Chicken Salad Salad

Guys. I am so excited about the jar salads I made this week. They were so good.

We got home from Japan late Friday, so I had all weekend to meal plan and prepare food for the week. (Side fact: I’m doing another Whole30! My third. I started Monday, so this is only day 3. The last I did was a year ago. I’d pretty much decided to do it post-Japan even before I left for the trip. I’d been eating crap just because it’s there and not feeling great and not being mindful and just wanted to take time to be more intentional about my food choices. Actually, it’s about habits. I like to reset and reform good habits. Then eventually they wear away, and I come back to reset them. Anyway, and then, when I was in Japan, I was craving vegetables. I usually eat so many vegetables and could not find enough vegetables. I loved the food there, but I was very excited to come home and do a Whole30. We’ll see how long that enthusiasm lasts. :-). Anyway.) Instead of falling back on my default salads, I googled for some inspiration. I found this Chicken, Apple, and Pecan Salad from Damn Delicious, and it is damn delicious.

Chicken salad is still sort of a new thing for me. I had never liked mayo until I started eating frites several years ago (they were sort of a thing for a while, right?) and realized that aioli is mayo. So I started making my own. Store-bought mayo still just seemed unappetizing, but homemade was yummy. I used to make it with canola or vegetable oil, you know, before I knew better. Now that I limit those oils, I haven’t found a good way to make it anymore. I tried avocado oil once and really didn’t like it. However, I do like the Primal Kitchen mayo from Thrive Market made with avocado oil. I still don’t use it a lot, so it’s been sitting in my fridge for a while, and it was nice to find an excuse to use it.

To Whole30-ify the recipe, I did not use dried cranberries nor Greek yogurt. Instead, I used a little bit more mayonnaise and a lot more freshly squeezed lemon. Also, my experience with kale in jar salads is that it smells terrible after even a day in a jar (tastes okay, but coworkers give you funny faces), so I used spinach instead.

Ohmygod, so good. I took the picture below after my first bite while sitting at my desk at work because I was so excited.

For better or worse, it takes a while to eat. Not sure why – so many chopped up parts maybe. I was trying to eat really quickly at my desk in between two meetings yesterday. My coworkers were waiting for me to walk with them to the second meeting in another building. I finally had to give up and put some of it back in the jar to eat later. Probably better to not force eating so quickly anyway.

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How I (Loosely) Meal Plan

Sometimes I meal plan, sometimes I don’t. When I have free weekend mornings (which are important for my mental health, so I try to have them as much as possible), I like to sit down with my calendar, think about what’s in my fridge, make a food plan for the week, then go grocery shopping.

My schedule shapes my plan, of course. I have a general meal plan template for the week based on my typical schedule. For example, when I can, I like to make something with lots of leftover on Sundays (whether it’s crockpot shredded meat that I can then add to recipes throughout the week, some sort of casserole, meatballs, or soup that freezes well). I currently telework Tuesdays and Thursdays, which allows me to stay up later on Mondays and Wednesdays, so I’ll often plan to make meals those nights, unless I have other plans. (I actually often have plans on Wednesday evenings, so can’t always cook those nights. I meet up with my best friend for coffee in DC after work every other Wednesday so get home later, and about once a month or so I have book club on a not-coffee Wednesday.) I also have time Tuesday and Thursday mornings to make breakfast rather than needing one ready. I recently decided that I would like to incorporate more fish into my diet, so I aim for one of those weeknight meals to include fish.

My default when I don’t meal plan is to make sure I have staples in the house:

  • vegetables to roast (broccoli, asparagus, root vegetables, brussels sprouts)
  • leafy green like spinach, sometimes kale
  • easy protein (chicken sausages, leftover frozen shredded meat, boneless/skinless chicken thighs or breasts that I can bake in a pinch, frozen salmon fillets). I almost always have frozen chicken thighs and breasts and ground beef in the freezer because Dan gets it for me at CostCo every time he goes.
  • starchy vegetable, usually potatoes (sweet or not)
  • eggs
  • peppers and onions
  • fresh fruit and smoothie staples (frozen fruit, bananas, coconut milk or yogurt, etc.)

