On the Menu, Feb 4th thru…

I’ve really needed to start this again for awhile, but things just seem to get in the way. Let’s see if it sticks this time!



Tuesday: Thai Coconut Curry tempeh and vegetables over brown basmati rice.  This is one of my favorite crock-pot meals. A bit of heat, a lot of flavors, and super easy.

Wednesday: Orange teriyaki salmon, with butternut-squash oil roasted Brussel sprouts and garlic potatoes. I like to think of this as a fusion meal. The butternut squash seed oil is from a little store in St. Joe, MI. It’s made with Michigan-grown squash, and it’s absolutely delicious. I’ll be roasting the sprouts with olive oil and balsamic vinegar first, then tossing them with a bit of the squash oil as finish.

Thursday: Shrimp Diavolo over New’dles. S This is a spicy dish, and I’m making it a good bit healthier by serving it over ribbons of yellow squash, zucchini, and parsnips. 

Friday: Black bean salsa chicken lettuce wraps. This is another slow cooker recipe. Generally, you make the filling and then eat it in tortillas, but I’m doing it in Boston lettuce instead.

Saturday: leftovers.

Sunday: East Indian Chickpea Stew. Yep, I cook this a lot. I can’t help it, it’s frickin’ delicious.

Monday:  Mediterranean salmon and zucchini cakes, with whipped cauliflower and orange maple tahini kale salad. A light meal, but incredibly satisfying and filling. I love the array of veggies in this meal, and the depth of the various flavors.

Tuesday: Doro Wat Stew. I love Ethiopian food ,and this is a great way to make a little at home without having to go all-out.

Lunches: leftovers (of course), Zero-noodles with pesto, various Vietnamese-style rice wraps full of veggies and fruits, cheese, boiled eggs.

The other thing I’m finally getting back to is putting things in the freezer to eat later, when I don’t have time to cook. Currently waiting for me are: venison 3-bean chili, Italian white bean & kale soup, venison steak & mushrooms over spaghetti squash, and chicken makhani. Freezing meals really helps me save money by cutting  down on food waste, as well as quelling the temptation to eat out on days when cooking isn’t going to happen.

It feels great to be cooking this way again!

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On the Menu

The first phase of the move is over. Friday, I’ll finish up putting things in storage. In the meantime, I am trying to get back to cooking rather than just picking at food. So, I made a meal plan for this week and bought some groceries!

Monday: Asian salmon over greens. 

Tuesday: East Indian Chickpea Stew (this will double as a lunch for the next day, as well).

Wednesday: Shrimp over spaghetti squash, with a light tomato sauce.

Thursday:  Thai Yellow Curry with tofu.

I’ll be gone Friday and Saturday, so this is as far as I went. It’s a start to getting back on the right food track!

Changing the Definition of Milk to “Help” Consumers

So, this came across my screen today:

Flavored Milk; Petition to Amend the Standard of Identity for Milk and 17 Additional Dairy Products

A Proposed Rule by the Food and Drug Administration on 02/20/2013


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing that the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) have filed a petition requesting that the Agency amend the standard of identity for milk and 17 other dairy products to provide for the use of any safe and suitable sweetener as an optional ingredient. FDA is issuing this notice to request comments, data, and information about the issues presented in the petition.”

You can, and should, read the whole thing here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/02/20/2013-03835/flavored-milk-petition-to-amend-the-standard-of-identity-for-milk-and-17-additional-dairy-products

The dairy industry just wants to help you! You, as a consumer, are just too stupid to know  that there’s sugar in milk (and this is what the petition says, not me), and so they just want to make it easier for you to make completely uninformed choices.  Because, educating consumers…well, that’s just silly.

There are so many things wrong with the propose amendment that I am only going to have time to cover a few:

1. Children don’t like the label “Reduced Calorie.”  It is not the FDA’s job to market to children, so it isn’t their job to come up with a definition of food that makes kids want to eat more of it. It’s their job to monitor food safety and quality. If children have a problem with “reduced calorie,” education of both children and parents, not re-labeling for better marketing, is a far more ethical way to deal with that issue.  And, it’s been proven to work.

2. “Safe” sweeteners. No one thing is “safe” for everyone. People have allergies, medication interactions, and other issues that can make what is “safe” for one person a life-threatening issue for another.  Having unlisted ingredients on any product is a safety hazard; but, especially in a product like milk, where the only ingredient ought to be “Milk,” it’s a large and irresponsible safety risk. Those with allergies, or their parents, would have no reason to suspect added hidden or new ingredients in what is supposed to be a whole food (would you look for aspartame in an apple? a green pepper?), and because these ingredients  can be listed as many different things (or, not listed at all, depending what they are and how much of them is present), they would have a difficult time finding out that they were present.

