My 2012 Food Resolutions

by Bettina Elias Siegel on January 4, 2012

I’ve don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions but for some reason this year I couldn’t stop making them, coming up with lofty goals for almost every aspect of my life.  (I figure if I keep even a quarter of these resolutions, I’ll be a greatly improved individual.)  Here are my 2012 food-related resolutions; at the end of the year I’ll revisit them and report on my successes and failures.

Less Food Waste

As you know, I started working on this goal late last year but it’s still always a challenge not to over-buy or let produce languish in the crisper drawer.  I wanted to share this post on food waste from the National Resources Defense Council [hat tip: The Six O'Clock Scramble] and I continue to follow the Jolly Tomato’s tips on reducing waste.  I’m also trying to “shop my pantry” more often, using up some of the less perishable food that tends to get forgotten until it’s too late.

More Homemade Food

This goal might surprise TLT readers since you know I love to cook and am not a fan of highly processed foods.  But I’ve been inspired by a lot of you out there, especially Bri of Red, Round or Green, who take that extra step and make many of your own staples like cereals, breads and tortillas.

Better than store-bought!

Thanks to the Meal Makeover Moms‘ latest cookbook, I’ve already replaced my old, store-bought frozen waffles (healthy but not so tasty) with homemade pumpkin waffles that contain whole wheat flour, flaxseed meal and wheat germ.  I’ve been making huge batches and freezing them.  Just this past week, inspired by a friend who makes divine granola, I made my own with great success (who knew it was so easy?) and I’m also going to try making my own flavored, instant oatmeal.

I’m pretty lazy when it comes to baking yeast breads, so I thought I might also invest in a bread machine to make tastier sandwich bread than I can buy in the store and my own weekly challah using at least some, if not all, whole wheat flour.  So if you own a bread machine and have brand recommendations or buying tips for me, please share!

By the way, I’m going to do all this additional scratch cooking not to be super-crunchy or holier-than-thou, but because I’m finally waking up to the fact that making these foods myself means total control over the ingredients and flavor.  (As my nine-year-old son would say, uh, DUH.)

Upping the Ante on Fruits and Vegetables

photo source: Whole Living

I already know the importance of eating lots of fruits and vegetables but recently I was thumbing through Whole Living (a Martha Stewart magazine) which, every January, provides recipes and resources for a one-month “cleanse.”  I’m not following the diet plan but I was quite taken by the photographs of beautiful, entirely-plant-based meals, practically jumping off the page with vibrant color.  I was reminded anew that there are infinite ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into our meals and I feel inspired to brighten up our plates even more this year.

Happy New Year!

To that end, you can see at the left two veggie-rich sides I made for our New Year’s Day dinner — a kale and Brussels sprout salad with lemon and pecorino cheese (really good — here’s the recipe) and a black-eyed pea salad (it’s a Southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck) with carrots and cherry tomatoes, served alongside BBQ chicken drumsticks for the rest of the family.

And that leads me to my last food resolution . . .

Taking Vegetarianism for a Spin

Back in 2010 I shared my musings on possibly adopting a totally meat-free diet (for myself, not my kids) and TLT readers responded with their thoughts and advice.  I decided then to continue with my “just eat less meat” approach but for some reason (maybe it was that Whole Living photo spread!) I now want to explore vegetarianism a little more.  So just for the month of January I’m going to go meatless — I’ll let you know what I think about it at the end of the month.

* * *

So, what food resolutions did you make for 2012?  Go on the public record with me and we can support each other throughout the year!  :-)

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda @ Tales of an Amateur Mommy January 4, 2012 at 8:29 am

Well, I never make NY resolutions, however, I have reached an all time high weight, so I’ve created the boring resolve of losing weight. This of course leads to the promise to myself of more water, less sweets, minimal alcohol, more fruits/veg. I did pretty good yesterday! I hope all goes well b/c I’m running a half marathon in April and I’d rather not do it on the verge of obesity.

