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What I Ate Wednesday #155

First off, thank you for the kind words, insightful comments, and touching emails in response to Monday’s post. I love hearing your stories. You guys rock.

Also, if you’re interested in signing up for my monthly newsletter, send me your email at keepingitrealfood(at)gmail.com.

And now we return to our regularly-scheduled post…If it isn’t What I Ate Wednesday again…How’s your first official week of spring so far? My schedule is a little flip-flopped since I’m working the first half at the hospital instead of the other way around.  It’s been busy, but at least the vibe has been upbeat. Can’t complain about the food, either. Here’s one not-too-sad desk lunch I wanted to share: 

rainbow tofu salad

Salads are one of my favorite ways to use up whatever’s in the fridge. Sweet & savory tofu for Meatless Monday, why not? Rather than do a play-by-play post, I thought this go-around I’d just share some weekend highlights.

To see more WIAW from other bloggers, visit founder Jenn’s blog Peas & Crayons.

What was the best thing you ate last weekend?  

Reflections and a Potluck Dinner, RD-style

When I moved to New York at age 22, I basically knew my boyfriend and a handful of people I’d worked on lit mags with or read tarot cards for in college—almost all of them guys, which didn’t thrill the boy-man-friend-thing. My family wasn’t far away, which was nice, but my sister was still in Boston, and my closest friends were scattered around the country.

Me at 22—Vintage Selfie

Me at 22 in Hells Kitchen—Vintage Selfie

That first year was hard in ways I never could have expected, and the lack of female friends was especially difficult. I spent a lot of time taking long walks alone through new-to-me neighborhoods and wondering if I’d made a mistake by moving to be with this practical stranger in his strange city. Maybe it was supposed to be this hard, I thought. Even if it wasn’t, I was afraid to tell anyone how unhappy I was—I was too stubborn. I had no idea who to talk to about that heavy blanket of doubt I had wrapped around my shoulders.

However, this was also the year where, in a cool, clear moment, I decided to think about what kind of work would make me feel good (as opposed to doing what I thought or was told I “should” be doing).  Working in an environment where the focus was on wellness ultimately inspired me to go back to school to acquire the skills and credentials I needed to help others restore and maintain health. I was so passionate and so sure about this new turn in the path, when my boyfriend tried to talk me out of grad school, I enrolled anyway and even requested to fast-track my matriculation to the summer instead of waiting until the fall semester to get started.  You know when you know, and in retrospect, I guess I knew enough to not give a f*** what he thought. It was bold, sure, but probably the rebellious act of which I am most proud.

Of course, grad school was not easy. As someone who’d never finished chem in high school, it was certainly a rude awakening at times. And, um, can we talk for a second about the time someone sabotaged my Orgo experiment? Who does that after age, like, 15?  I actually called my program The Shark Tank (competitive waters, at least pre-dietietic internship). Studying, exams, research papers—this was all new territory, but as a career-changer, I was even more determined to prove myself than I probably would have been if I’d done this stuff as an undergraduate.

However, one of the wonderful surprises about the four years I spent in grad school was the amazing people I met. One of the greatest pleasures I have had as an adult is to be in a room full of strong, brilliant women discussing things they care about—usually over delicious food. The other night, as we giggled about hospital misadventures and caught up on our lives, I was reminded again of how lucky I am to be able to call some of these women my colleagues and friends.  

My taste buds also felt pretty lucky. My friend Natalie hosted a potluck dinner party the other night, RD-style. Nice spread, huh?

RD potluck 1I took a little of everything. My friends are very good cooks—great examples of how healthy foods can be tasty!

RD potluck 2Clockwise from top left: kale salad w/ dried figs; apple-fennel salad; avocado & tomato salad; homemade focaccia; shrimp stir-fry; eggplant & chick steak; tahini cauliflower. I also had a few bites of a lentil salad that had goat cheese and a pureed squash & celery-root soup. Everything was wonderful! I definitely enjoyed some leftovers for breakfast the next morning.

Not that long ago, someone asked me if I regretted that time I spent with the person I moved to New York for. My response was absolutely not. We all make the choices we make—where you’ve been is how you got to where you are. All things considered, I’m a happy camper.

How long have you been living in your current city? Do you have a lot of female friends? What’s your go-to dish for a potluck dinner?  

Easy Cauliflower Rice Stir-Fry

I’ve been a fan of stir-fry since “discovering” Amy’s Asian Noodle Stir-Fry at age 16, when I liked to eat most of my meals standing up at my desk, not unlike young Chas in The Royal Tenenbaums. Not that you care, but did you know that Ben Stiller (who plays Chas in the movie) and I are birthday twins? So yeah, I would stand at my desk and do homework while eating my microwaved dinner.