With these, I can make a breakfast scramble of eggs, spinach, onions, and peppers, which is my go-to breakfast most telework days and weekends. Depending on my activity level, I’ll often try to add a starchy vegetable. Occasionally when I’m feeling decadent, I’ll add a meat (sausage, bacon) and/or avocado. This morning (a weekend), I had leftover roasted butternut squash on the side of three fried eggs cooked over sautéed spinach. On non-telework days, for breakfast, I typically heat up a chicken sausage or eat pre-made hard boiled eggs, and combine it with something else – lately, pre-made smoothies that I take out of the freezer the night before. I can also make lunches of a salad of leafy greens topped with various things like peppers, roasted vegetables and/or starchy vegetable, and easy protein (which, if you’ve seen my recent Instagram posts, I do regularly). And I can make dinners of an easy protein (baked chicken, broiled salmon, chicken sausage) with a side of roasted vegetables and/or starchy vegetable. I also usually have frozen leftovers from previous weeks that I can rely on if I don’t want to or have time to cook.

That all works when I don’t have time or motivation to plan, but it can get a little repetitive, and I like to cook and try new recipes. So when I do sit down to plan, I’ll often deliberately include the meals described above into my plan, usually with specifics noted (Monday: salmon, Tuesday: chicken) and make sure that I get those items at the grocery store if I don’t have them already. Sometimes the specifics I choose are based on what I have left over from the previous week, especially produce, or what I’ve received in my Hungry Harvest box on Saturday morning. That’s also a starting place for recipes I choose. For example, I bought mint last week. Why? Stupid really – I had been looking for it a few weeks ago and couldn’t find any (see post on Basil Vinaigrette), so when I DID see it, I bought it. But I didn’t have a plan for using it, and now it’s in my fridge, going bad. Need to use it. Also, I got an eggplant in my box this morning. I wouldn’t typically seek out an eggplant, but since I have it, I’ll want to use it. So I’ll look for recipes to use those two things.

When I do plan, I’d say I only plan one to two recipes a week and rely on my defaults or leftovers the rest of the week. One of those recipes is often made on Sundays with leftovers for the week. That might provide dinner on Sunday, or the sole purpose may be to eat through the week. If it’s the latter, I might also make a recipe that’s just for Sunday dinner, often one that doesn’t lend itself to leftovers as well (either because it’s best fresh – generous salads – or just doesn’t make a lot of leftovers). And I might make a recipe one other night of the week. So I guess that’s up to three recipes a week, but usually life gets in the way, and I don’t actually do that many.

So then it’s a matter of determining which recipes I want to make. As I mentioned, sometimes that’s driven by ingredients I have on hand, so I’ll just google recipes with those ingredients. (A Google search of ‘mint eggplant recipe’ just brought up tons of roasted/grilled eggplant with mint recipes. That’s the sort of thing that probably wouldn’t be as good as leftovers.) I also follow several bloggers and podcasters, mostly paleo ones that I’ve mentioned before like Paleomg, Fed&Fit, BalancedBites, Lexi’s Clean Kitchen, and I might hear about one of their recipes that I’d like to make. This week, I came across a recipe for Moroccan Turkey Meatballs on goop and recipes 20 Spring Salads on The Everygirl, several of which I saved to make. The meatballs would be a good recipe to have some leftovers. Meatballs usually freeze well. The salads are advertised for being meal-prep-friendly, so I might consider making them in salad jars for lunch for the week.

