Recipes to Try (The Diet, Day 28)

Forgive me while I use my blog like a personal notebook. These recipes were found via Kalyn’s Kitchen. I’m posting them here so that I won’t forget where to look for them again.

Lentil, Herb, Feta Salad

Shandong-Style Asparagus

Spicy Collards and Black-Eyed Pea Soup

Easy Spinach Nests

And these I found by wandering onward through A Veggie Venture.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Pan-Roasted Broccoli

Lemon Spinach

Cowboy Coleslaw

If I’m going to diet, I’m going to have to cook. There seems to be no getting around that. In fact, I could probably forgo all diet plans other than the “cook something healthy daily” plan and do just fine. I need a regimen to remind me to cook something healthy, though, and for now at least I’ve chosen the South Beach Diet.

Some of the recipes marked above I might have to modify slightly for the diet, but they are good places to start.

My goal is to pick two items off this list and make some variety of them within the next week. As goals go, I could do worse. If you don’t hear any more on this matter, you’ll know I’ve failed to follow through and am pretending I never said anything about it in the first place.

Comfort

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You can dress it up any way you want, and it’s still just cinnamon toast. This is what we had for supper in my family when we needed only a light supper, perhaps after enjoying a particularly large Sunday lunch. Other times we might have cheese toast, crackers with peanut butter and marshmallows melted on top, crackers crunched up in milk.

Maybe that’s what comfort food means–something simple couched in fond memories. Cinnamon toast makes no demands, offers no opinions, holds no expectations. It reminds me of sitting on the floor in front of the television to eat on a night when no one even cared if you bothered to use a plate. It probably doesn’t measure up to Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, but it’s alright. It’s just alright to me.

It was Keats who said this:

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

I don’t know what I need to know on this earth. The more I learn, the less I believe I might ever know what beauty is, what truth is, what any of us needs to know. My small nephew says that he says yuck a lot because “boys don’t understand the true meaning of beauty.” Who does? We only enjoy it or feel unnerved by it, each in our own turn and in our own way.

But cinnamon toast? That’s alright.

Pancakes St. John

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Now this is my idea of local eating. Good stuff. I found the syrup at the Corner Market. I don’t know where it is bottled or which Central American country the bananas were shipped in from, but I feel so justified in my quest to support the local economy with my food purchases because I know my friend Robert St. John has kids he will need to send to college one day. Buy some syrup. It’s yummy.

As for the Saints

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As for the Saints who are on the earth, “They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” Psalm 16:3

I’ll be honest. This hasn’t been a great week. I’ve been home sick. I fell about a month behind this week on just about everything. I am looking forward to watching the first Super Bowl I’ve paid any attention to whatsoever in about twenty years, though. I’ll watch it at home with a little celebratory Robitussin, but I’ll watch. In honor of this historic occasion in which even I care about a Super Bowl due to the seemingly miraculous involvement the home team, I have managed to scrape up just enough motivation to put the beans on to soak. This is a New Orleans weekend. Do you know where your red beans and rice are?

Dinner

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Stuffed Pepper and Cabbage

A little of this.

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A little of that.

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Stuff the that in the this. Bake a while. Put some cheese on top. Bake a little more. Serve with cabbage. Enjoy.

The that is my own concoction that falls somewhere in between what we called vegetable goulash and what we called jambalaya when I was growing up, which as near as I can tell differ primarily in degree of spiciness. Both are made with rice and whatever vegetables you happen to have leftover that week. Both can be made with or without tomato depending on availability and personal preference. Both are a little better with corn bread. I didn’t make cornbread. I could have, but I’ve been lazy about it. So far. I have leftovers to last out the week. Cornbread could make an appearance yet.

This version is mildly spicy in a flavorful way. I accomplished that by cooking the rice in crab boil, which I’m not sure I should admit to as it is not the intended purpose of crab boil, but it worked and I’m enjoying the results.

