Tuesday, October 21, 2008

149.6* - Cooking as an Investment

When my husband and I talked about what he needed to do to improve his health so he could avoid having a heart attack like his two brothers have had recently, one of the things he said he needed was a personal chef. He just doesn't have time to cook for himself. Hell, most days he barely has time to even eat. (Seriously. He'll go all day long until he gets home after 6 or 7 p.m., and not have eaten a thing because he was "too busy." Oy.)

Since we aren't Oprah, there was no personal chef to be hired. So I appointed myself as his new food preparer extraordinaire.

This is no small feat. I'm not a natural cook. I usually only get enjoyment from cooking when it involves sugar, flour, butter, eggs, chocolate, and the oven (I like to bake. A lot). I do, however, have a vested interest in keeping my husband of 13 years and the father to my two young children alive and healthy for as long as possible.

And I'm learning to love cooking. I'm cooking with love. Even if that means the only time I can cook is at 10:30 p.m. on a Monday night.

The weekend being what it was, I didn't have time to grocery shop. So after the kids were in bed last night, I headed out with my mile-long list and bought healthy food at 9 p.m. at night.

Home and with groceries put away by 10 p.m., I was ready to collapse but knew that if I didn't make something healthy, I would be falling down on my commitment to the hubs' new lifestyle.

So I put on the rice cooker (extra long brown rice) and set to opening cans and measuring spices. It was a simple recipe I found on foodnetwork.com, for Black and Red Fiesta Beans and Rice. I've never made it before, but I found two cans of red beans in the cupboard and needed to use them since they expired in August of 2008 (what? they were fine).

I think it only took me about 10 minutes to assemble the food, and I let it cook about 20 minutes or so. The rice cooker did its thing while I watched Alton Brown on Good Eats. And by 11:30ish everything was done and put in the fridge, ready for several meals over the next few days. (And the beans and rice ROCK. I had some for lunch and I highly recommend this recipe. I tweaked it a bit, thanks to the comments on the website. I used 6 oz tomato paste instead of tomato sauce, and I used a can of Rotel Original instead of salsa. And instead of cayenne pepper I used paprika.)

This is the third new recipe in a week that I've made. Last week it was Roni's turkey burgers and turkey chili (both turned out awesome, as all Roni's recipes do).

And I'm secretly starting to enjoy cooking, even though it doesn't involve dropping cookie dough by rounded spoonfuls. I even looked for butternut squash last night at the grocery--they didn't have any, what's up with that?--and if I ever find some, I'm going to make Roni's butternut squash soup.

Why the new found joy of cooking? Perhaps it's the thrill of taking a bite of something *I* made and having it actually tastes good. And knowing I'm doing my husband some real good by feeding him healthy meals. And realizing I'm hopefully giving my kids the gift of more years with their dad by helping him get healthy.

It's a strange thing, learning to love to cook at age 38. But then, it was strange for me to become a runner at age 37, too. I'm learning to love the strange things in life.

Which better include a N. man who lives well into his 90s.

*I had a massive migraine this morning. One of the worst I've had in ages. I think I know why, and I'm embarrassed to admit I had 8 Oreos in the middle of the night. Yesterday was a stressful day, I still feel kind of crappy from last week's sinus infection, and I woke myself up with a coughing fit. I went to pee and then the Oreos sang their siren song. I've never had an Oreo headache, but I have had dark chocolate headaches, and I'm thinking my body is developing yet another aversion to food that's bad for me. First it was Taco Bell, then McD's salads, now it's Oreos. It's a bloody bad food mutiny, I tell you!

Okay, so here's the reason for the * in my title today. Even though my head was about to explode, someone had to get Sophie off to school, and that someone was me. I weighed after my first morning pee, as usual, and got 149.6. After Sophie got on the bus, I lost it and had to lay down with an ice pack on my head. Mark took Luke to day care, and I napped for about 45 minutes. 3 advil and 3 tylenol later, the pain was mostly all gone. And before I got in the shower, I weighed again, because it's what I do. As I've seen before, napping causes weight loss. My 2nd weigh in was 148.4. Isn't that a hoot? The body is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.


Jill said...

Napping causes weight loss? Excuse me whilzzz zzzzz zzzz.

MCM Mama said...

Those recipes sound yummy! I love to cook and hate to bake, so our meals are healthy. It's the random processed baked goods I buy that kill me...

And I must take up napping if it causes weight loss LOL.

Anonymous said...

Yay for you, learning to like to cook!

And ya, I've had that same 'more sleep/weight loss' phenomenon. Sometimes when I wake up to pee at 4am, I'll weigh myself, and then I'll check again when I get up at 6 or 7 am, and it is almost always a pound lighter. I'm gonna remember your phrase 'The body is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.'

Plus ya, I used to get the chocolate headache when I would eat my best brownies on my way to work in the morning. Of course, do you think that stopped me from eating them?

Vickie said...

so sorry for the headache - they suck. Chocolate causes them for me too. (And tree nuts I found out recently.)

Vickie said...

recipe sounds good - I have been looking for a beans and rice recipe - I even wrote to Roni and asked her to invent one. glad to see this one because I can adapt it to low salt very easily (no salt tomato product, beans made from dried - not canned, so the only salt would be in the salsa) This would work great for my mom - she loves this type of thing.

I have NO idea what Rotel is. . . I realize it is food but the word makes me think of the Raid's roach motel commercial from long ago - (roaches check in but they don't check out)

Sharla Rae said...

Thanks for posting the recipie! I'm making it tonight. I love Robin Millers show(when I remember to look for it). I walked by the Rotel at Wally's last night and grabbed one, since you mentioned it.

I wasn't able to find Butternut Squash for about the last month they had them last night though, so I stocked up-they stay good for a long time.

Hope you head feels better!

Carly said...

You are the greatest wife ever! My hubby is on a similar mission and together we are learning a healthier lifestyle. I don't enjoy cooking much but I love my crockpot! It makes life a lot easier.

Ouch to the migraine. I hope you feel better.

Helen said...

I think it's kind of cool that foods tell you themselves that you shouldn't eat them! I wish more talked to me like that! ;-)

My cold is hanging on too, but going to the desert last weekend helped a lot. Unfortunately, going to the desert also helped me fall back into the old normal way of eating, i.e., everything in sight. Back on the wagon this week...

And I "cook" a salad for me and DB practically every night for dinner. I think it does us both good and takes practically no time at all. It's probably not as easy to get away with this with kids, but...

Pokey said...

You rock Laura!! Can you come cook for me too?? Pleeeeeeze??????? I'm totally not above begging :)

Now I am going to go take a nap.


MizFit said...

youre not oprah?!

(and Im a smidgetad jealous of the secretly starting to enjoy part...here's hoping mine is coming)

LG said...


You're such a good wife and mom. That has to be hard to cook with those time constraints and schedules but boy, you're throwing yourself into it.

The recipes look really, really good.

Maybe you can spend one block of time and prep stuff up beforehand (like grill chicken or bag greens, chop peppers, etc.) to save yourself some time.

BTW, be careful with Alton Brown. He's one of my TV Boyfriends. :-)