Tag Archives: healthy eating and diabetes

The night dinner went wrong

I’m not even going to pretend to be coy–I am not a flexible person. I am a list maker, a schedule planner, and if I have plans please don’t change them, I may freak out. Just ask Andy. I’ve gotten better since we’ve been married, but early on a simple unscheduled change to my plans would send me into a tail spin. It wasn’t pretty.

A while back I was all set to try out a new recipe–Pistachio Kebabs on rosemary skewers (from Yummy Supper) served with Middle Eastern cauli-rice pilaf. I had already made some slight changes to the initial recipe–it was the middle of February and I didn’t feel like standing outside to grill, so the “skewers” were going to become meatballs. Andy doesn’t like a lot of rosemary, so I was going to mince up just a few needles and mix it in. Everything else was the same.

I was going strong. I had plenty of time before Andy would be home and back again from his evening walk, and even though the recipe itself was new, I know how to make meatballs so I wasn’t stressed. I shelled the pistachios, chopped the herbs, cooked the onions and set them to chill, and went to grab the meat from the fridge. This is where something went horribly wrong. The meat that I had pulled out of the freezer 24+ hours ago was still frozen.

I took a deep breath. I hoped I was wrong and it was just the stiff butcher paper that wouldn’t give when I squeezed. I removed the wrapper, placed the meat in the bowl with the herbs and onions and took another deep breath. It wasn’t the paper. After the first 1/4 inch the meat was still frozen solid. I took a fork and tried to break it apart. It didn’t work. There was no way I was going to be able to make this frozen meat soft enough to make meatballs for dinner.

And this is where I should have freaked out. In the past, something like this would have been a disaster. At best, there would have been tears and anger. At worst I would have thrown the whole thing out and told Andy we were going for take out. With our current lifestyle and income, throwing out an entire meal’s worth of ingredients just isn’t an option.

I started thinking… I had already planned to make Middle Eastern cauli-rice pilaf, so what if instead of meatballs, I just sauteed the frozen ground beef with all the herbs and pistachios and mixed it into the pilaf? A Middle Eastern rice bowl if you will.

It wasn’t the meal I originally intended, but it was worth a try. Anything was better than throwing the food away. So I got to work. And you know what? It was a good meal and I discovered some things I would do differently next time, like make sure I add the pistachios after everything’s been cooked. They got a little soggy and disappeared. Also, it could have used a little extra parsley and a little more cumin.

Growing in patience is never an easy thing. I know that it’s been God’s work on my heart throughout this journey that got me to the place of acceptance and flexibility when a meal didn’t go as planned. His patience with me is abundant indeed!

I’ve only made this recipe the one time, so I know I should add it to an upcoming meal plan. If it’s as good as I remember, I’ll post it here so you can enjoy it as well.


Grocery shopping 101: The budget

When Andy and I first got married neither one of us had experience keeping a budget. We made decent (enough) money and while we both brought some debt into the marriage we managed our finances fairly well.

After a few years, I started wondering why our savings account wasn’t growing as quickly as I felt it should. I looked at the numbers and realized we had been nickel and diming ourselves with our debit cards. A dinner out here, a movie there, midnight donut runs, and snack trips to the store all added up and we were throwing hundreds of dollars out the window a month. When I brought this to Andy’s attention, he had the brilliant idea of moving to a weekly cash system for groceries and other food-related items. If we didn’t have the cash, we couldn’t treat ourselves and groceries came first.

When Andy was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, the grocery budget became even more important. Good food isn’t cheap, and to commit to healthy eating requires some financial sacrifices. Plus, we had the added cost of diabetes prescriptions that we weren’t expecting. We knew that we couldn’t eat out as often, so we were able to reallocate some of that money into buying better meat from New Seasons. We stopped buying Mt. Dew, and those funds went straight into our apple budget.

Over the years, our grocery budget has grown and shrunk several times. Some weeks we have a surprising amount of money left over to use for “fun things”. Other weeks, I have to modify our meal plan on the fly because I know we’re running out of money. It forces me to be flexible, creative, and accountable. By setting a grocery budget and sticking to it, our overall household budget has become much easier to manage.

(One thing I must note: Our grocery budget does include non-food-related items like toothpaste, deodorant, toilet paper, and cat litter. But these items make up a very small percentage of our total grocery expenditure. The majority goes to produce, meat, and eggs.)

How you determine your own grocery budget is entirely up to you. Do you eat more protein-heavy meals? Your weekly amount is going to be higher than if you prefer a more vegetarian fare. If you don’t know where to get started, keep track of your spending for a few weeks. See where you spend your money, and what you spend it on. Do you see areas that can be eliminated? You may need to cut out all restaurant food until you get the budget under control. Do you see areas where you’d like to increase your spending? More fresh produce for the win!

I personally use a Google Docs spreadsheet to keep track of our entire monthly budget, but there are other tools available online (both free and not) that are popular for tracking your funds.

It might take a few months to really get into the groove of your grocery budget, but I promise you that your bank account will thank you if you stick to it as much as possible.

How about you? Do you have (and stick to) a budget? I’d love to hear your grocery tips!

Recipe: Dreamsicle green smoothie

Whenever I try to tidy up my eating habits my biggest concern is how my food tastes. I’ve mentioned that I’m a picky eater, and there’s nothing worse than knowing I can’t have some of my favorite treats all the while being stuck eating bland, blechy, blah food. If my taste buds are bored, I can promise you I will cheat.

When I first started the 21 Day Sugar Detox (21DSD) back in January I played around with smoothies for about a week before I came across the combination I’m sharing today. The 21DSD allows you either 1 green-tipped banana, 1 grapefruit, or 1 Granny Smith apple a day. For this smoothie I combined 2 halves of the allowed fruit to come up with a breakfast that is easy, filling, and oh so tasty.

Classic creamsicle flavors are orange and vanilla. I’m not a huge fan of orange (unless it’s an orange cranberry scone, in which case get out of my way!), and oranges aren’t allowed on 21DSD, so I thought grapefruit might be a nice substitute. The vanilla rounds out all the flavors and the two combined give a vague hint of something tropical. The avocado and coconut milk provide enough fat to sustain me until lunch, and the greens, flax, and maca are filled with fiber that keeps my digestion happy.

1/2 green-tipped banana
1/2 ripe avocado
1 large handful of spinach, kale, or other greens
1/2 grapefruit juiced
1/2 can full-fat coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, or one vanilla bean scraped
1 tablespoon flax
1 teaspoon maca powder (optional)

Combine all ingredients except water in a blender* and process till smooth. Add water if the smoothie is too thick. I find that the banana, avocado, and coconut milk are thick enough without adding additional ice, but if I want the smoothie to be a little colder I throw 2-3 ice cubes in my glass as I’m drinking.

* I don’t actually have a fancy high-powered blender. I make all my smoothies with my Cuisinart immersion blender and it works just fine. Every now and then I’ll find something that didn’t get processed, but it’s never enough to really bother me.