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 4, 2012 at 8:30 am

Boring but important! I didn’t make a specific goal to lose weight but if those annoying extra five pounds miraculously melted away from all my veggie eating this month, I won’t be sorry. :-)

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anthony January 4, 2012 at 8:53 am

it’s not so much a resolution as a project i’ve set out for myself. in the context of my chinese medical practice i talk with my patients about food as medicine, and diet is a pillar of wellness from the chinese medical perspective. i am finding that choices of specific foods to eat or not to eat are helpful, but incomplete. it’s also important for patients to become conscious about what their food paradigm is–starting with what the word “food” means to them, and including related matters like how to shop for food. my project is to write a piece about this (which i started in december, so “finish writing” is, i suppose, a more appropriate way of putting it). it’s a topic that is very important to me, and i do enjoy writing. however, i am the worst procrastinator when it comes to “elective” matters so….we’ll see.

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 4, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Anthony – if you finish the piece (I should say, WHEN you finish it), will you please share the link here? I’d love to read it and I’m sure other TLT readers would as well.

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anthony January 4, 2012 at 9:35 pm

I don’t know if it’s really TLT material. I can share it with you and you can decide–how’s that?

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Carrie January 4, 2012 at 8:56 am

For the bread machine, I love mine but hate the shape of the loaves it makes. I would recommend making sure that the pan is the shape you want and at least big enough for a two pound loaf. On the other hand I just let mine do all the work of making the dough, then I put it in the pans I am baking it in and do the final rise and baking which works out well for me. I will also recommend to bread machine cookbooks that I have used frequently over the years – The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Bread Machine Magic by Linda Rehberg and Lois Conway. Good luck!

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 4, 2012 at 5:43 pm

SUPER helpful to have good books to go with the machine! Thank you!

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Carrie January 4, 2012 at 10:10 pm

No problem. I have looked at others, but those were the ones I kept checking out from the library until I broke down and bought them. The Bread Lover’s book also has a lot of recipes for other things to try in your bread machine, like pasta and jams.

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Alissa January 4, 2012 at 9:09 am

I have 2 of the same goals for this year – more cooking, and more veggies – hopefully we’ll both be successful! As for the bread machine, I LOVE my zojirushi home bakery supreme…definitely not the cheapest one out there, but it makes great bread and I’d like to hope that in the long run it pays for itself in savings on buying bread, and improved taste/health benefits! It’s amazingly easy – I haven’t bought a loaf of bread in over a year. I have 2 100% whole wheat bread recipes on my blog that actually taste great if you’re interested :). My sister-in-law makes challah with her machine, either as a loaf or takes the dough out and braids it and bakes in the oven, and they come out great too.

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 4, 2012 at 5:42 pm

I’ll definitely look at the Zojirushi and your recipes. And that’s what I was envisioning with the challah – letting the machine do the dough, then I braid and do one more rise before baking. My cousin does this every week and her challah is delicious (though not whole wheat.) Keep me posted on how your resolutions work out. And, btw, I’m making your pumpkin muffins again this week!

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Alissa January 4, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Btw, I also love the Hensperger book mentioned above – it is the source of my whole wheat breads and has tons of great info in addition to the recipes. My sis in law’s challah is also not whole wheat; she makes it at home with egg replacer because my niece is allergic, but the book actually has a recipe for whole wheat challah as well! And I’m so glad the pumpkin muffin recipe is working out so well for you!

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eila / full plate January 4, 2012 at 10:23 am

I LOVE your food resolutions!! Just fabulous, and thank you for always sharing so many informative links. All of your readers truly appreciate the knowledge you share with us!! Cheers, and can’t wait to read your musings and thoughtful posts in the year ahead! – eila

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eila / full plate January 4, 2012 at 10:24 am

oh, and I forgot that I was also going to share a resource with you that you might find helpful. i collected all of my tried-and-true veg meals in one post, since this is also a goal of mine this year. so far, so delicious!!
here it is: http://www.fullplatecookinglessons.blogspot.com/2012/01/2012-resolution-3-make-more-grain-bean.html

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Ella – I love YOUR blog and love that we have similar resolutions! I’ll definitely be checking out all your vegetarian recipes this month. Thanks for coming by TLT! :-)

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Chic Mummy January 4, 2012 at 11:19 am

I love my breville bread maker. The features I love are that it has a true wholewheat cycle that preheats before mixing, to end up with a lighter loaf, 3 different loaf size options, and my favorite – the timer, so I can put everything in the bread maker in the morning and have fresh and hot bread with dinner, or everything in at night to wake up to fresh bread.

