I hope everyone feels well rested and had a great start to this new week. I’d like to tell a bit of a ‘story’ if you’d listen (feel a bit like Rose Nylon on The Golden Girls here).
I started this blog back in January, earlier this year and had a very different vision of what it would be and the purpose it would serve. Since then, the blog has changed a bit-in a very positive way- but it hasn’t really been doing for me what I wanted it to.
You see, when I started this blog I wanted to use it as an outlet for some bottled up creativity and some excess ‘boredom’- I really dislike that word since I’m not really bored here at home, just you know ‘living in a bit of a routine?’ The idea of starting this blog came from a couple of things…
First, as you all know I have a little one here at home and sometimes, like most mothers tending to their little pumpkins, you try to find things to do to occupy them and yourself. So it came to me one day to start up a blog where I can log the things we do together while simultaneously showcasing Trinidad. I wanted to challenge myself to do something new each week so that both of us wouldn’t get stuck in the rut of doing the same things day in and day out.
The other reason I started this blog is two-fold. One, I needed (and still do) to get rid of some extra weight I’ve been logging around for sometime and thought it would be great to document what I ate; this would give me some accountability-even if no one ever read a single word I’d know that I could ‘see’ what I was doing; just a forum where I can see what I prepare and how I prepare it. Two, I thought to myself ‘self, wouldn’t be get great to have a site where you could show off some of the delicious dishes/food from Trinidad, trying to make them healthier or offering tweaked versions while maybe still showing nostalgic Trinis (or other Caribbean-ites) how to make authentic dishes?’ Yes! (I thought). So I did! I started thehiddencook.com and it pretty much covered everything I thought it would and a bit more! I was happy with the views I got and the wonderful comments…all while hiding out to get it done!
Today, the site’s a bit different. I’ve decided to focus more on food and less on some of the other things I had initially planned. But one thing has fallen dreadfully to the side and today is the day that that changes.
I’ve decided to take regain accountability. I’ve decided to present myself and all of you with a challenge- a 4 week salad challenge.
With the exception of vegetarians, most of us have grown up centering our meals around the meat we eat- we focus on its preparation, the way we need to cook it and what should accompany it. We seldom think of fruits and vegetables in that light. We rarely think to ourselves ‘hmm, what would go good with my Greek salad?’ I think it’s sad that we choose to focus on our meats and neglect our vegetables and fruits -and no, I’m not switching to a vegetarian lifestyle- I just think it’s high time my vegetables and fruits take center stage!
So, I am challenging myself and I’m challenging you! Let’s embark on a 4 week salad regime. Let’s shine a bright spotlight on our salads- vegetable and fruit- for the next four weeks and see what happens!
*NOTE* I define a salad as any vegetable/fruit that can be eaten raw, with a dressing of some sort. For instance, 5 fruits
cut up and placed in a bowl with a bit of lemon juice drizzle on top is considered a salad in my books. Likewise, beans steamed and drizzled with a mustard vinaigrette is also a salad. Once it contains vegetables / fruits and adheres to the rules below, it’s a salad!
Here are the Rules~
For the next four weeks this is what I’ll be doing for lunch/dinner/snacks
- centering my meals around a delicious salad-fruit or vegetable- 3/4 of my plate must be composed of some sort of salad
- choosing raw vegetables/fruits over cooked ones. Cooking methods are restricted to
- ABSOLUTELY NONE of the following:
–sweets: including refined sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave or artificial sweeteners (yuck!)
–fried food: no doubles, KFC, accras, fried bakes, shark & bake, aloo pies-nothing, none.
–tv watching while eating-this includes computer watching
- eating out:
-only if absolutely necessary AND only salads!
- drinking lots of WATER
-12 glasses (8ozs) per day
- exercising 6 days/week
- soups are also allowed- once they are full of vegetables
- snacks will consist of raw fruits/vegetables and a handful (1/4 cup) of nuts/seeds
-dips like hummus are fine once they’re homemade and contain none of foods from the forbidden list above
- Olive oil is the only oil to be used- and I’m limiting it to 1 tsp per meal (where applicable)
Finally, the MOST IMPORTANT rule of all:
Good morning all!
I thought I’d write a little short post this morning about how I’ve been feeling since starting my new lifestyle. It’s been very difficult to stick with getting healthy and to stick to my 7 simple ‘musts’ to getting healthy and staying healthy. Some days I slip up and other days I’m great and really work hard at doing well.
However, be that as it may, these are a few of the things that I’ve noticed and that are helping me to really stick it out. It may be a series of starts and stops for me, but that’s just for now. I wonder though, the people out there that do ‘have it under control’, the people who have never had to try to stay healthy or that have become healthy over time- how many starts and stops have they made? I imagine that being healthy is always going to be about that anyway, isn’t it?
