I am a pack-my-lunch kind of girl. This would probably be a good opportunity to go off on a tangent about how packing your lunch will keep your food and caloric budget in check. You know how it is – you go out for lunch with every intention of ordering the grilled chicken salad with vinaigrette. But then you sit down and before you know it the server comes to get your order and in a moment of weakness you decide that your salad needs french fries, crispy chicken, and ranch. After all, it’s been a rough day, some crispy chicken won’t hurt. You deserve a treat. Clearly, packing your lunch that day would have been a healthier option. Blah blah blah. You know it, I know it. When it comes to rationalizing, I’m the queen. I can rationalize just about anything. A reason to eat that crispy chicken salad? Please, I could write a whole page about it. Given my proclivity for food-related rationalization it is in my best interests to pack lunch most days so that I can maintain some control over what I’m eating. This works well for me in the end because I am nothing if not a person who likes to be in control. Suffice it to say, when I find something new that works well for me to make ahead on the weekend and pack for my lunches during the week, I’m pretty siked about it.
Pumpkin is a tricky ingredient. By the time November rolls around, we are conditioned to think that everything we eat needs the pumpkin spice treatment. We get used to the sweet and warm spiced flavors that often accompany pumpkin, so adding it to your smoothie or coffee sounds like a good plan, but have you ever eaten a spoonful of plain pureed pumpkin? It’s really not so awesome. However, if you don’t sugar it up first, pumpkin is super healthy. Pumpkins are low in calories and high in fiber, antioxidants, and minerals, so it is well worth your time to seek out savory pumpkin recipes that don’t require lots of additional sugar to make it palatable.
Whole grain breakfast bake with ginger and pears that you prep the night before. It sounds like a win to me! I originally made something like this with apples and cinnamon and I decided that the same concept would work just as well with pears and ginger. It turns out I may actually like this variation even better.
Baked oatmeal is a great breakfast when you have guests around the holidays (or any time for that matter!) because you can get it ready the night before and pop it in the oven the next morning. That way you don’t have to get your butt out of bed super early to cook them breakfast, and they don’t come into the kitchen in search of coffee only to find you slaving over the stove, which in turn makes them feel obligated to help. Let’s be honest, they don’t want to help. Chances are they didn’t sleep well because they aren’t in their own bed, or not in a bed at all, and all they want is some caffeine in an extra large mug to help get them motivated to face whatever their day will bring. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been there.
I can’t explain it, but as soon as the weather starts to turn cooler, Ray and I start craving Chinese take-out. Perhaps it is a part of our subconscious that is telling us to fatten up for the cold winter ahead — as if any of us need any further encouragement to do that. Whatever it is, the result is that we have Chinese on the brain ALL OF THE TIME. I recognize that real Chinese food is fresh and healthy, but that’s not the kind I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is the Chinese food that is a deep fried, MSG-laden, calorie bomb….that also happens to be absolutely delicious. I wish I could say that I don’t like it, but that would be a complete grow-your-nose-a-foot lie. Egg rolls? Chicken fried and covered in some kind of sauce? Lo mein? Yes, please, all of it.
Sentencing myself to a life without any Chinese takeout is an utterly bleak and completely undesirable prospect. Solution? I try to mitigate the damage. I can accomplish that by mixing up my own teriyaki sauce and drizzling it on a plate filled with steamed vegetables and chicken (Did you know you can get steamed vegetables and chicken from your Chinese take out place? Surprise, you can! Look for it!). That way, about 75% of my plate is pretty clean and I feel okay about indulging in an egg roll and some General Tso’s chicken.
I pack soup for lunch just about every day. It’s easy to think of soup as strictly “winter food,” but I work with my husband who prefers to keep our office as cold as possible so every day is winter in our building! In January it’s chilly and drafty and in August the air conditioning is cranked so high that you need two sweaters to remain defrosted enough to type. Needless to say, I find hot soup to be welcome no matter the season.
Recently, I made the potstickers from over at Damn Delicious and they were indeed damn delicious. I was such a fan that I wondered if I could use the filling to make meatballs and float them in a soup kind of like an Italian wedding soup with an Asian twist. So that’s what I did. I modified the filling and shaped it into little potsticker meatballs and then used similar flavors to spice up the soup broth.