Feb 242015
 

veggies

Lately I’ve been craving vegetables like crazy. I’ve always been a fan of veggies but for some reason I recently started craving them. I made a switch in my diet and started incorporating more veggies in my diet to satisfy that craving and I found that I was really enjoying roasted vegetables for lunch during the week.

roasted

I’ve been rotating what I roast. For awhile I was doing carrots, onions, broccoli and pre-chopped butternut squash from Trader Joe’s. Then I did carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli and onions. I don’t know why it took me so long to roast these babies. They are so good! I use a little bit of olive oil or the spray-on coconut oil from Trader Joe’s, then use salt, pepper and the Costco no-salt seasoning. That’s about it! And they come out delicious, perfectly cooked (although the sweet potatoes are often a little softer than the rest of the veggies).

This has been a base for my lunches at work lately. I love it! I tried it with some rice; for a few days I added some half a cooked spicy bratwurst (splitting one brat between two lunches); I also tried adding some cooked cubed chicken. All of those variations worked well and kept me fairly full for the rest of the afternoon.

One of the problems with the frozen meals (Lean Cuisines, etc) was that I would be hungry again in 1-2 hours after eating lunch. Then I’d start snacking on the candy at work. I was sabotaging myself by eating processed food that wasn’t filling, wasn’t enough calories and just made me hungry.

A tip that I learned a long time ago was to spend 1 hour doing food prep after grocery shopping. I am so glad I adopted this habit. I get home from the store and I take the time to chop the vegetables and on Sunday nights Michael and I cook up various meats (like pork sausage for breakfasts for the week, chicken breasts for lunches, etc). It makes it so much easier to make a good choice when looking to make something to eat quickly.

tip21

One night Michael and I went out for a date night dinner to Laughing Planet. It’s a great restaurant, especially if you have kids. They have tons of really healthy options, a rotating menu and they post the nutritional information for the meals. You also have the option to put your burrito in a bowl to make it low-carb.

laughingplanet

I ended up ordering the daily special. It was called the “Winter’s Bounty Bowl.” It was pulled pork with Korean BBQ sauce, spinach, roasted Brussels sprouts on top of a butternut squash puree. Then it was topped with an apple, ginger and mango relish. It was SO good! And it was really filling. I am totally going to try and recreate this recipe at home soon!

Back to lunches…I’ve been trying to look for some recipes and ideas for other lunch options. I’ve collected a few. Here is one:

Carrot Coconut Curry Soup

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Calories per serving: 204

From: http://www.acouplecooks.com/2014/09/carrot-coconut-curry-soup/

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 4 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2½ cups vegetable broth
  • 14-ounce can coconut milk (full fat)
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Cilantro, lime wedges, and red pepper flakes (to garnish)

Instructions

  1. Dice the onion. Peel and mince 1 tablespoon ginger. Peel and chop 4 cups carrots.
  2. In a medium stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the ginger, carrots, and 2½ cups vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer; cover and cook until carrots are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. When the carrots are soft, carefully blend with an immersion blender (or in a blender) until the carrots are smooth.
  5. Return the carrot mixture to the pot and add 1 can coconut milk and 2 tablespoons red curry paste. Stir until well blended. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add about ½ teaspoon kosher salt, then taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
  6. Serve with chopped cilantro, lime wedges, and red pepper flakes if desired.
  7. Notes: Slightly adapted from Easy Gourmet by Stephanie Le
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=45882

I recently had the Thai carrot soup at Whole Foods from their soup/salad bar and it was OMG AMAZING. I immediately tried to find the recipe because I had to make it myself. I didn’t find one specifically from Whole Foods but I found a bunch of options and settled on this one to try first. It was super easy to make and didn’t have a ton of ingredients. The only thing I changed: I used the Light Coconut Milk instead of the full fat like the recipe said. It’s what I had on hand and honestly,  I didn’t want the extra calories from the full-fat version.

IMG_6959

One thing I’ve learned making Asian dishes–never add extra salt. A lot of recipes call for a pinch or two of salt (sometimes more). But if you’re using jars of curry paste, or chili paste, or other Asian ingredients from a can/jar/package–IT ALREADY HAS SALT! And sometimes a lot of it. I learned that lesson the hard way and now I almost never add salt to recipes I make when using these ingredients. It’s just not necessary.

IMG_6960
I cooked everything up and let it simmer for awhile and then used my immersion blender to get the soup creamy. I love that blender! It’s so easy to use and it works really well. Plus I don’t have to mess with pouring things into a blender and then spilling it all over the place. So much cleaner and easier. I blended up the carrot mixture until it was the consistency of baby food then I added the curry paste and coconut milk.

IMG_6961

The one downside of the immersion blender–I did get splattered a few times when I used the fast speed. Ooops! After everything was all mixed in I let it simmer for 10 minutes and then tasted it. It needed a little something…I added a pinch of Splenda and then tasted it again. I added one more pinch of Splenda and then it was perfect. I hadn’t expected having to add sweetener because carrots are already so sweet but the soup was just a tad on the bitter side. The Splenda fixed that right up and the soup was perfect!