This would, of course, disproportionately impact the poor, especially children who receive free or reduced lunches and breakfasts through school, which almost always include milk. These parents and children often do not have the resources to research hidden ingredients, or access to news that they are now being added to a food that is generally considered a “whole” food.

3. Promoting good eating habits and reducing childhood obesity.  Yes, I can definitely see how including more processed additives to a whole food is going to promote good eating. Wait..what? No, no I can’t.  Added processed ingredients and sweeteners are part of what has gotten us in this mess in the first place.  That children are more likely to drink sweeter milk is no shock. The shock is that we keep giving it to them. Kids are also more likely to not do their homework, not take their bath, not do their chores, and not clean their room if left to their own devices. That is why we have parents and other adults who supervise them.

Also, the whole “kids won’t drink it” line regarding white milk is just wrong. When flavored milk is taken out of schools, milk consumption initially drops, but rebounds quickly.  And, of course, this isn’t just about flavored milk. This is about 17 different dairy products, including yogurt and white milk, having added sugars and artificial sweeteners (you can use the term “non-nutritive” all you want).

4. Consumers don’t know there’s sugar in milk*. This is a straw-man argument. Whether it is true or not has absolutely nothing to do with adding hidden sweeteners to milk and changing the definition of milk to accommodate that. If consumers don’t know there’s lactose in milk, or that lactose is a sugar, then the problem is (again) education. Lack of education isn’t solved by taking choices away from consumers, it’s solved by…well, education.

5.  The proposed amendments to the milk standard of identity would promote honesty and fair dealing in the marketplace and are therefore appropriate under section 401 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.  I have no idea how changing an established definition of a whole food to include ingredients that are not naturally found in that food, with the express purpose that the consumer have no indication those ingredients are present, can be seen as “honest and fair dealing.”  Lack of disclosure, bait-and-switch definitions, and pretending it’s all for the “good of the consumer” is pretty much the antithesis of “honest and fair dealing.”

6. Accordingly, the petitioners state that milk flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners should be labeled as milk without further claims so that consumers can “more easily identify its overall nutritional value.”  To be read: consumers are so stupid that they just can’t handle more words on a package, and so it’s just better not to clutter their pretty little heads with all that crazy nutrition talk. The dairy lobby and the FDA should just take that horrible burden off their shoulders by lying and hiding the truth, because blissful ignorance is much better for everyone.

It is not the FDA’s job to treat consumers like 2-year-old children who can’t be trusted to make reasonable decisions without being baby-talked into it. I don’t need to be goo-goo and ga-ga’d at, thanks.

So, why is the dairy industry even doing this?  Are they just concerned for all of us uneducated consumers making poor eating choices for ourselves and our families? No. There are several reasons the industry is lobbying for this amendment: decreasing costs by lowering quality and camouflaging it with cheap additives, and increasing consumption by providing unnaturally sweet dairy products to the public. But, of course, they want to do it under the flag of public health and concern. Don’t let them.

If you are as outraged at this idea as I am, please take a moment and leave a comment on the FDA’s page. Consumers do not have the same money and political leverage as the dairy lobby. All we have are our voices, and they need to be loud and numerous if we want to keep special interests out of our food.

*Citation needed. 

On the Menu, Feb 10-13

An abbreviated menu plan this week, due to some Life Stuff that means we won’t be cooking at home.

Sunday: Tortilla soup with heirloom corn meal muffins. We made a roasted chicken on Friday, and the carcass has been in the slow cooker overnight for stock to use in making the soup (we’ll also use the remaining meat from the bird). It’s a great way to stretch the meat budget. I picked up some local, non-GMO, heirloom corn meal the other day, and will be using it to make honey cornbread! I’ll be using this recipe, with some modifications: raw milk instead of soy milk, sucanat instead of sugar, and no dried coconut.

Monday: Venison Mushroom Stroganoff over spaghetti squash. My nephew brought us a bunch of venison from his successful hunting this year, and I have local, dried shitake mushrooms from earlier in the year, too. I’ll combine these with a few meaty portobello caps, for a really hearty dish. Instead of noodles, I serve it over spaghetti squash. Not only is it tasty, but it’s far healthier than pasta.

