Meals for a Month – Recap

So, my meals for a month turned into meals for 3 weeks, as I was out of town for the last week. Overall, I found it worked pretty well. I don’t think I’ll be planning my meals a month in advance all the time, but every once and a while it seems like it’d be a good way to solve the “what am I going to eat this week” dilemma all at once.

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Meals for a Month – Week 1

Week 1 of my Meals for a Month plan went really well. I ended up with just the right amount of food, and didn’t need to spend a lot of time thinking about about what I was going to eat, as I had already made most of those decisions.

So what did I eat during week 1?

Apple Dijon kale salad with cornbread
Creamy beet salad
Pineapple fried rice
Veggie burgers with these buns
Home made pizza (using this cast iron pizza dough recipe/method)
Black bean brownies  (okay, not part of the ‘meal plan’, but I still made ’em and ate ’em)
Slow cooker black bean soup

Both the veggie burger and the black bean soup were from my freezer and were only eaten one time. The other items were made “fresh” during the week and were eaten at several meals. As you can see, I’m not including breakfast (or snacks) in the meal plan, but I most certainly am eating breakfast every day (and snacks too), I just wanted to keep the plan simple to start out.

Overall, week 1 was a success. Week 2 starts today and I am realizing that the three main meals I have planned all use curry.  Might need to switch one of them up if I can find a substitute meal that I happen to have the ingredients for.

Meals for a Month

Meals for a monthI love home made food and I generally like cooking, but what I don’t like is all the prep. No, I don’t mean chopping up veggies (although I could do without onion chopping), I mean deciding what to make, scouring recipes, figuring out ingredients, and doing the grocery shopping. If a suitable menu could magically appear with all the appropriate ingredients, that would be great. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. Well, at least not for free. But I digress, because I’m not some fancy-pants who hires someone to make their food (okay, sometimes).

Although nothing magical is likely to happen, I think I can create a menu plan that would at least lessen some of the daily or weekly food decision making I need to do. I’m going to try pre-planning my meals for an entire month. Over the past few days, I’ve been working on putting together a four-week menu plan. It’s a bit of a challenge trying to figure out how many meals of leftovers I’ll get from each meal and how many recipes I need to make, but I’ve got at least a rough plan for four weeks. I’ve also tried to sketch out when I can do some of the advanced prep for various meals.  So if I know I’m making two or three things with onions (oh the dreaded onions), I can chop them all on Sunday and use them throughout the week. It should also simplify grocery shopping. I’m already pretty good about making a grocery list of what I need, but I could be better, and this should hopefully reduce the amount of times that I’m scrambling to decide what I’m going to make five minutes before I get groceries.

Tiny Travelogue: Mont-Tremblant National Park – Yurt Edition

Yurt Mont Tremblant collage

Location: Mont-Tremblant National Park (L’Assomption sector), Quebec

Length of Trip: Three days, two nights (August 2014)

Purpose of Trip: General outdoorsy fun, including swimming, canoeing, and campfire-ing

Method of Transportation:  Henry the Honda

Food: chili, tortilla chips, hot dogs, veggie burgers, salad, bagels, cheese & crackers, yogurt & granola, coffee… you get the idea

Accommodations: A yurt! I was very excited to sleep in  a yurt and it did not disappoint. Now I’m spending my days dreaming about building my own off-grid yurt.

Highlights: 

The skylight: The top of the yurt had a clear dome – built in skylight.  We were even so lucky as to have a thunderstorm, so while we thanked our lucky stars we weren’t in a tent when the storm happened we also watched the lightning through the dome over the bed.  Awesome.

Canoeing:  The yurt rental came with a canoe rental for the duration of our stay.  This wasn’t mentioned on the website so it was a bonus surprise.

 

 

Tiny Travelogue: Prince Edward County

Prince Edward County

Location: Prince Edward County, Ontario

Length of Trip: Three days, two nights (June 2014)

Purpose of Trip: To get out of the city and see some sights

Method of Transportation:  Henry the Honda

Food:

The Acoustic Grill:  Eat the nachos and enjoy the music.

