Key pieces for fall

Even if you don’t read fashion magazines or blogs, the headlines are everywhere: key pieces we need for fall! Let me guess – women need a crisp white blouse and a little black dress while men could use a navy blazer.

Those are staples. The basics. The starting point.

Let’s think of meal prep in the same way. What are the MUST HAVES? What are our key foods? What are the staples, the basics?

It might be time to check out the pantry (or cupboards in my case) and the freezer. Do we have items that, in a pinch, will make a great meal? Not just a good meal.

A great meal leaves you feeling satisfied. An OK meal leaves you raiding the cabinets for snacks an hour later!

You want a meal you and your family look forward to. Do we have alternatives other than cold cereal at home?

A meal, we nutritionists think, should consist of at least three of the basic five My Plate food groups (which you remember as protein, grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy). While we’re not huge animal protein eaters at our house, I think protein is where most people start. Do you have chicken in the freezer? Hamburger or steaks small enough to thaw easily? Our “go to” is shrimp. It’s frozen, we love it; it’s versatile. Ditto eggs. Canned black beans are another option for us.

Our grain cupboard is easy. Do you have one? Risotto takes a half hour but some of our Asian noodles take only 4 minutes to cook and the rest of our grains are somewhere in between. We have dried pasta, rice, orzo, couscous, oats, barley and quinoa which are plain and at the ready.

Fruits and veggies we have readily because I have the time to grocery/market shop. But frozen options are a great idea for those who are time pressed. A jarred tomato sauce might be helpful too.

Besides milk, cheese fits into the dairy group, stores well and can be called upon for a gourmet grilled cheese, cheese omelet…well you get the picture.

Think through your quickest meals and have the ingredients on hand. These are your key pieces, staples, basics – your starting point. They’ll get you through the season well fed.

Make your own fast food meal at home to be well.


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Ready to cook?

Apparently not!

A recent Wall Street Journal article suggested we Americans, despite all conveniences, don’t enjoy cooking. Mealtime, it said, was a “hurdle to clear”.

Canned, frozen and packaged foods, farmer’s markets, 24/7 groceries, grocery delivery service, meal kits, CSA deliveries, cooking shows, on-line recipes…would seemingly make everything easier for us. Enjoyment should be inevitable. But do we look forward to cooking? Not so much.

A couple years ago, I was touring condos with a real estate agent; while looking at a kitchen, she asked me if I enjoyed cooking. While I still haven’t answered her it’s only because I’d feel guilty saying, “No, I don’t enjoying cooking!”

I don’t like the act of shopping, cooking or cleaning up.

HOWEVER, I can enthusiastically say YES, I enjoy eating healthy and simple home cooked meals. I like controlled portions, calories, fat and sodium. I like my seasonal produce prepared just so. If it’s fish on the grill, I don’t need seasoning. If it’s a steak, I like that three people share one!

I absolutely love eating at home, eating as a family or even treating myself when eating alone. I look forward to eating.

I’m entertained by the cooking shows, the recipe exchanges and the 86 cookbooks I own. I cherish my mom and aunt’s handwritten recipes. (I’d enjoy my grandmothers’ recipes but they cooked and baked “by hand” and feel.) I’m not certain any of these role models enjoyed cooking, but they enjoyed healthy food, simply prepared and being with family.

So, as summer ends and we essentially start a “new” year, the question isn’t, “do you enjoy cooking?”.  The question to ask is, “do you enjoy being in charge of your diet and your health?” Answer YES as you enjoy eating at home to be well.


PS The only thing that I can truly relate to in that photo is that glass of red wine…cheers to you!

PPS Wishing a happy start to the new school year for you and those around you:))


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