What better to top your salad than… more vegetables?? Trust me on this one. This golden emulsion brings bright flavor and creamy texture to whatever salad is lucky enough to find itself underneath.
I used to be a little wary of spaghetti squash. Its “diet food” reputation made me hesitate to view it as something to enjoy eating. Fortunately my desire to eat everything overcame my skepticism, because as it turns out, this squash can be really tasty. I started cooking it this way ages ago, on recommendation of one of the earliest posts of Edible Perspective, and never looked back.
Before I made nutrition my livelihood, I wouldn’t think twice about grabbing a giant sesame-coated carbohydrate monstrosity on my way to a morning lecture. These days I still eat them on occasion (a life without bagels is no life for me), but dietitian thoughts creep in. I can’t help but think of the inflammatory properties of flour, the insulin spike caused by the high glycemic load signalling to the body’s fat cells to plump up, and the anticipation that the refined starch will digest in a flash, leaving me crashing before lunch. It’s funny because there are plenty of RD-dubious foods I eat without a care, in interest of moderation. Maybe it’s because bagels are breakfast, and I feel pressure to start the day off right. A wise person described breakfast as the “gateway drug” for the rest of the day’s eating… how apt is that!? I definitely find that my morning meal sets the stage for the day, and I love fueling up on a breakfast that makes me feel good. So I set out to see if I could achieve that experience while, well… still getting to eat a bagel.
I can understand the argument that Valentine’s Day is arbitrary and consumerized… but seriously, if anything is worthy of celebration, it’s love. We tend to take a pretty low-maintenance approach around here; he plants me flowers, I make him an extra-nice dinner, and then we eat chocolate pudding. It’s silly, but it’s our go-to Valentine’s dessert. It’s super simple, but still feels special enough for a celebration. It’s rich, but not overly heavy after the preceding indulgent meal. And as a bonus, its prepared ahead of time and chilled until you’re ready for it, so it’s accommodating to whatever spontaneity your night offers.
This year, I felt compelled to try something new, maybe add a little sophistication to my old standby recipe. I experimented with an addition of almond flavor and espresso, and I have to say, it felt pretty fancy. It morphed chocolate pudding’s childhood charm into a deeper, more complex, grown-up indulgence. Of course I couldn’t just stop there, and had to further gild the lily by topping the bowl with lightly sweetened whipped cream, dark chocolate and crunchy almonds… I regret nothing.
Last week I cooked up a big batch of chickpeas with intentions of hummus, but accidentally under-cooked them a little. They were tender enough to eat, but weren’t quite able to blend into a smooth puree, so I bagged them in the freezer for later use (in case you’ve never tried, this is a great way to store cooked beans – the texture doesn’t suffer at all from freezing/thawing).
When I rediscovered them while foraging my fridge for lunch on Saturday, I had visions of chana masala… but I needed something a little more casual. I don’t currently have a favorite recipe for the classic north Indian chickpea curry*, and at the time I wasn’t interested in dropping everything to find one. I just wanted the essence of the dish – spicy garbanzos – in a quick and simplified way. If I could also find a quick and simple substitute for the experience of an accompanying naan… that would seal the deal.
Man Food… it’s taking over the internet this week! In anticipation of Superbowl Sunday, folks are pulling out all the cheesy, greasy, chicken-wingy stops. While I could never pass for a sports fan, and (real talk) probably can’t even bring myself to watch the game, I can’t pass up a chance to indulge in some good old-fashioned Americana… dietitian-style, naturally. While not exactly football finger food, this salad is my veggie-lover’s take on the meat-and-potatoes movement.
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t eat a ton of meat, and red meat in particular is an infrequent grocery purchase in the flavorRD household. Partly because we find it heavy, and partly due to the expense – especially for the grass-fed beef we prefer. But occasionally, a good dense source of protein and iron (more on that later) is exactly what we need.
I have a thing for steel-cut oats. These are the coarsely chopped oat groats that cook up with a nutty flavor and chewy/creamy texture. While I’m a long-time oat devotee, I had mostly only cooked with “old fashioned” rolled oats. I was stuck on the idea that they were the only way I could be guaranteed a bowl of hot oats in three minutes flat, and was convinced that the esteemed steel-cuts were only attainable for those willing to postpone breakfast in favor of 30 minutes of tending the stove. What I know now, is that steel-cut oats are perfect for reheating – seriously, good as new! We can cook up a mega-batch, refrigerate, and supply our healthy breakfast habits for a whole week.
Of course, no man can breakfast on porridge alone… sometimes the occasion* calls for pancakes. Back when I used to buy rolled oats on the regular, I hardly ever made a batch of pancakes without throwing a couple handfuls of oats into the batter. But now that my pantry is stocked with steel-cut (which I feared could break my teeth if given the same treatment), the oat pancake fix called for some creativity.
Salad ruts can be a real problem. Maybe you’re a better planner than I am, but too often I find myself scrambling, raiding the usual suspects in my veggie crisper to throw together the same old boring salad to green-ify our dinner. It typically goes something like this: spinach or romaine, slivers of onion, slices of bell pepper, maybe an avocado if I’m lucky, and basic vinaigrette. It gets the job done, sure. I dutifully eat my greens, but time after time, it becomes a real snooze-fest.
And it’s a shame, because a good salad can be such a pleasure. Beautiful produce in its natural state, a contrast of textures, a tangle of harmonious yet unexpected components… Really, I’ve slacked long enough. I want to be eating good salads. Great salads. Mind-blowing salads! I want to gasp, not yawn!
I know a lot of health foodies who hard-boil eggs in bulk… Even the manliest of athletes can embrace this cooking habit. Is this a part of your Weekly Food Prep? It was never a routine of mine, but after trying a few small batches, I’m finding them really handy. I rely heavily on eggs for at-home lunches, and my new hard-boiled stash has allowed so much more variety beyond my usual scramble.