Posted by: Hil | March 14, 2009

Improvisation

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First of all, thank you to all of the new readers who came out of the woodwork for my Quaker gift bag giveaway!  I’ve delighted to see so many new names pop up and I hope you all stick around and keep commenting.  I want to give a particular thank you to everyone who posted on their reasons for reading this blog–I very much appreciate the feedback.  For those of you who haven’t commented or linked back yet, there is still time…the giveaway will stay open until midnight on Wednesday. 

I’ve been in a food rut for awhile, but I finally feel like I’m breaking out of it.  I’m finding adequate time to prepare fresh, well-rounded meals, and I’m not obsessing about whether an idea is novel or “blog-worthy”–I’m just working with what I have in the fridge and improvising.  Most importantly, my food has been satisfying and enjoyable to eat.  The most central food goal in my life is to eat real, satisfying food all the time, no matter how busy I get.  I think I did a good job of that this week, so I am happy.

I am officially in love with the combination of berry smoothie and veggie scramble for breakfast.  It’s really flavorful and filling and works with whatever fruits and veggies you have on hand.  The one thing I have noticed is that the smoothies are much more filling when I use more yogurt and less juice.  A little juice goes a long way to add flavor, but the yogurt has much more staying power.  And I absolutely love my little blender.  I like being able to just toss everything in the dishwasher when I’m done, and I just discovered that the containers are designed such that you can drink straight from them, so I don’t even have to dirty a glass.  Good deal!

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On Thursday, I ended up packing a another Aidell’s artichoke and garlic sausage and a couple of falafel (pre-made, from Costco) with some broccoli (pre-cut) and some bell pepper pieces leftover from my scramble.  Conveniently, the falafel, the sausage and the veggies all take the same amount of time to cook in the microwave.  For a snack, I packed some peanuts and dried edamame.  I always get it into my head that its hard to make vegetables for lunch, but this really couldn’t have been simpler.  I think it would have taken me more time to put together a sandwich than to toss these things together.   I think that the hardest thing about lunches like this is just to get used to going on auto-pilot and tossing in whatever you have on hand.  If you think about it too hard, it all seems like a lot more work than it is.

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I cannot take credit for Thursday night dinner, as the Lemonator made it, but it was delicious–spicy chicken tenders, roasted broccoli and a cara cara orange.  The Lemonator threw this dinner together in just a couple of minutes when it became apparent that my bus was running late and there was no way I could cook dinner in time for choir rehearsal.  We had no fresh proteins in the house, but we always keep an emergency bag of frozen chicken tenders, which defrost and cook extremely quickly, and the Lemonator made do quite well.

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My biggest improvisational challenge this weekend came on Friday night.  You see, the Lemonator was HUNGRY.  Very hungry.  The sort of hungry that makes people very grouchy.  (This is what happens when you decide that you don’t need to eat lunch!)  He wanted something immediately that was “substantial” and “had big flavors”.  It was a Friday during Lent, so I couldn’t make any red meat or poultry.  And because the Lemonator is spending a few days on the South Beach Diet, I couldn’t feed him any bread, pasta, grains or creamy/cheesy sauces either.  Got that?  Substantial, flavorful food NOW with no red meat, poultry, grains, or full-fat dairy. 

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I prescribed a pre-dinner remedy of peanuts and milk for the Lemonator, then scrambled to think what I could make that would fit the criteria.  I opted for one of my everything-skillets.  An everything-skillet is kind of like a stirfy, but on lower heat and with atypical ingredients.  First, I softened some bell pepper, carrot and celery in the pan with a little olive oil.  Next, I added a can of black-eyed peas and some pre-cooked frozen shrimp.  You don’t even have to thaw the shrimp…they will heat up in the pan on their own.  Next, add some type of seasoning–I used chimichurri sauce and tabasco sauce.  Lastly, I stirred in a big handful of spinach.  I topped each bowl with a little low-fat mozzarella and we had dinner.  I love these skillet dinners because you can truly make them with anything.  If you have a can of beans, some vegetables, and some cheese or seafood, you’re all set.  It may not be a very refined dinner, but it’s flavorful, comforting, healthy and filling.  And the Lemonator left the table no longer hangry, so I was happy!

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Responses

  1. Looovely meals and smoothie!!

  2. I want to know the Lemonator’s secret for roasting broccoli in a couple of minutes!

  3. Totally agree with your food goal. And in the end, your meals are wonderful!

  4. Great eats!

  5. haha – you did a great job on friday night’s meal w/ all those guidelines. glad lemonator was happy.


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