The second day of January reminds me a little of Ash Wednesday after a gluttonous Fat Tuesday. New Year’s Day usually involves trying to remember resolutions and finding the jar of aspirin to calm that raging Champagne headache. But the second day of January usually entails gym memberships and healthy diet plans. Today I was thinking as I start this new year how I need to get back in the saddle on things, especially my diet. I don’t really worry too much about the holiday season, especially the two weeks my children are home from school because staying on track with a body-healthy diet takes up time and energy I don’t have to spare. Perhaps you are “Supermom” or “Superdad” and can do this, but this mom is realistic and knows where to pick her battles. Kale smoothies and beet juices are not going to be one of them. And thankfully the gym stays in my normal routine because it is the only place in town with a kid-friendly “parental reprieve” for stressed-out moms and dads. So I know when the walls are crashing down at home I can always turn to my window of “free” time at my gym.
Now that the holidays are officially over I decided today would be the perfect opportunity to work my way back into cooking the foods I love because in a couple of days my kids will be back in a routine and life will calm down for a while. One of my dear friends gave me a cookbook for my birthday. Now I love a new cookbook, especially one that involves mind, body and soul. It just makes me want to go home and start whipping up dish after dish. This cookbook, entitled “Eat Yourself Calm,” by Gill Paul, teaches what foods are considered calming to the human body based on whatever ailment you may be suffering. It explains what superfoods, minerals and vitamins are great to help with issues ranging anywhere from depression to headaches. When I first got the book I flagged several recipes to try and tonight I cooked the lamb stew. According to the cookbook (co-written with a nutritionist), the ingredients in this recipe are linked with easing depression, sleeplessness, headaches and low energy. There are definitely a few of those I have experienced recently and on a rainy night, the stew sounded comforting.
The recipe called for lean lamb stew meat, lamb stock (which I used homemade beef broth), beans, canned tomatoes, garlic, shallots, bouquet garni, flour (which I swapped for brown rice flour), sea salt, black pepper and cherry tomatoes. One thing you need to do when you cook stew meat, especially lamb, is to simmer it for a while on a low heat. This is where the stock or broth came in because I used it to help tenderize the meat after browning it in the skillet for a few minutes. Although the recipe called for beans, I decided to omit them for the simple fact I did not have any at home. I also swapped out the green beans for Brussels sprouts for the very same reason. The lamb is supposed to aide in breathlessness, the sprouts handle concentration and forgetfulness and the tomatoes help relieve headaches. I poured the finished product over some brown basmati rice and was really surprised how light the stew was, considering how thick and hearty it appeared to be in the end. The brown rice I used is supposed to help with several factors, including low energy, mood swings, depression and even sleep problems.
I am excited to try out a few more recipes in this cookbook and to maybe gain a few ideas for making up my own meals to get myself back on track with a calm and healthy lifestyle (or at least aim for that most days!). Whatever your resolution may be this year, I highly recommend buying a cookbook to help jump start your goals or to give you some inspiration in the kitchen. And remember you can always change up ingredients in a recipe to make it fit your lifestyle, so don’t be scared to experiment!
Cheers to a healthy and happy 2017!