Thursday, May 15, 2014
I never used to cook. My kitchen is tiny, my oven doesn't work quite right, and I had no prep space. It was always easier just to make a pb&j or have some cereal, or go to Wendy's or Subway and grab something.
When I decided to change things and start eating right and losing weight, I thought it was going to be really hard for me. I'm a very picky eater. I don't like a lot of foods.
I learned really quickly that it wasn't going to be as hard as I thought.
Even if I don't feel like cooking for dinner and just making a sandwich, one with sliced deli chicken breast with vegetables is still as delicious as my precious pb&j, and much healthier. It has actually become second nature to look for something healthy to make for lunch or to snack on. I never used to eat breakfast, but now I never skip it. But cooking dinner has actually become something I really, really like to do.
I rearranged the counter and moved the microwave off of it so I had some space to prepare food. I've used a few recipes from SparkRecipes, and I subscribe to a few healthy food blogs that I've gotten some from as well. Typically though, I like to just throw a bunch of things together and see how it tastes. I've realized that I like more vegetables than I ever thought. I never thought I'd say that I LOVE ZUCCHINI. But I do. I love it. I always have liked peppers, but I didn't realize how versatile they are and how many dishes they taste great in. Onions have always been my favorite (my mom said it was the Polak in me) and I put them in pretty much every dish I make. I've also realized that you can throw as many vegetables as you want in any dish and they taste great and they're healthy (and inexpensive!). So far, everything I've made has been fantastic, from a recipe or just from my brain! Who knew it was this easy to cook?! ;-)
Tonight, I was tired and didn't *really* feel like cooking. Plus my regular frying pan and regular sauce pot were dirty. I looked through the fridge and cabinets for something easy and quick but I just wasn't feeling any of those options. I had some chicken thighs that had been thawing in the fridge. I had some left over brown rice (cooked already). I saw a can of black beans. I immediately thought black beans and rice. I quickly washed my pans, threw the chicken thighs in the frying pan to sear (no oil! - it's nonstick) and put some red onions and minced garlic in the sauce pot with some cumin, red pepper flakes and my own mexican seasoning blend. Once the chicken was crispy all around the outsides, I just transferred it into the toaster oven at 400 degrees. Put the black beans, a can of Rotel, and some peas and carrots into the pot with the onion. Once it was all combined I transferred it into the frying pan from the chicken and added in the rice. Gave the chicken a turn and after about 20 minutes in the toaster oven it smelled absolutely aaaaaamazing.
I had two chicken thighs cooking, and enough beans & rice for at least 4 servings, maybe 5. I put the smaller of the two thighs on my plate and covered it with the beans & rice. Let me tell you - if I'd ever been brave enough 6 months ago to have actually made this, I'm pretty sure I'd have eaten both thighs and at least half of the pan of beans & rice. But today, I ate just the one thigh and one serving of beans & rice. And I was happy. Full. Not stuffed. Just, satisfied. And I couldn't believe how good everything was. The chicken was moist and juicy (and yes, I ate the skin! Sue me!) and the beans & rice were delicious and just spicy enough. I can't wait to heat up some leftovers tomorrow for dinner.
I've figured out that throwing some random vegetables that I like, some whole wheat pasta or brown rice, and chicken (usually I use tenderloins but the thighs were in the freezer from a few months ago) and some kind of sauce together usually ends up tasting pretty damn good. And I typically make enough for 4 or 6, so I have plenty of leftovers for the week.
The part I hate the most is that I don't have a dishwasher, so I have to wash everything by hand. Tonight I washed some of the dishes while things were cooking, and washed everything else, including what I'd used to make this meal, when I finished eating dinner and put everything away. When I wash as I go, all I have to wash is what I used that day so it takes me just a few minutes and then it's done - I don't know why I complain about it so much. I almost always wipe down the stove and counter, and I love the way the kitchen looks and feels with all the clean dishes drying in one side of the sink and everything else all clean and shiny.
Can't wait to go shopping and buy some more zucchini. :)