15 March 2010

Healthy Eating

I am on a healthy eating kick. Not that we were eating unhealthily but we could be doing better.

Hectic schedules, mostly mine, have meant that our meals have been thrown together quickly and not really thought out. That in turn meant that I would look at the menu plan, grab the meat or whatever rout of the freezer and cook it, with either some vegetables or a salad. Or even resort to takeaway!  And that's where our healthy eating crumbled.

We have always been big veggie eaters. Lots of them, all different kinds, cooked in lots of different ways. Did you know that there are hundreds of ways to serve potato? Or carrots, cabbage and zucchini? And that peas and beans can be used as the basis for vegetarian dishes, not just as a token green side on a plate of meat?

Salads for us have always been a full meal with a side of meat, chicken or fish if I felt like it. Until recently, when the meat portion has taken over, and the salad has become a lettuce leaf, slice of tomato, sliver of cheese and half a baby beet.

When I stepped on the scales on Sunday I saw the result of my careless attitude and lack of planning. In my busyness I figured that as long as there were vegetables on the plate we were eating properly. Not so, according to the scales and my clothes.

And so I am back to looking after my family first, home and garden second and work last. If my family isn't healthy and our home clean, tidy and organized then my family isn't happy. If my family isn't happy, then I am not happy. And if I am not happy everything falls in a heap.

This week I have increased our fruit and vegetable intake, almost doubled it in fact, and drastically reduced the amount of meat, chicken and fish we have been consuming. Before you write to me and tell me that we need meat, chicken and fish, let me assure you that we are getting plenty of protein, and iron, and whatever else they supply. All I have done is gone back to serving the recommended portions, a piece of red meat or chicken no bigger than the palm of my hand. I have a BIG hand, so it's still probably larger than the recommended portion.

So far no one has noticed or if they have they haven't complained. A much appreciate side benefit is the dramatic drop in the grocery bill. I did my big shop last week and it came to $144.68 for the month's groceries and that included some meat and fish.  We still have plenty of greens in the garden and mum and I have been swapping. I give her a bag of eggplant and capsicums and she's keeping us in tomatoes and beans.

Now for something not so healthy but lots of fun - gummy worms. My kids love gummy worms, especially the sour ones but they are rather expensive and not so good for those of watching what we eat. In the spirit of MOO I did some research, found a recipe and in typical Cath fashion completely changed it to come up with my own version of Sour Gummy Worms. They've passed the kids' taste test so here's the recipe. Try them, they really are yummy.

Sour Gummy Worms

1  85g box of jelly crystals
3 tsp gelatine or agar agar
1 tsp citric acid
1/2 cup water


Mix all ingredients in a small sauce pan until it resembles play dough. Cook over a low heat until everything has melted. Once completely melted pour into a well greased 20cm square cake tin and freeze for 5 minutes. When very firm tip pan upside down to remove. Cut into "worms" with a pizza cutter or very sharp kitchen scissors. You can then roll them in sugar or leave as is. They won't last long!

*We like green worms, but any colour will do. Use whatever jelly crystals you have in the cupboard.
*We also like them very sour. You may not. Adjust the amount of citric acid to suit your personal taste.
*If you don't use jelly crystals but make your own jellies with a fruit juice base, increase the amount of agar agar (or gelatine) and use fruit juice in place of the water.

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