Begin Within Monthly Journal
& Favorite Easy Meals
December 2014; Letter 1
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Welcome to the first edition of the the Begin Within Journal. Each month I'll share with you personal notes, thoughts, ideas, struggles, cool links, and lessons learned. I'll also include my favorite easy meals for the month. These will give you an idea of how I eat every day, keeping it real and healthy. These are things I probably wouldn't post as a full article or recipe, but that I thought worth sharing. Maybe they will help you get some ideas for your own day-to-day meals. Because it isn't always going to be full-on gourmet cooking.
First off I want to briefly answer the question, 'Why Argentina?'
Some of you have expressed interest in my experience living in Argentina. And, of course, many want to know WHY we moved to Argentina at all.
In a nutshell, we discovered a real estate development/community that was started by a person in the investment world that we respected a lot. We (me and my husband) came for a visit and fell in love with the vision and with the other owners (many wonderful, successful, interesting people).
However, as we have now learned a few times (though this time it will stick!), most of the time figureheads and leaders are just as screwed up as everyone else. (Maybe even more so.)
We are no longer enamored with the community, and are not recommending it (except I suppose to a very particular type of person). I even worked for the developers in sales because I was so enthusiastic about it.
It was at the end of that year (when I quit) that I reassessed my life and my physical well-being (which weren't so hot). That was the beginning of my ‘year of healing’.
Anyhow, we ended up with a great property in the nearby town and we discovered a wide-open niche that needed filling… helping foreigners with their building projects and property maintenance. We have ended up busier than ever (and we’ve always worked hard) and have created a great lifestyle here.
(Actually, now our house is for sale. That’s one thing we’ve always done: Buy, remodel and sell properties. When this one sells we’ll see what’s next!)
We have a housekeeper who comes six days a week for about $300 dollars a month. We get massages on the weekends, at our house, for about $13 dollars an hour. A nice meal out, with wine, would come in under $30 dollars. An incredible bottle of wine in a restaurant, the most expensive bottle on the menu, might cost $20-30 dollars max. You get the idea. The cost of living is quite low, especially if you are exchanging into pesos from dollars or euros.
So, good things about Argentina are the cost of living, the wonderful people, and the chance to travel and explore South America, which we have been doing extensively. Our tips and trips are chronicled over at the blog/website Project Argentina, which was built to help guide others who are moving to, living in, and exploring Argentina.
The worst of Argentina is the government (which, in my opinion, is true of most countries). Although, however they might try to choke the economy with the stupidest of policies (devaluing the currency, restricting imports/exports), the positive is that they are fairly incompetent. Which means that the ‘rules’ tend to be quite flexible and that there is ‘always a way’ to get things done. Life is quite calm here- not at all what you might imagine when you hear the international news.
(Which makes me think the same is probably true in Greece and other headlining countries. What does a default mean to the people living in the country? Not much, as we have discovered first-hand.)
It has been a huge adventure moving to another country, learning the language, and being immersed in the culture. It hasn’t always been easy, and I wouldn’t recommend it to the faint-of-heart. But it has been extremely rewarding. Taking ourselves out of the comfy life in the US really forced us to discover, at the core, who we really are.
Cooking here has also had it’s benefits and challenges. The most positive thing about living and eating here long term has been that I have learned how to make almost everything from scratch.
In the US, so many things are so easy to buy pre-made. That is not at all the case here. And organics are rare to non-existant. (Although food here is generally much more natural; strawberries rot within a day, tomatoes in just a few, the peaches are like none I’ve ever had... but you have to eat them as soon as they ripen.)
I planted my first garden a couple of years ago, to grow things that are not available in the markets here (like kale). I took it step-by-step in the kitchen... and started cooking my own beans, and then gluten-free baked goods (with oats as a base for better nutrition, though they are still in the ’treat’ category), then granola, and yogurt, and nutmilk for my husband, and the list goes on and on. Both of us got healthier for it, and I learned a lot more about what it means to cook whole foods from whole ingredients.
And a great benefit of cooking so many healthy meals at home is having extra food for easy leftover meals.
The following four are my top favorite quick meals from last month. They all used up healthy leftovers and/or ingredients that I always have on hand (like eggs). If you aren’t around a kitchen at lunch time, you can toss meals like Lunch Bowl 1 or 2 into a tupperware container to go, as I do for my husband. They keep just fine at room temperature (or even in his hot truck) until lunch, and make a nice change from sandwiches.
Until next month!
Favorite Easy Meals
Lunch Bowl 1
Leftover roasted eggplant, zucchini, red onion, and yellow bell pepper with leftover yamani brown rice and chopped fresh arugula from the garden. (See my post on roasting vegetables here.)
They are the base for dinners around here at least twice a week.) I enjoyed this lunch bowl as a cold but hearty salad, combining the ingredients straight out of the fridge.
Lunch Bowl 2
Turmeric fried chickpeas with leftover roasted veggies and red quinoa.
One of my favorite ways to use leftover chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) is to lightly stir fry them in olive oil- with 1 teaspoon turmeric, and some salt and pepper- until hot and starting to get a bit brown and crispy around the edges.
Then I often just add them to leftover rice and top with avocado. On this day I (once again) had some left over veggies from the night before, and precooked red quinoa in the fridge, which I tossed in the pan to heat through just as the chickpeas were finishing. I topped it off with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, some good olive oil, salt and pepper to taste… A delicious, healthy and very satisfying lunch.
Lunch Bowl 3
Scrambled eggs with avocado This is a go-to lunch for me. Four or five scrambled eggs (cooked in little coconut oil or butter) topped with a small avocado, salt and pepper. (Salt is a must for good-tasting eggs.) You could also add chili powder, tabasco, or another spice of choice.
I had some chilled watermelon wedges on the side. If you aren’t sure about how to scramble eggs, check out this post here.
Favorite Light Lunch /Snack
I don’t do breakfast, preferring to go at least 14 hours between dinner and my first meal the next day. I usually start to get hungry around 11am, but sometimes I hold off til as late as 1pm. It’s not a rigid thing, it just depends what my body is telling me or how busy I get. If I have an earlier lunch, then sometimes I want something to eat around 3pm in the afternoon. Turmeric popcorn is a great way to go for a healthy afternoon snack.