All that talk about family meals and how important they are? Yep—basically never happened in my family. I am the child of two workaholics and ate dinner alone almost every single weeknight as a teenager. It’s probably why I’m such a slow eater—what’s the rush? Anyway, so me and stir-fry go way back. It’s one of my comfort foods, simple though it may be. Most of the time it doesn’t even occur to me to share it on the blog, but the other night, I made a version I couldn’t wait to post. beef cauliflower rice stir-fry

I may have posted about cauliflower “rice” a few times before, but I’m not sure I’ve ever posted a recipe with it. As we transition from one season to another (despite what the weather reflects) I’ve found myself wanting to shake up my usual dinner routines. This is always a fun change of pace—can’t remember how long it had been since I’d last made it! It also happens to be ridiculously easy. Who says you have to be on a Paleo diet to enjoy rice that’s not actually rice?

cauliflower riceDue to the high fiber content of cauliflower, I usually prefer to serve this with some kind of animal protein instead of using beans or something like tempeh. Of course, if your GI tract is game, have fun with the plant proteins. I just wouldn’t recommend making it the first time you cook dinner for a new partner or something—definitely save this for after you’re shacked up and way beyond The Mystery.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 green onions/scallions, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • red pepper flakes
  • cooked veggies of choice (ex: mushrooms, broccoli, snow peas)
  • cooked protein of choice (ex: beef, chicken, shrimp—I used beef prepared this way)
  • light soy sauce (optional)

Directions:

  1. Process cauliflower florets in a food processor until it looks like rice.
  2. Heat sesame oil over medium heat in a skillet. Sauté scallions until soft.
  3. Add cauliflower and stir-fry a few minutes.
  4. Raise heat to high Add veggies and protein. Stir-fry everything together.
  5. Serve hot and season with soy sauce to taste if desired.

tk

Friday Things: National Nutrition Month Edition

Happy Pi Day! Every March 14th, nerds like me around the globe commemorate that beautiful ratio of a a circle’s diameter to its circumference (~3.14159).

Speaking of annual commemorations, allow me to take this opportunity to look up from my smartphone and actually join the party 2 weeks late by mentioning that March is National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.”

I wish it was “eating well” instead of “eating right,” but I appreciate the focus on enjoyment and the idea that healthy food can taste good. In keeping with that theme, on Wednesday I tuned in to a great webinar, Culinary Competency to Enhance Dietetic Practice.

Anyhow, hope you’re looking forward to a great weekend. Here are a few things I’m digging this Friday:

1.) Quick & easy fish dinner ideas—can’t wait to try some of these!

2.) Jillian Michaels Body Revolution—I was starting to get bored with my usual workouts and have been trying new classes and changing things up at the gym a little. After seeing Elise’s review, I decided to give Michaels’ DVDs a try. I’ve been hearing awesome things for a long time and have no idea why it had never occurred to me to see for myself. I only got the first DVD, but now I’m wishing I’d sprung for the whole set. I officially get the hype now. Or more accurately, my (very sore) thighs get the hype.

3.) This article on the psychology of FOMO

4.) This week’s Trader Joe’s impulse buys. Opposite ends of the spectrum, but room for both. I hope this brie doesn’t suck. I want to eat with sliced apple and feel all sophisticated.

5.) St. Patrick’s Day is Monday. Celebrate/detox/pre-tox with a green juice! Or a green smoothie—great with fresh mint leaves!

 What’s on your mind this Friday? Any St. Patrick’s Day plans? 

 

 

Slow Cooker Black Garlic Pork Tenderloin

Yep, another black garlic recipe. I don’t know what my deal is. Between this and the kombucha, I’m going to start having to work extra shifts at the hospital to support my fermented foods habit.

Actually, I’m just kidding—the black garlic I buy is only $2.99 at Trader Joe’s, so I have basically zero guilt about throwing it in my basket. It’s really all the weddings (and showers and bachelorette happenings, etc) I have coming up this year that have me motivated to make extra dollars so I can toast my friends’ optimism without breaking the bank. The kombucha habit, on the other hand—sheer, inexcusably expensive deliciousness. At least it keeps my immune system feeling optimistic.

Before I start talking about marriage or something else I am ill-equipped to discuss, let’s change the subject.

