I saw this article on NPR today and got me thinking. I’m actually not sure why people are surprised that commercial bakeries are putting chemical into bread that is also used in making yoga mats. Look at the texture of the Subway sandwich bread and compare that to your mat. When you have a commercially produced product that goes out to the masses, it is reasonable to assume that there will be a certain amount of chemicals to make it appear in a uniform manner and be shelf stable. I’m not advocating that you make everything from scratch and/or shop at whole paycheck. I personally don’t have the time to start everything from scratch nor have the bank roll to afford whole paycheck. I’m just saying, read the labels before you buy something. Sometimes it’s good to know what you’re shoveling down your gullet.
On a somewhat related note I have been experimenting with cooking just once per week and making my own “TV Dinners.” The results have been pretty positive so far. My cooking tends to pull towards the comfort food side and I’ve been able to make them into something healthy. Point in case, my cheesy pasta bake. At first glance you’re looking at penne, meat sauce, lots of cheese in a big gooey warm comforting mess, but when you dissect it, the entree is actually pretty good for you.
I made the bolognese with a pound of grounded bison, mushroom, onion, garlic, can of San Marzano tomato, chicken stock base (the little squeeze package from Trader Joe’s), tomato paste (again, squeeze tube from Trader Joe’s), basil (little frozen cubes, again, from TJ’s), and fresh grind pepper. Just had to put a ladle of pasta water and cook down some of the liquid once everything is together. Also, measurement is for suckers when it comes to making sauce, just throw as much stuff as you think would taste good in and see what comes out.
The pasta was the True Roots Quinoa Penne from Costco. I used 4 cups, but you can put as much or as little as you want. I tossed the cooked pasta into the sauce to get some of the liquid into the pasta. I then layered the bottom of a baking pan (an aluminum disposable party tray in my case, because I was too lazy to wash my Pyrex dish), layer a box of ricotta cheese (I was being fatty this time and got the whole milk one instead of getting the more expensive fat free one, which I don’t really get… we’re talking about ricotta here people!), and put another layer on top. I then sprinkled a generous amount of parmesan on top and popped it into the oven.
This made 8 gigantic portions of pasta that probably really should feed two to the box (I was running out of boxes). Just being a good person that I should be, I roasted some shaved (actually I just thin slice/chopped them) brussels sprouts with onion in bacon grease and shoved them in the box too. Same day I also made a Keema Curry, Meat Loaf, Salmon Croquettes, Tzatziki, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, and Blackberry Yogurt Parfait. Couple of weeks before I made a Frittata plus Fish Stew and Farro. So yes, I cook once per week and freeze most of it. It takes me all day in shopping for the ingredients and do the cooking, but I did most of those things in parallel. I eat at home most nights of the week. My man takes the little boxes to work for his lunch. And I found myself with more free time after work at night to crochet and watch TV.
Thing is. None of the recipes I just talked about really matters. It’s good that I’m cooking at home. I’m making things that I like to eat. Things I actually crave. But I’m putting them into portions. It’s great that I know what I’m putting into the food that I’m eating, but it’s ultimately more important that I know exactly how much I’m putting in. When you put in good ingredients (and yes I’m counting bacon grease I saved from cooking bacon in the oven – a small amount of fat can help you feel fulfilled for longer) that actually satisfies your appetite, you don’t need to eat that much, you just need to know when to stop. For me, it’s when the box goes empty.