It’s been a little while since I’ve posted and I must confess it’s simply because life got just a little too crazy. This reminded me of how difficult it can be to balance the things we want to do or should do with the things we need to get done just to keep the lights on and the toilets clean. Making clean, healthy food choices can easily get lost in the whirlwind of work, school projects, upcoming holidays, and family illness.
I grew up on plenty of macaroni and cheese, “helper” dinners, and preformed chicken patty sandwiches. It was the mid-80s, or what I now jokingly call the “Age of the Microwave”. I remember how exciting it was to get any snack food or dinner heated up in just seconds.
Prepackaged foods offer the allure of convenience, but come with an unwelcome price of additives, stabilizers, taste enhancers, artificial sugars, and more. Eating clean and healthy is a conscious choice that requires commitment, planning, and perseverance. I have accepted this from the beginning when it was forced upon me by the needs of my children. Nevertheless, this does not mean I never have moments of weakness. Dairy-free or not, chocolate is still chocolate and you can have too much of a good thing 😉 There have been days, even weeks, where I choose what is convenient over what I know is better for my health and my family.
Recently, I was overwhelmed with the realization of how far I had slipped away from clean eating. Two factors played a key role in this. First, although I have experienced great benefits from removing or limiting gluten and dairy from my diet, my boys are now old enough that there is no direct reason for me personally to strictly avoid things that they are allergic to. This makes it increasingly easier for me to not only eat whatever I want, but to also indulge a bit too often in bona fide junk food.
Second, I have seen a tremendous shift in grocery store food. In just the last nine years, it has become very popular to eat gluten-free, non-GMO, paleo, and the like. So much so that the grocery stores now carry “safe” versions of items like chicken fingers, frozen pizza, and macaroni and cheese, that my boys can eat without issue. On one hand, I am thankful for this convenience that my family has had to live without for so many years. But on the other hand, this presents a new danger. A danger of letting go of my commitment to give my family the best possible love and understanding of what real whole nutritious food is and where it comes from. The core of our health depends so much on what we choose to put into our bodies. I am determined not to sacrifice this sacred choice for the sake of convenience.
So, like many of you, I am faced with the challenge of creating wholesome nutrient-dense meals while still balancing work, school activities, family time, and more. Therefore, my newest adventure is learning how to use the InstantPot my sweet understanding hubby just gave me for my birthday. For those of you who don’t know yet, an instant pot is a saute skillet, pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker and yogurt maker all-in-one!
The idea is that you get to make all sorts of from scratch wholesome meals in a time frame that works with busy modern life. It provides the ultimate control over ingredients while hopefully making cooking in general less of a chore.
To be honest, our first attempt at this last week was a flop. The lesson here is never use a brand new recipe in a brand new machine. Something is bound to not go as planned. The chicken came out okay but the brown rice was raw. We wound up cooking rice pasta separately to replace the rice for dinner that night. However, the shining moment for our new kitchen tool came when we decided to leave the raw rice and chicken broth and juices in the pot and rerun the InstantPot on the automatic rice cooker setting. The rice came out delicious infused with all the wonderful chicken flavor and made great leftovers. I was so excited that no food was wasted and there were no extra pots or pans to wash!
Moving forward, this gives me hope that I can and will stay committed to wholesome clean food that my family loves. I am especially excited to try making rice or coconut milk yogurt soon. It will be such a blessing to create such a healthy allergy safe treat in a fun budget-friendly way. I will be sure to share our instant pot adventures with you all in future posts. You may also visit my resource page for information on kitchen tools and other wellness living topics.
InstantPot is a registered trademark product. I do not receive any financial compensation for its use or mention here on my blog. There are a growing number of this type of kitchen tool made by several different companies. This blog post simply represents my experience with one of these products. It is not to be considered an endorsement.