Keeping lunch Interesting, part II

Last week I mentioned that Carver had a moment of genius in suggesting lunches. One was turkey sandwiches, the other was a couscous salad. Back when we lived in Boston and I worked for Beth Israel, I had an office (read: gray cubicle) near this great diner called Zaftigs. I went there with some awesome coworkers for a farewell lunch and found something special. A couscous salad with cranberries, nuts, goat cheese and chicken on a bed of greens. That salad provided me endless inspiration. I decided to make the original this week. The vinaigrette makes this dish, it’s orange-mint. Clean, fresh and intensely flavorful.

I cook up one cup of whole wheat couscous in 1.25 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. After the couscous is cooked I let it cool slightly. In a large bowl I put 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, the zest of 1 orange, and 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese. I pour the warm (but cooled) couscous over top so some of the goat cheese melts. I put this in the fridge until I am ready to assemble lunches. In the morning (or evening if I’m on my game) I fill a togo dish with greens and top with 1 cup couscous mix. Then I add 2-3 ounces grilled chicken breast. Separately I mix the vinaigrette (we have found that if you dress the salad too long before eating the mix ends up dry) and store until I am ready to eat/serve. The vinaigrette is simple: the juice of one orange, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves, 2 tablespoons good olive oil. Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients and taste for any necessary changes- salt, pepper, etc.

This dish is colorful, balanced, nutritious and far from boring. If you really want to pile up the nutrients serve with spinach. Combining the spinach and citrus will unlock more nutrients in the greens.



Keep lunch interesting, part I

I get bored sometimes and need some motivation and inspiration. Lunches are often where this boredom shows. The same thing everyday, or I don’t pack them because the thought makes me want to cry. This week I managed to get lunches made everyday with only one hiccup- yesterday’s muffins. They may have been (probably were) put away stale… Oops.
On Monday while Carver and I were brainstorming meals for the week he came up with two good lunch options. One we used this week and the other will be next weeks- turkey sandwiches and couscous salad.
For the turkey sandwiches I knew we had to spruce them up a bit to keep healthy and interesting. To do this here’s what I used-
1. Light whole wheat bread
2. I substituted guacamole for the mayo/mustard- this avoids the greasy taste and added some healthy omega oils
3. Spinach and tomatoes for added vitamins and minerals
4. Lean deli turkey- go with Boar’s Head or another ‘heart healthy’ option. Look for the American Heart Association’s heart stamp of approval

Assemble and Enjoy!


not always as planned

Saturday I had this great idea to make these mini pizzas. It didn’t work the way I wanted and was totally discouraged. I’m going to share what I did anyways, just to show you dinner doesn’t always have to follow your plan for it to be balanced and delicious.

Here’s where I went wrong: I didn’t look up the recipe. Because I didn’t look it up, my measurements were off. I used 2 pounds of dough, with the intention of freezing at least half of my yield for the week after the wedding. I knew I wouldn’t be up for cooking the first couple days we were home – actually I probably won’t be up for grocery shopping, the cooking is easy. I have the hardest time with pizza dough. I canNOT get it to stretch out and form a nice thin crust. Never have been. I have found ways to make it work like par baking the crust so it doesn’t rise so much and won’t be gooey after we add toppings. So Saturday I knew the general idea of the recipe, put dough in muffin pans, top with goodies and bake. But my normal issue arose and I couldn’t get them flat. So I decided to just cut up the dough in 14 standard muffins and 10 mini muffins. I poked them with a fork so they wouldn’t puff too much and baked them for 10 minutes at 350. Meanwhile I chopped up some turkey meatballs. When the muffins were nearly finished (still a little doughy in the middle) I put them on a rack to cool.

Then a few hours later when it was time for dinner I preheat the oven to 350 and sliced the pizza dough muffins in half like a hamburger. Next was the assembly line. The muffin halves were lined up on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Each half got a dollop of tomato sauce, a sprinkling of meatball and then fresh grated parmesan and pecorino. They went back in the oven for 10 minutes until crispy and warmed through. We served it with a large salad. Not as intended, but still delicious.

We have the muffins left over and so when I am ready to use again I will defrost the night before then when it’s time for dinner I can get these guys ready in about 15 minutes.

Oh and we have a dog now… Unless his owner claims him before the wedding.

