Friday, July 31, 2009

How I Decide What To Cook For Dinner, Part II: Nutritional Categories

So sorry. I am still in the process of learning to be on time and so on. I do have other accomplishments under my belt; I can read and write, for example; but the basic skill of being dependable is one I'm still working with myself to develop more fully.

All right. Simplified nutrition next. How simplified? Umm, well, for starters, I only have three food groups.

When I am trying to decide what to fix for dinner, I want to have something starchy, something vegetable-y, and something protein-y.

Why no fruits? Because I love fruit so much and eat so much of it during the rest of the day that I don't worry about it when I'm planning for dinner. (And I KNOW that that is an example not everyone would be well-advised to follow, but I already wrote my disclaimer for that.) Oh, yes, and dairy: I will just say that I and various family members have various non-lovely reactions to dairy, so it gets lumped with "protein-y" and those of us who worry about osteoporosis try to get our calcium in other ways. The nutritional level is the one I think about on a day-to-day basis (versus a "recipe repertoire" or "when I'm going shopping" basis, though of course it comes in to play there, too, mostly in trying hard to help my yummy vegetable recipes keep up with my delumptious dessert recipes). I (theoretically) already have my pantry stocked with pretty healthy stuff, so I just try to figure out what strikes my fancy on a given day and then build a balanced meal from that point.

So, this is what my pantry and recipe book think like (I mean, how they appear to my brain) from a nutritional standpoint (yes, I really do have my recipe book divided out this way-- you can come over and check):

  • potatoes: (cheap and nourishing, not everyone loves)
  • rice: (same as potatoes)
  • bread: (takes a long time, but home-made bread makes a meal Fancy)
  • pasta: best if you can make this whole-wheat pasta
  • corn or corn-on-the-cob
  • tortillas
  • Stir-fry (also encompasses protein-y, depending on how you fix it)
  • baked spinach with cheese on it (not a centerpiece, but fills out a meal nicely)
  • green salad with yummies in it (you know, almonds, cheese, craisins, mandarin oranges, etc.)
  • a baked winter squash
  • ratatoullie (for a Mediterranean-inspired meal)
  • green beans with fried onions (SOO yummy-- but then, it's French)
  • stir-fried broccoli
Protein-y (you don't really need my help in this area since it seems like every cookbook from The Dawn of Time is divided in to "fish, veal, beef, pork, chicken, other forms of dead animal you've never heard of or thought of eating, etc." but for what it's worth, here's my partial list):
  • curried chicken
  • curried chicken salad
  • store-bought rotisserie chicken
  • pork chops
  • pork roast
  • beef roast
  • hummus
  • refried beans, burritos, enchiladas
  • lentils
  • tofu! (I will share a yummy recipe... soon... relatively soon...)
Mixed Category:
  • Pizza
  • Soup
  • Stir Fry
  • Tacos
  • Hawaiian Haystacks
  • Sandwiches
Absolutely you are not getting my help on this one. You and I both know that our recipe boxes have at least ten times as many excellent dessert recipes as we could ever, ever healthily make in a hundred years. My main defense against getting fat from eating desserts is a combination of laziness and cheapness: I don't buy them at the store because I figure that mine taste so much better that I'd rather make them myself, but once I'm home, I am too lazy to make them except on very rare occasions. I do not count fruit as dessert. That's cheating. Fruit is food, and I treat it as such. (But if it works for you, go for it.)

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