Category Archives: food

One-Dish Meal: Spicy Thai Basil Eggplant Recipe

If there’s one thing I’m confident with in the kitchen, it’s a one-dish meal. I’m all for efficiency, simplicity and easy clean-up! While I love home-cooked meals, and don’t mind cooking them myself, I steer clear of complicating things.

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Here’s the deal: I do not love eggplant. It doesn’t have a ton of flavor, it can be very tough on the jaw, and it dries out very quickly.

But every vegetable deserves a fair chance in this world! I DO love ordering the eggplant dish at Thai restaurants, and that just flat-out baffles me. How do they do it?! It’s always soft, and edible, and flavorful (read: spicy!), and delicious. I order it without reserve; I know they’ll nail it and I’ll want another plateful for leftovers (because no, there are no leftovers).

I’m growing basil plant #5 in the backyard and it was begging for an excuse to be harvested. I picked up an eggplant at Trader Joe’s and thought, “Okay, let’s do-si-do one more time…”

Spicy Thai Basil Eggplant
Makes ~4 servings, or 2 big ones

2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic (~2 cloves)
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 eggplant, chopped into cubes
1 Tbsp sesame oil
Basil, to taste (~3/4 cup fresh leaves, chopped)
1 can(15 oz)  fire-roasted tomatoes
2-3 cups fresh greens: arugula, spinach OR kale (optional)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
Red pepper flakes, to taste (if you really like that spice!)
Optional: top with sunflower, sesame and/or pumpkin seeds

Heat the coconut oil over medium in a large sauté pan (or wok). Add garlic, stirring for 1 minute. Add red onions; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add eggplant, tomatoes, sesame oil and seasonings (cayenne). Continue cooking this mix until the eggplant softens (8-10 minutes); add 1/8 – 1/4 cup water if it looks dry. Stir in the basil and greens; cook until softened.

Top with seeds for extra crunch, flavor and healthy fats!

2014-08-10 19.07.22Suggested summer pairing: Water + Watermelon Ale (not mixed together), to quench the spice and your thirst.

Eggplant, you’ve redeemed yourself! I think you have basil, spices and tomato juice to thank. But we’ll take it.

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What’s your favorite one-dish meal?

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Filed under dinners, food, Nutrition, recipes

What I Ate Wednesday: RD Edition, Tagged & Delivered

There are a few reasons why I rarely, if ever, share food log-type posts, but there was once a time that you would see a few recipes here n’ there, some meal recaps and a lot of LGF love. In what was now probably more than a month ago, Anne asked if I would put up a “WIAW” post if tagged, and I said “sure!”. She tagged.

Dear Anne,
I apologize for severe procrastination here. Let’s still be friends!

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Without further ado: we breakfast.

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(Melissa, 10 points if you can name this exact location!)

This photo is a few weeks old, but mirrors what most mornings look like. I have a huge glass of water before anything else – but then it’s right to the coffee (usually black or with a splash of almond or soy milk), and the peanut butter. Banana? That’s just a peanut-butter vehicle. I do love me some potassium and fiber, though.

Grab a spoon, a napkin, and a healthy appetite for nut butter!

On occasion you’ll see oatmeal + cinnamon here, too. On another occasion, you might see scrambled eggs + avocado + veggie(s). Sometimes things get fancy!

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Now that I work from home, nothing has changed about my lunch routine. I chop up a variety of fresh vegetables, aiming for at least 2-3 colors in the mix, toss in some pumpkin seeds and sliced avocado, and when I’ve planned ahead, a hard-boiled egg.

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One big difference of this work-from-home business? My home came stocked with a lemon tree in the backyard. So lovely, so California. This beauty’s dressing came courtesy of this tree’s abundant supply – freshly squeezed juice, and a few chopped basil leaves.

Top this off with some Farmer’s Market strawberries and a piece of dark chocolate. Perfecto!

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On the dinner menu: Tuna steaks and cooked vegetables.

There is no shortage of greens in this house!We usually snack on kale chips and/or carrots + hummus while we cook – un-pictured, but you know what snacky foods look like.

WIAW_fish dinner

Poor photo, great foods.

