The Adventure Continues…
What’s For Dinner?
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” -Woody Allen
One of the oddest questions I am asked is, “What do you eat?”
What do you mean? What do I eat?
The typical response is enhanced with a splash of sarcasm, “Food. Why? What do you think I’m eating?”
The reply I wasn’t anticipating came from a dear friend that pursued a proper answer, “Do the campgrounds have grills? Are you able to cook?”
I know this individual is concerned for my well-being. She is someone who comprehends the concept that the foods we eat to nourish our precious bodies have a direct impact on how we feel physically, mentally and our overall health. She also knows that I have limitations on what I can ingest. Bless her heart for caring about whether or not I’m caring for my body on this journey.
In response to her question, I giggled and immediately understood the innocence of her inquiry. She has limited knowledge of what’s inside a camper and is not someone who would camp. I suspect her version of camping is staying in a hotel that has less than a 4-star rating. I told her that I have a two-burner gas stove top and a microwave/confection oven in my sanctuary, and a two-burner electric stove top I use outside. I could feel the relief in her voice once I clarified that I have the means to cook. But still, she continued to ask, “What are you eating?”
This line of questioning has me curious. Is there a misconception that people choosing to live the nomadic lifestyle cook their meals over a campsite charcoal barbecue grill? Or that we are filling our coolers with homemade egg salad sandwiches and pasta salad, and toting bags of potato chips and cheese puffs? Now that I’ve been been on the road a couple of months, I am able to determine who is the weekend novice camper versus someone who does it seasonally (for example during the winter months only) and those who live the nomadic lifestyle full-time.
This time I dropped the snot-nose-kid sarcasm, and stated, “The same things I ate when I had my home in Michigan. I’m not eating any differently.”
Hold on. That’s a lie.
Well, kinda sorta. Let me back up for a brief moment. For those of you who don’t know, I am a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. Does this mean I am up on the latest diet craze or feast only on green leafy things? Nope. Not at all. I’ll explain it this way, I transformed my coaching education into the foundation of a digital publication titled Elements For A Healthier Life Magazine. The focus was (is) on the five elements of living a healthier life: in the workplace, relationships, body movement, spirituality and in the kitchen.
I can proudly state I published fifteen issues and could feel success was right around the corner, I just couldn’t seem to get around that corner. My lack of confidence, inconsistent direction and the death of my son weighed heavily on me and found myself in encased in fear-freeze and grieving hell. So, I stopped everything and put it on “hiatus”. When life was good as the publisher of Elements For A Healthier Life Magazine, I branched out a sub-category titled UnBox Your Kitchen. I hosted a podcast, was starting to create classes and had the wheels in motion to create a second digital publication UnBox Your Kitchen Journal.
Curious about ElementsForAHealthierLife.com, click here to view the timeline and the behind the scenes content.
So why is this information relevant to this post? Maybe to pat myself on the back? Maybe to rekindle both the Elements For A Healthier Life website as well as the UnBox Your Kitchen section. Maybe because I’m a storyteller that (quite often I’m told) babbles too much. Or, maybe because I feel it enhances this post a smidgen. It’s probably because I’m a rambling storyteller.
For most of my adult life I’ve eaten a healthier-than-common diet for the region I lived in. I do not prepare meals from a box. I bake brownies from a recipe, not from the instruction panel. I make my own chicken, beef and ham broth versus poppin’ the top off a can.
One of the goals I set for this venture is to eliminate meat from my diet. As I sit here kinda-sorta preachin’ about how healthy I’m eating, I’m going to be transparent and share that I have a pound of ground beef and two chicken thighs in the freezer, a nasty an’ slimy package of name brand sliced turkey (it’s now in the trash) and cubed ham in the refrigerator. This is the most meat I’ve had in the camper at one time. Period.
The night after my truck puked power steering fluid on the campground road [blog post], I fell off the bandwagon and face-planted in a two liter of Coca~Cola and a family-size package of Oreos. Yup. Not my best of moments. I also loaded up on meat the next time I purchased groceries. So, just like anyone else who’s chosen to give up on a succulent habit of eating crap, I once again had to ween myself off of soda and sugar.
