Days twenty-seven to thirty

I made it!  I can’t believe I made it!  The journey was difficult, but so rewarding.  I made it through the hump at day ten, managed to still work two jobs, teach myself to cook, and not give in to the temptations of Subway and chocolate.

The past few days have been a blur.  We opened our show at the theatre on Wednesday night, so many twelve hour days getting things ready, working the box office, speaking to our patrons.  I bought a couple of bags of groceries and left them at the theatre – easy things like cucumber/tomato/cheese sandwiches, real peanut butter, fruit, organic yoghurt (I can’t make my own yoghurt), salad, baked chicken breast which I cut up and refrigerated, etc.  It’s been a long week, but not only did I make it through it remaining healthy, but I also managed to stick to my eating routine.

Now that I’m done, I find I don’t crave processed foods anymore.  I’m wanting fresh food, or cooked food that I know what’s in it.  I ate at my pub today because I was starving and it was a really busy, long shift.  What I really wanted. though, was to go home and cook a meal.  It’s so weird for me, but I’m enjoying it.

Everyone keeps asking me what I learned and what my favourite meals were.  I’m pretty excited that I now know how to bake a chicken breast, make my own bread or pizza dough, and make fresh tomato sauce.  I’ve found some great cookbooks, including the Joy of Cooking and anything Jamie Oliver; some great free magazines that have fun recipes –  the LCBO and Sobeys to name a couple; and some fabulous online sites, including www.bonappetit.com, allrecipes.com and www.epicurious.com.  I am more confident in the kitchen and appreciate the art of cooking.  I feel healthier and happier knowing what is in my food (I will spend more time looking at labels and being aware of my choices from now on).  And finally, I am proud of myself for accomplishing this goal and writing about it.

I will try my best to write a follow-up of how I am doing with the cooking thing in a couple of weeks.  Thank you for supporting me on this journey!  I couldn’t have done it without the love, support and encouragement of my family and friends.

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Day twenty-five and twenty-six

It’s been a long couple of days.  Eating leftover soup from a thermos in the back room of the kitchen while the rest of the pub staff eat hot pizza after working a crazy Toronto FC game (the pub I work at is very close to the soccer stadium and game days are crazy before and after the game), is not very fun.  I kept telling myself that what I was eating was healthier, but it didn’t really help when the smell of pepperoni pizza lingered in the air.  Even the pizza I made myself when I got home with my leftover dough from the other day didn’t make it all that much better…

Today I ate the rest of my pizza and granola bars, more leftover soup, and some fruit.  They were all tasty and I am proud I have learned so much, but I’m ready to go back to being able to eat restaurant food once and awhile.  Having to grocery shop at 11pm after finishing work because I need to cook tomorrow morning for the rest of the day is not sounding so appealing to me right now.

Day twenty-three and twenty-four

Yesterday was tough.  Lunch was leftover pizza, which was delicious, and dinner was pasta with the tomato sauce I used as pizza sauce – modified (look at me, using leftovers to make new things!).  It was really good, but it did cause me to be an hour and a half late to meet my friend for drinks (sorry BMT).  Here comes the tough part: it’s 10pm, I’ve had two mojitos and a martini over the course of the evening and I am starving.  I know that I need to eat, or go home and have food there.  But, I was having such a great time catching up.  I solved my dilemma by doing the one thing I didn’t want to do – order at the restaurant.  However, I did it with my rules in mind.  We all shared a fruit and cheese platter.  I’m sure I’ll get feedback saying that I cheated.  I’m ok with it, though.  Fruit and cheese weren’t cooked.  And I needed to eat.  I can’t take this experiment that far to the detriment of my health.

Today has been much better.  Banana homemade pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast, and I just made a delicious vegetable soup with my new favourite ingredient – quinoa! quinoa Originally from Peru, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a complete protein that is commonly use to substitute couscous or rice.  It is high in calcium, iron and protein, very easy to cook with and has a tasty flavour and light crunchy texture to it. I have been told by many friends that I should try to cook with quinoa because it is so good for me, filling and easy.  I am so glad I tried it as part of my 30days!

