Do you consider yourself a creative cook or someone who cooks “by the book;” that is, follows recipes to the letter? I think I’m probably more of the latter, although I do like to change things now and again to suit our tastes. I am always searching out new recipes, and love coming across ones that fit the way we like to eat, with lots of flavor, low or healthy fats, and not too difficult to prepare. I don’t mind spending time in the kitchen, but I don’t want to be in there for hours. I will try a new recipe once, and if we like the result we’ll stick with it. If not, it’s either set aside or I get creative and figure out a way to make a recipe fit our preferences.
A big issue for me these days is whether a recipe requires special, and often expensive, ingredients. This past week I came across a yummy recipe from Padma Lakshmi for a carrot, chili, and cilantro salad that I knew we would love, but the dressing contains two ingredients that would have to be special ordered: orange oil and za’atar, a middle-eastern spice. According to Padma, the orange oil could be eliminated (as there’s only 1/4 teaspoon in the recipe), but it “really made the dish” and a small bottle of the oil “would last us for five years.” The za’atar, however, was non-negotiable. This is my dilemma: should I buy the semi-expensive ingredients and hope we like the salad enough to use them more than once, or do I let the recipe go. In the past I wouldn’t have hesitated to buy the oil and the za’atar, but when we left Kaua’i in 2108 I remember being troubled by all the spices and ingredients in our cupboards that I had bought and used only once or twice. I’m really torn though as this salad sounds amazing.
Our dinners this past week don’t look all that imaginative to me, but they did use what we had on hand and what we bought on our shopping trip this past week, and all of them fit our brief for a healthy meal. Coming up with the ideas for the coming week was difficult though as we’re not shopping until Friday. I had a lot of ideas for meals, but then realized nothing I needed was on hand. Anyway, below is what we ate for dinner last week:
Sunday: Ham; roasted butternut squash; green beans
Monday: Grilled teriyaki chicken; zoru soba; coleslaw with wasabi dressing
Tuesday: Pepperjack cheeseburgers; three bean salad
Wednesday: Meatloaf; mashed potatoes; green beans
Thursday: Stir-fried vegetables with coconut curry sauce; grilled chicken; steamed rice
Friday: Thai chicken mini pizzas
Saturday: Meatloaf & mashed potatoes redux; roasted zucchini
Here’s what’s planned for dinner next week:
- Grilled ham & cheese sandwiches with roasted red pepper & tomato soup (bumped from last week)
- Chicken & apple sausages with green beans
- Pork & rice burritos
- Noodles with Thai peanut sauce
- Chicken tikka masala
- Mini pizzas
- Breakfast for dinner (sausage & eggs)
Last week we had two chances for taking our walks in other locations besides the park. Monday’s weather was glorious, so we packed a picnic and drove over to Barking Sands (PMRF) base to not only spend some time at the beach, but also walk the Waiokapua Trail. The trail is one mile each way out and back, and we planned to walk it twice (four miles total) before eating our lunch and then heading onto the beach.
The views were lovely out on the trail, but Brett and I were not as well prepared as we should have been for the intensity of the sun once we got out there (there’s very little shade on the trail). I became overheated on the way back, and even though I was drinking water the whole time I started to get dehydrated, and was dizzy and weak by the time we returned to the starting point. Both Brett and I were also sunburned although we had applied sunscreen before starting out, so we made a command decision to skip the second round, and instead sat in one of the shaded huts to eat our lunch and recover, and then headed down to the beach to sit under our umbrella and enjoy the cooler breezes there. We still got in a good two mile hike, and relearned some lessons about walking in direct sunshine on a hot day, and how much water that requires.
I had a hair appointment up in Kapaa on Wednesday afternoon, so following Brett’s birthday breakfast at the Tip Top Cafe in Lihue we drove up to Kapaa to get in a couple of miles on the beach path before heading to the salon. The weather as we headed out was lovely, with blue skies and a cool breeze. However, by the time we reached our turnaround point, clouds had rolled in bringing some oppressive humidity along with them (rain had been forecast). We were able to climb down to the water at the turnaround to check out the driftwood and look at some weird lava formations, one which looked like a giant animal’s footprint. The walk back to our car was miserable, hot and humid, and I arrived at my appointment a dripping, sweaty mess. Yuck.
Other than Tuesday, we spent the rest of the week walking up at the park, averaging over four miles each day. It rained all day Tuesday but we got in over two miles pushing carts through Costco and Walmart.
I may have shown up at the salon looking like a hot mess last Wednesday, but my stylist made my day when she told me, “I honestly did not recognize you when you walked in because you look so different now, even from when you were here seven weeks ago.” According to the scale I haven’t lost any weight for ages – I’ve stayed within the same half-pound range – but things are continuing to change as I build muscle and lose fat. I think the best side effect I’ve experienced from my weight lost and walking is that I sleep so soundly these days. Brett used to always wake up before me, but I’m now getting up before him a few days every week, feeling rested and ready to go. I can’t remember the last time I’ve woken up in the middle of the night, or had a round of insomnia. Sleeping well is so important, and this is a welcome side effect from our walks.