Tag Archives: healthy

Berries. Berry cubes. And berry smoothies.

It’s summertime, which means lots of delicious berries.

I recently attended a training on nutrition and mental health (for counselors), and it got me thinking about how I could easily introduce more healthy foods into my day. I don’t like fish, and tree nuts are out because of the food allergies, which means I don’t get a lot of omega-3s. (It’s okay if you want to tune out the nutrition nitty-gritty details here, I usually do). Anyway, those of us with food restrictions and picky palates can easily miss out on important aspects of our nutrition. For me, an easy fix to this is adding in ground flax seed to my diet. Doesn’t bother me, and it tastes kind of nutty, so I’m all for it! Also, blueberries are really good for you. So I decided I should eat more blueberries.

If there’s something you find you are missing in your diet, there may be an easy way to introduce it.  Even for the most complicated of eaters.  (One more complication for me: in the summertime, I get Oral Allergy Syndrome, which means that fresh fruits and veggies can make my lips swell up with hives because of the pollination process. The solution? Cook the fruits and veggies first.)

I don’t love the idea of adding supplements instead of real food, but I do love the idea of making healthy food easier. Which is why I decided to do some berry-smoothie prep.

So here’s what I did: cooked up some berries in a delicious manner, immersion-blended them, and froze the results in ice cube trays. It’s amazing what you can do with ice cube trays. The freezer is a lazy healthy person’s best friend. Now I can make healthy smoothies that won’t give me Kardashian lips!  And I don’t have to rush to eat 30 smoothies in a week before the berries go bad.

Here’s how it’s done:

FIRST, the berry cubes.

Heat a bit of vegetable oil in a pot with a dash of cinnamon and a little splash of vanilla. Add a bunch of blueberries and strawberries, simmer on low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Next, either use an immersion blender to puree, or transfer to a blender to puree.

Berries.jpg

Let the whole thing cool and then pour into ice cube trays to freeze.

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SECOND, to make Johanna’s healthy berry smoothie:

Into a blender add several berry cubes, a glug of milk, a healthy squirt of honey, a cup of your favorite yogurt, and 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of ground flax seed. And a bit of peanut butter if you’d like. Bananas optional. Blend, add some more water or milk for the right thickness, and YUM.

Berries. Berry cubes. And berry smoothies.

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Spoiler alert: Cooking is not my life’s work

I’m a therapist, not a chef.

What does this have to do with writing about cooking and coping with food allergies?

Everything.

This means that despite writing about a great recipe once in a while, or a great success in the kitchen, food is not my life’s work.  Emotions, people, talking, offering support and challenge to my clients, and even looking at with curiosity at my own coping process – that is my life’s work.

As a result, there are a lot of days I wouldn’t even call cooking an especially enjoyable hobby, because I’ve already spent my energy elsewhere.

I enjoy cooking when I have time and energy – there is magic in the kitchen on those days – and it can be a wonderfully therapeutic endeavor, especially when the food around me feels dangerous and scary.

That being said, on the days when I’ve been away from home for many hours, and I put my coffee cup from the morning in the sink and trudge up the stairs to shed the stressors of the day, sometimes the last thing I want to do is cook from scratch.  I want to order Chinese food take-out, and sit on the couch in my sweatpants.  Of course, I can’t eat Chinese take-out for risk of food allergens, so pasta and leftover home-made pasta sauce will have to do on those days.

Am I a failure for sometimes choosing the easy way out? No.  I did a lot of good things during the day, and not having the energy for a from-scratch delicious meal does not make me a bad person, or even a bad blogger.  It just makes me a tired individual who spent her energy elsewhere that day.

The key, I think, is in setting aside the time and the energy in order to do the cooking the way I’d like to.  If I want a healthy meal on Wednesday, I’m going to have to prep some of the basics – or at least buy some healthy vegetables! – on Sunday.  And the other key is in setting realistic expectations.  Friday night after a full week of work is not going to be the night I aspire to attempt a new recipe.  I’m not a chef by day (sometimes not by night, either), and I’m okay with that.

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Filed under Cooking