A Day in the Life, Part 2

I typically start my day with a light, nutritious breakfast. When I worked in the afternoon and evening, I would cook first thing in the morning and have a big hearty breakfast and start prepping ingredients for cooking lunch. Now that I work a more standard 9-5 day, I don’t have time in the morning to do that any cooking. But I make my coffee and blend up a green smoothie. It’s easy to prep while the coffee brews and I feed the bunny, and easy to sip while I do my makeup and get dressed. I’ve tried having oatmeal or a sandwich instead, but it’s too messy while I’m rushing around and too heavy in my gut for the two mile walk to work. This week’s smoothies have been more purple than green – steamed beets, banana, blueberries or cherries, flax seeds, and almond milk.

For lunch, I do my best to cook something on the weekend to pack up for at least the first part of the week. Later in the week I will pack up other dinner leftovers. Worst case scenario, I take dry oatmeal with raisins or other fruit and nuts, or sometimes a savory version with peas and greens. This week we’re going out of town on Thursday, so I only need three meals, and I also need to use up some stuff in the fridge. I made tofu scramble with peppers, mushrooms, and peas for Sunday morning breakfast, then packed up the leftovers with some millet. There wasn’t a ton of scramble left, so I stretched it  out with extra peas and a tablespoon of sunflower seeds for each serving. I also packed up a side of raw broccoli and hummus. I have celery and cucumbers to take on the other two days.

Three little bowls: pre-millet, but post-sriracha.

Three little bowls: pre-millet, but post-sriracha.

My dinners can be a little scattered. My manfriend usually gets home much later than I do, so we don’t always have dinner together. That’s just one more reason I try to cram a lot of nutritious food into the first part of the day! After walking home in the heat, I want a snack right when I walk in the door. Depending on my mood, I might have a bowl of popcorn, some chips and salsa, or even just fruit. If I’m really hungry, I eat some leftovers or a bowl of oatmeal. I’ll cook something light later on if we’re hungry, although I do make it a point to cook a proper dinner for two at least once a week.

Today I picked up some whole-wheat pasta and cans of beans at the store on my way home. It’s going to be in the 90’s this week, so I don’t want to have to cook beans from scratch! I have an easy formula for weeknight dinners: whole grain + bean + vegetables. Tonight I went with whole-wheat elbow macaroni, chickpeas, tomatoes, and broccoli. Here’s a “recipe” for tonight’s dinner (I’m using that term loosely, since actual recipes usually include measurements and stuff.)

Pasta With Raw Tomatoes and Broccoli

Ingredients:

Whole grain pasta of your choice (maybe half a pound?)

1 can chickpeas, drained

Small head broccoli, chopped

3 or more cloves garlic, minced

Tomatoes (I used small yellow plum tomatoes and a big red beefsteak), diced

  1. Combine the garlic and tomatoes in a bowl with some salt and pepper. Let them sit while you prep everything else.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions. During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli. When it’s done cooking, ladle off some pasta water and add it to the tomato-garlic mixture (this warms the tomatoes and makes it easier to toss). Drain the pasta.

    Sometimes there is pasta in the pasta water.

    Sometimes there is pasta in the pasta water.

  3. Toss the chickpeas, pasta and broccoli, and the tomatoes in a big bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add some fresh basil or parsley if you have it! (I didn’t.) Gobble it up!
Not gonna lie: I ate a lot of this.

Not gonna lie: I ate a lot of this.

I followed dinner with a tiny bit of dark chocolate. And that’s my day, folks! I recorded a good one for you, just to be clear. There are plenty that involve eating chips on my way home from work because my job is depressing sometimes, and others that feature wine and take-out Thai food, but I always strive for one like this. Aside from my after-work tortilla chips and salsa, it was pretty low on processed foods, including cooking oil. I’m always amazed at how many calories oil adds to a dish! Every time I cut it out, I drop a few pounds. If you want to learn more about why oil is not great for you, check out Forks Over Knives. The film is eye-opening and they have some super recipes on the website. Anyway, my point as always is that with a little planning, a healthy diet isn’t that hard.

To your health!

Leftovers

I made much more tomato salad than I could eat this week.  Also, I felt that it was less-than-great after being in the fridge for a few days.  Refrigeration does funny things to good tomatoes!  My mother always told me it was a sin to waste food, so obviously I had to do something with it.  Thus, pasta sauce.  You’re on your own for amounts, but I would guess I had a little less than 2 cups of leftover salad and added about 1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes.

Easy Leftover Marinara

Ingredients:

leftover tomato salad, or any tomatoes you have lying around that are getting too soft

garlic, crushed

sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

fresh basil, roughly torn

Salt and pepper to taste

1.  This is easy: combine all ingredients but the basil in a small sauce pan and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Add the basil and serve over your favorite whole-grain pasta.

Spicy Tomato Salad

It’s tomato season! The best part of the summer. I threw together this simple salad over the weekend after getting a great big sack of juicy tomatoes from the farmers’ market.

Ingredients:

4 large tomatoes, chopped
1/4 of an onion, minced
1 tbls minced jalapeno
1 tsp turmeric
Juice of one lemon, or more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Whisk the turmeric into the lemon juice. Add all the other ingredients and gently mix. Let it set for about 30mins to allow the flavors to marry. Taste, adjust seasonings, and serve.

Delicious as a side for your veggie burgers!

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Image

I’m not a big salad person, in terms of things involving lettuce.  I like hot food most of the time.  But give me a salad with grains, beans, potatoes, or pasta and I’m sold on the idea that a dish doesn’t have to be hot and covered with yummy sauce.

Yesterday I was inspired by the offerings of my local farmers’ market.  That sounds corny but it’s true.  Pickings are slim this time of year, limited to things like fresh herbs, green onions and garlic, baby greens, and hot-house tomatoes.  So that’s what I bought:  cilantro, scallions, and tomatoes (which aren’t great like in August, but are worlds apart from the supermarket offerings).  I knew I had some limes in the fridge that I bought on a whim last week, as well as a pound of black beans in the pantry.  Then my wonderful roommate offered up some quinoa and this week’s dish was born.  I also picked up a red pepper at the store and found a cucumber in the drawer that needed to be eaten asap.

Image

Disclaimer: I am not great about measuring things, ever.  All amounts are approximate and can be adjusted to your taste.

Ingredients:

1 cup of quinoa (I like red because it’s pretty)

1/4 – 1/2 lb of dry black beans or 1 can, rinsed and drained

4 scallions, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced

1 or 2 tomatoes, diced (halved grape or cherry tomatoes would be good too!)

2 limes

a lot of fresh cilantro, chopped

pepitas or avocado (optional)

1.  Start by cooking your beans if you’re using dry ones.  Then cook your quinoa.  2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa, boiled for about 20 mins.

2.  While the quinoa is cooking, chop veggies and throw ’em in a great big bowl.

Image

3.  Add the quinoa and bean to the great big bowl and toss gently a few times.  Then squeeze the juice of the limes over the mixture, add some black or red pepper to taste, then toss some more until it’s combined and it tastes good.

You can eat it as is, a little warm, or put it away until tomorrow and eat it cold.  Generally this sort of thing is better the second day when the flavors have blended.  I for one ate a nice bowl for dinner, sprinkled with pepitas.  The rest I put in small containers to take to work for lunch each day this week.  I’ll be cooking up some collard greens tomorrow to round out the meal.  If you are a salad eater, it would probably be good on a bed of lettuce or baby spinach.

There you have it!  Whole grain + bean + veggies = meal

Image