The End of My Cooking Hiatus!

After nearly a month and a half of barely stepping foot in my kitchen, at least not to do anything other than heat frozen meals or warm up leftover takeout, I am finally emerging from the fog of morning sickness and feeling inspired to cook again! I think my family is almost as relieved as I am. I braved the usually sickening interior of my local grocery store only to find myself excitedly picking up things I haven’t purchased in ages, like a bread mix for my bread machine, and walnuts to make several loaves of banana bread with my overly ripe bananas, and canned pumpkin for pancakes and muffins and bread, and most importantly, a roast! I have not cooked a roast in a very long time, certainly not since I found out about my cholesterol issues and quit buying red meat. But I found a small pork roast (for FOUR dollars!) and decided to give it a try. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed. It was better than any of the beef roasts I’ve cooked in the past and SO easy. I spent 30 minutes prepping it in the morning before I left for work, and when I returned home a little after 5, voilà! A fully prepared, absolutely mouth-watering meal was waiting for me. It’s too bad we didn’t show the house today because the smell alone would have sold it for us.  So, after many weeks of no recipe updates, I give you my recipe for

Crock Pot Pork Roast:

Rub salt and pepper into the outside of the roast and brown it on all sides in a skillet on high heat with a little oil. Remove the roast and poor some water into the hot pan and scrape all the yummy pork leavings into the water and set aside.

Place browned roast in the bottom of the crock pot and surround it with large onion pieces and minced garlic. Cover all of it with sliced baby Portobello mushrooms and one can of cream of mushroom soup, evenly spread.

Fill the remainder of the space in the crock pot with chopped potatoes and carrots. Keep them chunky. If they’re too small, they’ll over cook. Sprinkle the whole pot with a packet of Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix and poor the skillet water over the top.  Add extra water until it comes to the level of the potatoes. Cover and cook on low for 8ish hours depending on the size of your roast.  Mine was pretty small and it cooked for a full 8 hours and was not overdone.

Once you remove the roast and all of the vegetables, use the broth in the pot to make gravy. Simply put it in a sauce pan on the stove over medium heat and add flour with a whisk till it reaches the desired consistency.

The roast was so tender it fell apart with a fork and the flavor was outstanding.  For so little effort, this is definitely a keeper.  Please let me know if you try it or make any modifications.  I’d love to hear how it worked for you or how to make it even better.

You Are What You Eat

I have discovered, as of late, that what you put into your body has a profound affect on how well it operates. Just like a car is bound to experience mechanical problems if it is only run on the cheapest gas and old, gluey oil.

If we could see the effects of what we ate as clearly as these little guys, we'd probably be a lot more careful about what we put in our mouths!

About a year ago, I was diagnosed with very high cholesterol. I was only 28 years old and weighed 136 pounds – not exactly a likely candidate for such a problem. And none of my immediate family struggled with it either, making the excuse of “I can’t help it, it’s just in my genes” not altogether legitimate. Although genetics may have played a role, I had to look myself square in the face and acknowledge that I was part of the problem. I was all too often resorting to what was cheap and easy and emotionally satisfying rather than what was healthy and best for my body and life. I began to see a nutritionist at our local heart clinic and get my blood work done every few months to check on progress. And, let me tell you, it was remarkable. Here’s a snapshot of the numbers:

This last date is slightly higher on some of the numbers because I'm pregnant, which can raise cholesterol for women.

Once I started seeing significant results and sharing my success with others, people were constantly asking me if it was terribly difficult to change my diet and “deprive” myself of things that we as Americans deem to be innate rights, like fast food, and pre-made frozen meals, and FRIED everything. The truth is, it wasn’t! There is very little that I actually cut out of my diet and SO many ways to make substitutions. Like ground turkey instead of beef, olive oil instead of hydrogenated vegetable oil, heart-smart margarine instead of butter, egg beaters instead of eggs, 1% or fat-free cheeses, skim milk, canola mayo, high fiber cereals, muffins, pancakes, pastas and breads, and lots more vegetables and fruit. And, of course, less of everything to drink except water. All the things I used to cook and love, I can still cook with some modifications and we can barely, if at all, notice a difference. Everything is fresher, lighter. And if I need something quick and easy on the go, I get a sub from subway or a salad (without heavy dressing). And the best part – because this is a lifestyle change and not a diet – it’s OK to cheat every now and then. The important thing is to generally reform our habits. Learn to pay attention at the grocery store. Care about what we put in our body and not just satisfy our cravings. I still have a ways to go, but I thought I would share my success so far as an inspiration to others that making healthy choices can make a tangible difference even in a short amount of time.

I’d love to hear some of your healthy eating tips and ideas. What are some of your best kitchen secrets?