Margaret Button | Kitchen comfort: A hard look at food choices


After taking a hard look at my eating habits over the past few years, I decided last week to clean up my act. I need to eliminate most of the junk food in my diet — but not completely — stop drinking diet soda (like a lifetime of saccharin, cyclamate, aspartame hasn't already done its damage!), drink more water (and thus triple the number of times I run to the bathroom) and reintroduce fruits and vegetables into my diet. And, while I am at it, adding some calcium and fiber wouldn't hurt either.

The first step was walking past the whoopie pies — my breakfast food of choice — while getting my morning coffee at a local convenience store, opting instead for a plain bagel with cream cheese. (Yeah, I know, but Rome wasn't built in a day ). I also pumped decaffeinated coffee into my mug. I wasn't that good later in the morning. I broke down and got regular, not decaf, coffee.

The clerk at the cash register raised her eyebrows at me. She knows my whoopie pie habit all too well.

"I know, 'Where's the whoopie pie?' " I said. "I'm turning over a new leaf."

She merely raised her eyebrows again. She knows it won't last.

At lunch, I had a banana and a cup of yogurt, washed down with a bottle of water. So far, so good. Except that a large chocolate chip cookie in the deli downstairs from the Berkshire Eagle offices was calling my name very loudly and, unlike my yellow labrador retriever, I obey when I'm called.

Supper was leftover pizza, but it did have peppers, onions and mushrooms on it And, yes, my TV-watching snack was chips, but they were multi-grain!

My weekly shopping trip was another adventure in denial. The chocolate chip cookies in the store bakery, fried chicken in the to-go department and ice cream in the frozen food department were all jockeying for a spot in my shopping cart. I walked by them all. Multi-grain bread, granola, yogurt and a case of water were the main stars, with boneless chicken breasts, spaghetti squash and apples thrown in for good measure.

Over the weekend, I kept to my promise and made a relatively healthy supper in my crock pot. I'm not a big fan of chicken thighs, so I used 3 boneless chicken breasts that I had cut in half. (What are the farmers feeding chickens these days? The chicken breasts in the meat department are big enough to feed an entire Third World nation with just one!)

Crockpot chicken cacciatore


6 to 8 skinless chicken thighs (can be boneless or with a bone)

1 medium onion

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

1 8 oz package of mushrooms

4 cloves of garlic

1 large can of stewed tomatoes

1 tsp oregano

1 can tomato paste

3 tablespoons of chicken stock


Chop onion and slice peppers into thin strips. Slice mushrooms and mince garlic. Place everything except chicken into crock pot and stir. Place chicken on top of liquid and push down until covered with tomato mixture

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.


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