East and Main: We just happened to ride by East and Main and decided to stop for lunch and it turned out to be our favourite restaurant of the trip.  I had a delicious apple-cheddar grilled cheese and the house salad it came with was fantastic.  There was also complimentary bread with soft, salty butter… a sure way to leave a good impression with me.  The decor was cute and the service was great.  We’d likely go back again for a nice dinner.  For my vegetarian compatriots, it was reasonably veg-friendly (as in, I had more than one menu item to pick from).

Agrarian: I had the pasta, Mr. Autopilotstar had the fish and chips.  Nice atmosphere and service and the food was pretty decent, but nothing to get too excited about.

Slickers: We waited in the rain for this ice cream and it was pretty good.  Not as good as some of the reviews would imply though (best ice cream in Ontario? I don’t know about that).

Accommodations: We stayed at our very first Airbnb for this trip and we were really happy with our experience.  The apartment was cozy, comfortable, and clean.  It was an easy walk to downtown Picton and pretty central for driving to other parts of Prince Edward County. I think it might have even convinced Mr. Autopilotstar to try Airbnb for some of our future adventures.

Highlights: 

Sandbanks Provincial Park: Sandbanks was only a 20 minute drive from where we were staying (in Picton), but there was about a 20-30 minute wait to get in at the entrance to the park, so I’d recommend factoring that into your plans. There are three beach options for day-use: Outlet Beach, Dunes Beach, and Sandbanks Beach.  We went to Outlet Beach first and there were about eight million people there.  Seriously though, there were so many people that there was a dull roar of people talking/screaming/having fun emanating from the beach.  We stayed there for a while, and then decided to grab our bikes off the back of the car and explore the other two beaches.  The Dunes Beach area was really neat.  Very…dune-y and full of soft, soft sand.  The water also seemed to be warmer than Outlet Beach, as it’s in somewhat of a protected cove.  Sandbanks Beach was nice too and the water was quite clear, although colder than at Dunes Beach. Overall, skip Outlet Beach and head directly to Dunes Beach and/or Sandbanks Beach.

Visit a winery: We didn’t actually visit any wineries *gasp*, but I’m sure if we did, it would have been one of the highlights.

Cycling: Prince Edward County is known for its cycle routes, so we strapped the bikes to the back of the car (okay, okay, we put them on the bike rack) for this trip. We didn’t do any full-day routes, just two short trips (plus biking around Sandbanks).  We bought the cycle map, which I’d recommend, but in case anyone wants to know, here are the details of our two rides:

Ride #1: The first loop we did was from Bloomfield to Wellington and back.  It was about 40 km and had a great mix of scenery.  It also included a stop at East and Main for lunch (see above).  We drove to Bloomfield, parked along Bloomfield Main Street and then:

  • Follow Main Street (Route 62) until Gilead Road
  • Turn left onto Gilead Road
  • Turn right onto Route 2
  • Turn left onto Swamp College Road
  • Turn left onto Danforth Road
  • Turn right onto Greer Road
  • Turn left onto Loyalist Parkway and then continue to follow the Parkway all the way back to Bloomfield

Ride #2: The second loop we did was of Big Island and it was about 20 km.  We parked in Demorestville (at a church) and then:

  • Start at the intersection of Route 15 and Potter Road
  • Follow Route 15, and then turn left onto Route 21, which takes you onto the island (you’re going to be doing basically a loop around the island, which you can likely figure out on your own but…)
  • Turn right onto South Big Island Road
  • Turn left onto Sprague Road
  • Turn left onto North Big Island Road
  • Turn left onto Caughey Road
  • Turn left onto South Big Island Road
  • Turn right onto Alliston Road
  • Turn left onto South Big Island Road
  • Turn right onto Route 21
  • Turn right onto Route 15 and head back to where you parked

Little Bluff Conservation Area:  A bit off the tourist-track, Little Bluff Conservation Area features a limestone bluff, nice views of Prince Edward Bay, and a swimming area with a rocky beach (and icy water).