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 4, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Oooo . . . this sounds good! Will look into this and Alissa’s Zojirushi. Thank you for the recommendation.

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Melissa brown January 4, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I love to make bread without a bread machine. If your schedule allows you to be at home during the afternoon, I have a recipe where you can make a wonderful loaf of bread and have it ready for dinner or a bedtime snack. The recipe is the Heart of Wheat bread from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. This book is VERY detailed and it sat on our shelves for years before I started exploring it. There’s also a great loaf of beer bread (NOTHING like what you get from box mixes) that you can start in the evening and then bake the next morning. I’ve already typed up the Heart of Wheat recipe, but it’s too long to share here. I’d be happy to email it to you and give you tips to help the recipe seem less daunting.

Another book I got, but haven’t explored too much is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. I’d already been making bread from The Bread Bible when I tried some of these loaves and I much preferred the bread from The Bread Bible. However, I think if you want to try making homemade bread without investing in a bread machine and don’t have a lot of time during the day to deal with rising and turning the dough, this book might be a great resource.

When you do make your homemade bread, be sure to track down some local eggs and fry up some to go with. Mmmmm!

Melissa

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 4, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Melissa: I like to make it sometimes, too and I make non-yeast quick breads all the time. But if I’m really aiming for a weekly challah, it ain’t gonna happen without electronic assistance! :-) But thank you for all the bread recipe book recommendations. I’d heard about the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes technique and was skeptical, so I’d love to hear how it works out for you.

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Bri January 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I’m so touched to be included in your resolutions! All of this sounds amazing, and I’m truthfully humbled and daunted — I don’t think I could manage to make these kinds of resolutions for myself. :-) I’m totally cheering you on in making more from-scratch things, especially breads. Rock on, Bettina!

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 4, 2012 at 5:34 pm

You don’t need to make resolutions when it comes to feeding your kids, Bri! :-) (Unless your inspiring lunch box posts on FB are a sham and you’re really handing out Lunchables???)

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Bri January 6, 2012 at 10:15 am

HAHAHAHA Oh my God, can you imagine? That would be quite an elaborate ruse. And since even the thought of a Lunchable makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit, I can assure you, not a chance!

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Pilar January 4, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Definitely go with the Zojirushi, I bought it 3 years ago from King Arthur Flour, use it every week for whole wheat sandwich bread and also to make the dough for challah, babka, etc. Great service and recipes
http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/zojirushi-bbcc-x20-home-bakery-supreme-bread-machine-white
I will also recommend using King Arthur flours.

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The Student @ Food for Dissertating January 4, 2012 at 9:29 pm

I’m with you on trying not to waste as much food! I think the key to this is going to be going to the grocery store more often. I did so much better when I went twice a week instead of once a week like I’ve been doing lately. It’s pretty easy to avoid buying things when I can tell myself that I’ll be back in a few days, yet I sometimes wonder if it’s wasteful to go to the store for a bag of peaches and some walnuts, so I’m curious to know what others think the balance is there. I’m also into using my freezer as a way of not wasting food, and of making stock out of bones and odds and ends of veggies I end up with.

I also want to try to make a few of my own staples, too. My thing is to figure out how to make water crackers. I love water crackers, but they’re so simple–why do they cost so much!? I pretty often have them with my lunches, so I want to try making my own crackers, at least once, and to try my hand at making my own oatmeal instead of using packets.

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Dreena Tischler January 10, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Hey there. I have my kids make the instant oatmeal (I just push the button). Right now we are rockin’ this one:

3 cups oats
1 cup dates
1/2 cup coconut
2 tblsp wheat germ
brown or raw sugar to taste (we used 2 Tblsp. of brown)

Throw it all in the food processor and pulse a few times. All my family loves nuts so we will add walnuts next time.

To prepare use EQUAL parts hot water (close to boiling temp)) and oatmeal. Let it sit 5 minutes. Stir and eat!

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Dreena – thank you for the recipe! One question – do you use quick oats or rolled oats? Can’t wait to try.

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Dreena Tischler January 10, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Whichever I have in the house. You need to chop the oats pretty fine and we usually have rolled oats, so it takes a few more pulses.
I forgot to say “a pinch of salt”.

The whole thing takes 2 minutes to put together. Let me know if you like it!

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 14, 2012 at 9:18 am

Will do! Thanks for the info!

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