Tuesday, November 19, 2013

From The Secret Cabin Dept. of Culinary Delights

One of my favs, Basil Walnut Penne
Photo credit: Outdoor Herbivore

Here we go. As promised. But first, a disclaimer: Diet is a VERY personal choice. I am just reporting my findings based on our taste buds and all that. I would NEVER presume to know what's best for someone else and tell he/she how to eat. I'm not a doctor. I don't play one on TV. Enter at your own risk. I think that's enough legalese for one blog. Now, here we go.

Oh, one more thing. I eat some weird things. Not slugs or anything like that. But, we don't smoke and we don't take in any fake sugars or corn syrup or hydrogenated fats. I haven't owned a salt shaker my entire adult life. I no longer eat meat. Ya know, it would probably be quickest to tell you our bad habits. My name is Bheki and I'm a pizza addict. And I slam back a Sierra Mist to wash that pizza down. I also do some chocolate. Even the cheap stuff when I really need a fix. Mike eats some a tiny bit of fish (yeah, that does get interesting with the feLIONs), pepperoni on his pizza and he has a terrible ice-cream addiction.  Bryers ice cream in vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry don't have weird, chemically, non-food ingredients so he usually sticks with that. While we are working on getting clean, we're also human and will probably still go on an occasional pizza, chocolate, and/or ice-cream bender. The point is that it has been my experience that my taste buds have changed as I've gotten cleaner. For example, I now think Kale tastes really good. I know. Weird. So, if you're all beer and burgers between drags on a cigarette (not judging; kind of jealous because I'd wake up in a ditch with a food hangover if I had a wild time like that), you may shock and bore your taste buds and your body giving what we eat a try. Just saying because I don't want any angry emails about "bunny food" calling me vicious names like "granola girl" and the like. I do invite you to be bold and wild and try a juice or smoothie with some spinach (mild for just getting started with greens) and/or ginger (spicy, hot kick in the taste buds).

On to the pantry stocking.

I just scored my favorite almond butter on sale at Live Super Foods. I'm pretty excited about this so I'm putting it out here first. I'm feeling a bit buzzard-like, circling overhead waiting to pounce on any food deal that makes its way along the invisible string to my computer. Live Super Foods is all the way across the map in Oregon so I order in bulk because I think that's most resource efficient and to take advantage of free shipping for orders over $99. They've got all kinds of raw, organic, and vegan/vegetarian products. I did indulge in a jar of Jem Chocolate Hazelnut Spread. I do NOT let The Husband have any of MY Jem stuff. He just oinks things like that down and doesn't really appreciate the sinfulness of the taste and I end up with a little bit of aroma from the empty jar. I know. I don't know why I put up with him either.

I used to buy a product called Vega from Live Super Foods. You've heard me fondly refer to it as Ogre Grogg. Vega has improved their taste and mix-ability and it is a protein/vitamin/mineral supplement product that works well for me. I check Vegan Essentials in Wisconsin before I order Vega. Even with Vegan Essentials charging for shipping, the Vega is still about $8 cheaper per large "tub" than Live Super Foods. I tend to have at least four large tubs stashed in the cabin at any time. It is usually my breakfast so I should really have a few more tubs stashed.

Our newest adventure in culinary delights is Outdoor Herbivore. This was our first order with this company. It wasn't a huge order with it being "on trial" but I thought their website was easy peasy to deal with and shipping was prompt. Happy with that. We got the Hungry Single size pouch which feeds 1 to 2 people. With the calories and carbs, half a pouch, one serving, is enough for me. Mike is working hard enough around the cabin that he can chow on a whole pouch himself and not get fat.  Cooking and clean up are easy peasy even in our tiny kitchen. We did experiment and found my hot plate does a better job boiling water faster than the microwave and overall consumed less energy. This food was made for camping and there are tons of cooking tips on their blog. The food itself. We tried the Blackend Quinoa, Chickpea Sesame Penne, and Quinoa "Cheddar" Mac. While good, we thought all these dishes tasted the same so the jury was still out for us on this company. Then we moved on to the Basil Walnut Penne and Switchback Soup & Stuffer. We made the Switchback Soup as a soup rather than a stuffer. It was very good. Mike was making all kinds of approving, piggy noises and basically, I was only able to get enough spoonfuls to know that it tasted really good. In all fairness, I joined in with my own approving, piggy noises with the Basil Walnut Penne. Mike liked that too. Again, these dishes had very different tastes than the previous dishes we tasted. I have problems with getting bored. When I get bored, I turn to my beloved pizza and that's just one of those unhealthy, destructive relationships I need to leave with the exception of the occasional pizza "tastebud booty call."  I will simply watch my menu planning to avoid the same taste, different day thing. No biggie. Moving on to the Lemongrass Thai Curry. I liked this. Mike does NOT, repeat, NOT, like coconut. He could taste the coconut in this. I could too but the point is, if you do NOT like coconut, this is NOT the dish for you. Purely speaking strategy, I like to keep a few dishes in the cabin that I don't have to worry about disappearing so there is always something for me. This will be one of those dishes. For my sweet tooth, we tried Outdoor Herbivore's Ginger Chia Gooey and ChocoCocoChia. I'm not very familiar with some of the healthier ingredients and their preparation techniques so I have been intimidated by the mere thought of trying to make any of those vegan, good for you "desserts." It doesn't get any easier than these and just adding cold water. Again, there is coconut for those of you with an aversion to coconut. I liked both of these enough to be entertaining the idea of keeping a stash around for whenever my sweet tooth needs a fix. We still have a few more dishes to try but I do see us ordering again and in larger quantities to stash in our pantry. I rate this food as tasty and enjoyable and "clean." "Clean" meaning I do not get any kind of food hangover after eating it. That's a big deal to me as I continue to tweak my diet. This kind of wraps us back around to my recent descent into the Underworld of Pain and Misery. I don't want to go on and on about my health like an old person. It's just unpleasant energy that I don't want to put out there and it's boring but this is the kind of food that I find works for nourishing and healing rather than making me feel like sh*t. In fact, Outdoor Herbivore has an excellent post on their blog regarding pain and inflammation and food. Part of what's going on now pain-wise is because I fell off the wagon when Mike retired and came home full time again. That man can eat anything and not get sick or fat. I totally want to call him a b*tch right now. Point is I'm trying to get clean again and this food fits the specifications for that for me so I'm really liking our experience with it. All that personal info there is for you to have a perspective on where I'm coming from and be able to decide for yourself what you need and like.

We will be talking more about food and pantries in the coming days. I have some more resources and links for you. There's a lot to consider when building a stash of food and it's going to be different for each person/family but there's some basics we need to get into.

A quick note from The Secret Cabin Division of Hot Water: Sunshine today! We are also supposed to have Sunshine again tomorrow. Two days in a row of Sunshine and we've got enough hot water to splash around a bit more. I know it's weird but washing dishes in hot water feels like an indulgence. It's a little embarrassing but I actually kind of moan an "ahhh" when my hands hit the hot, soapy water. I've never appreciated hot water at the kitchen sink more than I do now. I need a sticker or t-shirt or something that says, "It's an off-grid thing."

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