Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Simple But Satisfying Lunch

For several months now, I've had a difficult time sleeping through the night. I can fall asleep just fine; staying asleep is the problem. The pain in my hips, lower back and shoulders is intense enough to wake me and prevent returning to sleep. Most of the day I'm dragging around because I'm exhausted. My feet are quite painful when I walk, especially first thing in the morning and after exercise, due to plantar fasciitis. I refuse to rely on pain medication to combat all of these issues, and so I've been researching how to beat pain with nutrition.

Most of what I'm learning is what is true for so many other ailments and conditions:  Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, organic dairy, nuts, fish, very lean poultry, and eat less sugar, processed foods and saturated fats. While my diet is already fairly healthy, there is plenty of room for improvement. When I'm hurting, my cravings are for sweets, especially chocolate, and whatever is easy to grab, like granola bars or pretzels. Eating those things satisfies my palate, but in the end actually makes my pain worse, creating a vicious cycle.

And so, I am making a more focused attempt to eat foods that will both satisfy and bring relief. In so doing, I will most likely shed a few pounds too - nice bonus! And I'm hoping that eventually a full night's sleep will happen as well. It will take some time eating properly - and consistently - for the results to be felt, but I am determined!

For lunch on Monday, I prepared a dish that turned out quite yummy and meets all of my nutrition requirements. The abundance of squash in our garden is what inspired my recipe.

Couscous with Veggies and Beans
1 cup water or vegetable broth
2/3 cup whole wheat couscous
1 small yellow squash, shredded
1 small zucchini, shredded
1 medium carrot, shredded
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and well rinsed
fresh ground black pepper
sea salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin

Bring water or vegetable broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add couscous, vegetables and beans; stir well. Remove from heat and cover pan; let sit for 5-7 minutes. Add cumin and salt and pepper to taste; stir again.

Makes about 4 servings.

I used vegetable broth, because it adds more flavor. Also, it's a good idea to shred the squash before you start the liquid to boiling. If a chunk of squash and/or carrot gets stuck in the Salad Shooter, like happened to me, part of your water is going to boil away while you fix things. This really isn't that big a problem, though - just add more water to the pan.

Here's to future pain-free nights and refreshing mornings!

The fog hovers over the soybean field, yielding to the sun as it climbs out of bed. Good morning!

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