 

 

Tiny Travelogue: Portland

Portland Collage

Location: Portland, Oregon

Length of Trip: Five days (April 2014)

Purpose of Trip:  A bit of work, a bit of play

Method of Transportation:  Airplane

Food: Although Portland has a lot of great food, we didn’t really do a good job of finding excellent places to eat.  The only note-worthy place we went to was Hungry Tiger, a bar/restaurant that had great vegan/vegetarian food… but also serves meat.  Perfect for me and my non-vegetarian partner. The place is a bit dingy in a quirky kind of way, but don’t be turned off – the food is really good!  I’d also suggest checking out some food carts.  I’d recommend the El Pilon food cart if you’re looking for Colombian-style arepas and empanadas (which of course I was).

We also made our way to the famous Voodoo Doughnuts.  It’s open 24/7 and there is a line-up 24/7.  I’m only slightly exaggerating about  the line-up.  Go on a weekday for a shorter wait.

Accommodations: We stayed at the Embassy Suites the first half of the trip, and then switched to the Crowne Plaza for the last two nights.  The Embassy Suites was in the main ‘downtown’ area of Portland and was the location of the conference I was attending.  You could walk to lots of great restaurants (and food carts), stores, and the waterfront park.  If you can get this hotel for a reasonable rate (it was $149 a night with the special conference rate), I’d recommend it.  The Crowne Plaza we stayed at was in the North-East section of the city.  There wasn’t much to see or do around the hotel and any decent restaurants were a long walk away, but it was less expensive and a quick walk to get to public transportation.  Overall I’d recommend staying in the downtown, but if you can find a significantly cheaper hotel that’s near public transportation, do it.  A day pass for public transportation (MAX rail, bus, or streetcar) is only $5.

Highlights: 

Powell’s City of Books:  An independent bookstore that fills a whole city block.  Fun store and I love that they interfile their new and used books.

Bicycles:  We rented bikes from Cycle Portland and biked a loop around the Willamette River.  Beautiful ride, but not as straightforward as you might think.  We ended up on the road a few times when we couldn’t find the bike path.

Washington Park: A nice park not far from downtown – we took the MAX rail and it was easy to get to.  We also checked out the Japanese Gardens while we were there, but with a $9.50 admission, I’d say it’s not really worth it.

Aerial Tram: A great way to get a nice view of the entire city and it’s only $4 round trip.  It’s not really meant to be a ‘ride’ (it’s actually transportation for people to get up and down the hill), but if you’re from out of town it’s a simple and inexpensive thing to do.  And you can get to it from a streetcar, which only costs $1.  For $5, it’s a pretty great way to see some of the city.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

WeNeedtoTalkAboutKevin

One sentence summary: The first sentence of the back of the book sums it up really well: “Eva never really wanted to be a mother – and certainly not the mother of a boy who ends up murdering seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday.”

The good:  I simultaneously identified with, and disliked, the protagonist.  I alternated from feeling incredible sympathy for various characters, to feeling distaste for each of them.  It’s not often a book elicits such mixed feelings about the characters, which I think speaks to the author’s ability to create realistic, deep, multifaceted characters.

The bad: If you’re currently expecting a child and feeling a bit ambivalent about your impending parenthood, I’d recommend skipping this one until your child is older and you are certain your ambivalence hasn’t turned him or her into a monster. (I’m only half kidding here – this book could cause some sleepless nights for parents-to-be).  If you’re on the fence about wanting children, this may push you right over the fence to the “no children” side.  Which is perhaps where you should be if you’re that unsure.

Should you read it? Absolutely, you really should.  You might think you don’t want to read about a school shooting, but ultimately, it’s not really about that.

Related Reading: The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

The Eubiotic Diet – Sample Meal Plan

Sample Meal Plan

As a follow up to my post about a eubiotic diet, I thought it might be helpful to share a couple of sample meal plans.  If you don’t want to be hungry, you might need to eat several of these foods at each meal to be full.  Enjoy! (if that’s possible)

Breakfasts

  • Quinoa Porridge: quinoa, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chopped apples, cinnamon, nutmeg
  • Smoothie: berries, plain yogurt, avocado, cinnamon, vanilla
  • Yogurt Parfait: yogurt, berries, nuts, seeds, cinnamon

Lunches or Dinners

  • Scrambled eggs: 3 eggs, tomatoes*, green peppers*, spices, goat cheese
  • Salmon: baked with spices
  • Salad: spinach, greens, pecans, goat cheese, olive oil and spices
  • Noodles: brown rice noodles, tahini, Bragg’s soy sauce substitute, olive oil, red peppers
  • Brown rice and veggies: add in some spices and tofu (if soy is allowed)
  • Tomato soup: roasted tomatoes*, wheat/gluten/sugar free veggie broth, roasted onions, roasted garlic (all ingredients pureed)

