look back it’s painfully obvious that my inner control freak not only failed to prevent any pain and suffering, it actually facilitated it. For example, the more I tried to control my every bite, the more likely it was that I would end up in a tailspin, spiraling down and down and down until not a single meal felt like it was under my command. I believe this irony – that trying to control everything actually leads to less control – applies to most aspects of life.

The good news is that I’m getting better. I’m learning to let go, to loosen my grip on the reins. How? By recognizing and accepting this very simple fact: Being in control is always an illusion.

I believe that every detail of my life – from what I have for breakfast to what I’ll be doing ten years from now – is in God’s control, not mine. That’s not to say that I don’t have the power to make my own decisions and chart my own course; it’s just that that course is in some ways already there, waiting for me to follow it.

 (Source)

This is also not to say that I believe in being stupid. Refusing to study for a test because “my grade is in God’s hands anyway”? I think not. It’s like that phrase, “Trust in God. Wear Your Seatbelt.” Relinquishing control is not the same as exposing yourself to unnecessary risks.

Right now, I’m still working on getting my control issues under, err, control. I’m constantly reminding myself that no amount of preparation or influence or micro-management will keep me from having to face life’s curve balls, from feeling hurt or disappointed, from toppling off that tall totem pole called balance every now and then. But there is still freedom and peace to be found, just not within the confines of control. Rather, freedom and peace reside in the recognition that control was just a figment of my imagination in the first place.

Do you have any “control freak” tendencies? If so, how do you deal with life’s uncontrollables? And if not, how can I be more like you??? ;-)

Veggie Ice Cream??? GIVEAWAY!

By Katie, 5:13 am

When I posted the recipe for Sweet Potato and Bacon Salad, I pointed out that adding a small amount of bacon to a dish is a great way to give it a big old boost of flavor while still ensuring your body gets the vitamins and minerals it needs.

Well, apparently it goes the other way around as well. You can add a nutritional powerhouse to a dish that’s naturally lacking, and end up with something that’s both nutritious and delicious.

This is a lesson I learned on my recent trip to Dominion Ice Cream, a small, unassuming shop in the Charles Village neighborhood of Baltimore, right next to Johns Hopkins University.

 (Source)

Dominion’s ice cream is made with, yep you guessed it, VEGETABLES!

If you have yet to try a Green Monster smoothie, then you might be a bit skeptical. But if you’re already a fan of the bright, emerald drink, you know perfectly well that veggies can easily and deliciously be incorporated into something sweet.

 (Source)

Here’s the full list of flavors the shop serves:

  • sweet potato
  • spinach
  • tomato
  • carrot
  • sweet corn
  • jalapeno
  • red cabbage
  • butternut squash
  • cucumber
  • beet
  • garlic

I sampled the sweet corn, which had a very pleasant, distinct flavor…no doubt it tasted like sweet corn! But in the end I opted for a double scoop with sweet potato and butternut squash, mostly because winter squash has been on my brain nonstop this past week.

Dave went even more adventurous and got one scoop of carrot and one scoop of beet.

We both really enjoyed our selections! While in some ways eating ice cream is meant to be an indulgence, the extra veggie-licious nutrients were a welcome addition! Perfect for when you’re in the mood to branch out beyond the traditional vanillas, chocolates, and rocky roads. 8-)

GIVEAWAY

After realizing this ice cream can be purchased online, I decided it would be super fun to send some to a lucky reader. Unfortunately the company never returned my messages, so I’ve decided this one will be on me. ;-)

The Logistics:

  • The winner must be from the U.S. Eastern or Central Time Zones only. (I’m so sorry, Western U.S. and International readers! :-( )
  • To enter, visit the Dominion Ice Cream website, click on “Purchase,” and leave a comment with which 2-pint flavor combination you’d most like to receive if you win.
  • For a second entry, share this giveaway in one way or another and leave a comment letting me know you’ve done so. (You can link to it from your blog, e-mail it to a friend, or Tweet about it using @KatieHWS .)
  • You have until midnight on Sunday, September 26 to enter. The winner will be chosen randomly first thing Monday morning.

Now I’m off to plan my next batch of homemade ice cream…kabocha squash, perhaps? ;-)

Forgive and Forget: Three Steps for Moving On After a Binge

By Katie, 5:45 am

Sometimes it just happens. Maybe I’m exhausted after a long, stressful day at work. Maybe I just received some terribly upsetting news about a close friend or family member. Perhaps I just spent hours fighting off some anxiety about an upcoming social event. But for whatever reason, sometimes it just…happens.

