5 things we’re doing differently in our kitchen this year
Eating clean is an ongoing learning process, and just like many of you, I am constantly integrating new practices, techniques and habits into my life. Anything that enhances the nutritional value of the food we buy, that makes it easier to eat well, or that mixes things up to keep our diet interesting is something I’ll consider.
As we wrap up the first month of 2015, here are new habits I built in 2014 that I’m consciously bringing into this year:
1. Proper preparation of garlic.
Say what? Garlic needs special care? Well… kind of. On reading Jo Robinson’s eye-opening book Eating On the Wild Side (see my review here), I learned a LOT of tricks to get the most nutritional bang out of your produce. One that’s really stuck pertains to garlic.
Here’s the deal: allicin, the compound found in garlic responsible for its anti-bacterial properties, is created when the protein fragment alliin and the enzyme alliinase come into contact. These two compounds don’t actually come together until you slice, press, or chew the garlic. But there’s a catch: if you heat the garlic immediately after crushing or slicing it, you destroy the alliinase, which is heat sensitive, and NO allicin is created.
The ultra-easy solution is simple: chop, mince, cut or press the garlic a little ahead of time and let it sit away from heat for 10 minutes before you cook it. 10 minutes is the magic window for the maximum amount of allicin to be created – after this point, the alliinase is no longer needed. Pretty cool, right?
Also, I’ve brought back the garlic press I have been snubbing. I learned that the press actually does the best job of intermarrying the alliin and alliinase. This means I’m that much more tempted to use garlic because I don’t have the hassle of hand-mincing it (which, let’s be honest, is a total pain in the ass).
So what does this look like in our kitchen? When I’m making dinner and it includes garlic, I bring out the garlic press, press the cloves, and leave them on a corner of the cutting board while I do the rest of the prep. Easy peasy. I kept forgetting to do this for a while, but I’ve slowly built up the habit and now it’s just automatic.
TIP: Behavior change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the result of small changes made easy. I keep the garlic press right next to the knife I use for veggie prep, so it’s the first thing I see when I open that drawer. This was a good visual cue and reminder of my new process.
2. Fish for breakfast.
While we don’t subscribe to any one specific food paradigm, we don’t eat a lot of grains and so eggs feature prominently on our breakfast menu. Too prominently, in fact. Not that I have anything against eggs, but even my eat-anything toddler sometimes complains “no more eggs mommy!” when I start prepping a morning scramble for the umpteenth day in a row.
I find breakfast meats like sausage and bacon too heavy for regular consumption, and like anyone, I’m always in a rush in the morning. Fish fits the bill perfectly – especially a light, quick-cooking not-fishy fish like wild sole.
Here’s what’s rapidly become a favorite breakfast in our home:
- Heat up some coconut oil in a large frying pan.
- Lightly sauté some veggies (this morning it was oyster mushrooms and beet greens).
- Add a splash or two of coconut aminos (or gluten-free tamari if you can tolerate soy), and then add in your fish.
- Cook the fish on one side for 2-3 minutes then flip it and put the lid on. By the time you’ve pulled the plates out of the cupboard your breakfast is ready.
- A quick squeeze of lime overtop and you’re good to go!
Here’s a sample (not the best picture in the world, but a quick instagram shot of this a few weeks ago).
We buy our fish fresh from the farmer’s market on Sundays so this has become our standard Monday morning breakfast.
3. Make our own Kombucha
2014 was the year we got serious about finances. What does that have to do with Kombucha? Well, I did a really close evaluation of our food budget and realized that the HUGE expense on such a healthy and delicious drink couldn’t be justified in the face of how freaking EASY it is to make.
I’d tried it before, unsuccessfully, so at first I was hesitant. But after a little homework I discovered the easy and forgiving continuous brew method, and now we’ve got a steady supply for literally pennies a glass.
I won’t go into more detail here because you can find the super easy step-by-step process here. If you’re a regular kombucha drinker, if you have a little corner of shelf space in your kitchen where you could stash a continuous brew setup, and if you can boil water, you can do this too. Seriously. It’s that easy.
4. Be more intentional with superfoods
When I was pregnant, I paid really close attention to my diet for the obvious reasons. There were some things I avidly avoided, but instead of driving myself crazy by focusing on what I couldn’t have, I made it a project to eat as many nutrient-dense superfoods as I could on a daily basis. I even made a chart of all the superfoods I could think of and tried to check off as many as possible every day.
This “crowding out” strategy is a very successful way of focusing on what you DO want to eat, rather than torturing yourself with the things you’re not supposed to eat for whatever reason.
Now, like anyone else, I get lazy about these things at times, and realized that my superfood consumption was slipping. So, I got intentional again. I brought some of my favorite superfoods back into the regular routine and make sure I eat them on a consistent basis. Here are a couple of examples:
· Gelatin – when I’m not drinking bone broth regularly, I’ll make sure I add a heaping spoonful of gelatin into my drinks throughout the day. To facilitate this (again: habits are the result of small changes made easy) I moved the gelatin from its former home in our pantry to the tea cupboard right by the fridge. This means whenever I’m making some sort of beverage – from a cup of tea, to a morning smoothie, to my after-workout drink – it’s right there where I am, making it that much easier for me to remember.
· Green juice – I have this on our family’s weekly breakfast rotation. Both my daughter and hubby LOVE a good green juice, so they help me keep it on the schedule even when it feels like too much work. I’ve also started adding a great greens powder to my after-workout drink, which means I’m getting the benefit of a good hearty dose of greens even when I’m not drinking my green juice. (And, I feel the need to add, we have something leafy and green with at least one meal a day – often two meals, and sometimes even all three. So this is a little extra boost).
5. Have one vegetarian meal per day
Years ago I used to be a vegetarian (albeit for most of that time, not a very good one) and lately I’ve been longing for lighter meals again. After doing years of deeper healing, my body’s urge for animal protein has diminished. I still need a little each day, but I’m finding that a having at least one vegetarian meal each day actually works quite well for my body right now. This is a huge change for me – I used to be insatiable unless I had a good amount of meat at every meal.
To me, this is such a great example of how our body’s needs change over time and how one diet not only doesn’t work for everyone, but doesn’t even work for one person their whole life. Our needs are constantly changing and it’s so important to continually be checking in with yourself to determine if the macronutrient ratio you’re eating is a good fit for you. That’s a big topic, so I’m going to save it for another post when we can really dive in.
What changes are you bringing into 2015?
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