Sunday, April 28, 2013

lunch 101

Having to always eat lunch out of the house whether at work or school, I have to make meals that are appetizing and yummy enough that I won’t be tempted to buy something every day.  As a dietetic student we learn how to counsel clients in building nutrition and healthy foods into their diet in an economical and easy way- 1) making grocery lists, food prepping all in one day, etc. it’s one of those things that sometimes comes to “do as I say not as I do.” Because really, everyone has a busy schedule, who has the energy after a long day at work or school to go grocery shopping and cook rice and veggies and prep foods that are healthy and satisfying?
But that’s where I’m trying to improve myself and hopefully give you some ideas to make your lives easier. I’m busy- I go to school part time, I have 4 jobs and I like to workout and relax and have a social life (some of those things definitely get pushed to the bottom of the list when things get really crazy), but I also want to eat well and make sure I have foods that make my stomach happy (currently, processed foods are on the “makes my tummy sad list”).
When I research recipes to fiddle or try the ingredient list is the first thing that decides whether or not I will try it. Not just if the ingredients are archaic and things I don’t want or have the money to buy, but if it’s longer than say 7 items (not including salt and pepper) then I usually find it too overwhelming. I want simple, straight forward recipes that won’t take my whole life to figure out. And if I can just use one piece of equipment or use two at the same time to save time, more power to the recipe.

As the weather gets warmer my lunches get more colorful and lighter (salads, wraps, etc.) as opposed to my colder weather lunches which usually include veg chili and things that need to be microwaved. My go-to building of a lunch for spring/summer includes:

Starch            +       Vegetable                         +              Protein
Brown rice             Lettuce (arugula,                                Beans
Wild Rice               Mixed greens, romaine, etc)                Tuna salad made with yogurt
                             Cucumber                                          Hardboiled eggs
                             Tomato, etc.                                     Hummus
I cook rice in batches of 1-1.5 cups for the week (in ½ cup servings that can usually last me 5 days). Rice can be boiled simultaneously as you prepare your vegetables…
I finally got around to roasting some squash and zucchini. Just slice, drizzle with olive oil both sides and season (I just did black pepper and garlic) and then bake in 400F for about 20 minutes. I also threw in some red onions for extra fun (my kitchen smelled amazing!).  The idea of prepping your vegetables for the week is actually a really great idea. If I have them cut up in the size of how I plan to eat it for the week it makes it really easy to make a stir fry really quick one night or to grab some carrots for snacking with hummus.
Protein is usually from a can or an egg. I know dried beans in a bag are cheaper and don’t have the sodium of canned ones, but by the time I remember I need beans I’ve forgotten to do the presoak and I’m saving time just popping a can open. I’ll rinse the beans really nice to get extra salt off and then toss together for a bean salad or combined with rice and veggies (like the fake fattoush). Tuna from a can is probably one of the easiest ways to get protein and made into a tuna salad with carrots or celery and old bay is eum eum good! Hummus (I usually buy sabra or I’ve delved into making my own) is a great way to get creamy protein in a salad. 
tuna and egg salad lettuce wraps are a great lunch/snack option,
just add some grains if you make it lunch
Snacks are another place of contention in my life. I don’t want to eat the same stuff I ate in my meal so it comes down to more creativity, pinterest, and just google searching. So far, my go-to snacks throughout the day are:
  • ·         Fruit
  • ·         Carrots and hummus
  • ·         Handful of nuts
  • ·         More fruit (I can never have too much fruitJ)
  • ·         Dried fruit
  •        I'm still on the fence about roasted chickpeas, maybe i just made it wrong
  • ·         If you don’t have a lactose problem string cheese is always a nice addition here
  • ·         If you don’t have a peanut butter addiction like me, where once you have one bite somehow the entire jar disappears, peanut butter energy balls are a great snack

         happy cooking! and have fun w/ it :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

fake fattoush (great for lunch!)

packing lunches can be no fun. esp doing it every day. so a great way to avoid that morning panic and spending $ everyday at the food court you can make something every week or every 2-3 days to pack for lunch. this is a fake "fattoush" or at least the version i'm going with :) i took great liberties but i'm enjoying it (maybe not the amount if made, but def like how it tastes. it's also very easy to modify to your own tastes.

