Thursday, February 15, 2007

Instant Food

It occured to me recently that most people don't want Fast Food, they want "Instant Food". What is instant food? It's food that you don't have to do anything to, except to pay for it or open a package or heat it up.

My older son came home from work one evening and did his usual complaining of "there's nothing to eat in the house". What he meant was there was nothing cooked, portioned, and waiting in the fridge for him. I knew there was plenty of food to fix.

So I offered to put something together quickly for him. I started some pasta water, 5 min. to boil, 8 min. to cook pasta. I added some frozen peas and carrots in the last 1 min. of cooking and then drained it. Added 1 can of tuna, heavy cream and parmesean cheese. Voila! Stovetop tuna casserole. Maybe it took 15 min.. Not exactly gourmet, but good enough for a 24 year-old kid!

He conceded that it was good, but it took too long! I couldn't believe what I was hearing, and that's when I realized that people in this country want their food instantly, and that's a problem. It maybe the problem.

I mentioned in an earlier post that it doesn't seem to be enough for us not to have to grow or kill our own food, but many of us don't even want to prepare it or, God forbid, cook it. We are spoiled rotton, maybe the term should be "spoiled fat". Is it any wonder why this country is having obesity problems?

Even when people decide to diet they look for "easy to open diet food" like energy, power and granola bars, string cheese, high sugar yogurts, bagels, rice cakes, Lean Cuisines, bananas, etc.. No one ever grabs an apple! ( or a couple of prunes w/ PNB!).

A friend of mine recently stated proudly that her kids have never had "instant food". She of course was talking about fast food. I quickly pointed out to her that if her kids have ever eaten a hotdog, they have indeed had instant food! Kids today have hotdogs, bologna, Cheerios, wrapped american cheese, crackers, Cheetos, Cheezits, fruit roll-ups, high sugar drinks (yes, even orange juice). And that's the "healthier" stuff. No one wants to admit to the Hostess cupcakes, fast food (almost everyday for some kids ), pizza, soda etc.. And I have been as guilty as anyone, so I'm not throwing stones!

What I have learned about cooking and preparing my own food for over 2 years now has been completely accidental! I just wanted to lose some weight. And it made sense to me that eating fresh food, controling ingredients and portions would be the best way to do that. What was accidental was how much healthier I am. Not just my weight, but how I feel. Eating what I call "live food" makes you feel alive.

The other accident was how good I've become at cooking and preparing food. Good, fresh food. And fast! Practice, practice, practice. The good thing about practicing cooking is that you get to eat afterwards! I'm always encouraging my friends to cook more of their own food. I've also offered to show many of them how I do it. And I will continue to encourage everyone to consider eating better. Even if that means buying quality ready-made food.

I can't believe how lazy people can be about preparing food now that I've seen the light! I live by a hot dog fast food restaurant ( and I use the word restauant loosely!) and it always amazes me that people won't even microwave their own hotdogs. I mean how long can it take? Stop at the store, buy a pkg. of hotdogs, a pkg. of buns, go home microwave for 30 seconds and that's it! But they would rather pay 4 times as much and add all kinds of other crap and stay fat and unhealthy.

People will wait 30-60 minutes for a pizza to be delivered. They will wait up to 2 hours at popular busy restauants. The time they take driving to, waiting at, and the money for food that is over-processed, and over-flavored (that's another future post!) is ridiculous.

People are always amazed at the fact that I never eat "out". I've only eaten out maybe 4 times in over 2 years, and that's because I was out of town or some other reason out of my control.

My food is no secret. Just look at my food journal and you'll see that my favorite "instant foods" are; apples, grapes, prunes, nuts. But I'm not claiming to be perfect, cookies and ice cream are still on the list too. What are yours? And how can you start to change and make better choices, if you need to, for your family and yourself?


Chris said...

Good post Tracy. Tell your boy to learn to cook.

There was an interesting article in a British paper yesterday abotu the increase in sugar consumption in the UK - often hidden in things like cheese. It is often down to processing and the need for instant food.

I wrote about it here

Tracy Reifkind said...

Chris, I can go on and on with my feelings about processed foods. I'll be writing about it more in the future.

I figured out a while ago that if it's convenient and it tastes good, it has sugar in it! My friends will tell me about something (food) that they've "discovered" that "tastes sooo good", I always come back with " Did you read the ingredients? I'll bet it has sugar in it!"

Even foods like a chicken, that you buy already roasted, has been brined in salt and SUGAR! Powdered creamer for coffee has SUGAR, that's why I use real cream!

I like sugar as much as anyone , probably more than most, but I know when I'm eating it, I know how much I'm eating and what kind of sweetness I'm eating (white sugar, demura sugar, honey, etc.)

Wait until I go off on Splenda and other artificial sweetners!

Things are only "hidden" from people when they are in denial. They don't want to know. They want to continue to eat that crap and be victims of ignorance. All foods have ingredient and nutritional information.

I told you I could go on and on!

Anyway, thanks for your comment and for the link ( I read it!). And, my boy does know how to cook! He's just lazy like most people, and that was the point of the post!

Brett said...

Hi Tracy,

Just wanted you to know that I enjoy your blog. I like to hear about other's success with both fitness and nutrition. I'm on a similar journey myself. Also, going back to one of your earlier posts, I would love to have the recipe for your chicken stock! In fact, feel free to post recipes any time!


Tracy Reifkind said...

brett, I use a 12 quart stock pot because i like to make as much as I can at one time.

2 lbs. chicken feet
4 lbs. chicken necks and backs

Start with cold water. Bring to a boil. Skim off the scum that rises to the top and then I add;

1-2 onions, quartered
3-4 carrots, scrubbed and cut in 2
3-4 celery stalks, cut in 2
handful of italian parsley
and maybe a few cloves

Bring back to a boil. Turn down heat to simmer. Simmer, with lid partially covered, for 4-8 hours.

Let cool, strain through a clean kitchen cloth (placed inside colander) into large container. Refrigerate and peel off fat that rises to top. Divide into usable portions and freeze.

I hope in the near future to add more recipes along with pictures and video!

Sucessful weight loss and management starts with food. Exercise is great and exercise will change your body, but food is the most important in my opinion!

Thanks for your interest and comment. Tracy

Chris said...

Tracy - I'm sure your son knows how to cook. At 24 you can eat badly and stil look OK. He may change his attitude in a few years....

You are right about laziness though. It amazes me how people will eat rubbish then complain that they are getting fat.

Tracy Reifkind said...


Actually my oldest has a severe weight problem. Just more proof of being able to "lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink".

Another example of just that was when I first started my weight loss bet with my co-workers. One of them said "Hey it's not fair, she's (me) married to a personal trainer". My response was "Oh yea, that's why I managed to gain so much weight, because it really helps to be married to a personal trainer (sarcastically)!"