This picture was before Cameron discovered pureed fruits and veggies. What a sad world rice cereal land can be!
As I mentioned in my last blog post, our house is on the market. This requires you to be at your cleanest and most organized, during the busiest "viewing" times of the week - evenings and weekends. Typical evenings and weekends in our house include entertaining our infant with a variety of paraphernalia- including but not limited to - a boppy, a bumbo, a jumperoo, exer-saucer, activities mat, and a "calming vibrations" reclining bouncy chair. Babies=cluttered house. But in our quest to keep things in order, I've found something else strewn about our living space.
They can be found in the kitchen, the living room, our bedroom, Cam's room and on occasion, the bathroom. And they seem to multiply at an alarming rate. Brian made me box some up in an effort to free up cabinet space in our kitchen..... still, new ones appear. Until this year, I've had the same 5 or so cookbooks in my kitchen that I owned when I was in college - Two cookbooks written by a woman from my grade school parish; two cookbooks I found at Borders for $5; a random cookbook I found at a garage sale, and the Better Homes and Garden cookbook given to me by my uncle. I used to prepare the same recipes over & over- in fact, my brothers still tease me about my eggplant parmesan and green bean casserole.
As Brian and I dated, got engaged and then married, I found myself expanding on my repertoire. An aunt gave me the Joy of Cooking for Christmas one year - this was a game changer. Everything you'd want to make, anything you might want to try, you can find in this cookbook. Between that and realsimple.com, I was set. I could have fun preparing and experimenting with easy, delicious weeknight meals (Brian and I have always took turns cooking, which is AWESOME). I remember hoping that there would still be time in the week to cook once Cameron arrived.
In the last five months, I've been on this quest to discover and learn how to cook any and all meals that are heart healthy and DELICIOUS. I absolutely refuse to sacrifice the possibility of a flavorful, satisfying meal because I live in a low fat, low sodium world these days. The invasion of the cookbooks began with an article in SELF magazine about Gwyneth Paltrow's new release. Yes, in addition to acting and singing and blogging, the woman cooks... WELL. A particular line in the article resonated with me and referred to her father, who with throat cancer, didn't know who he was if he didn't have his morning coffee with cream and sugar (AMEN). When faced with the reality of a lifelong cardiac diet, I remember thinking to myself - who am I if I don't eat cheese or bacon... or CHEESE?! Who am I if I can't put half and half in my coffee or enjoy a pumpkin spice latte or drink a bottle of wine? Well, not doing any of those things (or doing them very rarely) makes me a person who cares about her health and wants to live to see her grandchildren (and maybe, their children too!)
A few weeks after Cameron arrived, my aunt Lisa came to visit, bearing a four inch wide, three ring binder of heart healthy recipes, broken down into such categories as "legumes", "poultry", "fish" and "grilling". A few weeks after that, heart healthy cookbooks from the American Heart Association, the National Institute of Health and St. Mary's Health Center arrives. A few weeks after that, my college roommate Katy sent me a book of heart healthy recipes she collected from her family and friends and created herself. More recently, I have swapped cookbooks with co-workers at Habitat and received (the loveliest of going away presents!) a Wine & Food cookbook full of low sodium entrees and their best wine pairings. I've discovered this "food network" of like minded people who for one reason or another, have chosen to eat healthily in their life. Some are hard core carnivores, others are vegetarians, some are vegans and some are like me - flexitarians!
When I worked at Banana, I used to hear all the time that if you did something 21 times, it would become a habit. I'm sure it had something to do with folding a sweater the right way and quite frankly, I'm not sure if that's even true.... but I'm happy to say that I've eaten heart healthy (with very, very rare "cheat" meals) for 21+ weeks. So I guess its a habit. And now, it's not so hard picking the healthy thing on the menu or preparing a heart friendly meal three times a day. It does require some thought and some planning, but once you get in the habit, it just becomes part of your life. And on the rare instances I do "cheat", those items really don't taste good anymore and/or leave me feeling sick.
Well, except for cheese. Gotta work on that one and some how, I don't think soy cheese will be an adequate replacement for my kind of cheese plate!
From Gwyneth, a note on cooking:
"Invest in what's real. Clean as you go. Drink while you cook. Make it fun. It doesn't have to be complicated. It will be what it will be."