Home is where the best food is

As a kid, I remember my Mom doing most of the cooking.  There were 4 small mouths to feed, she was a stay at home mom and my Dad worked a full time job and a part time job to support all of us. Going out to eat or even getting a pizza was a treat that my brothers and I begged for on rare occasions when we were ALL good all week. As I said, those were very, very rare occasions.  As the middle child, I was the worst. I can admit that now.

But I digress. Cooking was a way of life back then, wasn’t it? We grocery shopped, we meal planned, we ate good food and if there were enough for seconds, we ate that, too. As I got older I learned the value in cooking a meal at home but, since I was young and on my own and, at the time, childless, I found it easier just to go to all the fast food places I never frequented as a kid.  It was cool to jump in the car with my friends and go through a Taco Bell drive thru. I didn’t pay attention to what I was putting in my body because, frankly, I didn’t care. When I met my sons father we had very, very little money. Cooking at home then became a necessity because we had a baby to plan for, we needed to buy things to prepare for his arrival as opposed to hitting up Burger King so we used that money to buy actual food at the grocery store.  My menu was small, I wasn’t that great of a cook but I called my Mom or my Dad to get help when I needed it.

Now that my son is grown and out of the house cooking has become a passion. I’m constantly looking up new recipes to try out. Sometimes I just take a protein out of the freezer and think of what I have on hand so when I get home from the gym I can just whip something up. Some recipes are made up in my head; I just think of things that would go well together in a meal, add a grain like quinoa or rice (or potatoes on rare, special occasions), make sure I have a veggie or two in there and voila! A meal. A lot of times I’ll find a recipe online and just use the method but change up the ingredients. If it calls for beef cubes, for instance, I’ll use cut up chicken or turkey. If it calls for a cheese sauce I’ll eliminate the cheese part and add in something else. Side note: in case you’re wondering if vegan cheeses taste good, they do. As a sour cream option, try Tofutti. I used it in a ‘fake’ beef (chicken) stroganoff recipe I made. Creamy, delicious and not an ounce of guilt.  I never realized how easy it can be until I just started doing it.  I knew that when I joined 13 Stripes I would have to change my eating habits. More veggies, less starches. More lean protein, less red meat. More brown rice or quinoa (SO MY FAVORITE!!), less pasta. More salads, less cheese sticks. If I didn’t change how I ate, doing the workouts I was doing were going to seem pointless.  Why would I work so hard and then go home and eat horribly? I just undid all I did. To me, that was craziness.

Thankfully, my wife Rebecca is on board with all this changing. She’s my biggest support, my loudest cheerleader and she’s also my guinea pig. She NEVER asks me what we’re having for dinner. She trust that I’ll make something edible and delicious and healthy all at the same time.  Now, that’s not saying she’s loved everything I’ve made but for the most part, she has.  She’s been a good sport when I’ve tried something totally different (Like spaghetti squash pie) and asked me to just put some things at the bottom of the dinner list rotation.

My point is this:  Cook at home. If you hate to cook, start with 1 meal a week. Just one. Pull out the dusty pots and pans and feel the ingredients in your hands. Know that what you’re about to eat you made with your own two hands and you made it with love. Love of family. Love of self. Love of a healthier life. I’m certainly not saying you can’t find healthy food choices when you go out to eat but, unless the chef lets you back in the kitchen to watch his or her every move while making your dish, you don’t REALLY know what’s going in it.  I have been to some amazing restaurants that I would always go back to at any given time as a splurge meal for myself. Home 231 in Harrisburg comes to mind. That place is amazing and offers lots of really good and healthy options. Sometimes I write down what was in my food so I can re-create it at home. No shame in my game, ya’ll.

Here’s a recipe I made recently that made it to the TOP of the dinner list rotation. Rebecca very rarely goes back for seconds because, when I cook, I make enough for dinner and for lunch the next day. This made a HUGE amount so she could have seconds AND take some for lunch.

1 lb. or a little more of ground turkey (I’ve used the turkey Italian sausage and just cut the casings off.)

1 small sweet onion

1 green pepper

1 red pepper

clove or two of garlic (we use the pre-cut stuff in a jar)

Spices: Adobo, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, cumin, (and whatever else I choose!)

Sofrito (Fresh can be found in the refrigerated section, jar can be found in the Spanish section)

Yellow Spanish rice (Goya Arroz Amarillo is what we use) or brown rice or quinoa or even egg noodles or whole wheat pasta.  You can literally use almost any grain you want.

Sauté the ground turkey just until slightly pink. Add in your cut up veggies and your dry spices. Sauté until the veggies are soft and the turkey is cooked through.  Add the garlic and mix through. (Garlic is last because it burns easily) Stir constantly for the next couple of minutes and add a big cereal sized spoon or two of Sofrito. If you’ve never tried it before add one spoon, you can always add more if you want.

Set heat to low and let simmer for another few minutes.

Place over whatever grain you chose and BOOM. Meal. YUM. EAT. 🙂

Trust me, this will make it to the top of your dinner list, too. If you don’t like some of the ingredients, use this easy method and change them.  Send pictures, please. I want to see what you cooked!

As always… see you at the Box!

#fromcouchtofitness #mystandardsmyway #eattolive #foodforthought #healthierchoices #cookingwithlove #yummo #13stripesfitness