This colorful plate came together courtesy of fresh-from-the-farm asparagus and tomatoes. Summer is the only time you’ll see fresh heirloom tomatoes in my rotation – I’m not sorry for being a tomato snob. After placing tomatoes on the “never eating!!” list for 21 years of life, I take their new spot on my “favorites!” list seriously. Dice one of these babes up and sprinkle some salt, pepper and balsamic on there? It’s simply the best.

Smeared on that fish you see a spicy green curry paste, courtesy of Trader Joe’s.

Dessert: usually another piece of dark chocolate, perhaps a handful of walnuts (my fave) and maybe some dried fruit. And maybe a peanut-butter dip. Maybe.

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What was on your menu yesterday?
Taking tips for fish-grilling, as we put together the Weber today!

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Filed under about me, food, Nutrition, what to eat

Eat The Green Spoon: Whole Food, GF, Home-Delivered Meals (DC, VA)

If someone offered to deliver a locally and sustainably sourced, gluten-free, chef-cooked meal to your door, would you turn that down?

Yah, I didn’t either.

eatgreenspoon_Meals

Hanson, owner and founder of The Green Spoon, personally reached out to see if I had any interest in taste-testing their meals. His pitch needs little to no pizzazz. The company’s values speak for themselves, and they speak loudly to the target demographics!

Do I want a gourmet meal prepared by a trained chef, that happens to also be gluten-free, sourced locally and sustainably, nutritionally balanced and, of course, full of flavor, delivered to my doorstep? Well, sir, I can’t think of a person who would say “No” to that question. So, yes, absolutely!

I was anticipating one meal. If the Chef was feeling generous or the kitchen had leftovers or some other luck-of-the-universe situation happened, maybe a meal for him, too.

I provided the address and he gave me a time of delivery; perfecto, I’ll be there! What I wasn’t expecting when I opened the door was a bag FULL of meals (see above). We didn’t need to cook for the rest of the week!

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Our sample meals included:

Mahi Mahi Napa Salad | Salmon with Mango Salad & Brown Rice | Grilled Rib-Eye with Tomato Relish & Balsamic Steak Sauce over Mashed Sweet Potatoes | Almond-Crusted Fish Sticks, Broccoli & Carrots (steamed) with Cauliflower Mash | Seared Halibut with Citrus “Soy” Sauce, Brown Rice with Bok Choy, Sweet Peppers & Cauliflower Mash | Chicken with Zucchini (GF) Waffles with Mixed Berry Agave Compote & Vegetable Medley

The Details:

Sources are listed for all foods.
Meals are organic.
Meals are gluten-free.
Produce is determined by seasonal availability.

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A few of these were dinner, while a few were a very handy, healthy packable lunch. They’re easy to reheat and taste like they were freshly cooked, no matter how you warm them up (instructions included). Flavors between the protein, vegetables and starches were all very complimentary and we enjoyed the meal’s variety of textures and colors. Each sample received two-thumbs up from the respective taste-testers (my pescetarian tastebuds & the meat-eating fiancée).

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If you’re in the DC area, check these guys out! Order something. Branch out of your dinner-eating comfort zones!

They specify delivery zones and, as I’ve mentioned, bring it right to your door. While I’m not one to order weekly meals, I think this could be a creative solution to small dinner parties, or a date-night “in”, or perhaps fooling the family while they’re in town?

You decide how you’d like to enjoy your Green Spoon plate, but just know that you’ll be happy to support this crew.

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eatgreenspoondc.com

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Full disclosure: All meals were provided free of charge.

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Filed under DC, dinners, food, health, lunches, Nutrition

Lunch’n Vegan: Pomegranate & Pumpkin Seed Salad

This recipe post is brought to you courtesy of Instagram and the attention that a lunch bowl can garner while people are hungrily browsing social media! All I did was calculate the leftovers in the fridge into amount of time I wanted to dedicate to lunch-packing after the Superbowl. I’m no chef, and “easy but healthy” could describe most, if not all, combinations posted in this space!

This came together easily, in approximately 5 minutes (thanks to Friday night’s dinner menu), and pleasantly surprised the taste-buds. And as it turns out, it’s ringing “healthy” bells:

pom   pumpkin seed lunch

Pomegranate & Pumpkin Seed Salad

2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
2 Tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 cup Sautéed kale
1 cup Roasted Brussels sprouts

Salt/pepper to taste. On the side: guac.