IMG_6962

I got 5 GENEROUS servings out of this recipe instead of 4, which made the calories more like 165 calories instead of 200+. This could have easily been 6 servings for dinner–with maybe some crunchy French bread and a salad. The soup was creamy and the texture was perfect. It was also surprisingly spicy!

IMG_6965

photo-1

I loved the soup. It was SO CLOSE to the Whole Foods recipe. I’m not sure where it’s different. I need to have the WF version again. I’m sure they used fresh ginger (I used powdered) and they probably used the full fat coconut milk. Maybe those small changes made the difference? I’m not sure but I loved my version. It was tasty and filling, low in calories and spicy!  Yum! Yum! I also had a bunch of leftovers for work lunches. Perfect!

What are your favorite veggie recipes?

Share
Feb 232015
 

I’ve often wondered what my last meal on earth would be. When posed with this question people usually want comfort food: pizza, burgers, lasagna, ice cream and pie. I always thought pizza and ice cream would be my choice. After my meal at Imperial, I vote for Doug’s Fried Chicken!

Doug Adams came up 3rd place in the most recent Top Chef season. He’s from Texas but moved to Portland and has been bouncing around at various impressive Portland restaurants before become Sous Chef at Imperial under Vitaly Paley. This season of Top Chef was pretty good and from the start I was hoping Gregory would win. He’s another Portland chef at Departure (a great place!).

topchef2_g7fxdy

In the end it came down to Gregory, Mai and Doug. I was bummed when Melissa left. I felt like she was better than Mai, who ended up winning. I thought Melissa’s dishes looked the best and she had a nice personality–Mai not so much. I was SO BUMMER when Gregory didn’t win. Loved him.

Anyways, it was Michael’s dad’s last night in Portland before flying home to Texas and Michael got us reservations at Imperial. It was crazy–a Tuesday night and the place was packed! I guess the popularity of Top Chef has caused a boom in business. :)

imperial

imperial1

Michael has been raving about Imperial for ages now and this was the first time I’ve been. Now I’m kicking myself for not going before all the Top Chef groupies. :) What a cool place! It’s in the Hotel Lucia and the decor is modern and chic, the whole vibe is really cool.

doug

I wasn’t sure what to order. Everything sounded so intriguing! Even the Crispy Fried Pigtail….! I had my eye on the sausage du jour until I found out it was Blood Sausage (no thanks). In the end all three of us ordered the Doug’s Fried Chicken. We shared an order of the fries (I ate more than I planned on but not so many that I regretted it).

doug5

Michael’s dad said they were the best fries he’s ever had. I thought they were pretty darn close (nothing compares to duck fat fries). I got a glass of a Pinot Gris that was way too sour for my liking (it was like eating a lemon) and ended up getting a lovely glass of Cab Franc (which I rarely drink but LOVED so will have to look for it elsewhere).

imperial2

doug6

This was kind of my last meal. After a weekend of indulging when Michael’s dad was visiting, it was the last decadent meal before I was getting back on track!

Michael ordered a salad and I had a few bites. It was the “Winter Citrus Salad”. It was salad greens, pistachios, grilled onions, tomatoes, grapefruit slices and an Oregon black truffle vinaigrette with the black truffle shavings on top. Holy COW. BEST SALAD EVER. I’ve never had a salad this good. I had two bites and wished I’d ordered my own. It was incredible. Absolutely, hands-down, incredible. And it was just a salad!

The waiter brought out the housemade hot sauce that was in an old-fashioned eye-dropper bottle and honey. Apparently they have beehives on the roof and make their own honey! So Portland. It was amazing, though.

doug7

The place was so packed and service was slow, but that was expected. I figured it was the new-found celebrity. The waiter was great though and checked in frequently. The fried chicken came out on cast iron skillets atop tree stump trays. :) Again, totally Portland. But the presentation was incredible.

doug2

Two large pieces of fried chicken with a watermelon salad on the side. Sounds simple but it was so fantastic. The watermelon was perfect, which was weird because it’s off season. The watermelon chunks had pickled onions, fennel and a tart vinaigrette on it. It went perfectly with the chicken.

doug1

The watermelon was so juicy. How was the chicken? It was pretty darn good. Most importantly: Michael’s dad said it was the best meal he’d ever had and wants to come back to Imperial every time he visits. :) I loved the chicken. The hot sauce could have been a little spicier for my tastes, but other than that everything was great. I loved drizzling honey on top of the fried chicken. I’d never thought of that before. So smart!

doug8

Somehow we got talked into dessert. I have no idea how because we were all stuffed and certainly didn’t need anymore food. It was the last dessert and we snagged it. It had been popular that night! We got the “Texas Sheetcake”.

doug3

It was warm, gooey chocolate cake topped with honey ice cream (which I thought was pecan at first) hazelnuts and toasted marshmallow. IT WAS AMAZING. OMG. Thankfully we split it because it was so rich but seriously, I could have eaten that whole thing on my own. Wow. No words. So good.

Sadly, we did not spot Doug in the kitchen. Maybe someday. Everything tasted amazing and the service was fantastic. It was a good night all around. Yes I overdid it. I knew I was as I was partaking. This was most definitely my last meal. :) Now it’s back to eating like normal–but man oh man, what memorable food!

Share