2 starches – 1/2 fruit – 1 fat
This week’s blog post is coming to you from my mother’s kitchen in Michigan. I came here because someone in my family is recovering from a trauma (more on that in the future), and so I have spent three days stocking their freezer with meals. I’m not a nutritionist, but I know enough about food to know that it plays a crucial role in healing and nourishing our bodies and minds, so I came to Michigan to deliver healing in the form of full bellies and one less thing to worry about.
I was not expecting that my time here would inspire some blog content that I think you all might like, but it did. The first inspiration is about kitchen tools. Digging through my mom’s kitchen cabinets was like a treasure hunt. I found the same blender she used to make my baby food and a very familiar ice cream scoop that I learned was purchased in my grandfather’s grocery store in Milwaukee–the place my mom worked as a checkout girl and my dad worked as a stock boy when they were practically teenagers (they met on the job). What I did NOT find was a food processor or a sharp knife, things that are staples in my home kitchen. I realized that you might struggle with cooking because your kitchen is not equipped in such a way that makes it easy for you to cook. So here is my short list of kitchen necessities:
- Food processor–A bigger investment, I know, but it really is the only small appliance that I use on a daily basis and don’t know what I would do without it.
- Sharp knife–My favorite all-purpose knife is a santoku knife with a 7-8 inch blade. The style of the santoku makes it easy to chop almost anything quickly and with great precision.
- Grill pan–If you don’t have an outdoor grill, a stovetop grill pan can make be a nice substitute.
- Bamboo cutting boards–I don’t use them for raw meats, but bamboo is a great surface for cutting vegetables, herbs, fruits and even cooked meats. The bigger the board, the better!
- Mandoline–I frequently use my mandoline to create consistent slices of veggies for recipes like my grilled ratatouille. Consistent thickness means consistent cooking and tasty food.
- Microplane–An absolute necessity for removing citrus rind or grating fresh ginger or garlic.
- Bamboo/wooden cooking utensils–A set of wooden spoons and spatulas work in every type of pan. They won’t scratch your surface or melt, and they last forever.
- Citrus reamer–You’ll breeze through juicing lemons and limes with this inexpensive hand tool; but if you don’t have one, try twisting a fork in the fruit to get all the juices out.
- Box grater–With four sides, you will have four different ways to grate potatoes, zucchini, cabbage and other yummy veggies.
You don’t have to run out and buy these things today in order to cook a good meal, but if you are looking for a non-food reward for hitting a weight loss milestone, consider rewarding yourself with something that makes your food preparation more enjoyable. And when it comes to keeping sharp things sharp, keep them out of the dishwasher! Anything with a blade should be washed by hand.
By the way, today is my birthday (YAY!!!), and so I made an on-plan cake (YAY AGAIN!!!) because it’s my birthday and I can do whatever I want. 🙂 As I mentioned earlier, I did not have a food processor at my mom’s house, but I compensated by using the new sharp santoku knife I bought for her (HAHAHA) to cut the apples into a small dice and mixed everything by hand in a large bowl. The cake was just as tasty when prepared this way, but if you use the food processor method, don’t expect to see all those little apple chunks. They will be processed into the batter.
Happy New Year and Happy Birthday to my fellow Capricorns! 🙂
- 2 C. whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- Pinch Morton® Lite Salt
- 1 stick lite margarine (8 tablespoons), softened
- 1/2 C. Splenda® brown sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 C. skim milk
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp. water
- 4 apples (sweet-tart varieties work best), peeled and cored
- 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. almond or maple extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a spring-form pan (or other deep, round cake pan) with zero-calorie cooking spray. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan and press into the cooking spray. Spray top of paper with additional cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.
In a food processor, process margarine with brown sugar until well blended. Add eggs and process. Add milk, lemon juice and water. Process.
Cut apples into big chunks and add to food processor with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and almond or maple extract. Process until just combined. Add flour mixture and process until well combined and apples are in very small pieces.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown and cake springs back when you press down in the center. You can also insert a toothpick in the center; the cake is done when it comes out clean. NOTE: Oven cooking times can vary greatly, so be sure to test your cake and not depend on the timer.
Makes 8 servings