So this is how my week looked before meal planning:

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I love this Ink+Volt planner, but I wish it started the week on Sunday, because that’s usually how I think about my week: Sundays are prep for the rest of the week. Most of my planning is actually for Sunday, so not pictured below. Tomorrow, I am running a trail half marathon (hence not being sure if I’ll go to CrossFit on Monday morning), but I expect to be home by early afternoon, which still gives me time to make food. I have plans Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights, so don’t need to think about those nights (on Wednesday, I’ll likely get food – Chop’t? – at Union Station before heading home on the train). Next Sunday I’ll be totally free, but I don’t usually plan this far ahead for next Sunday. I’ll think about that next Sunday :-). Sometimes I take Dan into account, usually I don’t. It’s hard to keep track of whether we’ll both be home in an evening, and generally anything I make can feed two people, so it’s fine either way.

Below is the result of my meal planning. Not every meal is filled in. I’ll just use my defaults there. Not pictured: Sunday (tomorrow), I’ll make gp’s meatballs and roasted eggplant and mint for dinner. (I wouldn’t normally white things out – I’d just cross them out if I changed my mind – but I used white out for your benefit :-)).

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These are the recipes I’m planning to use:

One last piece of my meal prep process: I use Evernote to collect, tag, and make notes on recipes. I clip webpages of recipes, tag them with things like ‘want to make’ plus other relevant tags, and then rely on that rather than the website when I’m making them. After making, I also take notes on the substitutions I made, how it turned out, whether I liked it, and the nutrition info if I try to calculate it.

So that’s it!

Oh hey there, 2017

It’s a new year! The kitchen looks pretty much the same. Here’s a little bit of what’s been going on:

I made posole on New Years Eve! I basically followed the recipe in my previous post except… I bought a 3.7 lb Boston butt from the farmers market that morning that was frozen and on the bone. I was mostly able to thaw it before cooking, but not enough to cut it up into chunks, so I just threw the whole thing in there and started trying to shred after about two hours. I cooked it for 3-3.5 hours total. Dan and I both thought it was okay while eating it. Then we remembered to season it with salt and add some lime and cilantro. Then it was really good. I forgot to take a lot of pictures, so I’ll share a couple pictures from when I made it 5.5 years ago, and a couple from Saturday. Sorry, my photography was just as bad then as it is now.

June 2011:

Look how clean my Lodge Dutch oven was! I think it was newish then.

NYE 2016:

Yep, that’s all I got. The red sauce was definitely darker this time. I didn’t use Anaheim chiles. I used… I forget. I’m sorry! They were just some dried chiles that I found at Harris Teeter a couple weeks ago. And, I think in future, I would prefer the pork chunks I’ve used before over the shredded pork I used this time. It made the stew fattier and heavier this time.

A couple nights before NYE, I made Greek turkey burgers and an arugula salad with tahini sauce from RealPlans (the burgers actually called for ground chicken, not turkey, but turkey’s what I had).

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The night before the last night of Hanukkah, we made latkes. My first time ever! We paired them with roasted vegetables and some leftover chicken thighs in mole sauce that Dan had made before.

On NYE morning, I sorta made a Benedict out of leftover latkes. Except without hollandaise sauce. And a fried egg instead of poached. Is that still sort of a Benedict? Okay, it was just latke piled with smoked salmon, sautéed spinach, sliced tomato, fried egg, and yogurt. It was delicious.

Yesterday morning (post NYE celebrating), I made the NYTimes shakshuka for breakfast for my friend who’d spent the night and me. No pictures. I had leftovers this morning (and a leftover latke – oof, a big full breakfast before CrossFit. Normally I don’t eat before my 5:30am class, but the gym only had a 9:30am class today due to the holiday, and I woke up starving, so had to eat). Ohhhh, and last night, Dan and I finally ate the remaining bone marrow that I bought from The Pigheaded Butcher many months ago. I also bought a ton of bones for broth when I bought the pork shoulder at the farmer’s market on Saturday, so I started a batch of bone broth last night. It’s been making the house smell real good all night and morning. I’ll strain and jar it in a couple hours. Bone broth for the new year!

