Let’s Talk About Sugar, But Only For Two Seconds

Okay, yes, I posted a recipe for a single chocolate chip cookie, but it was in a moment of weakness, and in my defense, everybody needs a cookie sometime. (Better one than the five dozen you’ll make with the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag!) However, let me take just a moment — well, two, really — and talk about sugar and flour.

They’re bad.

They’re not good.

That’s all you need to know. You cut out these two things, or cut way back on them, and watch what happens. The weight drops. The energy levels jump up. The indicators for heart disease drop, including triglycerides (big word for “three sugars”) and blood sugar levels. And did you know that a number of doctors are talking about Alzheimer’s as “Type 3 Diabetes” now? Scary.

What should you eat in its place, you ask? Protein. Lots of veggies. Some fruit (not dried). Some good fat. A few (and very little of the) natural sweeteners. We’ll talk about that more soon, but for now, just try this one simple thing: Cut back on sugar and/or flour, and see if it’s not what the doctor (not me!) ordered. Give up sugar for one month, just four weeks, and see what happens. When I did it, I lost 13 pounds, changing nothing else, only stopping the sugar (wasn’t even exercising). How about you? What will your story be?

Now, try this recipe out and see if you like it.

Sweet Cream Dessert For One

1/4 cup of whipping cream

1/2 tbsp sweetener (optional): xylitol (this stuff actually inhibits cavities!), maple syrup (mild flavor), or possibly a Stevia packet

Flavors (optional): 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp cocoa, 1/2 tsp instant coffee, a few drops of flavored oil (like peppermint, banana, orange, etc.)

Beat the ingredients together until the cream forms stiff peaks.

Eat with a spoon, and tell me that stuff’s not the bomb. Leave the sugar out and dip some fruit in there instead, and you’re set.



Pork Chops with Blackberry Glaze

I know, it sounds a little odd, doesn’t it? But it’s pretty far from odd when the sweet tang of blackberry (or apricot) accents the other white meat. So, so good. Try it, you’ll like it. Feel free to throw thanks my way, or share it with someone you know. And it’s for one!

1/2 cup chicken broth (from can or prepared with bouillon powder)

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 1/2 tsp vinegar (red wine vinegar if you have it)

2 tbls blackberry preserves (or apricot)

1 tbls oil

1 or 2 pork chops, boneless, center cut (about 1 1/4” thick)

salt and pepper

1/16 tsp of garlic powder or minced garlic (half of 1/8 tsp, or a pinch)

Mix the first four ingredients (broth, mustard, vinegar, preserves) in a bowl.

Heat up about a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium high heat, then salt and pepper a pork chop (or two) and throw ‘em in, about 3 minutes per side until they’re good and brown.

Take ‘em out, then add the stuff in the bowl to the pan, mixing all the good bits up together. Reduce the heat to a little above simmer, then put the pork chops back in and cook until they’re done (5-10 minutes, but for crying out loud, use a meat thermometer, about 170).

Take the chops out again and keep ‘em warm, raise the heat on the pan, bring that glaze to a boil and keep stirring while it thickens, about 2 or 3 minutes. When it’s thick as you like, spoon it over the pork chops and season with salt and pepper.

Yum! Uh, let me say that again. Yum! Easy and tasty. Let me know if you like the blackberry best, or if apricot’s your thing. Pictures to come.

Some Housekeeping Items, Or How To Cook For One

So you’re following the blog (you are, aren’t you?), excited to be fixing awesome, easy-to-prepare food for one, and you’re thinking “This is great, this is grand, I OWN this town!” Well, okay, maybe not that last part, but anyway, after our meatloaf and mashed cauliflower dinner, I can imagine that you’re ready for just about anything. And you should be. But there are a couple of things we should discuss up front, and then we’ll be prepared for taking our culinary talents on the road. Real quick, then.

Measuring. To start with, eating for one is gonna take some measuring that we’re not used to. All of these recipes for two or four or more use wholes and halves of teaspoons and eggs and onions and such. We’ll do just fine, but we’ll have to get resourceful about it. What I’d like to do is to suggest buying some measuring spoons that go beyond your usual sizes, including 1/8 tsp, 1/16 tsp and 1/32 tsp. These cost about $5 on various online sites, and they’re helpful for our purposes, but they’re not totally necessary, if you’re comfortable relying on your fingers to do the walking. Most measuring spoon sets come with 1/8 tsp, so put some salt in one, pour it in your hand, and then see if your fingers would need one or two pinches to pick it all up. Whatever it is, then just divide it in half for the other measurements.

