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Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Relaxing Day of Work

 I love to cook.   The only problem is, living alone I tend to over do it when I do.   Although I should cook everyday, I don't because cooking for me is an event and I don't know how to cook for one or I have a tendency to get bored eating  the same thing all week.

For the New Year,  I have a goal of cooking more.  The actual decree read something like "Eat out less and when I do make it a quality place.  After all, I can make rice and beans - do I need to go to Chipotle?"  You could insert your favorite, go to, quick meal that you know darn well you could make at home (Pasta, potatoes, etc).

I've also realized that in order to control what goes in, it's best to make it myself.   A dear person said it best when she said  "Cooking at home is kinder on your waist and your wallet".

This week I have been blessed because my friends have just had a baby, so I'm able to cook and do a nice thing by bringing them dinner.

Yesterday I was snooping around for some plant based whole food ideas and came across some from the country of my birth, Jamaica.   Everyone knows Jamaica's favorite son  Bob Marley, a prominent Reggae musician, who was a Rastafarian.   In addition to what they are popularly known for, Rastafarians mostly adopt a lifestyle that is called "Ital".   The saying is "Ital is Vital"   In order to maintain their vitality, Rastafarians adopt a plant based diet, with little salt.   What salt is used is usually natural sea salt. There are a few other guidelines, but that was what I was looking for - plant based and low sodium.

On today's menu (note these are not all eaten together, but provide a variety of options for meals):

1.  Ital Inspired Vegetable Soup (pictured)
2.  Curried Cabbage and Green Banana
3.  Rice and Peas
4.  Tabbouleh
5.  Assorted Fruits (pictured)
6.  There were also some vegetarian meatballs, but those were premade so I'm not counting those.

The soup started with 8 cups of water and 1 cup of yellow split peas.   That's the extent of the recipe....LOL!    Once that is cooked I just started layering:

Herbs and aromatics;   Garlic, thyme, onions, scallions, bell peppers, parsley, celery, basil, ginger, hot peppers and pumpkin (my pumpkin was already cooked from a previous meal).  This was all added once the split peas were cooked.   Oh my goodness....the house smelled so good at this point.

Now it's time to add the "ground provisions", root vegetables.  I had more scallions, this time it goes in whole, yam, cho cho (mirliton or christophine, depending on where your from), Irish potato (really Yukon gold, but this is a Jamaican soup - so Irish it is); Sweet Potato (batata), carrots and parsnips were hiding in the bottom of the bowl.   The greens didn't make it into the soup.   With all the chopped parsley, basil and thyme I thought it was enough.

Let that simmer until the provisions are tender.   I was searching for something to add in the absence of salt that would help balance out the flavor.   I added a squeeze of lemon juice and it seemed to do the trick. 

I wrapped up the day by making some fruit jars.   This is an easy way to have cut fruit on hand (or for delivery with dinner) for breakfast, smoothies, whatever.   Everything is prepared so when you need it, voila!

Do you do any prep work that helps you meet your goals?

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