Monday, 23 June 2014

Healthy Eating, Rice Casserole

    When Christopher and I escaped to Deerhurst on our mini- adults only vacation, I became recharged.  
It was an awaking.  I had been in a slump of sorts.  The kids had been in school for a long time, and life was monotonous.  With four kids and activities after school I had begun to reach more often for the garbage food... ie processed.  Time was short so I reached for hot dogs.  I justified it by the fact that we were in a rush, life was busy, and I made a veggie tray to go with it, so that canceled it out right? Right?    I truly whole heartedly like to make as much of our food from scratch, I like to know what we are eating, and yet in a pinch I would turn to the easy.  Easy was becoming too easy.  
    Our trip away made me remember what good food tastes like.  It made me remember why I like whole foods.  Why I like to know what we are eating.  Most especially our dinner at Three Guys and a Stove awakened my love of food.
I came back from our mini-vacation, recharged and alive.  It was a life awaking experience!
    I am not proud to say that I have become a bit of a zealot.  It's not unlike those who feel like they have been sinners rediscovering religion.  I feel like I want to convert everyone.  I want to open their eyes to the love of food, to what it can be.  I want to go door to door with my recipe cards asking if people have taken Whole Foods into their hearts.  Food can be a beautiful thing to be treasured and loved, and oh here I go again.  I think that if my friends and family hear me say "Whole Foods" one more time their poor eyes may permanently stay rolled in the back of their heads.  They are also tired of hearing me talk about wanting to eat the "French Way".  According to most sources (I have no proof, never having been to France myself) the French love food.  They make rich sauces, delicious pastries, butter is it's own food group, in other words they love their food.  They eat until they are full, loving every mouthful, but not gorging themselves.  They also walk everywhere, and take life at an easier pace.  According to the sources I am quoting, although the French love their food, on a whole they are not an overweight nation.  The idea is that when you make "whole foods", your body does not crave that garbage full of chemicals that have altered the real food.  Food should be a vacation in and of itself.  Each bite should not just nourish the body, but enhance the soul.  O.k. maybe I'm getting a little corny, but hey don't you remember me sharing that I have become a bit of a zealot.  Zealots are not known for their lack of excitement and tendency to enhance the truth.
    My family has embraced my new love of cooking.  Heck, why shouldn't they, they are eating delicious food.  Riley likes to give me a hard time and often groans and says "I'm tired of healthy food".  She gives me a hard time, and yet I cannot help but notice that her plate is always clean.  When she gives me the flack I will reply with a variation on the traditional "There are starving kids in Africa" speech.  My speech goes something like "Do you know how lucky you are to have such good food.  Do you know how many people would LOVE to be in your place eating restaurant quality food?"  This gets me an eye roll, but she cleans her plate.
    Part of my reason for the extreme zeal, is that I have noticed a huge difference since I have set upon this quest.  I have more energy.  Since we began almost exclusively eating whole foods I am sleeping better, have more energy, and just enjoying life more.  The food tastes better and I feel better about myself and what I am doing for my family.  I also don't want to snack at night, I don't feel hungry, I don't feel like I need to do that consumption of garbage.  I can only imagine how much more energy we will all have when I can begin once again getting fresh produce from my local farmers!

    Now that I have tried to convert you and make you take whole foods into your hearts, I thought that I might share some of my better received recipes with you.  Having said that I am a whole foods convert, let me be honest with you.  I don't really like brown foods, by brown foods I mean bread and rice.  I prefer the unhealthy white, you know the stuff that has had all of the good nutrients bashed out of it and then as if that isn't enough they bleach it?  I decided to trick both my own taste buds, and the taste buds of my children, by mixing the not as delicious but healthier brown rice with the much tastier, but not so healthy white rice.

    While my rice was cooking I began to chop up some vegetables.  I heated my pan with olive oil and flaxseed oil. I sautéed finely chopped (finely chopped so that the kids didn't notice them) onion and grated garlic.  When the onion had softened I added chopped celery, green peppers and really finely chopped spinach (again to trick the kids).  The last thing that I added were cherry tomatoes chopped up.

    I mixed the two rices together in a big bowl, with salt and pepper and then stirred in the sauteed vegetables.  I put it in the oven for about half an hour, more just to let the tastes meld together and to keep it hot.
    The kids didn't even know that they were eating brown rice (and I really enjoyed the taste).  It tasted great, and got rave reviews from the family.  It was a winner!

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