I mean, I think about Christmas time- all the food and the excess alcohol(which never affects me since I’m not a drinker anyway)- I’m sure during times like that healthy people over indulge and savor their food just as much as the unhealthy- the difference is that the healthy take stock of how all the excess makes them feel and they get back on that horse.
Well, I’ve starting taking a lot of cues from my own body recently and I can tell you: going the unhealthy route just isn’t satisfying me anymore. Sometimes I think about how many years I’ve punished my body and it’s really sad. What I do like now though, is that my body is speaking to me a lot louder these days and I am listening.
A few days ago I had been making a lot more detoxifying smoothies and enjoying them while trying to eat clean. Then, I had to attend some family events and all of a sudden I found myself eating stuff that I know just wasn’t clean. My body retaliated. I started getting stomach aches and having to use the toilet A LOT; but aside from that, I started to feel sick. I hadn’t gotten a headache in quite sometime and all of a sudden for 3 days straight I’d wake up having a headache! I also started to feel a bit ‘foggy’ again- you know, a bit like dreaming or just not having the mental clarity?
WELL NO MORE!!!
I can’t continue to do this to myself. It’s just not healthy and I’m putting too much strain on my body and mind.
So, I’ve gone to the market, I have my arsenal of fresh, clean food and I’ve gotten back up on this horse…this time he’s taking me all the way to the finish line!
So today I made a delicious smoothie and wanted to share the recipe with everyone.
It’s very simple and really, you can use whatever ingredients you like. I’ve been reading a lot about juicing and its benefits and discovered that cilantro/coriander (very similar (although much more muted) to shadon beni/bandania found here in Trinidad) is a really good detoxifying herb. Apparently many nutritionists use this herb (coupled with parsley) as the base of many of the ‘green smoothies/juices’ that are popular today as detox drinks. I’m eager to try some smoothies with the shadon beni/bandania and have already thought up one using tomatoes- should taste like seasoned tomato juice!
1/2 cup fresh organic pineapple
1/2 berry mix- blue/black/raspberries
1 ripe starch mango (substitute with any sweet mango)-equals about 1 cup
10 cilantro stalks with leaves attached
1 red apple
1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened, unprocessed pomegranate juice- Dewlands brand is good if you have access to it.
Wash and roughly chop all the ingredients removing any seeds as applicable. Place all in the blender and pulse, adding juice as required. Blend or pour over ice if desired. Garnish with a strawberry/pineapple wedge and some cilantro leaves. Enjoy!
Serving- 1 person~ 1 1/2 cups
Suggestion- Make this ahead of time using lots of frozen fruit of your choice and keep chilled. Perfect as an afternoon ‘pick me up from my blood sugar drop’ and perfect as a detoxifying agent.
Today was a very busy day in our household, well, not so much busy as hectic. I didn’t get a lot of rest last night, in fact I’d say it reminded me of when my baby was a newborn. My little one decided to stay up all night until the early hours of this morning and then wake up early! Needless to say I woke up feeling like a train wreck!
Of course this meant that breakfast, lunch and dinner had to be quick and easy…
Today I had fruits and old-fashion rolled oats for breakfast. Simple and delicious; I threw in apples, pawpaw, pomegranate, pineapple and strawberries. That was all there was to it, yet the sweetness of the fruits and knowledge that I was doing something good for myself by having rolled oats was enough for me to feel satisfied until lunch.
For lunch I made Chinese style ginger chicken. It’s super easy and really quick with very little prep time and cooking is a snap. I’m focusing on this multi-use ginger sauce because the chicken or meat that accompanies this is really variable since it’s about how you’d like to prepare it. I do it the traditional way- boiled or steamed because it’s quicker, healthier and no fuss. But I’ve had it and prepared it roasted and pan fried. It really doesn’t matter since the motive is the same- to have a bland tasting meat with an explosive sauce!
It works, it really does! My way of ‘healthyfying’ the traditional recipe is to use extra virgin olive oil- it’s not really a huge adjustment, but it’s something and every little counts for something! I ate the ginger chicken as a salad- Romaine lettuce, water cress, cilantro, sliced carrots, lemon juice all topped by slices of the steamed chicken and ginger paste- it was clean yet sharp, healthy yet satisfying.
The last thing I made today was a smoothie. I’ve been trying to find ways to rid myself of all the junk I’ve been putting into my body over the last couple of years and reading a lot about juicing and its benefits. After my last trip to the market I got some stocks so decided to make myself a refreshing smoothie. I made mine with fresh strawberries, frozen berry mix(blueberries, raspberries and blackberries), a sweet starch mango, pomegranate juice (all natural, no additives or sugar), cilantro and some raw chia seeds. It came out remarkably well! The tanginess or the berries were so well balanced by the unique flavor of the cilantro and the sweetness of the mango was enough to have me wishing I had made more!
The ginger sauce and smoothie recipes are both very simple and can be viewed here.
