Saturday, January 1, 2011

My New Year's Resolutions for 2011

While visiting family on New Year's Eve, my brother-in-law mentioned his goal of writing a blog and posting every day of 2011. So I started thinking...maybe I can blog too, but what's so important to me that I would keep a "journal" online in hopes of acquiring more followers than my husband. Later that evening after celebrating New Year's Eve with Anderson Cooper on my television in the eastern time zone while living in the pacific time zone, I jotted down my new year's resolutions for 2011. First on my list, Resolution #1: only keep REAL, whole foods in my home (nothing processed/packaged/with additives). And last on my list, Resolution #5, though not of less importance: aim for zero waste (reuse, recycle, or compost just about everything). Let's just say the resolutions in between pertain to me, my husband, and my son and aren't the subject of this blog, though the latter two will be inadvertently participating in my conquest.

I went to sleep New Year's Eve before midnight satisfied with my list of 5 resolutions, excited for a new challenge and new year, and with no plan to blog.

January 1, 2011: I woke up and almost forgot to complete Resolution #2 (How does that saying go? "It takes 1 day to pick up a bad habit and 27 days to create a good one." I'm not sure the significance of 27, but let's just say Resolution #2 should be a habit by about January 27th. And hopefully I don't forget about Resolution #3 tonight and #4 on Monday.) After being thankful for The French Bakery and driving my son to sleep in the car, I returned home and set about tackling Resolution #1. I looked through my pantry, which consists of 2 bottom cabinets in the kitchen and made note of 5 boxes of dry cereal, one of which has expired, a costco-sized box of granola bars, stale crackers, and a canister of animal crackers so large I could feed 5 kindergarten classes at snack time. I contemplated what to do with these items since they don't fall into my "real, whole foods" list. I could donate the unopened items to a food bank, with the exception of the expired item, but what could I do with the opened food...feed the birds the stale food, make a party platter of cereal and animal crackers for a family gathering, post the items on craigslist (just kidding). I'd hate for good food to just get composted, although I'm not sure this "stuff" should be called food.

At the end of day I still hadn't decided what to do with my "non-real, un-whole foods", but I do know that I will not be eating them or purchasing anything of the like for the next year. You might be wondering how I'm defining "real, whole foods". For simplicity, I will not purchase food items for the home that contain more than 4 ingredients on the ingredient list of the food label, if there is a food label at all. Here are a few obvious examples of "real, whole foods": apples, cucumbers, potatoes, olive oil, oats, brown rice, quinoa, cinnamon, eggs, milk, honey, and I can't forget coffee beans. Here are a few less obvious examples that may contain fewer than 4 ingredients: butter (cream and salt, unless it's unsalted), plain yogurt (Do you realize how much added sugar is in most yogurt? Read the list and make the switch to plain and you can always add a bit of REAL honey or fresh fruit), REAL peanut/almond butter (yes you have to struggle stirring it since it separates, but usually after the first wrist-aching stir session, stirring is minimal), and fresh bread. I think that gives you a good idea of how I'm stocking my house. And nooooo I won't be dining out instead this year; I still plan to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner for my family more often than not, with the occasional trip to the bakery for a pastry, neopolitan-style pizza for lunch, or 4 to 5* evening meal.

All in all, today was a success. I used real bread to make what I like to call Creme Brulee French Toast for breakfast (only 1 small slice each); brown rice and kidney beans sauteed with fresh rosemary, thyme, and collards for lunch; braised pork tenderloin with sweet potatoes for dinner; and seared banana with ground cinnamon for dessert, which my son loved. Oh, and I can't forget that I also made a cappuccino for myself using the best espresso beans from Italy, Attibassi, and a touch of fresh cream. Tomorrow I'll be putting my Christmas gift to the test and make homemade whipped cream. Stay tuned because I'll also be putting my will-power to the test when I make my first trip of the new year to pick up groceries.

And for those of you wondering, I'll cover Resolution #5 too. No worries. I'll be blogging for 364 more days +/- a few (I'm a realist).


  1. awesome plan! We try to eat as much organic and natural food as possible. We belong to a CSA for our produce and we are members of an organic/natural food buying club. I can't wait to see what kinds of things you come up with and please post recipes!! I would love the recipe for braised pork chops.

    And we made the switch to natural peanut butter a long time ago and I could never go back! The taste and texture of "regular" peanut butter is so gross to me now. I much prefer natural.

  2. Excellent resolutions, they can only contribute to you and your family's health and longevity. I've been working on getting rid of processed foods and working from whole foods from meals but my biggest challenge is finding new and inventive ways to prepare it. I love to cook so a recipe that requires a lot of prep work doesn't scare me off but most of the time I'd like to keep it simple. Do you have any books, websites or magazines that you use for ideas? Also, it's okay to continue to use the 'processed' foods you have until they are gone. Good luck in the new year! Look forward to more!

  3. Courtney, here's my braised pork tenderloin recipe altered by me from a Julia Child cook book. I'm sure you can do this with any cut of meat, just replace the beef stock with chicken or vegetable stock for lighter meats (chicken and fish).

    Braised Pork Tenderloin

    Cut tenderloin into 2" pieces approximately 6 ounces each. Season with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs (I used thyme and rosemary) and let marinade in dry mixture for 30 minutes or longer (you can prep it earlier in the day day/during kids' nap time). Sear until meat is carmelized in hot olive oil and butter (don't use a non-stick pan). Remove meat from pan and deglaze pan with 1/4 c. red wine and 1/2 c. beef broth. Bring mixture to slow boil then reduce heat to low. Add meat back in and cook until done (use meat thermometer or cut into it, always better to undercook than overcook because you can always put it back in hot pan). Enjoy!

  4. Jennifer, thanks for making me feel better about keeping some of my "processed" foods around so I don't have to toss them out. I cooked up the pizzas for my nephews and niece last weekend, and I've kept some condiments around for guests that come over for a meal or party.

    I don't have any particular websites or books I get recipes from. I do a lot of experimental cooking. When I need additional ideas for a particular food, I tend to check in my Julia Child or Emeril Lagasse cookbooks. If I can't find it there, I'll look online and typically end up at the food network site. Dining out also provides me with ideas. When I experience a good meal, I remember the flavors and try to mimic it at home. Do you have any particular books or websites you can recommend?