And that’s it!

I’m going to clean out the fridge today. That’ll feel good. While watching Gilmore Girls. I’m on season 6. I do this every fall/winter. This is the season where Rory and Lorelei are not talking for the first half season. Not my favorite, but I’m  marching on :-).

And I’m going to have leftover posole for lunch. New Year’s off to a good start!

 

 

Real Plans

I’ve been saying I would write about Real Plans. Here it is! Real Plans is a web app/online service that provides a meal plan for the week and a corresponding timeline and shopping list. It’s pretty user friendly and very customizable.

When starting (and at any point after starting), you set diet and meal preferences. For diet, you can choose from things like traditional (I think that’s just everything), paleo, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc. From there, you can further customize to include or exclude certain food groups or ingredients. For meal preferences, you can select which meals each week you want it to plan for you, how many servings you want those meals to default to, and what kinds of meals they’ll be (soup/salad, quick, make ahead, etc.). After adjusting all your settings, you click a button, and voila, it spits out a meal plan for the week according to all the settings you entered. It pulls from it’s own database of thousands of recipes, and you can also import your own into the Recipe Box. You can then further customize it by modifying or replacing the meals, adding notes, deleting meals, etc. It creates a shopping list for the meals for that week; you can check off what you already have or add additional things to it. And it creates a timeline, so (as long as you think to look at it), you are reminded to take meat out of the freezer to thaw on time and what not. Pretty snazzy.

So let’s break this down into some pros, cons, and things I’ve learned to maximize my experience.

Cost

I started with the one-month plan ($14, plus $1 to add on a subscription to Paleomg recipes, because that’s where I heard about Real Plans, so wanted to support Juli Bauer). After a couple of weeks, I liked it enough that I decided to go all in and change my subscription to annual, which is $6/month ($7 with the Paleomg subscription). I figured if I got tired of it before the year was out, that’s fine, the net difference in cost of doing a few more months versus a whole year wasn’t too different. Real Plans credited my initial one-month subscription to my year-long subscription, which seemed like good Customer Service to me, and they were really easy to deal with (all over email – quick and painless).

The argument could be made that Real Plans saves costs by preventing one from buying more than they need and letting things go to waste. I never really had that problem, so that wasn’t an issue for me. And actually, I started to have a little bit of that problem when I first started Real Plans because I was having it plan too many meals for me (more than I could actually make, ending up with too many leftovers). I faithfully followed the shopping list so ended up with all this food (especially produce) that I had to use, but was having trouble keeping up. I think I’ve now found a good balance, though.

All in all, I think the cost is totally worth it. I kind of see it as in between something like totally going off the cuff or doing your own thing and something like Blue Apron. It takes some of the guesswork out, but still allows some creativity or changes – and doing my own shopping.

Recipes and Variety

I’ve generally liked all the recipes. They’re all very manageable (reasonable number of ingredients, relatively low complexity, don’t take too much time). I have felt like there hasn’t been quite enough variety this month since I’ve chosen a strictly paleo diet (while doing a #Whole30), but that’s partly also a factor of the types of meals I’ve chosen. For example, for Sundays, I have my settings for a big make-ahead meal. That means that Sunday is typically slow-cooker-meat day, although it’s been a different slow-cooker-meat recipe most weeks. Wednesday night is set for soup/salad, so there has been a homemade mayo chicken salad often on those nights, though the actual recipe has been different most weeks with different flavors.

This feeling that there hasn’t been enough variety has led me in the past few weeks to add some recipes from other places that I’m interested in making or making again. It’s fairly easy to import recipes from other places on the Internet (although there usually ends up being some manual entry or correction of ingredients). You can also just enter a recipe, although that of course requires manual entry. But it’s been nice to have that option. I’ve gone back through various recipes that I’ve grabbed on Pinterest or in Evernote that I want to make and imported them and replaced some of the Meal Planner meals with those.

