Friday, January 9, 2009

simple pleasures

I am not on a diet.

I am eating healthy, varied foods that happen to be high in fiber and low in fat. More fruit, less cheese. More vegetables, less meat. I am exercising at least a bit every day.

I have given up Dr. Pepper.

Except for the Dr. Pepper, it happened almost entirely by accident.

It's funny how easily we can fall into patterns of behavior. Even though I stay at home, I spend many mornings running errands. After dropping the little guy at his school, I would drive to the 7-11 and buy a Dr. Pepper before commencing my shopping or what have you. On the way home, I would frequently get a snack or lunch at a drive through. I started to feel a bit run down and tired more often than normal. Then the holidays hit, which throws any routine I have into a tailspin.

Hubby had gained five pounds and asked me to cook healthy dinners and pack his lunch to help him take the weight off again. I pulled out the cookbooks and started planning dinners. I went grocery shopping and avoided the snack food aisle. The result in my own food intake is just a byproduct, but it's been stunning.

I had forgotten how much I love simple foods. Shirred eggs. Baked apples. Steel cut oats. Roasted butternut squash and asparagus. Whole wheat bagels smeared with a bit of peanut butter. Pasta with mushroom sauce. Yum.

Here are a couple of this week's favorite recipes:

Oeufs en Cocotte
(Shirred Eggs)

Grease a small ramekin with a bit of butter or olive oil. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Break one or two eggs into the ramekin, depending on desired serving size. Sprinkle with good salt and pepper, a little paprika; you can add some fresh herbs, milk or cream, ham and sauteed mushrooms, or just about anything you desire. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and serve. I like mine baked plain then dolloped with sour cream and a spoon of salsa.

Mushroom Sauce

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 minced shallot
I minced garlic clove
4 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons sherry
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup evaporated skimmed milk
2 tablespoons low-fat or non-fat sour cream

In a large skillet, heat oil. Saute the shallot until soft, about two minutes. Add the garlic; cook one minute longer. Stir in the mushrooms, sage, salt and pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender, about six minutes.

Increase heat to high; cook until almost all liquid evaporates, about three minutes. Add the sherry; cook one minute. Stir in the flour; cook, stirring constantly, until smooth. Stir in the evaporated milk; reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about seven minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.

Serve over pasta, chicken, or turkey.
Serves four.