For example, two pinches = 1/8 tsp, one pinch = 1/16 tsp, and one half pinch = 1/32 tsp.

This is especially helpful when we’re baking, because biscuits and cornbread and cookies will need a tiny bit of things like baking soda or baking powder or salt. So, if you can get the spoons, that’s great, but if not, try the pinch test.

Eggs. There are two ways to divide a beaten egg. You can beat it, then measure it into a spoon or a measuring cup, because yes, we will need to do that from time to time. Or, you can buy egg substitute and measure it out straight from the carton. This may change the consistency and color of some of our baked goods, but no real worries here. This may be easier than beating the egg for you, and that’s okay. If you choose the beating method, and store the rest of the egg in a covered container (I use baggies over the top of my mug), it will keep for a couple of days in the fridge, which is awesome in my book.

Onions and other vegetables. Frozen or fresh. They’re easy to measure, and the frozen actually contain more intact vitamins and minerals than the fresh do if they’re not just picked before they hit the store shelves. But both of them beat cans hands down. Canned vegetables are pre-measured, so we get what they give, and the good stuff inside them is cooked into oblivion, so there’s very little in the way of nourishment. Canned greens (collard, spinach, kale, mustard) may be the exception to this, as their vitamins seem to be made of weapons-grade titanium, but you get the picture. Seriously, canned veggies are better than nothing, but not by much.

Cooking. The oven will work just fine, and you may find that cooking for one cuts down on the amount of time needed to bake the stuff you’re making. Toaster ovens are also good, but keep an eye on them, as temps in these machines seem to be more estimated than confirmed. Microwave if you like it, and whenever you want. Microwaves do some things just fine, and they take less energy, create less heat, and cook wildly faster. If you have a convection oven, then I want your job. Also, while we’re on the subject, ramekins are a great way to bake some of these things (cupcakes, cornbread, muffins) for one. These are available at local stores, too, just make sure they’re oven safe. Otherwise, your regular cookware will work just fine.

Alright, that should get us going, anyway. So glad you’re coming along for the ride (ahem, because you’re following the blog, right?). I’m going to make this as easy and painless as possible, because frankly, I’m lazy, but I like good food.

On to more recipes!

Mashed Cauliflower for One

Meatloaf and Mashed Cauliflower

Here’s my dinner for one, meatloaf and mashed pota- I mean, cauliflower! (And wild, feral oregano! Thanks to my wife for that one.)

Mashed Cauliflower for One

You need something to go with that Meatloaf for One, right? And while you can mash potatoes, consider that mostly, with a potato, you’re not getting a lot of bang for your buck. Empty calories, easy carbs, and your blood sugar goes up. Now, unless you’ve ever had these before, please don’t go off half-cocked about mashed cauliflower. The taste is mild, the consistency is right, and you’re getting all kinds of vitamins up in your grill. (Okay, my street cred is a little on the shady side, but take my word for it, these are good, and good for you!)

Credit to Diane Carpender for the idea and the recipe. Her stuff is awesome. Please check her out sometime.

Mashed Cauliflower

1 1/2 to 2 cups cauliflower, fresh or frozen
1 to 2 tbls butter, margarine, sour cream, etc.
Salt and pepper

Steam or microwave the cauliflower. Make sure it’s soft.
Drain it and put it in the food processor or the blender and blend until smooth. This may take a minute, so be patient.
Add topping and salt and pepper to taste.

If you’re adventurous, try adding a tablespoon of cream. That stuff’s the bomb.

If you’re crazy wild for adventure, try adding the cream and another tablespoon of cream cheese! Whoa. Rich and thick and creamy? And it’s a vegetable? Sign me up.

What, you want gravy? Jeez, give me a second, alright? Gravy for one. You got it. Keep your ears peeled.

Easy Meatloaf for One

Let’s start out easy, okay?

Meatloaf and Mashed Cauliflower

Meatloaf and mashed cauliflower! So good… 

Meatloaf is one of those comfort foods, something warm and tasty and usually reserved for feeding more than one. No more. We’re taking it back.

Easy Meatloaf for One Recipe

Preheat your oven (toaster or regular size) to 400. Grease a little loaf pan or some kind of baking dish you can stick in there.

