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.
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.
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.
Quick dinner! This is one of my favorite deceptively simple dishes that ends up tasting greater than the sum of its various nutrient-dense parts. Crunchy fresh vegetables pair with a spicy saute of beans – my favorite type for this dish is the dark red kidney bean, which I cook with minced onion and peppers, until they have crisp exteriors and creamy middles (yum!)
It was harder than I thought it would be to choose the inaugural recipe here. As time goes on, I’ll be happy to feature anything and everything that passes through my kitchen, but as your first glimpse it seemed important to kick off with something that sets the stage for my style of eating.
Of course, this made me gather some thoughts about what reflects my “style”. While I like cooking all kinds of dishes, the major focus of my cooking efforts is getting a wholesome meal on the dinner table. Like many families, dinner is the meal that we are most likely to enjoy together, and might I add, there’s just something climactic about the evening meal. After the challenges of the day, dinner gives the opportunity to slow down and turn our attention to nourishing ourselves. I love that about dinner.