I Ate All of the Things: Cooking From “Scratch”

This past week I was sicker than I’ve been in a loooong time. The past seven days felt like a black hole. I don’t recall what I did, said, or how I managed to take care of my two little ones who were also sick. I do not have the type of kids that, when sick, lay around and get all cuddly. I have the type of kids that get crazy (er). They climb furniture, destroy things and get really, really feisty.  It is such a treat, let me tell you, especially when you yourself feel like you are dying. 

In my last post, I shared with you my favorite homemade remedies that I was using to help us fight our illnesses. But midweek, when I was feeling my worst, I stumbled upon a new tea recipe that I really believe made the difference for me. It is so simple, contains ingredients I already had on hand, and instantly soothed and coated my raw throat.

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Turmeric Tea

1/4 tsp turmeric
1 lemon slice
2 TB honey (or to taste)
dash of cinnamon

Add ingredients to your mug and pour boiling water over. Let steep a few minutes before squeezing the lemon to get all the juice out. Enjoy. 

I think it’s safe to say we’ve made it to the other side, though, and now all I want to do is clean and de-germ every inch of my house. Well, that and eat everything in sight. I’ve pretty much just eaten a liquid diet this past week so now I’m craving good, nutritious food that fills the belly and feeds the soul: whole grains, veggies, fruit and anything mixed with brown rice.

Yesterday I cooked up a batch of dried pinto beans and used a portion of them to make homemade rice and beans. Nothing beats the taste of meals that are cooked from scratch, beginning to end. Now that the boys eat everything that we do, I’ve tried to scale back on the amount of seasoning I use when I cook, mostly because I’ve found that they like simple flavors. Surprisingly, I’ve enjoyed letting my main ingredients shine, only adding a spice or herb that I think will compliment but not overpower the dish.

Lasts nights beans and rice are a perfect example of this new restraint. Other than the beans, brown rice and sautéed onions and garlic, the only other ingredients were vegetable broth, oregano and smoked paprika. I then put salsa, guacamole and hot sauce on the table so we could all dr them up accordingly :-).

Today I made homemade tortillas for the first time and I am so sad that I haven’t made these sooner. They were so simple and the taste is out of this world good! You can find the recipe I used, here.

The only modification I made was to use all whole grain flour, as opposed to the white flour the recipe called for. I like King Arthur’s brand of flour. The second picture is the tortillas fresh on the griddle, and the third photo is what they look like when they are bubbly, puffed up, and ready to be removed. All in all, I cooked almost 20 tortillas in less than 20 minutes.

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While I cooked the tortillas, Theo helped chopped up a fresh mango for lunch. I also prepared a quick hummus made with the remainder of the pinto beans that I had cooked the night before. Yes, you read correctly, pinto beans. I’ve found over the years that any bean makes a good hummus. It may not be traditional or even “authentic,” but that is part of the fun! Each beans adds its own unique flavor and texture. I’ve also started to skip using tahini. It’s expensive, and I prefer simply using my beans and olive oil as a base for any hummus. For the pinto bean hummus I seasoned it with lime juice, fresh garlic and more smoked paprika. Delicious.

If by this point you are thinking that these sound good, but you’d rather continue to use the prepackaged convenience foods that you normally buy, let me make one final pitch. I don’t always cook dried beans, sometimes I use canned. And like I said, this was my first time making tortillas. But 90% of the time, I try to make food completely from scratch. Yes it requires more work and time, but the payoff is so worth it. It gives me total control of what me and my family are putting in our bodies. From scratch cooking eliminates a lot of preservatives that prepackaged food contains, while also cutting back on the disposable waste that buying prepackaged food/meals generates. Not to mention, cooking things from scratch means you can make things for a fraction of the cost to buy those items in the store.

So even if you don’t normally do a lot of cooking, maybe find one thing you can make instead of buy this week. Cooking healthy food for your family (and yourself) is not only fun, it’s immensely rewarding.

Happy eating!

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