Sunday, January 8, 2012

Normal meal planning... yay!

I'm working on getting back into the swing of regular meal planning following my gallbladder removal and for some reason it's a lot harder now than I've ever found it before. I have a feeling the difficulty lies in the scope of foods I can once again eat. When I had fewer options, I had an easier time, and before my gallbladder issues I didn't crave every dish in the world because it hadn't been 6 months since I had last eaten it!
As it stands, I'm still trying to make sure our meals are healthy, which, really, should always be one of your main goals when meal planning. Let's face it, no one intentionally sets out to plan unhealthy meals, but it's often much easier to find an unhealthy recipe than a healthy one. For example, I discovered Pinterest shortly after my gallbladder issues began and was appalled to find how many times one recipe in particular was being repinned. The recipe apparently called for chicken, cream cheese, cheddar, butter, cream and more cheese. Many pinners opted to put the word "*drool*" in their caption when they repinned it. To be honest, I couldn't even stand to look at the picture! I'd hate to think how much fat would be in one serving of that dish. And that is far from the only unhealthy dish to ever pop up in the feeds on Pinterest. Some chefs are worse than others (Apparently Jaime Oliver's cook book was recently branded as having the worst recipes for your health over all the other cookbooks in the US - has anyone involved in that decision ever heard of Paula Deen???) but in general, most recipes that you pull out of a cookbook will opt for flavor over healthy options.
That being said, it's not the end of the healthy effort! While your lasagna may have 50% of the daily recommended fat intake in one serving, that doesn't mean that you can never eat it again. Just, perhaps, not every week, and it's always important to keep portions in mind when you do eat something less than healthful.
My family mean plan this week hopefully will measure up to the healthy standards I'm trying for: Pork tenderloin with green beans and asparagus tomorrow, Thai Chicken soup the next night with a Coconut Mango Rice Pudding for dessert, Fish Stick tacos the night after that and BBQ ribs the next night. While there isn't a single one of those entrees that I could have eaten when I had my gallstones, if treated properly, they don't have to be a dip in the healthy road. For starters, while pork is typically a very fatty meat, the tenderloin is actually quite lean. The thai chicken soup will have coconut milk in it, but I'll be sure to use light coconut milk. The fish sticks in the tacos can really throw off your low-fat ambitions if they are the focal point of your meal, but by wrapping them up in corn tortillas with lots of veggies, you'll actually eat less of them than if you are eating the sticks by themselves (and let's stop pairing fried fish and french fries - seriously, heart attack waiting to happen). Lastly, the BBQ ribs. I'm ecstatic about those. I clearly remember my last time eating those because that was the first time I had a gallbladder attack. Nathaniel was only 2 weeks old. The secret to my family's perfect BBQ ribs is boiling the ribs before you grill them. I personally love the flavor of boiled pork, but the real benefit comes from the fat that melts off during the boiling process. This is also great for breakfast sausage.
Besides getting back into meal planning, I am itching to get back to baking. Realizing that one of the muffins that my husband bought last week for breakfast had 22 grams of fat in it(about 45% of the daily recommended intake) I have vowed to provide my poor hubby with some lower fat options. I found some great low-fat muffin recipes a few months ago ( and bagels are very low fat and kinda fun to make.
I did branch out from the strictly healthy realm this weekend and I attempted to make rolled florentines for the first time. "Attempted" because I didn't read the recipe before I began and ran into a couple snags because of that. The recipe instructed you to mix equal parts flour, sugar, corn syrup and butter together, pour the mix into little circles and sprinkle finely chopped almonds on top of the circles. Silly me, I mixed the almond in and then tried to shape thin little circles with that mix. Sooooo did not work as well as it ought to. What I did learn, however, is that a mistake like that still tastes great.
I've been determined to make rolled florentines as yummy as the ones I buy from Glamorgan Bakery in Calgary. Those ones are filled with hazelnut cream and their ends are dipped in chocolate. Mmmmmmm... but before I work on the cream I need to figure out the perfect florentine recipe and technique - caramelly, chewy and perfectly rolled. My first try wasn't perfect, but hopefully the second will yield better results.
Anyway, I'd better get back to catching up on life!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

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