I’m not sure what the dictionary definition of Winter Break is, but I have a suspicion that it goes something like: time to rest, reprieve, regroup, and recover.
As I use this time to catch up with myself, one of my main focuses is developing a meal planning strategy for the upcoming semester. It takes a lot of food energy to keep going during the semester. More than calories, it is so essential to maintain a balanced diet so that the body system can be supported to function properly and to avoid sickness and sluggishness.
My sister told me about a book called Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown. The book contains recipes for a $4 a day food stamps budget. This got me thinking because, while not on food stamps, this is my basic budget range for buying food each week.
Budget aside, my values for natural healing also tend to govern choices that I make when it comes to both purchasing and preparing food. I learned how to prepare whole meals from fresh and raw materials. Without a doubt it takes skill to transform a head of cabbage, a sack of onions, a bunch of kale, a pound of raw meat, and a gallon of water into a week’s worth of food.
It makes sense to me to eat whole foods, not because the grocery conglomerate is so hip, but because that is food in its most naked form. Raw materials are what come from the farm and these types of foods do not have corn, sugar, or hydrogen injected into them, for who-knows-what-reason. Looking at food as raw material deconstructs diet into the four basic chemically necessary macromolecules: lipids, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, and proteins.
But the sustenance part is the focus here. Digestion is a key player in mood stability, hormonal balance, immunity, the ability to handle stress, and to adapt to environmental changes. So, with budget and well-being in mind, I am preparing meal ideas with the help of some stellar resources including (and not limited to): Dr. Christopher’s The School of Natural Healing and The Moosewood Collective’s Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special.
Some highlights include: homemade mayonnaise, freshly prepared soup stock, raw salads with basic vegetable combinations, freshly baked breads and biscuits. Basic combinations offered by Dr. Christopher include: carrots, raisins, and celery; cauliflower, peas, parsley; apples, celery, parsley; cabbage, celery, onions, olives. One cooking tip is that you can make variations to salads with the way in which you chop the vegetables, for example: shredding versus dicing or finely chopping.
Garlic stock from the Moosewood Collective contains: fresh garlic cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns, potatoes, celery, carrots, thyme, and parsley. Another tip is that if you need some quick protein and buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, use the carcass to make chicken stock by throwing in all kinds of vegetable scraps (potato peels, dried mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion skins, and dried herbs of all kinds). Stocks like this contain nutrients essential for your sustenance; just add rice and some fresh kale and miso paste (fermented soy)…. May the SOUP be with you.