Snacks

  • Blueberries
  • Mint tea
  • Almonds or other nuts (no peanuts!)
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Apple (with almond butter for extra deliciousness)

*a strict eubiotic diet might not include these veggies

Moss Stitch Loop Scarf

moss stitch loop scarf

Simple, cozy, stylin’ scarf.  Perfect way to use up that one skein of yarn you have.

Instructions

Needle size: 8 mm
Yarn: Lima by Diamond Luxury Collection 100% Peruvian Wool, Aran weight
Cast on 29 stitches

  • Row 1: Purl 1, Knit 1 across entire row
  • Row 2: Knit 1, Purl 1 across entire row
  • Row 3: Knit 1, Purl 1 across entire row
  • Row 4: Purl 1, Knit 1 across entire row

Repeat rows 1-4 approximately 44 times, for a total of 176 rows.

Cast off, and then join the two edges together (weave/sew them together with the tail of yarn you were knitting with) to form a loop.  And voila – a scarf!

The Eubiotic Diet

basil

In November I went to see a naturopathic doctor.  I’ve been experiencing digestive issues for years, and after being unable to figure out what the heck is causing the problem (through seeing my regular family doctor or through self-directed food experiments), I decided it was time to try a more holistic approach.

The naturopathic doctor put me on a eubiotic diet, as she suspects I may be suffering from dysbiosis, which is an over growth of normal flora and/or a growth of flora that is not normally found in the body.  So the basic point of the eubiotic diet is to clear out the microbial overgrowth. When I read the symptoms of dysbiosis,  it does sound plausible, but, most of the symptoms are pretty generic and I’m sure a lot of people would say they have them.  At this point though, I’m willing to experiment.

I actually couldn’t find a lot of information online about a eubiotic diet (what? something a million people haven’t blogged about? It cannot be true!), so I thought I’d write a little bit about it in case other people are searching for information.

The diet is pretty restrictive (and a bit hard to understand), but the main “no”s are:

  • sugar (which is in almost everything, including most store bought sauces etc.)
  • grains (with the exception of brown rice and quinoa)
  • fruit (except berries and apples, although on a strict eubiotic diet, these are out too)
  • mushrooms or corn
  • beans, lentils, chickpeas
  • yeasts
  • peanuts/peanut butter (what!? apparently peanuts have some sort of mold-toxin coating)
  • fermented foods such as pickled foods, vinegar (which is in a lot of condiments), wines, and alcohol
  • caffeine

The list of “yes”s:

  • vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, spinach, and zucchini
  • most spices, as well as garlic and onions
  • avocado
  • olive oil
  • goat cheese (yes!)
  • brown rice and quinoa
  • fish
  • eggs
  • various other meats (not helpful for me, as I don’t partake in the meat-eating)
  • apples and berries (see above, not normally allowed)
  • tofu (again, a strict eubiotic diet does not allow soy)
  • plain yogurt (dairy is a general no-no, but I could have yogurt)
  • almonds and almond butter (yes!)
  • most nuts and seeds

The above lists are not comprehensive, but they generally reflect my understanding, and what I did and didn’t eat.  I was on the diet for 20 days.  It was definitely really hard the first 4-5 days.  I did get somewhat used to it after that, but around day 10 I got really bored of eating the same foods over and over.  On day 13 I ‘cheated’ and had a regular meal as it was my work’s Christmas lunch celebration, but other than that, I stuck to the diet strictly.

Speaking of cheating, I should also mention that ‘cheating’ on the diet is really, really counter-productive (I know, I know, I just told you I did it).  The reason is that as the diet progresses, the ‘bad’ gut flora begins to die off, but more resistant ones take longer to die.  So if you cheat (especially with sugar), it gives the more resistant bacteria food to survive, making it more difficult to get rid of.

It’s only been a few weeks since the diet was over, so I’m still evaluating my symptoms and trying to determine if I feel any better.  I’ll be sure to update if any miracles occur.