Today I want to focus on some of the changes I’ve started to make since the start of the year. I had a little lapse toward the end of this week, so I want to remind myself of the GOOD things I’ve been doing, so I can get back on track. One of the big things is that I’ve been doing more cooking at home. I love to eat out, but it had gotten a bit out of hand. As 2012 closed, I was probably eating more in restaurants and take-out than I was at home. The crazy thing is that when I have time, I really enjoy cooking and have a whole bookshelf filled with nothing but cookbooks. So, I’ve been focusing on cooking more with a focus on healthy, organic ingredients. Plus, it’s kind of a fun challenge to try to lighten up some of the things I already enjoy, so I can continue enjoying them while I work on reaching some of my goals.

Last week, I made this awesome chili, which was born out of trying to save a pretty bland, dare I say almost gacky chili recipe from one of my cookbooks. It looked so good in the picture, but I should have known from reading the recipe that it wouldn’t be seasoned enough for me. It turned out okay, though, because it lead to experimenting a bit and why cook, if you’re not going to have fun with it?

This weekend (in a shout out to the German half of my family), we had sauerkraut with apples and light turkey-apple sausages. When you make sauerkraut with wine and apples, it’s called Weinkraut, but since no wine was involved, we’ll just call it sauerkraut with apples. The thing I love about Weinkraut is that it is less overwhelmingly tangy than regular Sauerkraut can sometimes be. Normally, we’d eat it with potatoes (so good!), but since I’m trying to stay away from carbs, I skipped that part for myself this time and watched everyone else enjoy their rooty goodness. Weinkraut about the easiest thing ever to make, especially if you have a crock pot. My mother, who is from Berlin, has even certified it as “good German food”, which is high praise considering the most emotive she usually gets (even about things she likes) is “it’s not bad” (or alternately It’s ok”). So, if she trots out “it’s good” or the even rarer “this is the best I’ve ever had”, you KNOW she really really approves. Here is what you need:

  • 2 cans (or the equivalent from a bag or jar or your homemade store of fermented cabbage…you know you have one. What? You don’t? What is wrong with you? Who doesn’t have a barrel or two in the garage?) of sauerkraut, drained
  • 2-3 apples, peeled and sliced
  • brown sugar (but only if you use sour apples and feel like you need it, I didn’t use much and find you don’t need it, especially if you use gala or golden delicious apples. Also, the apple juice below will sweeten the mix. If you use it, I’d start with 1/4 cup and do it to taste – remember it gets sweeter as the apples cook too, so you can always add brown sugar later. but before it’s done cooking, if you need to)
  • 4 turkey apple sausages, i.e. 1 package. My Oma used to use Kassler (smoked pork), which is delicious, but hard to find in the US and probably tastes too good to be healthy anyway. You can use kielbasa, if you don’t care about fat, but I care, so I’m sticking with turkey or chicken)
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • Apple juice  (probably about 1/2 – 3/4 cup, you just have to eyeball that it covers it the cabbage shouldn’t be swimming in it, but covered with it, just like it was in the can or jar…You can also use white wine, but I would stay away from wines that are too dry)

Slice up a couple apples (aim for 1/8ths) , open a bag or can of sauerkraut, cut the sausages into 1″ pieces, dump everything but the apple juice into a crock pot, stir, pour the apple juice over the mixture, then let the crock pot heat on low for about 4 hours (or until the apples are soft).

That’s really it. It’s good and if you eat it with potatoes, it even sticks to your ribs. The only thing I left out (because I am not a big fan of onions) is that some people also put onion in this dish. If you like that sort of thing, I bet sweet walla walla onions would be great, but I’m not going to tell you what to do. Your relationship with the devil’s condiment (I ask you, what GOOD vegetable would make you cry???) is between you and him.

And so, week three of my diet makeover begins. Well, calendar week 3, anyway, but that’s what I get for starting a diet in the middle of the week! Wish me luck!

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