The measurements are estimates, since I rarely measure things but rather toss them in and give it a good look and think “Yep, that fills the Pyrex bowl”.

On the side you see some leftover guacamole from our game-watching party contribution (if you could call that a game?), which added a nice spice to the mix! It’s not intentionally vegan and gluten-free, but it is.

The Perks:

Pomegranate seeds are high in antioxidants and have been shown to lower cholesterol levels! Feisty little things. They can also be a good source of vitamins C and B5.

Pumpkin seeds make frequent appearances in my lunch, as they’re a complete protein and great source of manganese and magnesium, and an excellent source of zinc and iron. All good things in general, but especially for the veg-heads!

The seed-powered salad takes the win, here.

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Filed under food, gluten free, Nutrition, recipes, vegetarian

Eating in Moderation: Timely holiday thoughts from Seth Godin & Malcolm Gladwell

One brownie makes you happy, a second brownie, maybe a little more. The third brownie doesn’t make us happy at all, and the fourth brownie makes us sick.”

Seth Godin, “The Moderation Glitch

Malcolm Gladwell describes this in his new book, David & Goliath, as the “inverted U”. “For a while, more input gets you more results, but then, inevitably, things level off, and then, perversely, get worse.” – SG

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The holiday seasons now sound like a broken-record in my head; every year I’m writing and reading list after list of “how to” survive, prevent weight gain, stick with the workout routine, etc. Healthy holiday eating tips can easily be found EVERYWHERE – magazines, blogs, podcasts, radio and TV shows, social media, etc. They’re rarely novel, yet consumers bookmark, dog-ear and save them for calling upon when motivation is low and dessert consumption is far past the point of content.

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Image source.

“Moderation is a marketing problem.”  -SG

What I’ve learned:
No one wants to hear “everything in moderation”.

They may want you to authorize the “eat whatever you want just exercise a LOT!” plan, or a strict list of what NOT to eat, or maybe an exact meal plan, calorie count, shopping list, and perhaps while we’re at it, a personal at-home chef to make sure that healthy cooking gets done. I certainly don’t blame anyone for wanting any or all of the above – remove the guesswork of nutrition, the time spent deciphering all of the research and tips, and voila! We dine happy. Right?

Well, no, it’s never that easy.

But it IS simple: Eat in moderation*.
Enjoy food while you’re eating it. Move on, and go move.**

*Turn off the mental debates of this nutrient over that one; stop calculating how many calories in each bite, and put away the scale. Use a plate isn’t the size of a medium pizza, fill it with a variety of foods (and colors), and dine slowly so that your stomach can do its job and let you know when its full.

**Use your muscles to do something that motivates you, challenges you, or just gets you out the door for some fresh air! It doesn’t matter what that activity is; it’s important that you enjoy doing it, and you both want and make it part of your routine.

awesome …there is this exception. #truth

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“If the data shows us that in so many things, moderation is a better approach than endless linearity, why does our culture keep pushing us to ignore this?

…This is the wine drinker who goes from the health benefits of a daily glass of wine to the health detriments of a daily bottle or two. This is the runner who goes from the benefits of five miles a day to knees that no longer work because he overdid it.

Habits are the other half of the glitch. We learn a habit when it pays off for us, but we’re hardwired to keep doing the habit, even after it doesn’t.”  – SG

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What You Do Every Day

I use this quote over and over for a reason – if you take this into account EVERY DAY, it will matter.  (And clearly because I love it. So well put, Gretchen!) The way we eat, drink and/or workout (or don’t) for one holiday matters much less than how we do all of the above every day before and after the celebrations. The approach we take towards our health on a daily basis matters more than the approach we take towards the holiday dinner buffet.

Habits, and goals, matter. They drive decisions, mental chatter, and eventually, outcomes.  Think about yours, and keep them in mind.

Make yourself proud

Because honestly, that’s what will matter at the end of the day: how you feel.

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HAPPY Holiday season!

I hope you’re enjoying the time with family, friends, seasonal tunes and your  traditional favorites!

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Filed under doin things My way, food, health, motivation, Nutrition