I bolt. I emotionally check out for the evening, using a massive bowl of ice cream or cereal (or both!) to facilitate the zoning out process. I feel better for about 5 whole minutes, after which I am overrun with guilt about the whole thing.

Recently a reader and I were chatting through e-mail about how to handle the whole post-binge-guilt thing. This reader had just come off an overeating episode and was really struggling to just accept what happened and move on. She was getting so caught up in her past stumbles that it was inhibiting her ability to move forward.

She asked if I had any advice, and I told her I thought the old adage “forgive and forget” might be useful here. Except instead of forgiving someone else, in this case we need to forgive ourselves.

(Source)

Forgive and Forget: Three Steps for Moving On After a Binge

Step 1: Recognize that I overate for a reason.

Each and every time I turn to the ice cream bowl, it is for a legitimate reason. I wouldn’t be doing it if it weren’t providing me with something – most often short-term comfort, a way to check out. No, using food as an emotional relase is not a healthy coping strategy, but it’s still a coping strategy. It’s giving me the break or release I’m looking for.

I find that it’s easier to forgive myself when I recognize that it wasn’t simply a lapse in will-power or resolve; it was a way (albeit an ineffective one) of comforting myself.

Step 2: Explore the reason.

So I recognize that I overate for a reason, but sometimes in the moment I have no idea what that reason is. While I usually don’t try to dissect the situation in the immediate aftermath – when my judgment is obviously still a little cloudy – once the storm has settled I do take some time to reflect. I question what I was feeling in the minutes, hours, or even days before it happened. What exactly was the trigger?

Step 3: Make a plan.

I am totally a Type-A personality, and here’s where it really shows. I find that I am only able to move on once I’ve established a new course of action for the next time a similar situation rolls around. I think through how I can take better care of myself, how I will sit through the difficult emotions instead of running away from them, and who I will reach out to for support.

Granted, I’m not always successful with following through on this plan when the situation arises, but the very act of outlining a strategy gives me the confidence to forget the missteps of the past and press forward on my journey toward well-being.

Because in the end, there’s really no reason not to forgive and forget. The guilt doesn’t get me anywhere except deeper into my own mess. But when I forgive myself for struggling and then refuse to dwell on the episode, I’m able to pull myself back up, dust off my knees, and pick up right where I left off.

Do you ever struggle with post-overeating-guilt? How are you able to forgive and forget?

**This post stemmed directly from a reader’s question. If you have a question you’d like me to address here on HWS, feel free to e-mail me at katie@healthforthewholeself.com and I will do my best!

**Stop back tomorrow for a super fun Giveaway! (I am very excited about this one!) :-D

Lovin’ On Legumes

By Katie, 5:04 am

Yesterday I posted about Loving Little Katie (I can’t thank all of you enough for your supportive comments and emails! It means so much to me!). So today I thought I’d go a little lighter and shower some love on something else entirely: LEGUMES.

I have to come clean about my reason for wanting to post about legumes: I had no idea what they were. Well, not no idea, but only a very vague one. And I figured a blog post would be a great way to educate myself!

I think my confusion started when I learned in my high school French class that the word for vegetable in that language is “légume.” So I then assumed that our word “legume” also simply meant “vegetable.” But no, it’s a little more narrow than that.

Apparently, the English word “legume” refers specifically to plants that bare their fruit in their seed pods, which split along both sides when ripe. That clears the confusion right up, now doesn’t it? :-?

It’s easier to understand by example. Here are some common legumes:

  • black beans
  • chickpeas
  • green peas
  • green beans
  • soy nuts
  • peanuts
  • lentils
  • kidney beans
  • sugar snap peas
  • lima beans
  • black-eyed peas

According to this Baltimore Sun article, legumes pack a pretty powerful punch. On average, a single serving (usually 1/2 cup) provides at least 20% of our daily need for fiber, folate, and manganese. They also give at least 10% of our daily need for protein, potassium, iron, magnesium, and copper. Not to mention they are CHEAP (because who isn’t on a budget right now?) and they store well for long periods of time.

So if you’re ready to get your legume love on, here are some of my favorite recipes featuring this awesome cast of characters.

Corn and Black Bean Pizza

Chunky Red Bean Spread

Maple Baked Beans

Lentil Salmon Salad

Chickpea-Spelt Burgers

Black Bean Tortilla Casserole

Did you know what legumes were? Do you have a favorite legume? Black beans might be my favorite, although I do love edamame and hummus a whole lot!

Panorama Theme by Themocracy