As I mentioned in a previous post, since I’ve chosen strictly paleo, the majority of my recipes have been from Paleomg, which, as I noted, is fine, but I’d like more variety. I’m thinking of subscribing to another paleo blogger source (options include WellFed, nom nom paleo, Wellness Mama, and others including some sources for other diets), but I don’t want to have to subscribe to multiple different subscriptions just for more variety. I definitely see a value in supporting these bloggers and their recipes. I think I’d be willing to pay $2-3 more per month and have access to all of them (with Real Plans spreading the wealth among them) and would prefer that to having to choose which specific ones I want to subscribe to. Dunno. Or maybe I’ll ask Real Plans if I can change which one I subscribe to for a few months.

But overall, I find the recipes pretty good. Easy to follow. Nothing too crazy, but not boring either. Definitely solid.

User Interface/ Usability

Overall, the user interface is good. Not amazing, but pretty good. It looks pretty nice and clean, there are pictures for all the recipes, it’s fairly intuitive. The negatives are sort of minor nitpicky things, but they are there nonetheless. A good example: on the Meal Planner page, you are able to move things around (drag and drop like)… but only after you click on Actions, then Modify. It would be more user friendly to just be able to click on something and move it. I often want to be able to look at something’s ingredients/directions and immediately after move it… but to look at the ingredients, you need to be in the not-modify mode and to move it, you have to be in the modify mode. So it’s just a lot of clicking. That’s probably the issue that affects me the most, but there are just little usability things like that.

Also, the phone app feels pretty limited. You can see your meal plan schedule, the recipes, and the shopping list (and interact with the shopping list), but you can’t edit your settings, move things around as easily, or see the nutrition information. They recently updated it, and parts of it are better – such as the shopping list, which used to have a time lag when you checked something off which was super annoying. That’s fixed. But there’s still something about it that’s not super intuitive.

Oh, and speaking of the nutrition information… it’s nice to have that, but it’s not always the most helpful. It’s not always totally clear the amount that the nutrition information is referring to, how it corresponds to the number of servings made. But still, a useful bit of information sometimes.

Other Thoughts

First, I’ve come to rely on Real Plans a lot, which is mostly great… but I also feel like sort of a slave to it sometimes. I don’t want to waste the groceries that I bought at the beginning of the week, so I feel tied to whatever the ‘plan’ was, and then I feel constrained from choosing not to cook one night, or just eating leftovers, or just making something easy. This is partly why I’ve really cut down on the number of meals I have it plan for me. Some weeks I’ll just do 2-3 dinners, and the rest are flexible. If I end up not being able to do something one of the nights, there are still plenty of other nights that I could make it up. But I definitely have come to enjoy sitting down on Saturdays and looking at what the next week’s plan is and making adjustments as I like, then preparing to grocery shop on Sundays.

Second, I don’t know how long Real Plans has been around, but it seems to be taking off a bit right now, so I think there will be more improvements to come. As I mentioned, they recently updated the app, and it’s definitely improvement. They also recently added a #Whole30 package (of course, now that I’m almost finished with this Whole30… but it costs more anyway and I’m doing just fine). But the point is, it’s a dynamic thing and I think will keep getting better.

My Setup

Currently, I have my diet set to paleo, no dairy, and I’ve also excluded non-Whole30 compliant things like alcohol and any type of added sugar or sweeteners. I’ve also excluded shrimp in any form (Real Plans has 14 forms of shrimp as an ingredient) because I really, really hate shrimp.

I have it set to do breakfasts on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. I often don’t end up making the Thursday one, and one of the other ones often ends up being a casserole, quiche, or something with a lot of leftovers that I end up eating throughout the following week for breakfast. No lunches. And five dinners, but I often edit it at the beginning of the week down to 3 or 4 for the flexibility I mentioned. These are a mix of make-ahead, quick, soup/salad. I’ve been able to mostly bring leftovers for lunch the next day (or two).

