Friday, April 3, 2015

Mealtime Routines

Just as I have a very weird fascination with other people's daily routines, 
I also have a fascination with mealtime routines. 

And so, as I often do when I find something interesting, 
I'll blog about it. 
And maybe look back a few years later and chuckle at the changes. 

Overall Philosophy

My mother is a dietician, 
and much of my awareness of dietary health stems from how we were raised. 
Of course, I make own modifications, 
but the philosophy is there: what you put into your body is verrryyy important.  
We strive for the highest level of health, 
but I also believe in indulging. 
I focus my efforts on what Aaron eats daily in our house, 
and shrug my shoulders about the occasional splurges, 
like cupcakes for dinner on Christmas Eve
For example, Aaron has never had McDonald's or Burger King. 
If a friend took him, I would be fine with it. 
But I'll never incorporate that as an option in our choices.

Our goals (and their exceptions):

Goal: Low-processed food. 
Otherwise known as "perimeter shopping" at the grocery store. 
Fresh produce, raw meats, dairy, etc. 
Along this same line, we never keep juice in our house. 
Vitamin C is much better absorbed in the body in its raw form: fruit!
Juices are also high in processed sugar, while fruit is good sugar.

Exceptions: There are many
Pasta is our top exception. 
Some recipes I use whole grain (like Spicy Sausage Pasta
and some I stick to over processed white (like Blush Mac&Cheese
I also am a die-hard fan of "just add water" pancake mix. 

Goal: Homemade foods
Along the same line as the low-processed, 
almost anything homemade is going to be healthier than pre-made. 
(Breastmilk is the ultimate homemade food!)

Exceptions: Bread (although I do own a bread machine... it's in the basement)
and the occasional Annie's Shells&Cheese or traditional Chicken Noodle soup 
(because when I'm sick, I'm not messy with that low sodium or heart healthy crap, ha)
Other than that, we really don't eat much out of cans or boxes. 

Goal: Minimal eating out 
This has both financial and health benefits. 
Pre-Aaron, we ate out a lot
I never meal-planned back then, so we were constantly running out to whatever food joint sounded good at that time.  I don't know how I wasn't 300 lbs.  
Good thing we had a baby to save us from the restaurant industry!

Exceptions: Pizza, Chinese food, and Chick-fil-A
Like I said above, Aaron has never had McDonalds, 
but I sing many odes of praises to Chick-fil-A for their grilled nuggets, fruit cup, and milk. 
 As for Chinese food and pizza... 
if you're gonna go bad, go all out!

Goal: Organic 
Milk, eggs, and the dirty dozen of produce. 

Exceptions: Many, many, many. 
Meats in particular are soooo pricey that I can't bring myself to pay triple the cost.  
And sometimes organic produce is just not available when I'm craving a particular recipe. 

Some weeks we are the pinnacle of food health and accomplish every goal. 
And sometimes we're in Survival Mode and eat 4 boxes of Annie's Mac&Cheese. 
But as long as the former outweigh the latter, 
I feel good about our diet. 

Our Routine 

Creatures of habit, Adam and Aaron eat cereal with milk every morning
Aaron eats what Adam eats which is a rotation of Cracklin' Oats, Frosted Mini Wheats, and Bran Flakes (gross). 
I, on the other hand, pack my breakfast for work. Examples: 
Banana with peanut butter, 
Ezekiel English muffin with cream cheese, 
Cheese and crackers, 
Weekends we splurge with boxed pancake.
(That stuff is like GLUE when it dries; just imagine what it does to our insides! 
We use real maple syrup so I pretend that offsets with the boxed mix... moving on...)

For years, I brought dinner leftovers with me to lunch the next day. 
Now I find that those portion sizes are often too big, 
and much prefer a light sandwich or a salad
Aaron eats daycare's provided lunch 
and Adam eats a deli meat sandwich every day of his life since highschool

At work, over 75% of my calories are consumed via snacks. 
I eat a snack almost every hour, hence the small lunches. 
Aaron, obviously, eats his snacks at daycare. 
On the weekends, we opt for fruit snacks of whatever is in season. 
If we are out and about, 
it's pretzels or a Plum organic pouch
I admit that at this point in my life, 
I'm kind of opposed to the traditional goldfish, bunnies, "cracker" etc snacks. 
My mom used them as a "treat" growing up, so that's where that weird opposition stems from. I assume that will change over time (right, Future Emily?).
I'm a huge fan of cheerios, but Aaron is kind of over them. 

After Aaron was born, we settled into a steady meal-planning system, 
where I cook ~3 big casseroles or similar large dishes throughout a week, 
and then we subside off the leftovers for dinner. 
This allows me to cook after Aaron goes to bed, 
and maximizes our playtime after daycare

I also maintain a fairly non-conventional approach to dinner. 
While most meal-planning moms have a well-rounded dinner, 
(Main dish + Side x2),  
that was never my style. 
I tried it briefly, 
but it wasn't for me. 

Instead, Aaron and I take a different approach 
(5 out of 7 nights it's just Aaron and I for dinner). 
We have our main dish, 
and then we go with whatever we feel like
A lot of times this is fruit. 
The month of March we had an orange every night after dinner, 
because they were in season and Aaron loved them.
Sometimes we have a mozzarella stick, or banana, or Chobani key lime yogurt. 
We never have dessert in the house, so that's not even a thought.
It's not that I'm opposed to dessert. 
It's that I have ZERO will-power. 
And have, on occasion, consumed an entire tray of brownies at once. 
We don't talk about that.

Meal Planning

Thanks to pinterest, our recipe box has exploded
I try a new recipe at least once every two weeks. 
Some are failures, and some become forever favorites. 

I keep all my recipes in a 3-ring binder. 
I never print a recipe before making it. 
I make the recipe off the iPad and THEN if it's a winner, 
it goes into the binder. 
My pinterest board Tried and True Recipes is my filing cabinet of 
all new recipes, both winners and losers. 
If I had to list of our top 10 favorites... (not in order)

Spicy Sausage Pasta 
(It's spicy, but Aaron was eating it at 9 months old!)


Ina Garten's Penne Alla Vodka
(longest running favorite; discovered BEFORE pinterest!)

Pioneer Woman's Chicken Spaghetti
(my favorite of all time)

Cheesy Chicken & Rice 
(Adam's favorite meal of all time)

(Aaron's current favorite; he devours this)

Damn Delicious Gruyere Bacon Mac & Cheese 
(modification: less cream and use farfalle noodles instead)

 (warm, cheesy, and low calorie = win!)

 Caprese Lasagna Roll-ups 
(Best when tomatoes are at their peak; almost MUST use white lasagna)

Pepperjack-Stuffed Peppers 
(modification: use red peppers only and no pre-cooking: instead, put all raw ingredients in slow cooker for 8 hours)

Lemon Pesto Pasta 
(also a top Aaron favorite of all time)

If you're counting, you'll notice SIX of our top 10 favorites involve pasta. 
You'll also notice a striking lack of meat. 
I've said before that I'm just not a meat eater and don't like to cook it. 
There are plenty of ways to get protein so I don't fret it. 

Lastly, on a "fun fact" note, 
my mother was once asked in an interview: 
"What is the largest deficit in the American diet?" 

Answer: WATER

1 comment:

  1. I try to follow a lot of these same guidelines with the twins! Thankfully my mom has always been fairly health-conscious, so although we did keep some "junk food" in the house and were allowed most things in moderation, we learned the importance of eating home-cooked, balanced meals at an early age ALONG with the importance of exercise.

    Anyways, thanks for all the recipes- I'm going to check them out!