Updated: Mar 4, 2021
Man, I'm starting to feel like weird is the new normal! Memphis is experiencing extremely cold temperatures (for us!) and lots of snow. We southerners are generally paralyzed by cold and snow, which definitely impacts attempts to stay on the wellness wagon. It's hard, y'all! I feel you! The Jordans got (pretty much) back on track after our crash & burn week, so I wanted to close the circle and share our "back on the wagon" menu in case it helps with your meal planning in the coming weeks.
Much of what I do directly relates to simply trying to preserve my sanity. Take, for instance, this enormous dry erase board that hangs on the wall of the heaviest traveled hallway of the entire house. I'm not here to win any interior decorating awards, people. It cuts down on about 2,483 questions each week about "whaaaaaaat's for suuuuuppppeeerrrrr?" I dream of the day when a beautiful piece of art will hang in that prime location. But for now, friends, I give you the dry erase board where I (usually) post the menu for the week.
What? You can't read that? Ok, fine. It says:
Sunday: SUPERBOWL! Homemade pizza/ brownies & ice cream (See??? We have dessert!)
Monday: Chopped Muffuletta Salad
Tuesday: Sloppy Joes and steamed broccoli
Wednesday: Potato, Kielbasa, cabbage soup
Thursday: Chicken Piccata and salad
Friday: Pizza/Movie night (that's right- we had pizza twice this week)
Saturday: Nachos/Game night
I've had so many awesome people reach out to give me suggestions from meals that they make at home, cookbooks they love, recipes that accommodate our allergies, and meal-planning strategies. It's been wonderful to collaborate... especially during these times. I used some of the ideas people passed along in a few of the meals on the menu this week.
First, a friend offered a suggestion that has turned out to be the best gluten-free flour and baking mixes I've ever tried! I used Jules Gluten Free Pizza crust mix for our homemade pizza and it was amazing. It was actually chewy! If you are a gluten-free friend, you know how hard that is to come by in the gluten-free world. I also used the all-purpose flour to make the brownies. I honestly think I may have liked the texture better than regular flour. I am in gluten-free love.
Next, a friend loaned me a fabulous cookbook that I LOVED so much I ended up getting my own copy. This is truly one of the best cookbooks I've seen in a while. Especially if you have allergies to wheat, dairy, and soy, or just want healthy recipes that are truly delicious. The muffuletta salad and chicken piccata from our supper menu came from this cookbook. Both were superb.
Several people sent recipes for me to try. One was for the potato, kielbasa, cabbage soup we ate on Wednesday. OMG. So good. I wanted to bathe in it.
Just FYI, here's the mix I use for Sloppy Joes. I get it at Whole Foods. It's delicious and contains no ingredients that should not be consumed by humans. Here's a quick read about gross ingredients you want to avoid.
People have asked about the Jordan nachos that we eat every Saturday night.
I cook ground turkey with garlic powder, chili powder, ground cumin, a little lime juice, salt and pepper. Then I make 2 layers of chips, cheese and turkey meat on a sheet pan and put in a 350 degree oven until cheese is melted.
It feels like "fun food" to the kids, but secretly, it's a vehicle for healthy toppings. They're how I sneakily make this meal relatively healthy. Seriously... who can resist TOPPINGS!?
What? You don't put kiwi on your nachos??? Ha! We don't either. It's just another sneaky trick I use. If I put cut up fruits and veggies out, even if they have no business being there, they are generally gobbled up. Try it!
The cashew queso is a decent alternative for a non-dairy gooey nacho topping. I get it at... you guessed it... Whole Foods. BUT I do want to put in a plug for Sprouts grocery store. I'm enjoying shopping there much more than Whole Foods these days. Prices are MUCH better, shorter lines, and the produce (especially the berries) is excellent!!
And last but not least... here are some tips for staying on the wellness wagon (or at least hanging on by one hand and being dragged behind) during the winter months. Sometimes it feels pointless, but our bodies need the same care and attention in February that they do in June. Never leaving our houses, not seeing anyone outside our immediate families, and only wearing stretchy clothes takes away a fair amount of incentive for lots of us to take care of ourselves. But there is an end to this, friends. And it will be harder catch that wagon to get back on if it's gotten too far from you. At the least, choose one or two of these to do every day:
1) Instead of reaching for that snack that you know you're eating for all the wrong reasons, make yourself a cup of hot, herbal tea. I don't know what it is, but something about it is satisfying and makes our brain forget about that last sleeve of Ritz crackers sitting in the cabinet.
2) Get off your screen (when you're done reading this... no, the irony is not lost on me... Ha!) and find a task, craft, hobby that will hold your interest for a couple hours. You'll move more and feel happier.
3) Put a cap on your alcohol consumption. My rule for myself is one bottle of wine a week and only on Friday or Saturday nights. At the beginning of the pandemic, I experienced how EASY it is to slip into drinking every evening. Scary! Just be mindful of it.
4) Stretch. Find a 15 minute stretching or beginning yoga video on YouTube. Our bodies actually become painful if we don't stretch. You'll be amazed at how good stretching feels.
5) GO OUTSIDE!! I know sometimes it can mentally feel like putting on winter gear and stepping out the front door is akin to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, but the many benefits from doing this one simple thing are HUGE! Once you're out there, chances are that you'll want to walk and move!!
I've been harping on the benefits of getting enough Vitamin D for years. There's finally more info and science being circulated about how imperative it is for a healthy immune system, and physicians are realizing that it needs to be a part of their treatment plans.
Read more about it in this article (or just this quote if the article is too sciencey for your taste).
" It is our responsibility as physicians not to wait for perfect evidence when making life-and-death decisions. Given the safety profile of vitamin D, the 40% prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the U.S., and the fact that this season will likely be the deadliest phase of the pandemic to date, we need to act now. Identifying and eradicating vitamin D deficiency with early and aggressive supplementation in COVID-19 has the potential to save thousands of lives and should be one of our highest public health priorities."
Happy cooking and happy winter, y'all. Hang onto the wellness wagon as best you can. There's light, warmth, and easier days right around the corner.