Monday, March 20, 2017
Colors for breakfast -- a typical workday feast.
As someone who frequently packs breakfast and eats it at work, my typically colorful breakfast bowls have drawn their fair share of curious looks. With the familiar grain-based breakfast stand-bys no where in sight, it's easy to mistake these savory bowls-full-of-veggies for anything other than what they are - breakfast.
What is breakfast, anyway? Intended to "break the fast," this is actually the most important meal of the day: our opportunity to fuel up with nutrient dense energy to get our brains and bodies ready to face the activities of our days. When you're looking for nutrients, the powerful phytochemicals in plants are an ideal place to start, and they aren't shy about advertising their presence. A good rule of thumb? Cook by color (this goes for all meals, not just breakfast!) The brighter the hue, the richer the nutrients, and the more variety the better.
Another key to building a breakfast that will last you all the way to the lunch break? Make sure you've got a good balance of proteins, carbs, and fat. All fruits and vegetables are carbs, so it's completely unnecessary to fortify your meal with lower-quality, higher-glycemic carbs such as breads, pastries, or cereal grains. While I would heartily agree that these foods are delicious, they are completely counterproductive if you are trying to build a healthy, filling breakfast as they will only make you hungrier faster. Because they digest quickly but bring few nutrients along with them, they trigger your brain to seek additional sustenance elsewhere.
For fats, lean heavily on the plant-based fats -- olive/coconut oil, avocados, nut butters -- and use saturated animal fats from responsibly-raised animals in moderation. When eating eggs, do yourself a favor and eat the whole thing. The yolk is the healthiest part, and it contains incredible amounts of vitamins, minerals, and good fats.
Without further ado, the breakfast bowl:
2 eggs, soft boiled. (See how golden the yolks look? That's an indication of a really well-cared-for hen out there)
Butternut squash + caramelized onion, skillet fried.
Lacinato (dinosaur) kale, sauteed with ginger and garlic.
Blueberries + blackberries. (I admit, these were an out-of-season treat -- can't wait til they reappear this summer!)
Olive oil, drizzled on top.
Coconut oil, used for sauteeing squash and kale.
*Half an avocado - not in this version, but often present.
Happy spring, and happy eating!
Friday, February 17, 2017
First breakfast at home in Philadelphia. Friday, February 17th.
It's been quite a while since I last posted, and a week since I last wrote. The past month has been spent diligently preparing for our move to Philadelphia: packing, throwing away, donating, and carefully cramming our entire host of worldly possessions into about 50 boxes destined for our new home in West Philly. The kitchen alone took an entire day to pack -- the last day -- and another to reorganize everything into our new space.
After finally getting heat in the apartment on Tuesday night (we had a bit of a rough landing, and the house had not even been cleaned when we arrived), we have spent the last few days exploring the neighborhood, trying new cafes and restaurants, and unpacking our lives into our new home. West Philly is exquisitely beautiful; giant Victorian mansions of impossibly intricate shapes and detail line nearly every street, shaded by ancient and wizened trees, their naked winter branches writhing densely against the sky. Our house sits on the edge of a park: the wide open, tree-canopied epicenter of public life in the neighborhood.
From our living room window we can survey the southern corner of the park and look across it to the University on the other side. Built just after the turn of the century, the house exudes the ancient character of bygone days. None of the original hardwood floors are truly flat, and the kitchen is a melody of curves and angles. The floor slopes so much that you feel like you might slide right off your chair, and all the oil in the pan runs quickly to one side, making it difficult to cook anything without burning. The pantry door will probably never close.
The living room has high ceilings above an arched bay window, the new home of our piano and outdoor-furniture-turned-breakfast-table.
The skylights above the stair and master bedroom and bath flood the rooms with light at all times of the day. The house itself is huge, with our apartment occupying the top two stories. We've turned the upstairs into two dedicated workspaces for Chris and myself, and guests will sleep here in the nook, where I have my writing desk. The nook is the size of our bedroom in the old apartment, with a single small desk and one bookshelf and a chair. The white space is magnificent.
