Food repetition…List of 10 meals we repeat…Especially while traveling the world…Especially with our limited diet…

Mezzaluna Knife, translates to half moon…

This knife was part of the kitchen equipment available for our use in the house in Boveglio, Italy.  Its sharp and with two hands on the handles making it impossible to cut oneself. That fact, in itself, makes it a must for me. The bonus is the ease in which it cuts and chops just about anything. 

Years ago I read that the average household eats the same 10 items for dinner over and over, week after week, month after month, year after year, with little variation. 

Think about how few items we eat for breakfast! This, of course, refers to cooking at home.  But then again, it may not be different for those dining out several times each week, whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We tend to repeat.

I suppose if we made a list of the meals we prefer to prepare at home, that our family or household prefers to eat, this most likely would be the case.  Although it sounds rather boring, many of us find comfort and ease in the repeat of the use of familiar ingredients, spices, and flavorings.

With our limited way of eating, the further restriction is incorporated into this theory. Here’s our list of 10 dinners, all within the confines of our diet (low carb, grain-free, wheat-free, starch-free, sugar-free), not necessarily in order of preference. 

(Please comment at the end of this post and send us your list of 10.  We’d find it interesting to see what others eat).

All meals are made using local ingredients, grass-fed, free-range meats, and organic vegetables when available.

1.  Pizza with a side salad, cooked and/or vegetables
2.  Italian meatballs with sugar-free, wheat-free pasta sauce, topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Side salad and cooked vegetables.
3.  Chicken breasts or whole chicken with a side salad and roasted vegetables
4.  Steak with sautéed mushrooms (this could include various cuts of steak, prime rib, filet mignon) with a side salad and cooked/steamed vegetables
5.  Pork which could include pork chops, pork roast, baby back ribs (rub type seasoning, no sauce), side salad, and cooked/steamed vegetables
6.  Pot roast/roast beef with roasted carrots, onions, mushrooms, with a side salad and additional roasted seasonal vegetables
7.  Mexican taco salad with chicken, shrimp or leftover pot roast, olives, tomatoes, onions, grated cheese, sugar-free/wheat free taco sauce (no chips, no shell) topped with sour cream, avocado, or homemade guacamole
8.  Seafood to include crab legs, shrimp, salmon, and cooked fresh fish or crustaceans with a side salad and cooked/steamed vegetables
9.  Hamburgers topped with nitrate-free bacon, sautéed onions and mushrooms, cheese with a side salad, and additional cooked/sautéed/steamed vegetables.
10. Chicken salad, tuna salad, or seafood salad made with onions, celery and mayonnaise atop a bed of fresh greens with a side of coleslaw and cooked/steamed vegetables

When reviewing the above, you’ll note that all we’re really missing with our dietary restrictions is:  potatoes, rice, grains or beans, bread, corn, fruit, processed side dishes, and dessert. When we want dessert, we have nuts (preferably raw) or cheese (preferably hard, unprocessed as much as possible).

Yes, it’s a repetitive menu. Why? For us, primarily for convenience. I can whip up most of these meals in less than 30 minutes of prep time. The most time consuming is the meals that require considerable chopping and dicing, now all done by hand with no access to kitchen gadgets for reducing prep time.

In a perfect world, the side salad we’d have would vary in ingredients and flavors. In both Belize and here in Tuscany with the inconvenience of grocery shopping, we are unable to keep our favorite, romaine lettuce (or other types of greens), fresh for more than a few days. 

In the US, I’d buy cello bags of uncut romaine lettuce easily keeping it fresh in the crisper for a week. Not the case here. It spoils, as do other fresh vegetables in two to three days.

I’m now convinced that some type of spray is used to keep greens fresher longer in certain parts of the world. 

With our current situation of grocery shopping for two weeks at a time, we purchase fresh vegetables, using them quickly with no alternative but to purchase some frozen vegetables for the remaining days. 

While living in Belize, with no car and grocery shopping once a week by cab, we discovered the benefit of making homemade coleslaw, faced with the same lettuce spoiling dilemma. We’d have some type of lettuce salad the first few days using it before it spoiled, then turning to the homemade coleslaw as the repeat alternative.

Green cabbage and carrots that we prep most days for our repetitive coleslaw recipe, a favorite while traveling the world with the ease of finding and keeping the vegetables fresh.

Cabbage and carrots seem to keep easily for two weeks if left uncut and unpeeled until the day of use.  So here’s the repeat.  Except for the first few nights after shopping while the greens are still fresh, we may have taco salad, or the other salad meals above, i.e. #7, #8, or #10.  Once the lettuce spoils (it always spoils before we use it all), we revert to the coleslaw.

I know I’ve mentioned this coleslaw in prior posts.  After all, we make it almost every day of the month.  Over time, we’ve perfected the process of preparing it (cutting the cabbage and carrots) and adding the ingredients for flavor which are few.