I’m sorry I’m not sorry I love pork. I used to say it was the one reason I would never be vegetarian. Turns out lots of foods are the reason I will never be vegetarian, but pork is definitely way up there on the list, even though I don’t eat it very often. When I do, it’s usually because of a strong craving (maybe my body wanted a potent hit of B-vitamins like thiamine, niacin and riboflavin after a second glass of wine at dinner the previous night?). I don’t deal with a ton of food cravings, but when I do, they’re meat-related.  So, last weekend, I could not get roast pork out of my mind. I make pulled chicken in my slow cooker all the time, but I couldn’t even tell you the last time I branched out to other meats. So, at, like, 8 in the morning, I went to the store bought the smallest pork tenderloin I could find (bachelor problems) and cut it in two to fit in my fun-size crock pot.

roasted pork I was inspired by this recipe, but since I didn’t feel like buying Worcestershire sauce, I went without and swapped in black garlic for the regular because, as I have already said too many times, it’s delicious. I dialed down the quantities so as not to overwhelm myself (or my freezer) with pork. Feel free to scale up to suit your needs.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork tenderloin (mine was ~3/4 lb)
  • 1 bulb black garlic, cloves sliced
  • 1 tsp lite soy sauce
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • ~1 c water

Directions:

  1. Place pork tenderloin in slow cooker
  2. Mix together remaining ingredients and pour over pork. Cook on high for 4 -5 hours.

Whomever can tell me how to make pork in a bowl look appetizing wins a prize!

What foods do you tend to crave? 

Savory Spice and Seed Blend

spice and seed mixThis winter, the term “savory” has appeared probably more times than in my 5-year blogging history combined. Wonder what that’s all about.

Of course, now I’m fishing for a joke about unsavory characters in years past, but why give any more airtime to neck-slobbering gents who do things like eat McNuggets in your bed while you’re trying to sleep or pout when you beat them in Skee-Ball? Or you know, ghost you after a few months because they saw something shiny with tits on Ye Olde Dating Site. Or got scared because they’re intimidated by women who have their act together. Not like any of these stories are true, of course, but I digress.

So, this spice & seed blend…This became a thing as a result of my friend Lauren’s Facebook comment on a photo I posted to highlight my hemp heart enthusiasm. She mentioned a “savory” blend she’d seen in Whole Foods with hemp and rosemary and parm, and it sounded so good, I made a version for dinner that night. It became an instant staple. Being a household of one, I make small batches, but you can easily multiply this recipe to serve your needs—just store any leftovers in the fridge.

Ingredients*:

  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 2 tbsp hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • a few grinds of black pepper

Directions: 

  • Shake ingredients together. Done. Store in the fridge if not using right away.

*Yields ~4 1 tbsp servings

I like to toss this over steamed greens (and whatever other veggies) with a little tahini and mix everything well. If you hadn’t gathered as much, I basically want to put tahini on everything all the time. Tahini—like avocado—is why I do not give a f*** about mayonnaise.

Worst-case scenario: I’ll be th kooky aunt with all the stories and recipes; things could definitely be worse.

Have you ever known any unsavory characters? What’s your favorite spice blend? 

Oatmeal with Shiitakes, Black Garlic, and Miso

green juice and teaHappy Monday. How’s your week starting off? I’m so glad that the conference I was at last week only went through Saturday, as I definitely needed Sunday to recharge and get set up for the week ahead. This one is packed.

It’s amazing what two glasses of wine can do to me now. Sunday morning I needed a few remedies…

Since I had plans for some late-morning Zumba, I didn’t want to eat too early and be starving in the middle of class, but I also didn’t want to feel weighed down by a huge breakfast.  So, after running some errands and doing a little food prep for the week, I made a new savory oatmeal concoction that definitely bears repeating. It was the perfect mix of proteins, fats, and carbs to get me through an hour of dancing/laughing at myself.

shiitake oatsBlack garlic is a fermented product that’s very mild, smooth, and a little sweet. You can eat it spread on bread, blended into sauces, or cooked into all kinds of dishes. It’s a great way to bring together sweet, salty, and umami flavors. I just get mine at Trader Joe’s but if you can’t find it near you, just sub roasted roasted garlic.

Ingredients

For the Black Garlic-Miso Paste:

  • I head black garlic
  • 1 tsp white or red miso paste
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • a few drops water to thin, if needed

For the Mushrooms:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 4 oz container sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil

For the Oats

  • 1/3 c rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • a dash of sea salt (optional)
  • 2/3 c water

Directions

  1. Whisk together black garlic, miso, sesame oil and water or process in a food processor until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a sauce pan or skillet. Sauté shallot until translucent. Add scallion and cook until soft.
  3. Add shiitakes. Cook until soft.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the oats, flax, sea salt, and water either in the microwave (~2 minutes) or on the stove until liquid is absorbed.
  5. Stir a spoonful of the black garlic paste into the oats until incorporated. Top with half the mushroom mixture and a poached egg.