After picking up a few essential groceries at the neighborhood co-op, we were finally able to cook breakfast at home today. After feeling like a stranger in our own home for three days -- we arrived to a cold, filthy shell on Monday night -- everything is finally falling into place. At last, we are at home in Philadelphia: my kitchen is organized, the radiators are warm, and I can walk through the house without my feet turning black from the grime of someone else's life.
This first breakfast -- a simple spread of eggs, toast, and greens -- was truly something to be grateful for.
Sunday, January 15, 2017
As you plan your meals for the upcoming week (we like to do this on Sunday afternoons), consider picking up a few versatile ingredients that will work for throwing together some quick but very satisfying full-sized salads. Salads are great because they use fresh ingredients that you don't have to take time to cook, and they often require minimal washing and chopping. The downside of course is that fresh ingredients go bad faster, so you run the risk of not finishing off the crisper drawer before things start to turn. If this happens though, it's a perfect opportunity for a Saturday morning shakshuka...stay tuned for an example of one of those!
When prepping a salad, it often requires minimal additional effort to go ahead and prep them for several meals at once. Salads tend to stay fresher when you store them in single-serve sized containers rather than one big one, and you're more likely to grab it in the morning to take it with you for lunch. Throw in some base greens for each salad (I made six at once last week) and then chop or prepare enough toppings for each one. You can mix and match ingredients to give yourself the necessary variety, and you can wait until the day-of to add whatever protein strikes your fancy. We used smoked salmon on days 1 and 3, and two boiled eggs on day 2. Don't forget to include a generous serving of plant-source fats (avocado, nuts, olive oil, etc) in your salad, this is what gets you full and keeps you satisfied. Don't worry about the high density calories from these foods, an avocado for lunch makes you less likely to snack later.
Greens: pre-washed baby spinach and kale
Chopped cucumber (out of season, but ridiculously on sale that day, so I went for it)
Chopped purple and orange carrots
Roasted acorn squash
Edamame (Frozen and rinsed to unfreeze. It's parboiled, so you don't actually have to cook it any more)
1/2 sliced avocado
Note: the roasted things were from a previous night's dinner, so all I did was reheat them in the toaster oven before serving. You can always repurpose leftovers into new dishes to use them up.
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
December 3, Sunday night dinner, 9:06 pm
Sundays are often about cleaning out the crisper drawer, to make room for the fresh new leafy things coming in Monday night. This lasagna turned leftover spaghetti squash from earlier in the week and some kale a bit past its prime into a decadent weekend dinner treat. Throw in a freshly baked baguette and a bottle of Spanish red, and you've got yourself a date night dinner without even stopping by the grocery store.
Spaghetti squash lasagna:
1 jar arrabiata sauce
1 small tub of organic, whole milk ricotta + 1 egg + generous amounts of thyme and oregano
2 layers of noodles
1 layer of spaghetti squash, steamed and scraped out of the skin
1 layer of coarsely chopped lacinato kale
top layer of peas and freshly grated fontina cheese
Monday, December 5, 2016
December 3, Saturday night dinner, 9:00 pm
This soup was an adaptation of Deborah Madison's version from Vegetable Literacy, with Coconut Milk, Miso, and Lime -- minus the miso and made into a meal with quinoa and chickpeas. We had some aging chinese cabbage heads in the crisper drawer, left over from our last CSA haul of the season, so I threw those in to use them up. As a rule, it's always good to include some leaves in your soup. The brussels sprouts, also remaining from the pre-Thanksgiving grocery haul carried out by my enthusiastic husband, became a crispy and delicious appetizer. The pumpkin ale -- hanging out in our fridge since our wedding in early October -- finally found its calling as the perfect compliment to the sweet and savory notes in the soup.
Butternut squash soup with quinoa, chickpeas, and chinese cabbage
Dark roasted butternut squash seeds
Roasted brussels sprouts with maple soy glaze
Hardywood Farmhouse Pumpkin Ale
Saturday, December 3, 2016
Thursday, December 1, 2016
October 21, Friday morning breakfast, 9:50 am
Homemade biscuits (previously frozen, from Before the Wedding)
Scrambled eggs with garden Bull Nose Bell peppers and farmer's market cheddar
Dad's homemade strawberry jam
Freshly ground coffee in the Chemex
Orange juice, from our thoughtful and generous neighbor
Zinnias from the backyard