I have my default number of settings set to two. Most recipes are not actually written for two, so this has not always translated. I’ll often have to review a recipe beforehand to make sure that it’s translating right. For things that it’s hard to make half of (quiche in a pie pan, for instance), I’ll bump the servings back up and freeze the leftovers. Same with things like slow cooker meat. That freezes easily, so if I’m going to the effort to slow cook something all day, I’ll do the full amount and just have leftovers.

So that’s that! Overall, I’m really liking it and will stick with it for a while. At some point I might want to throw off the crutch, but at other points I’m sure I’ll want to come back. I’m really glad I’ve discovered it! Below are some photos of meals I’ve made (many of which are also Paleomg recipes, so credit there!).

She Eats (and Hikes) in Charlottesville

I spent the weekend in Charlottesville with a good friend who lives in DC but is doing a law internship in Charlottesville for the summer. I had never spent time in Charlottesville before, though I’ve driven through/near/around several times, and was glad for the opportunity.

I drove down Friday after being let out of work early for the 4th of July holiday weekend. I’d driven to the DC Metro red line in the morning instead of taking the MARC train as I usually do, so was able to start driving from north of DC around 3:30. With DC traffic on a Friday afternoon before a long weekend and several thunderstorms, I didn’t arrive in Charlottesville until 7pm. I had NPR, the Minimalists (Episode 28), Liz Wolfe and Cassy Joy Garcia (Balanced Bites Episode 250), and then some poppy music to keep me company along the way.

Soon after I arrived, we went to Monsoon Siam for dinner and sat on the porch. Our meals were delicious (and actually spicy) – my friend had Kapow Jae to maximize the vegetables, and I had the pik pow with added broccoli – but the entry process was annoying. It wasn’t clear where to enter or who to talk to about putting our name in for a table (or even if that was necessary). Things like that drive me crazy. Then, once we got seated, a server didn’t come for probably at least 20 minutes. My friend ended up going to the bar for waters, and then ultimately went back to the bar for beers before we ever had a server come. To be fair, they seemed understaffed and overbusy. I probably would have been more forgiving if not for the initial entry process confusion. Anyway.

After dinner, we walked along the pedestrian mall and went to The Southern to see some music (Rob Cheathem & Co.).

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On Saturday, I woke up at 5:30 like usual (annoying) and was out for my triathlon training workout by 6:15. I didn’t bring my bike, so I borrowed my friend’s hybrid. And Charlottesville is hilly. I biked west of town and back in a big loop, and then I ran 3 miles down through the UVA campus and back to her house. I was pooped. Did I mention it was hilly? While running, I snapped a photo of this church. Yay, equality.

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To get the day started, we went to the Charlottesville farmers market downtown and then to Bluegrass Grill for brunch. At the farmer’s market, my friend bought tomatoes, and we both bought a bucket of peaches. It seems early for peach season, but man, they’re delicious. For brunch, I had a potato scramble with (some sort of weird, fake, but still meat) chorizo, egg, peppers, onions, and tomatoes.

After an unfortunate locking-of-keys-in-trunk incident, we spent the afternoon being lazy on her lawn, snacking on nuts and fruit.

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We went to a barbecue at one of her friends’ houses that evening, where we ate some delicious salads, steak, and sausage.

On Sunday, we ate breakfast at home (Greek TJ’s yogurt, nuts, and banana for me) before setting out for a hike. Shenandoah and other mountainous areas were a further drive than we wanted, so we went to the Fortune’s Cove Nature Conservancy about 35 minutes from Charlottesville outside Lovingston, VA. The hike was five miles-ish and relatively steep both up and down. The day was overcast and foggy so the views weren’t great, but it was still pretty. Parts of the trail had a lot of growth; the trail to the top of High Top mountain, a slight detour off the trail, was particularly overgrown. And not worth it at all, due to the lack of views and the creepy I-feel-like-I’m-in-an-episode-of-Lost gated building. But overall I’d recommend the hike. It was very well marked, a great workout, and pretty.

