Surprisingly, this was a much easier challenge than I thought it would be. Not that it was always simple, but it was fun to see what I was capable of and so it wasn't difficult. And being only one month long, there was nothing that I craved and couldn't have. Sure, I wanted my Skippy on an English muffin in the morning, but I enjoyed my fresh bread from the bakery with butter on it just fine. Yeah, I would have liked to make a tuna sandwich but was too lazy to figure out how to make mayo from scratch (which I have seen done and do plan to learn, btw). So I just put those things away and focused on what I could eat.
Honestly, I think that other thirty day challenge back in June helped me learn how to change my habits easier.
The question people are asking me is this: How did I survive? Here are four things that made a big difference in my life this past month:
Having a completely homemade, solid base is key. It wasn't always beans and rice, but maybe mashed potatoes or risotto (made with homemade vegetable stock). Beans and rice, however, were great because you could make a lot and use it for several days. And as you know, my husband LOVES beans and rice. He truly is Brazilian when it comes to that. He never complains when we don't have these two on our plate, but if we do have them a smile is sure to show up as well. (The second pot has garlic and salt cooking, waiting for the rice to be added. Brazilian rice is much more than just rice and water thrown into the rice cooker... and it tastes so good!)
My poor husband. He hates the baking sheet now. Why? Because he wound up washing it every single day. It was used to make cookies (with raw sugar and unbleached flour -- no worries!), roast veggies, make snacks (kale chips, potato chips), and almost anything else that needed to be done. Two days ago he had enough. "No more. I am not washing any more. You want to use it, then you wash it," he proclaimed. Seeing as he was washing a LOT of dishes with all of this cooking, I thought this was a fair request.
Ah, creativity... what would I do without it? Yes, I put it to use. Random things were put together and new "dishes" were created. Most turned out good. Some didn't turn out at all. But in the end, this came in handy. Especially when I had the munchies. I couldn't just reach for pretzels or grab ice cream out of the freezer, I had to create something. Luckily between my brain and ideas I have seen around, it happened.
Craving a salty snack? Take some collard greens, rip them up into big pieces, toss with olive oil and salt, and roast on the aforementioned baking sheet. You instantly have a healthy snack. Tasted like seaweed. I love seaweed.
Wanting something sweet? See this little treat:
I cannot personally take the credit for this one. Before I had a Brazilian husband I had a Brazilian roommate (what can I say? This culture was destined to be a part of my life!). My roommate made this a couple of times, but I never had any of it. But it is so simple and so delicious! Just take the ingredients, throw in it in the microwave for 1 min. 30 sec. and viola! Your sweet, and fresh, treat! (Obrigada, Katie!)
The next question people ask is this: Do I plan to continue?
Yes, and no. Yes, I plan on learning and growing in ways to bring fresh, healthy food into my life. No, I do not plan on being so anal about it. I am A-OK with buying bread from the grocery store. I miss Silk soy milk. I want to use cream of mushroom soup again. But I will be much more aware of the ingredients in these items. What I do plan on doing is trying the recipes I didn't get the chance to try, like homemade Cheez-its. The day I make Cheez-its will be the day I know that I have arrived, in the cooking world at least.
There we have it. I did it. I learned a lot, my eyes were opened to new ideas, and I proved to myself that I can cook -- not just put things together -- but can COOK.
Thank you Caiti for telling me one day that my future children would have mac-n-cheese for dinner every night. That little comment changed my life, and I will forever be grateful to you for it.