What does two glasses of wine do to you? Any favorite breakfasts lately?

Alone in the Kitchen

Sometimes I joke about publishing a cookbook of foods I make and love but would never have the balls to serve up to another human without first letting them know what they were getting into. And obtaining said fellow human’s permission, of course. However, the market’s not exactly hurting for anecdotes on solo cooking and dining behavior. Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant covers that territory so well. If you haven’t read this book, I’d highly recommend checking it out. Reading it a few years ago was a nice revelation that I’m not the only mad scientist out there.

savory oatmeal with tahiniThat said, l fully support the notion that savory oatmeal should become a more mainstream thing. Yesterday I enjoyed a bowl of it topped with roasted veggies, caramelized onions, tahini, and goat cheese.

Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it…Aside from being delicious (in my humble opinion), it’s a great way to get in some veggies first thing.

What’s the weirdest thing you eat but would be hesitant to serve to someone else? 

Sweet and Savory Tofu

IMG_4949So, my meat-loving friends out there, the title of this post probably just made you roll your eyes, huh? I know because I totally rolled my eyes at myself while typing it. I’ll be honest, making tofu sound appealing, especially when all you have to work with is numbers and letters, is no easy feat. Sucking as much as I do at food photography certainly doesn’t help. However, tofu happens to have the potential to be delicious—and healthy, offering up protein and calcium while also being low in fat (saturated fat, in particular).

For those of us born with an “earthy” tooth (which sometimes goes hand-in-hand with the mushroom/umami tooth), it seems perfectly logical to crave tofu on occasion. Like mushrooms, tofu takes on the flavor of whatever you cook and serve it with, so it helps to keep that in mind when figuring out what the hell to do with it.

While cleaning out old photo files, I found myself salivating over some of the tofu dishes I’d prepared in years past. Consider the source, obviously. As a flexitarian-friendly dietitian, I’m probably more likely than some to go, “I want to put that weird, white block of soy in my mouth,” but hey.

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 block extra-firm tofu

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wrap tofu in a small towel (paper towel is fine) to squeeze out excess moisture. Cut into cubes and place in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Whisk together molasses, olive oil, soy sauce,and spices. Pour over tofu and toss well.
  3. Spread tofu on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook until crispy on the outside,  about 40-45 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  4. Enjoy hot or cold with whatever you damn well please.

Do you like tofu? If yes, what’s your favorite way to eat it? 

What I Ate Wednesday #149

Since I’ve posted a few work-day WIAW’s in a row, today’s What I Ate Wednesday post is from last Sunday, when I enjoyed lunch and a movie with my family and did zero work. As always, many thanks to Jenn of Peas & Crayons for hosting the weekly link party—take a little trip over there to see more WIAW from other bloggers!

actions and words fortune cookieSince I saw plums at Fairway the other day, oatmeal with plum and tahini is becoming a regular thing again. This will always be one of my favorite breakfasts. Sometimes I cook in an egg white, as I did recently, as I was really hungry after a sweaty workout and knew lunch would be a way’s away. Of course, my stomach was growling an hour before I was supposed to meet my family for lunch. Apparently, I am that weirdo who snacks on roasted broccoli. It’s so freaking good. If you haven’t, you should try it! We enjoyed a late lunch at Shun Lee, which is one of my dad’s favorite places. We shared a bunch of things. The soupy dumplings (the one on the spoon) actually came with instructions for how to eat it—I wish I had taken a picture! At the end of the meal, we all laughed over our fortune cookies. I can’t not add “in bed” to mine…

After walking around for a while, we saw Twelve Years a Slave. Finally. PMS or no PMS, I think the waterworks were inevitable. That said, it was so well done, and such a story! I’m very curious to read the book now…

Anyway, here’s the “What I Ate” part of this week’s post. Hope you enjoyed some tasty things this weekend too.

  • Breakfast: Plum oatmeal with tahini
  • Snack: Roasted broccoli
  • Lunch: Veggie and “soupy” dumplings, spare ribs to start, followed by Szechuan shrimp and broccoli (yep, more broccoli) and orange beef; an unpictured glass of sparkling wine (I love bubbles with Chinese food) and a bite of my fortune cookie
  • Dessert: A nonfat latte from Le Pain Quotidien and a few bites of a shared raspberry ganache I forgot to snap a picture of
  • Dinner: A Mediterranean-spiced stuffed pepper with veggies & hummus, topped with goat cheese
  • Snack: A sliced banana—I didn’t bother with a picture because, well, we all know what a banana looks like…Why do I feel like I just made a dirty joke?

What was the last movie you saw in theaters? What’s your go-to Chinese food order? 

 

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