I did not investigate the origins of all ingredients, so I cannot promise this is an environmentally-friendly local-produce oriented meal in its entirety, but about half the ingredients came from my father’s garden. I’m counting that as my effort toward supporting local agriculture for the week.

Deep South Vegetarian Does Game Day

If a southern woman can’t make a casserole out of it, it’s not worth eating. This holds true even for vegetarian dishes. In that spirit I give you Black Bean Burrito Casserole.

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I know I’ve been yammering a lot lately about the ethics of eating locally. This dish does not apply. Most of it comes from cans. It does, however, consist of ingredients I already had on hand before I took up the cause of local produce. It seems to me that eating what you already have is its own kind of ethic. Who wants to waste food?

Thus we have this casserole constructed from ingredients I rummaged from my cabinets and my freezer.

First, I took some whole wheat tortillas and filled them with refried black beans. You should pick whatever kind of tortillas and beans you have on hand and/or prefer should you try to copy this. Once the tortillas were rolled up with the bean filling, I spread them out in a Pyrex casserole dish. I topped the burritos with a can of Amy’s vegetarian chili. Then I topped that with a layer of onions, garlic, and spinach sauteed in olive oil. Next, I spread a pack of Colby-Jack cheese on top and sprinkled that with black olives. I put it in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes and finally topped it off with freshly sliced avocado, which I believe was shipped to Mississippi all the way from the country of Chile.

All in all, the result is delicious.

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I’ve already divided what I can’t eat today into individual serving sized containers that I can take for my lunch this week, thereby avoiding Lean Cuisines which do not come in reusable containers.

I’m also making Crock-Pot Potatoes.

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This is the best way in the world to cook a potato. You just jab a knife into it a couple of times for whatever reason it is people do that to potatoes, and stick the thing into the Crock-Pot for, you know, hours like you generally do with Crock-Pots. It will come out moist, tender, and wonderful.

I’m going to warm these up for supper probably every night this week. I eat for one, but I don’t know how to cook for one because I grew up in a ginormous family. Also, I only have time to cook on weekends because I work too hard all week. Therefore, life is better for me when I cook enough on Sunday to divvy out for the whole week.

That’s my story, and these are my game day picks…for whatever they are worth.

**Addendum: Geaux Saints! (with deepest apologies to Brett)

Breakfast and the Art of Ethical Eating

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Yes, this is one of those annoying “eat this, not that” posts. I’m on a quest to reduce the chemicals in my diet, to reduce the amount of fuel used to bring my food to me, and to support the local farmer in my food purchases. Unfortunately, I haven’t quite figured out how to do all three at once yet, but we all have to begin to begin somewhere if we want to improve our lives and lessen our own impact on the world around us.

Today, I tackle the issue of breakfast. I like granola cereals and yogurt for breakfast. Yet, in reading the Barbara Kingsolver book I’ve been going on about for days, I was forced to think about the fact that not only do those cereals contain added chemicals, they also consist of multiple ingredients all shipped to a factory where they are processed, packaged, and shipped again to come to a grocery store near me.

Stephen Hopp, Kingsolver’s husband, recommends oatmeal instead. It may not be locally grown. It may have also been processed in a factory and shipped. But it consists of a single ingredient. Only one product had to be shipped to a processing center and shipped out again. Plus, the single ingredient on the nutrition label means no added chemicals. That has to be a good thing.

The picture above is of my breakfast this morning. Only one part of it came from a local farm. It is sweetened with honey from Smith’s Farm in Petal, Mississippi. Local honey is easy to find in stores here, and it is much healthier than sugar substitutes.

The strawberries are from Los Angeles. The sign outside the store said “Louisiana strawberries,” which was a big surprise to me in January. The packages said Los Angeles, California, which was not so much of a surprise. I bought them anyway, though they are bruised and battered from their travels. I love oatmeal, but I don’t want to eat it without fruit if I can help it.

For most of the year, I’ve eaten blueberries picked from my parent’s yard on my oatmeal and cereal. My freezer is now out of berries, but in the planning ahead next time category….More Berries!