Tuesday: Japanese Vegetarian Curry. This is a new recipe, so I’ll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday: Salmon patties with sauteed zucchini & squash, with roasted Brussel Sprouts and salad. We love salmon patties, and I wanted to try out this new recipe (sans the cilantro, since Thadd has a sensitivity to it). I always try recipes on us before adding them to my database for clients.  Salmon patties are a great way to include wild-caught salmon, which has he right balance of great Omega Fatty Acids, into a diet on a budget. It’s also loaded with calcium, as most salmon is canned with the bones, which I leave in when making patties (no, you won’t notice the bones, because they break down in cooking).

What are you eating this week?

What I Eat: Jan 21st

I’ve had a few requests to bring this feature back, so, here we go!

Breakfast: rolled oats with banana and almond milk.

Snacks: apples, sharp cheddar, home-popped popcorn.

Lunch: carrots, tomatoes, hummus.

Dinner: eggplant rotel.

Recipe Index, Sugar Addiction, and “On the Menu”

I’ve had a lot of requests for something I should have been doing all along: an easy-to-access index of the recipes I post here You can find the permanent link at the top of the blog, labeled “Recipes.” Doing it as I went would have been much, much easier than what I ended up doing, which was searching my blog for all the recipes I’ve ever posted. I think I got most of them, but there are probably a few strays that I missed. Hopefully, I’ll find them and get them on there, too.

This week, I am testing out some new client-friendly recipes and I’m still on the “no sugar” thing. It’s much easier this week than it was last, and I can definitely feel a difference in my energy. Also, I’ve lost almost all  the weight that the crazy holiday sweets put on! One of my friends, who’s doing the fast with me, said she lost 8 lbs last week, which has been a great motivator for me to continue on faithfully (and not cover my croissant with Nutella yesterday morning!).

For those of you reading this thinking “What “no-sugar thing?” or “But, I thought you ate so healthy all the time,” let me explain. I don’t tend to eat a lot of sugar (a very occasional cookie or something, usually for a special event of some sort), for many reasons. One of those reasons is I get horribly addicted to it very, very quickly and another is there’s a rich history of diabetes (especially late adult-onset diabetes) in my family that has nothing to do with weight. During the holidays,  though, this is incredibly difficult to maintain because 1) I have friends who are amazing bakers, 2) when I get invited to parties by people who know I am a chef, they completely freak out that their food isn’t good if I don’t eat at least some of pretty much everything, and 3) Thadd bakes all kinds of lovely stuff and a girl only has so much willpower.

So, a few years ago, I quite deluding myself that I wasn’t going to eat the sweets over the holidays. I don’t gorge on sweets, but I do eat them. They put weight on my middle pretty much immediately (by-by hip flexors!), which is a great motivator to help me keep it relatively in-check; but, by the New Year, I am addicted to sugar. Knowing this is going to happen, I just prepare for it, and go into a 2-week phase where I work my tail off at the gym (even more so than usual) to help me curve cravings, and I don’t eat any processed sugars at all.

The first few days are awful, but it works. I am not craving sweets anymore, but I’ll be very careful for at least another week that no processed sugar sneaks into the diet via pasta sauce, etc. We generally make most of our food from scratch, but even canned goods, like beans, can have added sugar, so vigilance it is!

And, that brings us to our weekly menu:


Monday: Eggplant Rotel. Cottage & ricotta cheese, with spinach, mushroom, and herbs, wrapped in broiled eggplant slices (grilling the slices is even better, but it’s cold, and I don’t have time to start the grill), topped with homemade marinara.

Tuesday: Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf, with Brussel Sprouts. It’s Thadd’s night to cook, and he wanted to try making a recipe he’d never done before. Lean ground chicken with lots of spices, farm fresh eggs, and fresh bread crumbs, topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. I have no idea how he’s going to cook the sprouts, but I’d guess roasted.

Wednesday:  Turkey White Bean Chili. I have a go-to version of this that I use for clients, but I want to test out a new version that includes seared chilis and crispy brown onions.

Thursday: Barbacoa Pulled Beef over Spicy Baked Sweet Potatoes, with veggie. This slow-cooked beef has a bit of a kick, and I’ll serve it over sweet potatoes that have been baked once, split open and sliced (on the skin) into wedges, topped with my own seasoning mix, and broiled to make crunchy. The vegetable will be decided later in the week.

Friday: Leftovers, as always.

Saturday& Sunday: Unusually, we’re deciding on these later in the week because he has travel plans for his Vet school stuff.


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