To answer the question I have somehow avoided to answer – what am I eating? At first my breakfasts consisted of an egg or two over spinach with saute’d onion and zucchini (or other veggie). Since I am one person with limited space, I made the mistake of purchasing the large clam shell of spinach that took up a lot of space and I’m one that has a hard time wasting food. Spinach was initially incorporated in most of my meals.
Early on this voyage, I realized that I was cooking with a lot with butter. What happens to your kitchen when you cook greasy foods? A coating of grease forms on your your surfaces. My kitchen is within arms reach of my bed, bathroom and table I’m using to write this post. So I started hard boiling six-eight eggs at a time to keep on hand for a fast protein without the mess. Another benefit – less dirty dishes to wash! Another way I reduced dirty dishes and having to empty my gray tank (sink/shower water) as often is to prepare several meals at once. I eat the first meal, refrigerate one leftover meal and freeze the rest in single servings. For example, I cook up a pound of sausage in one pan, eight eggs (lightly scrambled) in another pan, and in a third pan I saute onions (diced), jalapenos (diced), red pepper (diced) and either shredded sweet potato or red skinned potato (thinly sliced and chopped). I set up an assembly line and make eight or nine breakfast burritos, wrap them individually in freezer paper and toss them in the freezer.
One day I was desperate for sweets. The campground I was staying at then was a twenty minute drive to the nearest store. I began searching for an easy to make, healthy snacks that’s sweet and filling. I combined elements from three recipes and created Seedy Quinoa Bars [recipe]. I admit, I am a sugar-hound. Over the years, I have found dried cranberries, cherries and blueberries to satisfy my sweet-tooth cravings (as well as homemade brownies).
On this adventure, my go-to snacks are: raw pumpkins seeds, raw sunflower sees, dried fruit, fresh fruit and veggies. My typical meals consists of veggies, a meat (less than half my previous normal serving since I am weening my carnivorous appetite). I’m not eating that much different than I did when I owned a home. I’ve only made homemade brownies once (half batch; my convection oven is small and I have only one nine-inch round baking pan), and ate half of the hot-out-of-the-oven delightfulness in one sitting.
Last week I created a concoction that tasted better than I imagined. I thinly sliced red skinned potatoes and put a single layer (overlapping) in the nine inch round baking pan with a light coating of melted butter. I added a layer of diced ham, set the pan aside and preheated the confection oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl I mixed half a package of cream cheese with saute’d onion, jalapenos, green pepper (all diced small), salt and pepper. Next the cream cheese mixture was spread over the top of the ham and potatoes. I baked it for thirty or forty minutes (I can’t remember how long for certain) until it looked done. This Jalapeno Popper Potato Bake was so good that I wish I’d taken pictures of the process so I could whip up a recipe and post it on ElementsForAHealthierLife.com. Guess I need to make it again, eh?
Saturday night I decided to convert the three very ripe bananas on my counter into bread using my mother’s Banana Bread recipe that she sent to me in a text. I need to ask her permission before publishing it. I made a full batch and it was too big for the pan (see photograph on the lower right). Next time I will have to bake the batter in half batches; either that or purchase two small bread loaf pans and see if they’ll fit in the baking space without touching.
I have noticed few things in regards to how food affects me (and tested again to confirm). First, consuming white flour affects my mood in a depressive way. I’ve experimented with this years ago and found if I stay away from white flour, my moods tend to maintain a sense of level. When I eat too much or on a regular basis, I find that mood-swings will happen. Same with white/processed sugar. Secondly, dairy affects my joints – especially my knees. I am not as active as I was when I heated my home with firewood and had to cut, haul, split, stack seventeen cord of firewood each summer and fall. My sitting around, driving and lack of strenuous activities has really had a toll on my body. When I started adding cheese back into my diet (about a month ago) as a snack and in the salads, I noticed the inflammation in my joints. Yes, I tested the theory that it’s due to the lack of physical activity and found that both are a contributor in my aching knees when I climb up the steep hills on my hikes.
On this adventure, I am experiencing how the elements – workplace, relationships, body movement, spirituality and what’s in our kitchen – do affect my health. The idea of revitalizing ElementsForAHealthierLife.com is gaining momentum. I am finding there is a need and a purpose for my other web site to exist. We’ll see…
Until next time…
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