Fake Fattoush (gluten free)
(makes 6 two cup servings)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cucumber, chopped into bite size pieces
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup wild rice, cooked and cooled
1/4 red onion, diced
1/4-1/2 c olive oil
paprika, to taste
cumin, to taste

Combine all ingredients. Cover and chill.

Friday, April 12, 2013

wrap it up

as soon as i typed that title i wondered if it sounded awk, and then i thought, oh boy, am i 15? so i left it there. if anyone else thought it was sort of "tee-hee-hee" please let me know. it'll make me feel less immature.
the wrap pictured on the left isn't actually filled w/ the mix on the right, but i wanted to show you that this recipe really is flexible and can be made to your own taste. and the really great thing about this recipe is that it takes under 30 minutes start to finish depending on how crazy you want to get with the add-ins. i make the tuna mix before work in the morning and when i get home i pre-heat my mini oven and roll up my tuna wraps. you can also sneak in all sorts of vegetables and proteins into this wrap, case in point, i hid smashed beans in my second wrap for the parents. the peanut broccoli salad was my first attempt at making a peanut sauce. which turned out really well actually. i made some modifications to the prevention recipe but i'm sure their recipe tastes fine as well.

Tuna Melt Wrap (makes 3)
3 tortilla wraps, 8"
2 cans tuna in water, drained
3/4-1 c black beans, rinsed and crushed
~ 1/2 c yogurt or mayo, or to desired texture
Diced carrots or sauteed kale or other vegetable, also to desired quantity
Cheddar cheese
spices to taste (I usually do old bay and black pepper)

Preheat oven to 350 F. While you wait for the oven to heat up you can dice your fresh vegetables or saute vegetables. Crush black beans and combine tuna, yogurt/mayo, vegetables and spices. Place a third of it in the center of the wrap like a log and top with cheese. Fold in the short ends, then wrap the long ends. Place on the baking sheet crease side down. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until toasted on the bottom.

Peanut Broccoli Salad (serves 3)
adapted from Prevention
A little more than 1/8 cup white vinegar
~1.5 T canola oil
2 T creamy peanut butter
2 tsp tamari ginger
3-4 cups frozen broccoli florets

Whisk all the ingredients except the broccoli. Saute broccoli until lightly browned and cooked. Top with the sauce and serve warm.

Friday, April 5, 2013

can you modify too much?

i love browsing food blogs. looking at yummy food pictures and reading over the recipes. but even when i find a recipe i'm dying to try i can't help but think about the changes and/or additions i could make to the recipe.

found a new blog and tagged about half the recipes i shuffled through, but this one caught my eye- 1) b/c it's bread, 2) b/c it had sour cream (still some leftover from my fish taco birthday lunch), and 3) b/c i really needed to stress bake

i've also never cooked with american sweet potatoes. if you've seen or tried korean sweet potatoes, they don't look the same, and they certainly do not taste the same. i'm definitely still a sucker for korean sweet potatoes, but i'm guessing b/c these are so orange much more nutrient rich. 
the recipe comes from averie cooks, and i've made several changes to not only make it healthier but also to fit the taste buds of m&d who are not the most spice happy people out there. 

Sweet Potato and Pecan Bread

Yield: 1-9x5 loaf

about 1 1/2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (2 medium or 1 very large), roasted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tsp baking soda
1 T + 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
pinch salt, optional and to taste
¼ c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray and flour one 9-by-5-inch loaf pan; set aside.

Roast sweet potatoes in the oven at 400F for about 35 minutes or until when poked with a fork gives easily. Mash sweet potatoes with a fork. Allow them to cool momentarily so you don't scramble the eggs.

Decrease oven to 350F

To the sweet potatoes, add the eggs, yogurt, sour cream, vanilla and whisk until combined; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients - flour, sugars, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, optional salt, and whisk to combine. Pour the wet sweet potato mixture over the dry ingredients, and stir to incorporate.

Turn batter out into prepared pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes for a 9x5 pan, or until top is domed, golden, loaf is springy to the touch, and cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow bread to cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning it out and gobbling it all up.

loved the pecans in it, b/c i roasted the sweet potatoes the decrease in sugar was definitely worth it (you wouldn't get quite the caramelized goodness if the potatoes had been microwaved and more sugar may have been needed). oats changed the texture of the bread, but since i haven't tried the original yet, i'm quite happy with my nommy bread :)

happy baking