So yesterday I ventured to Othaheite here in Trinidad to purchase my fresh red snapper fish for lunch and today I’m posting the recipe with photos of the delicious lunch I prepared for my family. For dessert I had a lovely, sweet persimmon fruit- it reminds me of sweet kymit (a Trini fruit, currently out of season; when it’s in season I’ll be sure to post photos).
I actually ‘borrowed’ the idea from my cousin whom I call from time to time when I want to get a different perspective. I cook 2-3 meals each day and sometimes you want to use the same methods of cooking but you just want a bit of variety in ingredients. Sometimes it’s about what you have, other times it’s about what you could think up!
I can say this, the freshness of the fish makes a huge difference in its flavor, so get the fish fresh once you can. Forget the frozen stuff you find at the supermarket. I would make just a couple of adjustments to the recipe the next time I make baked fish, so maybe you can try them and let me know how it works out? I found that having the olives and tomatoes in the sautéed vegetable mix was a bit too acidic and salty for me. So next time I think I’ll choose just one or the other. I chose to add in capers because I think it goes great with fish- it does, but again I thought with the olives the sauce was a bit too tart. Now, usually I would add a touch of cream to the sauce once it’s done, I’m trying to eat clean so I chose to forego that option this time. But I think if you had all of these ingredients the cream added at the very end would make the fish all the more tasty! I also took it upon myself to add in coriander and found that this was a great addition; the sharpness of the coriander really balances out the mild, clean flavor of the red snapper. All in all, I’d give this lunch an 8/10- not bad for something that too very little preparation and a really short cooking time!
Approximately 1-2 lbs of freshly bought fish- try red snapper, white salmon, tuna or sea bass
10-12 Greek olives cut into halves
2 large tomatoes
1 Tbsp capers
1 medium yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
5 button mushrooms
1/2 pack enoki mushrooms
Juice of 1 lemon plus a few wedges to serve
1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat conventional oven at 450F or convectional oven at 350F. Slice onion and garlic cloves thinly. Cut tomatoes into large chunks- about 4 quarters/tomato. Cut olives into halves and button mushrooms into quarters. Slice off the bottom of the enoki mushrooms. Heat oil in flat bottomed pan on high heat and add in the onions and garlic. Sauté until translucent. Lower heat to medium. Add mushrooms, tomatoes, olive and capers. When soft, remove from heat. While cooking the vegetables, cut slits into cleaned fish. Add salt, black pepper and lemon juice ensuring that they penetrate the slit fish. Pour vegetable mixture over fish, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked. Serve hot.
Serving- 2 persons
Suggestions- Serve hot with green salad, roasted potatoes or brown rice pilaf.
Started my day off right today- except for the lack of sleep and major tiredness! Felt like having a clean fresh breakfast this morning, no fuss.
I don’t know how many people are aware that papaya is called pawpaw here in Trinidad-not sure about the rest of the Caribbean, but maybe. Anyway, if you’ve never had it you simply must! Pawpaw is one of my favorite fruits- it’s sweetness is delicate especially when eaten chilled, it’s texture soft and melty, it’s scent? Well, that’s a bit of a put off. It smells kind of like vomit or hot buttered popcorn being cooked. Many people don’t like it because of it’s strong scent, but it only ever bothered me when I was a small child. My child loves it though!
So, I cut my pawpaw this morning-the remainder goes into the fridge until tomorrow morning- I added some diced pineapples, threw in some raw old-fashioned rolled oats and a few sliced almonds and voila– breakfast! Really simple, really healthy and really delicious!
I recently came up with these little gems to help me along the way to an healthier me. I’m sick of hearing about low carb, fat free, grapefruit, blood type blah blah blah… I mean, seriously? I’ve never tried any of those and I pray that I’ll never need to!
I just want to simplify things for myself. I want to be able to think like somebody who has never had any weight issues or problems. So, I came up with a few things that I want to do for me. I hope you find them useful in some way.
My Seven Simple ‘Musts’ to getting healthy and staying healthy
- I must never eat while watching TV- in fact, never eat and do anything else besides eat. Too many times I’m so distracted by what’s going on on TV that I seldom remember what I’ve eaten or how much I’ve eaten!
- I must center my meals around vegetables. I’ll admit, I plan my meals around the meats that I have in my freezer or being chilled in the fridge, I’m planning to reverse this.
- I must exercise every single day. Now, this can be anything- a walk or stroll, picking up after by baby, scrubbing bathroom floors- it doesn’t matter. It just has to be for an extended period of time (my aim each day is 45 minutes-broken up into smaller portions if necessary).
- If I must snack, it’ll have to be on fresh fruit and the odd nut.
- I must drink at least 12 glasses of water/day.
- I must eat more fish- this one is easy, I live on an island!
- I must look in the mirror and see the positives about myself even when it’s hard to ignore the negatives. We all need to love ourselves just a little bit more, then maybe it would be easier to accept our minor faults so that we’d be more willing to change them(and no, I’m not referring to sagging stomachs or arm flab, I mean our internal faults too)