Day twenty-two

Day twenty-two will be described through photos (and a few choice words)…

thai curry

Last night: thai vegetable curry with fresh coriander

Cranberry granola bars

This afternoon: Homemade granola bars made from Neil's recipe - thanks Neil! They are delicious!

This evening: Tomato sauce from Jamie Oliver's recipe. Thanks Jamie!

bread dough

Dough made from scratch! Thanks again Jamie Oliver!

pizzas

All to make these beautiful pizzas: tomato, boccocini, and basil pizza; one prosciutto, arugula, boccocini pizza. So yummy, but a couple of things I'd differently next time: less salt, roll the dough out more for a thinner crust.

And to accompany the pizza: a pear, arugula, walnut and parmesan salad with a lemon and olive oil dressing. Yum!

Enough said!

Day twenty and twenty-one

Yesterday I actually cooked in the morning before going to work.  This is a first.  I knew I’d be at the theatre until late that night, so I cooked a fresh vegetable pasta sauce from scratch (all the veggies I had left in my fridge) with some whole wheat spaghetti.  I made enough to last me the rest of the day, plus lunch for today.  I didn’t want to be stuck having to eat my coworkers avocado from their desk like last time (which, by the way, I must correct – the avocado didn’t come from the desk drawer, but from Will’s bag under his desk).

Today I’ve been contemplating a bit about what this challenge means to me.  One of the best thing about this whole experiment is the reaction and support of people who are reading the blog.  A girl from work the other day said she read my blog and thought my risotto looked good, so decided to cook one herself.  When people find out about the challenge they offer ideas of meals and want to read and follow my story.  So many people have told me it has made them re-think their food choices and inspire them to cook more.

One thing that is changing for me is my way of rewarding myself and dealing with stress.  I used to reward myself with dinners out, spend time with friends eating at restaurants, and treat myself to goodies out when I was stressed.  Without being able to fall back on these patterns, I’ve had to develop new patterns.  A treat now is cooking myself something special, having a bath, taking time for me, spending quality time with friends, trying to play my guitar (I’m learning), or buying fruit like mangoes and strawberries.  This is a very healthy change that I hope I keep up after day 30 is done – although I will find a balance and still eat out at restaurants, but in moderation.

Day eighteen and nineteen

Tillsonburgh road signAfter going to a bachelorette party in Tillsonburg on Saturday night and driving the two hours home that night, I woke up early to go to work on day eighteen pretty tired.  These are the days I crave comfort food.  When I am tired, the last thing I want to do is cook or eat healthy.  I made it though, through serving a horrible brunch shift (I hate serving brunch), and had a nice cheese sandwich with the fresh bread and camembert I bought the night before and an apple.  It was tasty and I actually felt better than if I succumbed to the temptation of crappy processed food.

Last night, as a wonderful treat, I watched my gentleman friend make me curry from scratch.  He made spinach (saag) chicken, with brown rice and Aloo Gohbi (indian spiced cauliflower and potato).  It took ages, but was delicious!  And no jar of pre-made curry sauce needed!  I will definitely have to try and make it myself next time.  Day nineteen is now being spent having leftovers, which are almost better today than they were yesterday.  I’m even bringing some to the pub tonight to eat as a snack there.  Yum!

Day sixteen and seventeen

On day sixteen I finally brought a full meal to work at the pub, so I could snack on it and not be hungry while working.  You think it would have taken me less than sixteen days to do this, but apparently I am a slow learner!

It is now about 2pm on day seventeen and I have spent the day thinking about food.  Not dreaming about chocolate bars and subway and meals out at restaurants, but cooking and fresh food and local shops.  And I was happy about it!  I have gotten past the hump of hating this little experiment and am now starting to enjoy it.  I went to a local cheese and bread shop and bought a really lovely camembert which the owner spoke very highly of.  I went to the local produce store and bought fresh veggies and fruit.  I am planning what I am going to have as a meal tomorrow, as I’m working at the pub from 9:30am until around 4pm.  I am even baking banana bread right now with the brown bananas I had on my counter!  I am actually cooking, baking, planning and eating fresh foods.  Of course I’m not perfect and the Twix bar at the local convenience store stills beckons to me, but I am finally really understanding the value of cooking.

On a side note, apparently I have lost five pounds.  This experiment was by no means an attempt to lose weight, but it is a really nice side effect.