Saturday, August 2, 2008

Feed Yourself - One Local Summer

Last week I completely blanked and forgot to write my One Local Summer post. While I feel bad about that, many of our meals still contained many local ingredients and I'm sure a few made the 100% cut. Why did I forget? I think I was tired. Maybe it was the vacation, the birthday party, the blueberry picking or the oppressive heat. Or it could have been the kids coming and going, my job, the eco 'burban dad's increasing unstable company, the bills, the cleaning or the laundry.

No, that's not it. Then, what could it be? I trace back through my days and wonder where things take a turn for the tiredness. Of course I don't get enough sleep, I go to bed way too late and wake before dawn to get to my office by 6:30 or 7:00 so I can bolt by 3:00 or so to get home to meet the bus or have some time with my kids before the day is over. However, that's nothing new, I have been on that time schedule for a good decade now. When I look back and my day I start to think about my meals.

Breakfast was more than likely a granola bar and coffee at my desk. While not terrible for me, its most likely not enough energy to get me through my morning. Lunch is usually something leftover reheated from dinner the night before. Though, healthy and nutritious white bean chicken chili is reheated, it doesn't quite look very appetizing when I return to my desk after a 45 minute emergency conference call. Chances are I eat a few more bites and move on. That brings us to the what we call the "witching hours" here at the eco 'burban abode.

Those are the hours between 3:30 (when the bus arrives and I hit the front door) and 6:00. Those two and a half hours mean homework, dog walking, lunch packing for the next day, meal preparing, permission slip signing, check writing, laundry, mail, bills, and then running out to pick up a straggler who had to stay after school for cross country, track, band, basketball or a lesson. In the summer I get to cut out lunch packing and homework, but I factor in countless friends running in and out, cranky kids from too much sun and not enough rest and an eco 'burban dad working late. This means that my lack of lunch is really putting a hurting on my ability to remain calm, multi-task and just plain think straight. Chances are I eat a slice of cheese while packing sandwiches and hope it will get me through until dinner.

Which brings me to my One Local Summer meal. I have long known the health benefits of eating a good, balanced breakfast, after all, isn't that what mother always said? It's also what I tell my children while I force them to sit down, eat a healthy and balanced breakfast and make sure their lunch is hearty and fulfilling. Why wouldn't I do the same when I feed myself? Sometimes I spend so much energy and time fulfilling the needs of others, I find myself skimping on taking the time to truly meet the basic need of feeding myself.
Recently our food club got their local, organic steel cut oats back in stock and I bought a two-pound bulk bag for a whopping $3.60. The drawback? A 40-minute prep time. Sigh. I don't have an extra 4 minutes in the morning, let alone 40. Those oats have been in my pantry for a month now and I hadn't touched them. Late Thursday night, a very tired eco 'burban mom got the bright idea to make a triple batch of oats and tuck them into the fridge in a resealable container. Friday morning I woke to ready-to-eat oats from which I scooped a serving, smothered it with my homemade blueberry sauce and a dash of maple syrup. A minute and thirty-seconds in the microwave and I had a pretty healthy, filling and balanced meal.

Of course I paired it with my ever-present cup of locally roasted, fair trade coffee with cream from the dairy. It's not morning without it. And, does it matter that I stood in the kitchen with one eye on the clock and the other on my bowl? A little bit, but it's a start. Besides, I learned my lesson. Eating the oatmeal so quickly meant getting just one little kernel inhaled into the windpipe which left me clearing my throat all morning - right through a meeting with one of our biggest clients. A little embarrassment goes a long way. Maybe Monday I will take an extra 5 minutes and sit down at the table and breathe slowly while eating...


JAM said...

You sound like a supermom - I could never do as much as you do all day! Do you have a year round school there?

One thing I do with oatmeal if it's steel cut is to put the oatmeal and milk into a bowl the night before in the fridge - it absorbs all night long and then only needs to be microwaved in the morning. Way easier than cooking for 40 min, although your batch idea is great too.

Debbie said...

I love steel cut oats. I often cook them in batches, too, but I do it in my crockpot overnight then refrigerate whatever I don't eat that morning. For single servings overnight you can put them in a thermos with boiling water and they'll be done by morning, too.

You can cook them in the microwave, too, but it doesn't save you any time -- just stove watching so you can do your other stuff while they cook. But be sure to use a HUGE bowl, like your biggest mixing bowl, as big as will fit, because they will bubble up and over the sides of any smaller container. Ask me how I know. And use 50% power.

My favorite breakfast, though, especially in the summer, is a green smoothie -- I use an orange, some berries, soy milk, flax seed and a big handful of spinach or any other greens from my CSA and blend them up in my heavy-duty blender. (Most people use bananas, which are very tasty, but they spike my blood sugar so I don't have them often.) This is a very fast meal and keeps me satisfied for several hours. It would be easy to pour into a big bottle and carry to work, too.

Robj98168 said...

Didn't your mommie ever sing you this version of row row your boat?
Chew, chew chew your food
A little at a time
Chew it slow, Chew it well
Chew it to this rhyme!

The Urban Trowel: said...

I believe you can put your oats and water into your crockpot and cook it overnight. Try apple juice with apple bits too.

Rjs said...

Sometimes, you just have to cut yourself some slack. Allow something to drop. Or, spend an hour or two on the weekend cutting and prepping things for the following week's dinners. That might allow you a little breathing room in your hectic evenings! Hang in there.