1/2 pound ground beef
1 egg, beaten, or egg substitute*
1 tbls chopped onion**
1 tbls chopped bell pepper, optional
2 tbls milk
2 tbls bread crumbs, or a piece of bread torn up into small pieces

* Egg substitute is great for premeasuring, but if you’re out, just beat an egg in a mug. You can keep it covered in the refrigerator for a couple of days, and it comes in handy for the chocolate chip cookie you’ll make for dessert later.
** Fresh or frozen, but I like frozen, because it’s already cut up and so easy to measure. If you have trouble with heartburn, first sauté the onions until they’re good and brown, then add them to the mix. You get the flavor without the nasty belches that way.

This could be ketchup, barbecue sauce, or even cream of mushroom soup. A tablespoon or two’s worth. Whatever you like.

Mix it all up in a bowl, ’bout 30 seconds worth, then put it into the loaf pan or shape it into one for your baking dish.
Put the topping on and stick it in the oven.
Cook for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 165. (If you don’t have a meat thermometer, get one. It’ll make you feel better. Do not stick it in your leg!)

When the meatloaf is done, enjoy, and take it to heart that you just made it for one person! Yes, it’s possible, yes, it’s good, and yes, you did it! Take that, stupid stereotypes! I’m eating this because I like meatloaf and it doesn’t have to be for four or more!

Thank you, and you may now return to your regular programming.

Welcome To Eating Well, By Yourself, Even If You’re Hitched

So, hey, I’m married. But most of my adult life, I was single, and I always struggled with fixing food. I’m kind of lazy, though I like to cook. I don’t like doing dishes, though I like eating off of them. And while I always thought of myself as being competent in the kitchen, the thought of saving or, yech, freezing those extra portions in my mismatched plastic containers was just too much. Too much thought, too much work, and I’m not a big fan of leftovers, anyway.

Enter the fast food joint. Enter the expanded hip joint. Enter the larger pair of pants.

Fast food is great when you’re single, and my guess is that while the restaurants have given this little thought, they never really knew what kind of audience they were capitalizing on. Quick, easy food, convenience, throwaway containers, and nearly 100 million single people in the United States are easy targets. Because how many times do we go to the store to buy food that is pre-measured for 4 or more servings? How many times do we look at the back of the chocolate chip bag and wonder who in their right single mind would make five dozen of these little morsels of heaven? Who caters to the great population of single adults in America?

That’s right: Nobody, except for fast food. And if you’ve seen “Supersize Me,” then you know that fast food is, shall we say, a little less than healthy. And if you haven’t seen it, that’s perfectly fine, that’s what this blog is for. Easy to digest information on how to eat, but more importantly, time-saving tips and tricks and recipes for single people, and those who eat singly.

Single people are discriminated against, pure and simple, mostly because we have this notion that everybody needs somebody. Maybe, maybe not, but it doesn’t change the fact that during some part of their lives, nearly everybody is single, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. So, if I want to eat out, it’s potentially expensive or unhealthy or both. If I want to eat in, then cookbooks and supermarkets aren’t meant for little old me. (Unless you count frozen dinners, which by all accounts are another bastion of health. And always so tasty, just like the picture on the front of the box. Mm, a soggy corn dog, am I right?) Cookbooks and supermarkets are geared toward the average, just like fast food, but 100 million people in the U.S. don’t fall under those guidelines, and are left in the drive-thru lane holding a frozen skillet dinner that feeds two or more.

Those who eat singly are people like me, people who have partners, but who often don’t eat the same things, or follow the same diet. You’re eating Paleo, and they’re eating Low-Fat. Maybe the family is focused on a protein plan, while you want to veg out. Maybe you’re a carnivore while they use pasta as a lifesaving flotation device. The end result is a need for recipes that cater to one, rather than two or more. They should be easy, and quick, and tasty. And they shouldn’t end up in plastic containers that sit back in your freezer, unused, unloved, and eventually, thrown out.

Finally, it’d be nice if the recipes you got weren’t gonna send you downriver to the mouth of diabetes and heart disease. While they won’t entirely cut out sugar, I’ve tried to make the entries something you could proudly wave in front of your doctor. To that end, some of these blog entries will have to do with how food works, and how to make it work for you. We’ll talk about sugar (Eek! Yum!), fat (How It Got There and How To Get It Off), carbs (The Poor Man’s Food), and exercise (Not To Be Confused With Weight Loss). Don’t worry, the entries will (usually) be much shorter than this one, and many of them will be recipes, so here’s to enjoying your food, one serving at a time.

Please, pull up a computer, and let’s get cooking!

Be sure to like me on Facebook and Twitter, and leave lots of comments, would you?