Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sunday Meal Prep & More Alberta Farmers

A couple weekends ago, I took a little workshop on Sunday meal prepping. I found it helpful and I want to share a few of the ideas here with you too, to help you feed yourself and your families throughout the week.

Sunday morning sit down with a nice coffee and take a look at how your week is shaping up. What events do you have to work around, how many people are you feeding (sometimes this can change) and what do you have currently in your fridge and pantry? It's great to be able to use up as much as you can and waste as little as possible. I think we all are pretty guilty about food wastage here, and I could all try to do better at minimizing waste. For me, this is another reason why I prefer to shop every other day. If plans change (which they always seem to), I am not stuck with a lot of food I need to eat or throw away.

Once you have thought about what your week looks like and what you have available, start writing out your menu. I actually decided a while ago that while it's awesome to experiment with the hundreds of cookbooks I have, that it's actually a lot easier to just have some staple meals and recipes (i.e. the Go-To Dinner's) and then save the 'experimentation' for a weekend or some other day you know you will have more time. For some people, cooking is a great way to 'wind down' from the day, but mostly, I think these people don't have kids ;) For the general population, cooking for the family is a pain in the ass after a long day and having a staple menu is actually quite comforting. Here is my staple weekly menu: (it varies, but this is the backbone)!

Monday: Rice Buddha Bowl or Stirfry (a great way to use up vegetables in your fridge)

Tuesday: Pasta or Soup (I LOVE the soup's at Primal Soup Company at Market on Macleod)

Wednesday: Meat-free Chili or Vegetable Slow Cooker Stew

Thursday: Salmon (we get ours from North Sea Fish Market at Willowpark Village - it's delicious and my daughter's favourite foods!)

Friday: ALWAYS a homemade PITA PIZZA (MY favourite)

Saturday: Open meal - either eating out, leftovers, or trying out that new recipe!

Sunday: Roast Chicken (Sunworks Farm or another good poultry supplier) with lots of roast vegetables

When doing your Sunday meal prep, here are some ideas regarding what might be helpful to prepare:

-one protein (you can throw this onto a salad for a quick lunch, add to your pasta, etc).
-one starch (cook up some quinoa or some pasta for rushed evenings i.e. children's activity nights)
-dressing (homemade dressing is SOOOOO much better for you than store bought and it takes no time at all to make it. If you want a quick and easy recipe, send me a message)
-veggie dip (homemade again) & cut up veggies (when your kids are "hangry" and can't wait the 20 minutes until dinner is served)
-one breakfast item (for those crazy mornings trying to get out the door WITH your sanity. Could be baked eggs, smoothie bags, or even oatmeal that's flash frozen!)
-prep a slow cooker meal or two
-maybe even some snack items like some homemade granola bars.

I hope these suggestions have helped. For me personally, I never really thought about pre-cooking some protein for quick access throughout the week, but it really is a great idea. If you guys have any other great ideas you'd like to share, please let me know.

Finally, I want to mention that I have a few more resources for those of you wanting to buy and eat more healthy and ethically raised meats. The following information was provided to me by a fellow student in my nutrition class, and I would like to also pass this onto you:

Below you will find the farmers that I have used over the last three years, I cannot say enough good things about all of them. Trying
to run a small farm is a complete labour of love for high quality products and the desire to feed people nutrient dense food, I would know I tried it.

First of all buying in bulk where meat is concerned is definitely the way to go…. It can make buying grass fed/finished beef comparable in price to buying individual cuts of grain fed factory farmed beef. I would however say always try a couple of individual cuts first to make sure you and your family like it before committing to a bulk order. Not all grass fed beef is created equal.
Many factors influence the taste such as, type of cow, age, butcher, if the farmer cell grazes or
has a rotational grazing plan.

I was getting tired of whole roasting chickens so I bought a deboning knife and had Laura Bird give me a quick tutorial on how to cut up my own chickens. It is very easy and quick once you get the hang of it, and an affordable way to have pastured soy free chicken breasts in your freezer.

Cooking pastured meat of any kind requires slightly different instructions than factory raised animals. Lower and slower are some general rules.