We didn’t see a ton of wildlife, but what we did see was super unexpected. First, we ran into a turtle. Next, near the top, were a TON of these three-dimensional spiderwebs. And finally, where the trail crossed a fire road on the way down, we saw some large animal that we’re still debating: was it a dog? A coyote? Or, where I think we’ve settled, a fisher weasel? It looked kind of like a raccoon, except four times as big. And kind of like a dog, except it… ambled more… like a bear. Who knows. We saw it from behind, and its most defining characteristic was its very bushy tail. I wish we’d taken a picture.

The nature preserve was just across the road from Mountain Cove Winery, so we stopped for a tasting before heading home. It’s apparently the oldest winery in Virginia!

We were starving (it was late afternoon), so we stopped at Al Carbon for rotisserie chicken that totally hit the spot. It was delicious. So were the roasted vegetables and sweet potato sides that I got. My friend liked her chicken, but thought some of the sides were too rich and creamy.

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Due to the late lunch, we didn’t need a proper dinner, so snacked on more nuts and fruit (and TJ turkey sausage) for a late evening snack.

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For my last meal in Charlottesville, we went this morning to the Oakhurst Inn Cafe and Espresso Bar for breakfast. It was so charming – in a house, with pretty wood tables and enormous cups of coffee. I would love to stay at the Inn. My friend and I both got the baked farm eggs, and I got a side avocado salad that I’m pretty sure had an entire avocado in it. The baked eggs were delicious (and a little spicy), but the dressing on the avocado salad was my favorite part of the meal.

And finally, after returning home early this afternoon, I made myself a salad with the last of the Trader Joe’s turkey salami, a tomato from our farm box, part of an avocado, and a peach from the Charlottesville farmers market. Yum.

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Tahini Yogurt Sauce

Guys, my love of roasted vegetables knows no bounds. Like, I’m pretty sure that I would be perfectly happy for a really long time to eat nothing but roasted vegetables. But I can’t have everything I write about be about roasted vegetables, so for this I’m choosing to highlight the tahini yogurt sauce that I smothered my roasted vegetables in recently.

I forget what inspired me to make this. It was probably something like, “Oh, I want roasted vegetables. Again.” Followed by: “I should probably also have some protein. Let’s roast some chicken thighs. Oh and you know, I have a shit ton of leftover lettuce from the salad bar lunch we prepared to celebrate my boss’s upcoming baby arrival. I like putting tahini on roasted vegetables, but I need something more… liquidy… to put on a salad. What can I mix with tahini? Yogurt? Yeah, okay. Oh yeah, and I have frozen cauliflower rice in the freezer I could thaw and put on this and it’ll sorta be like a ‘grain’ salad.” Anyway, turns out it was delicious, and I have made this yogurt tahini sauce several times since then.

 

You can google yogurt tahini sauce (like I just did) and find any number of recipes. I unfortunately can’t remember which one I used originally, but I don’t think I followed it exactly then (I may have doubled the tahini because, um, delicious) and haven’t looked it up again since. It was something like:

  • 3/4 – 1 cup of plain yogurt (Greek would probably taste the best and be a good consistency, but I usually eat plain grass-fed yogurt [like Maple Hill Creamery’s which I can find at my local Harris Teeter] and I don’t think I’ve ever seen grass-fed Greek  yogurt. And yes, I know the yogurt itself is not grass-fed.)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-4 tbsp tahini
  • salt
  • pepper
  • green onion (both the green and white parts) or shallot

Mix it all together and slather some on those roasted vegetables (in this case broccoli, asparagus, and brussels sprouts), cauliflower rice, chicken, and lettuce. Yum. Or just use it as a dipping sauce for whatever.

