Two major events forced me to change my cooking habits last week. My dog Annabelle was injured chasing deer in the house. My brother-in-law was diagnosed with high cholesterol. The vet and the doctor ordered changes in diet immediately.
First, you must understand that Annabelle, our 2-year-old Portuguese Waterdog, is mesmerized by the wall of glass that is the exterior of our living room. This strategic view allows her to monitor and patrol the tree line every morning when the deer are feeding. Later in the day, the bunnies pose a grave concern. And when she is bored, the squirrels are an imminent threat to our freedom-loving way of life.
That day, in an effort to alert the house, that some slow-chomping omnivores posed an imminent danger, she flew from a sound sleep and charged the glass. This manuever led to the injury and nausea that landed her squarely in the vet’s office. Dr. Becky x-rayed her, cancelled walks for 10 days and ordered a new diet. Diet? Riet? Off with the peanut butter toast snacks we share, cancel the bowl of kibble in the kitchen and no more steak bits to sneak at the dinner table. Annabelle was ordered a bland diet of cottage cheese, chicken and rice. We were both crushed.
Thus, began the week of cooking dinner for the humans at the same time I cooked dinner for our beloved canine. Bu, oh my–who wants to cook two meals? That is how I discovered the secret pleasures of ground chicken. Have you ever seen it in the grocery store next to the tenders, breasts and thighs? It’s there, but you have to really look for it. When I tasted Annabelle’s first meal, it felt like we humans were missing out…not bad…not bad at all…actually, mmmm very good.
So, out of this experience came new recipes that were leaner and more in tune with the diet my brother-in-law had been ordered: Less red meat and high cholesterol foods like butter. Actually we don’t consume large portions of red meat, but as a family, we do consume about a pound of butter a week. Shhhh. That’s just between you and I. Our secret. I bake a lot and it’s evenly distributed among us all…not like one person is chowing down a stick of butter…okay, I’ll take it down to half a pound.
During this crisis, I made two meals that were particularly good: Chicken Enchiladas and Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. They were wonderful meals. No one noticed they were healthy and that is how you know it’s good.
I encourage you to change-up some of your cooking habits and routines by inserting a healthier substitute. And for the record, I baked some peanut butter cookies last week with Crisco which reduced the cholesterol content by half. They were good. Baking without butter isn’t the evil I thought it might be afterall. Actually, I can report that not one cookie was left behind because it was too kind on the arteries. (Don’t tell Dr. Becky, but Annabelle agreed that Crisco cookies taste just as good as butter cookies.)
This time of year do not forget the special loved ones who are on doctor or vet ordered special diets. Save the really fattening stuff for holiday dinners. You might even start to like the new cooking routines. Annabelle wanders over the stove now at dinner and then over to her bowl where she paws at it, as if to say, ‘Where’s the good stuff?’