I was reminded of something useful this week. Yesterday I tried to implement a ‘Wedding-Free’ day; I called it Wedding-Free Wednesday. It was out of desperation and necessity – my sanity is wearing thin due to wedding-related nonsense. What I was reminded was Murphy’s Law exists and you can’t expect people to read your mind. I may (possibly) have forgotten to give my closest buds a head’s up on this wedding-free request. Murphy’s Law comes in to play because yesterday was the day everyone decided to ask about details. So I’m throwing it out there – The next six Wednesday’s will be my break from all things Wedding. I need it. Carver needs it. So thanks for understanding. I feel better already.

I’ve started two new things since we last chatted: 1. Bikram yoga, 2. Gardening. AND I had an interview with an internship site (fabulous news for those of you who may be wondering). And I also got word that my application for ASU has finally moved to the department for their review. Whew… More waiting but at least we are one step closer to having an answer.

So Bikram – have you tried it? Do you know much about it? Basically it’s the original hot yoga and there is a prescribed routine of 26 postures (read same routine every class at every studio). I had never tried it but have been researching it for at least 4 months. Reading his book, talking to current students, and reading all details for the local studios. I had to mull it over, but I finally committed. The studio I chose had this fantastic deal – 30 days of unlimited classes for $30. I have taken 3 classes so far (fourth will be this evening) and have enjoyed them all. Well the first two were awesome and uncomfortable, the third was just uncomfortable. That was something I had come across in my research but class #3 was my first chance to experience it. It was a lesson in taking care of your body and preparing properly – I didn’t drink enough water in the 24 hours prior to class and I also didn’t eat enough at the right time… Basically I got so busy at work I forgot to eat/drink so when I got home I was famished and ate everything in sight and nearly died in class. Maybe not literally died but at the time I was pretty sure I should have a will.

I should be honest about that garden too. I do have one plant, it’s a tomato plant I bought at Costco on Sunday. It’s beautiful and has some nice blossoms already. It’s still in the pot though. My plot of land isn’t quite ready for it to be planted yet. Luckily this guy should do just find in the pot for the next couple weeks. Here is his first close up.

Last night I made us a special treat of pasta with tomatoes and ricotta which was very easy and delicious.


being resourceful

Are you? Resourceful that is. How are you resourceful: with funds, foods, at work, at home?
My fiancé believes I spend too much time researching ways to improve the status quo. I think his take on the situation is that the energy isn’t always being used efficiently. How can that be I wonder- I’m trying to be more efficient and productive. You mean spending hours reading how other people get things accomplished or navigate sticky issues isn’t as effective as just dealing with it in my own way?! Hmm
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I do spend more time planning than doing sometimes. Can you blame me?! Who wouldn’t love to create order (though sometimes just in theory)? Again, my fiancé tells me I may be slightly off base here. The upside is I could use my love of planning to help those who are organizationally challenged. The wheels in my brain are spinning… Stay tuned for my pending stroke of genius

Need a plan?

Well you are in luck! I have one for you. A whole week plotted out. Recipes, grocery list, some basic exercise goals, and a place to log any prep work you may want to do.

Planning is, in my opinion, the most important thing you can do aside from completing what ever you may be planning for. To have a successful plan it must be thorough, realistic and flexible. What I have put together here is all of those things. It includes all major meals, plus two snacks daily and exercise goals. The exercise is a key part because it is not possible to be truly healthy without being physically active.

The plan adapts easily to the number of people you are feeding. Right now it is set at 2 people for breakfast, lunch and snacks and recipes for 4 for dinner.

Sept 5 Meal Plan

Shopping List

You are ready to go! And just out of curiosity….

Must-Have List for a Blissful Kitchen: Breakfast Edition

Here are my go-to items to ensure I can always whip up a healthy breakfast in no time. This list will provide you with the ingredients for everything from smoothies, to toast with peanut butter to waffles or pancakes and everything in between.

Frozen Berries Low-fat granola All-Purpose Flour Mixed Nuts
Other frozen fruits: banans, mango, pineapple, etc Dijon Mustard Baking Powder Peanut Butter
Raw Nuts Egg Substitute Baking Soda Roasted Red Peppers
Vegetable Blends Eggs Brown Sugar Vegetable Oil
Whole Wheat Waffles FF/LF Cheese Cinnamon Whole Wheat Flour
Fresh Fruit: variety of in season items FF/LF Milk Coconut – shredded Whole-Grain Breakfast Cereal
Dried Fruit – variety FF/LF Spreads (cream cheese) Cornmeal Light Whole-Grain Breads
Granulated Sugar FF/LF Yogurt Lettuce, variety Sugar Substitute
Honey Ketchup & Hot Sauce Kosher Salt Cooking Spray