The second time I made this, I doubled the recipe and stored the leftover in the fridge for a few days. It got more and more tart (in a good way) as the days went on. I wondered if the yogurt was curdling… but I googled and became maybe 70% sure that I wasn’t creating anything dangerous. I feel like I need to spend more time looking into this. In the meantime, if you know any real science in this area, let me know, and until then, maybe eat this all in one go.

Salmon, Chicken, and… Snowzilla

Okay. I’ve gotten way behind, and I pretty much stopped doing the BA Food Lovers Cleanse recipes. I ended up with a lot of leftovers, then Dan and I went out of town last weekend, and things just sort of fell apart from there. But I’ll share a couple more.

First though – Snowzilla 2016 is upon us. Luckily, we have tons of food. We got a farm box delivery this morning on top of all the vegetables we already had. Tomorrow is going to involve roasting vegetables and soup-making, for sure. I’m defrosting some chicken, some fish, and I’m stocked on nut butters for the duration :-).

So, it feels like weeks ago now, but I made the Salmon with Cucumber Sauce and Carrot Salad with a side of Garlicky Bok Choy on a week night. IMG_8739Wait, it was weeks ago. Anyway, they both seemed like fairly simple recipes, but somehow, the meal ended up not being ready til 8:45 pm, and I am usually heading toward bed by 9. To be fair, I don’t usually get home until 7:30, and then I have to take the dog out, change my clothes, etc… so it probably didn’t take that long to make. I just remember feeling rushed when I finally sat down to eat it. I did get to use my new mandoline for the first time, though, to make that carrot salad. That was fun, and a little terrifying.

Instead of saucing the salmon with cucumber-yogurt sauce, I sauced it with cucumber-no-yogurt sauce (still doing that whole #Whole30 thing…). It was good! I think the carrot salad was the star, though. But everything was tasty.

Next up was the Turkey Breast with Roasted Broccolini… which I made with chicken breast instead. I went to Whole Foods to shop for the next several BA FLC meals and picked up bone in chicken breasts for the Oven-Roasted Chicken with Grapes (which I never made and don’t think I will, because I’m currently defrosting that chicken and intend to use it for soup tomorrow instead, and I ate all the grapes today! Oh, but now we’ve got those 6 shallots… hm). I looked for the requisite turkey breast, but all I could find were breasts that had been brined in a variety of flavors, all of which included sugar! There may have been some that were not brined but that were also not bone-in, but I particularly wanted the bones… so I opted for another pack of that bone-in chicken breast instead. Turned out great! The broccolini was so good. I love roasted vegetables.

Guided by the BA FLC meal guide, I also made a side of Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Garlic and Chili, which is basically my favorite food ever. This has been in the BA Cleanse before. Love. I eat a ton of sweet potato fries anyway, but going that extra step to add garlic and hot sauce (or cayenne pepper, or ancho chile pepper, or whatever pepper) – boom. Amazing.

And finally, I made the Bistro Salad with Roasted Vegetables, which is probably my second favorite food ever. Roasted vegetables and a runny, poached egg? Yes please. For about a week there, I basically made roasted vegetables every day and just added to the container of leftovers in the fridge. I did make some special for this meal though, including the carrots and celery root (couldn’t find parsnips, sadly – I’ve looked twice now in the past few weeks. Is there a parsnip shortage??). This was my first time cooking with celery root! Fascinating. And delicious. Anyway, super easy, yummy recipe. Time-consuming due to the vegetable chopping and roasting, but you can do that while watching Netflix. Worth it.

Oh wait, I did make one more. Sea Scallops and Celery Root Lemon Salad. IMG_8781I got to use my mandoline and cook with celery root again (actually, no cooking involved, the celery root was raw). This one was quick and easy. The celery root salad was really great. I would make that again. I should make that again. Yeah! I’m going to make that again. Soon. After the snow melts.

And, okay guys, I’ve been reading a few tips about food photography. Enough to know that I am doing it all wrong, but not enough to convince me to change my ways quite yet. But wait for it. Maybe it’s coming.