I swear I have an AHA Moment every time I actually have a day where I manage to cook 3 solid meals for myself. Because today I have eaten like a KING, I still have almost 200 calories left and I am not the least bit hungry. I have managed ALL of my fruits and veggies, have consumed near perfect numbers of protein, fat, carbs and other essential nutrients, and even had room for a Starbucks treat on my walk home. What's that again? Oh yes, I walked home tonight because I still had the energy to at the end of the day. It's amazing what happens when you fuel your body with the things that it wants and needs - it actually PERFORMS the way it should!
It never fails to amaze me how few calories I seem to have and how much sodium I manage to consume when even ONE meal a day is away from home. Most days it's TWO meals away from home - and I know I'm not alone in that habit. I, like many people, burn the candle at both ends and hardly have time on the weekends to catch up. But with the sweetie out of town, it's back to being FULLY focused on me - and that means some down hard time in the kitchen...
Or not. Though I like to cook, it's my crockpot that gets me through the day. Knowing that dinner is already made for me when I leave work is what allows me to say "yeah sure, let's spend the 45 minutes that it takes me to walk because once I'm there, it's serve & sit." And there is nothing better than walking into a house that smells of somethin' good cookin'. Yum!
So if you don't already own one - I HIGHLY suggest adding a crockpot to your Christmas list this year. I'm a bit obsessed with mine. Maybe not as much as Stephanie O'Dea. She took it upon herself to use her (now numerous) Crockpots every day for a whole year and wrote a blog about it. crockpot365.blogspot.com
I stumbled upon this site myself a couple of years ago and it has been my go-to recipe manual ever since. I own both of her books and use them almost every time I pull out my pot. I have never cooked a recipe of hers that wasn't totally amazing. But guess what? Once you learn how easy it is to do - you start coming up with stuff of your own. Or, you remember old recipes that you once loved and figure out how to use the crockpot to make those too. For me it was simple - my mom is just as obsessed with her crockpot as I am with mine and so I grew up on slow cooked recipes. Some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around the smells coming out of that pot. So for me - a simple phone call and a "what did you put in that again?" yielded me a whole slew of stew recipes and other slow cooker gems.
My menu today? Started out with one of these guys that was featured on Spark a couple of days ago: recipes.sparkpeople.com/
with a couple of clementines which are totally in season right now and are so super sweet and delicious.
Then for lunch I had Mom's Beef Stew recipes.sparkpeople.com/
with a pear, yogurt, snack bag of pretzels and a fun-sized Twizzler's licorice.
Dinner was a new one - Thai Marmalade Pork Tenderloin Roast recipes.sparkpeople.com/
served over rice with a side of broccoli. Mmmm!
Since I have some extra calories left, I'm on to continue my Christmas cookie baking. I know little tasters and spoon licks add up, so I'll likely top out on my calories for the day - but it's so nice to have that freedom and not be too worried about going over.
If you're interested in more of my crockpot recipes - check out my Recipe Box. I post the recipe for everything I cook and try to indicate if it was a total flop - but usually I just change up the ingredients and improve on it the next time I make it. Here are a couple of links to my personal favorites though. Happy Cooking! Tis the season to throw it in the pot and let the appliance do the work for you!
Asian Peanut Butter Pork (one of Stephanie's recipes) recipes.sparkpeople.com/
Brown Sugar Chicken (Stephanie again) recipes.sparkpeople.com/
Chicken & Dumplings recipes.sparkpeople.com/
Crockpot Lasagna (adapted from Stephanie's recipe - I make mine with turkey & spinach!) recipes.sparkpeople.com/
Fruit Jam Chicken recipes.sparkpeople.com/
Lentil (or Split Pea) Soup with Ham recipes.sparkpeople.com/
Mom's Chili - Can't beat this one! recipes.sparkpeople.com/
Turkey Pumpkin Chili - a different take on the classic that's really good! recipes.sparkpeople.com/