We’re posting this recipe once again after many email requests from readers.  The above photos illustrate how we cut the cabbage and carrots, a crucial aspect in producing the perfect crunchiness factor and the mouth-watering flavor. In the US we’d purchased the bags of precut cabbage and carrots which are unavailable as we’ve traveled. Plus, the taste truly is considerably improved by hand cutting, especially the carrots in small chunks.

The eyedropper bottle is a mixture of liquid stevia and sucralose. Unable to consume any form of sugar or quantity it is a staple for me to use in moderation. You can easily substitute other sweeteners that you prefer to use as shown in the recipe below.

After hand cutting the cabbage and carrots since last February (except while cruising, of course) we’re rather pleased with the results, each of us eating a large bowl each night with our dinner. I prefer to eat mine after the entrée. It tastes so good that it tricks my brain into perceiving it as a dessert.

Jessica & Tom’s Repetitive Coleslaw Recipe for World Travel (large portion for 2)

1/2 head small (or less of a large) green cabbage, shredded from small chucks, after removing the core

4 medium-sized carrots, trimmed and  peeled, cut into small cubes

5 T. real mayonnaise (look for a quality brand made with real ingredients without HFCS, wheat, or chemicals)

10 drops liquid stevia or another sweetener or if you’d prefer, 1 T. real sugar or more to taste

Salt to taste

Mix the carrot bits and cabbage well.  Season with salt (we use Himalayan Salt) to taste.  Mix the mayonnaise with choice of sweetener and toss into cabbage and carrot mixture. 

It may be stored in the refrigerator a few hours before serving but best if cold and freshly made, although it will keep fresh if refrigerated overnight. This recipe may vary from any previous posting as we’ve perfected it as we go. 

This recipe is not runny nor does it contain vinegar. The only time-consuming aspect is the carrot and cabbage prep, well worth the extra effort. We take turns cutting it every day and have it down to about 10 minutes, especially using the Mezzaluna knife we found in the kitchen here in Boveglio.  We’d love to carry one of these knives in our checked luggage but doubtful it would pass security.

(Yes, I know artificial sweeteners have been given a bad rap but my diet restricts any foods that contain sugar in any form including fructose found in fruit.  Plus,  Dr. Robert Lustig’s book, The Real Trust About Sugar, a profound life-changing book that we read after we’d already given up sugar, confirming other reputable reports and studies we’d reviewed over a period of time. Not a morsel of sugar has crossed my lips in two years).

There it is, the most repetitive food item in our repertoire of meal repeats. 

Let’s face it, food is fun. Dining is an integral part of our daily lives. It sustains us. It gives us comfort. It gives us joy. It brings us together. It inspires memory and emotions. If done correctly, it can give us good health, renewed energy, a sense of well being.

If you were coming to dinner at our home in Tuscany tonight, we’d be having a string tied grass-fed beef roast, wrapped in fresh herbs from the garden, served with natural au jus, roasted carrots, onions, and mushrooms, stir-fried seasoned eggplant, tomatoes, and basil (from our garden) and of course, a side of Jessica & Tom’s Repetitive Coleslaw Recipe for World Travel.

Repetitive meals are comparable to a happily retired couple being together day after day, night after night. It’s looking at the same face, hearing the same voice, and hugging the same, less than a perfect aging body, and, it still feels good.

Comments and responses Food repetition…List of 10 meals we repeat…Especially while traveling the world…Especially with our limited diet…

  1. Anonymous Reply

    Pat and Dan Repetitive Menu
    1. Spaghetti/hamburger, side of peas, toasted english muffin with butter & parmesan cheese
    2. Chicken or Beef Burrito (package burrito mix), tomatoes, lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, onions, salsa, taco chips
    3.Grilled chicken either plain or with sauce, corn on the cob, salad
    4. Stir fry chicken with various vegetables over brown rice, salad
    5. Pepper steak-round steak in crock pot with beef broth, paprika, garlic, onions, green peppers and tomatoes thickened with 2 T cornstarch, 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup soy sauce, served over brown rice, with green beans as a side
    6. Grilled steak, baked potato or sweet potato, salad
    7. Grilled hamburger with onions, tomatoes, lettuce, ketchup, mustard on a bun and side of corn
    8. Sometimes we just have a movie night with popcorn and ice cream
    9. Beef and barley homemade soup and crackers or chicken rice soup, or split pea soup
    10. Chile and crackers

    I guess most of your friends comment on your email instead of the blog. Too bad because I would love to hear their comments.

    Happy cooking.
    Pat M

  2. Jessica Reply

    Very interesting to see what you guys eat! Thanks for sharing. I always wonder what others have for meals.

    Many do send email since they haven't seen how easy it is to post. We'd love more comments on the blog for others to see. Hey, folks out there! Please comment.

    Thanks for sharing, Pat!
    Warmest regards,
    Jess & Tom

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