Cooking and Shopping for your Health

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May 29, 2019 (Health) I have been in the middle of an adventure. It is one for my palate and my health. Yes, I have been losing weight, but I am not avoiding good food. On the contrary. I’m in the process of eating the best food we can afford. And I do enjoy the kitchen.

There are a few things to be said about the average American diet. It used to be the meat and potatoes with a few veggies on the side. Perhaps a fresh fruit in the summer, because bringing these in the winter up to the interior it was prohibitively expensive. These days it is the inside corridors of your supermarket. Many Americans eat a lot of processed food that only needs heating. The problem with this food is that it has a lot of added fats, preservatives, corn syrup, and other things such as a lot of salt.

It can be cheap. For example, apple sauce is cheaper than the actual fruit. It has yet to make any sense to me, but it is. A frozen dinner can get you out of a bind if time is short. In fact, we have a couple in the fridge for those situations as well. Frozen pizza can be a nice break from the rut, and once in a while, it is fine. The problem is that we have made this a regular thing.

Why? Part of the problem is that Americans have lost the ability, perhaps the desire, to cook. But if you want to lose weight, or just be healthier, kicking the processed food habit is a must. So there are a few things you need to do. First, make sure you own a cutting board or two. A good knife or two are a must. A few pots and pans will help, and then learn to shop.

No, you do not need to go from store to store looking for ingredients. You can find chicken breast, broccoli, and rice at pretty much every grocery store in a middle-class neighborhood. And yes, am aware of food deserts, so if you live in one you might have to travel farther, but this is a real issue for many Americans who are working poor and live in neighborhoods awash with fast food restaurants and few grocery stores. This we need to change as a society as well.

You can pretty much cobble a competent meal within half an hour to forty-five minutes at most. One that will be filling, and will avoid a lot of the processed food.

Rules to follow when shopping at the supermarket.

1.- Stick to the edge of the store for most of your ingredients.

2.- Vegetables do not have to be boring. Nor do they have to be expensive. BUY IN SEASON.

3.-If on a budget, buy broccoli that is not just the florets. You can also eat the stalk, just get rid of the end, for example.

4.- There are many vegetables that will be cheaper a certain time of the year, and more expensive at others. Some things that pretty much remain the same are bagged carrots, for example. Though if you buy them as a bunch, you can save some money but will need a peeler.

5.- Be willing to try different things, depending on the season. This goes for spices as well. They can liven a meal easily.

6.- When buying yogurt read labels. Some of them have more added sugar than others. And let’s be honest, some yogurts have more sugar than some deserts. So be careful with that. Formulas are also changed from time to time, so get used to reading them every time.

7.- You can buy a block of cheese, instead of either shredded or sliced. It is cheaper. And by all means, avoid processed cheese.

8.- Sometimes the store brand is just as good as the national brand. And they are also cheaper. I buy quite a bit of the store brand for that reason.

9.- Milk is good for you unless you are lactose intolerant.

10.- Learn how to cook chicken and cheaper cuts of meat. I buy Carne Asada often, just the meat, because it is cheaper than a finer cut, and has plenty of taste. It can also be marinated, for more intense flavor.

11.- Bread is a matter of taste, but also fillers. Realize that things like commercial brands keep forever since they are full of preservatives. Sometimes it is worth buying good fresh bakery bread, even if you have to buy it more often. And if it turns hard on you, dry it, toast it, and make croutons out of it.

12.- I know I came from a different culture, but think of desert differently. It is not cakes or cookies, or anything else processed. Offer your family fresh fruit for dessert. To keep the cost down, do so with fruits that are in season and on sale. Cakes and cookies are fine in a blue moon. For example, they are great for a birthday or a very special occasion.

Chicken Teriyaki

Ingredients

1 onion
2–3 garlic teeth, or crushed garlic bought at the store
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup of mushrooms
1 head of broccoli
5 baby carrots.
1 tsp of dry basil, or fresh basil finely chopped
2 chicken breasts, or 4 chicken thighs, whichever is cheaper that day.
1 tbsp good quality oil

Slice an onion fine, and crush two to three garlic teeth.

Slice broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms

Mix your soy sauce and honey to make your sauce. (I tend to do it on the pan after I add the vegetables.)

Heat your oil in a pan, add your onion and garlic to caramelize with the basil, Add your vegetables, and chicken as well as your teriyaki sauce and let it simmer and combine covered.

Serve with rice and enjoy. You can add some sesame seeds if you wish.

That soy and honey sauce can also make a good marinade and if you have time, let your chicken sit for a couple of hours, or meat.

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