While celebrating the fact that my days of cooking for one are numbered (exactly 62 days of singleness left, to be exact!), I am still feeling the first-world burden that is a lack of nutritional variety when cooking for one. I like to keep my fridge and pantry stocked with nutritious options (obviously), but I find that my food often goes bad before I have a chance to eat my way through all of it! I especially notice this when I buy large quantities of fruits and vegetables. This has led me to be on the lookout for more durable produce...and here's what I've decided to keep on hand over the past few months.
Onions, garlic, and carrots are incredibly durable. Onions and garlic are also remarkably shelf stable with no need for refrigeration, as you probably know. Onions are naturally cancer-fighting and carrots are important for optical and hormonal health (two things for which I have a shaky family history). I also like to keep bell peppers around, though they last a little longer when I go ahead and caramelize them right after purchasing. Caramelized peppers and onions are great in Mexican food, as pictured, but also in Asian food, and with a simple meal of eggs and whole grain toast. If I haven't eaten through all of my caramelized peppers after 5 or 6 days, I know I can toss them in the freezer because they will defrost as single portions easily.
While apples and citrus are still in season (for a couple more weeks!), I've taken advantage of their durability. I'll take all the vitamin C they can give me! I also like keeping blueberries and strawberries around because, similarly to bell peppers, they freeze well. I'll snack on them for as long as they are fresh and just before they over-ripen, I'll transfer them to the freezer. Adding frozen berries to oatmeal in the morning is transformational. Not to be dramatic...
So what about you? What are your favorite durable fruits and veggies?
Are you prone to depression? "Woah! Jumping right into the heavy material today, are we?" Well, depending on which expert you consult, major depression affects 6-12% of the human population. And while the other 88-94% of the population may not deal with depression on a daily basis, it is likely that you have experienced or will experience at least one depressive episode in your lifetime. Now depression is not the only mental health concern that exists, by any means, but because it's so common and because I've personally suffered from depression in the past, it's where I want to keep my focus today as I address mental health rhythms.
Just like we have physical health rhythms to keep our bodies working right...getting daily movement, eating enough vegetables, etc., there are many other areas of health that contribute to our wholeness. Mental health rhythms would be those habits you employ to keep your mood and thought patterns in a sound place. As I mentioned, coping with depression has been a big part of my health story, so I got to thinking this morning about the rhythms I have in place to prevents its return. I practice these rhythms all the time, but when I feel depression begin to creep back in, I press into them even more diligently.
For me, it's all about balance. My mental health relies heavily on the balance between having enough "white space" on the calendar (or down time, to put it another way) and having enough stimulation and responsibility. In busier seasons, I strive to keep one evening per week completely free of commitments. I find that, especially as an introvert, I need that time to not only get a good night's sleep, but to wind down properly for that sleep. Simply put, if I become overly tired, I'm prone to depression. Over-isolation can also lead to depression for me, so in slower seasons (since I do a lot of my work from home), I require myself to get out of the house (ideally into fresh air and sunshine) and to have physical contact with another human being at least once a day. On top of tending to my physical and spiritual health, these guideposts go a long way for my mood and thought patterns. Sure, my rhythms are simple, but they do make all the difference for my mental health!
What are your mental health rhythms? Is this a season for you to create more white space or to get out and connect? I'd love to hear from you!
Did you know that March is the perfect time to enjoy a specific combination of fruits? When you think about it, we eat these combos all year long, but I'm bringing them to your attention today because they are TASTIEST in the month of March. Why, you might ask? Well, March marks the end of the winter fruit season and the beginning of the spring fruit season. Winter fruits like apples and oranges are still vibrant and flavorful before they go out of season while spring fruits, namely berries, are becoming quite sweet and ripe. Here are some of my favorite ways to eat these combos:
-Fruit crisp! Take your favorite healthy apple crisp recipe and add to it 1 cup of blueberries (subtracting one of the apples it calls for).
-Fruit salad! I'm particularly drawn to a mandarin, strawberry, and raspberry fruit salad these days.
-Baked oatmeal! This week, I’ve been enjoying an apple-strawberry-blueberry baked oatmeal for breakfast...so much that I want you to have the recipe. Here you go!
March-tastic Baked Oatmeal (Dairy Free)
2 c chopped apples
1 c chopped strawberries
3 ¼ c old fashioned oats
1 T cinnamon
1 ½ t baking powder
½ t salt
½ t nutmeg
2 3/4 c reduced fat coconut milk at room temp (other non-dairy milks work too)
½ c maple syrup
4 eggs at room temp
3 T melted coconut oil (not too hot)
1 T vanilla
1 c blueberries
1 T coconut sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9x13” glass pan. Spread chopped apples and strawberries across the bottom of the pan. In a large bowl, combine oats, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Pour this mixture evenly over the fruit. In the empty bowl, combine coconut milk, maple syrup, eggs, melted coconut oil, and vanilla. Pour this mixture evenly over the oats, gently pressing down any oats that rise above liquid so everything gets moistened. Sprinkle blueberries and coconut sugar evenly over the top of the dish. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown and set in the middle (should not jiggle when pan is shaken). Cool for 20 minutes before serving. Serve with unsweetened coconut chips, if desired.