For Grass fed/finished Beef, (pastured kune kune pork coming in the next year):
Kelly Worthington 4037015506

Pastured organically raised poultry and eggs (soy free, very difficult to find)
5$/lb for whole roasting chicken, 5$/dozen for eggs
She does offer chicken pieces, prices vary
Laura and Dan Bird
True Bird Chicken

Pastured grass fed lamb, pastured chicken and berkshire pork
Tiny Springs Farm
Amy Smulders

For vegetables (seasonally) and started plants for your own garden and flower beds grown organically, Ron and Laura’s place is set up in the spring like any green house you go buy your plants etc. In the summer months you go to his farm and its set up sort of like a u pick, he only picks everything when you are there, you help pick. I paid 1$/pound for all my vegetables this way. When peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc are ready Ron picked all mine for me and charged a little extra for his time.
Green Thumb Greenhouse
Ron Schneider

I also found a FANTASTIC website called "Eat Wild - Canada" which has a lot more information on farmers in Alberta with good practices.

Please check these resources out!


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Part Two: The Food we Eat

Hi guys,

I hope the last post wasn’t too depressing. But I think its stuff we need to talk about.

In that last post, I mentioned that the other thing I think we are really f$#king up (in addition to how we treat animals) is our food. How we grow it (in far away places and then have it shipped to us; grown in depleted soil with pesticides), how we eat it (in front of a computer; behind a desk; in the car; on the run), how little we really appreciate it (how often do we think about all the hands that “touched” our food or about the sacrifice of any animal we are eating), and how much crap we allow to be put into it (prepackaged shit-storms). It scares me, and it should scare you too, that a lot of what we put into our mouths isn’t good for us.

But when we are talking about our health, it’s not just the chemicals that we are putting into our food - it’s all the other toxins that we are poisoning ourselves with. There are hundreds of other toxins we expose ourselves to unknowingly (and knowingly) every single day. Think about all the various products you use on your body just getting ready in the morning: shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, face cleansers, makeup, perfume, toothpaste, etc. Then there are all the EMF’s (electromagnetic field) and environmental air pollutants floating around us! Yikes!

Hopefully you’re able to appreciate that our bodies have a lot to deal with (especially our liver) and that we need to do all we can to help our body. Here are two websites which may be of interest to you, if you'd like to look more closely at reducing toxins. The first one is the Environmental Working Group website. Here you can look up specific personal care items you use at home to see how they are rated, as well as find out what the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 are for your next grocery shopping trip. I realize that we can't buy organic food (I can't either) all the time, so this gives you some idea about where it's more "worthwhile" to pay the extra money for organics. Another great piece of advice here is to spend extra on the foods you eat more often. For example, if you eat a ton of strawberries you may want to buy them organic more often that not. On the other hand, if you only eat peaches and cherries a couple of times a year, those may not be worth buying organic. The other website I want to mention to you is called Food Babe and is full of information about anything related to food and toxins. (It's a bit extreme in my opinion, but take what you want from it). 

Health at its core comes down to reducing toxins and providing nutrition so that our bodies can function optimally. Generally speaking, our bodies are self-repairing and are designed to heal. We need to do our best to provide them with a healthy environment in which they can more readily do so, and much of this is done through our diet. 

Just over a year ago, I shared a website with you all called 100 days of Real Food. The concept is simple: eat real food. unpackaged. in moderation. And I am sharing it again here because this relates to what I am talking about here. If we eat this way, we are naturally reducing the amount of toxins we put into our bodies, while at the same time providing it with nutrient dense food. This makes me think of one of Michael Pollan’s famous quotes:

It shouldn’t be about following a particular way of eating, as much as it should be about feeding your body QUALITY food. If you like how your body feels on a certain type of plan (i.e. paleo, weight watchers, vegan, 21 day fix, etc). that's great -- just make sure that the food you are feeding yourself on that plan is high quality. Some people feel that it's too expensive to eat this way, but I feel that you cannot put a price on your health. Furthermore, viewing eating well as being too expensive is really shortsighted because if you don't create health now, you are setting yourself up for sickness later.