Saturday, January 28, 2012

Just A Spoonful Of Sugar Helps

 I had my million dollar lamb curry on Thursday and Friday.  The only major addition was smooth, cool and creamy Greek yogurt.

  • Indian lamb curry with spinach
  • green salad with peppers and cucumbers
  • strawberries
  • Brussels sprouts
  • clementines
  • vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt

I still can't stand plain yogurt so I chose vanilla flavored Chobani,  There are 17 grams of sugar for an 8 oz. serving.  I only had about 4 oz. in my container for lunch.  Oh! I finally looked up the conversion from grams to teaspoons.  Nobody actually weighs anything in grams in a regular kitchen so I had to know how much sugar I would I have to put in my yogurt or whatever to make it taste as sweet as it is when the major food manufacturer makes it.  Anyway, it turns out that 1 teaspoon is about 4 grams.  That means I would have to put at least 2 teaspoons of sugar into plain Greek yogurt to make it taste sweet enough.  Honestly, that's not that bad to me.  I put 2 teaspoons of sugar in my black tea with milk.  I'm sure things like Coke and Snapple have a zillion grams of sugar (i.e., a quarter of a zillion teaspoons of sugar).  But 2-4 teaspoons of sugar for a "dessert" type treat seems pretty reasonable to me.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Adventures In Meat Shopping

Today I'm going to confess to doing a very foolish thing.  But first, the food:

  • strawberries (for my oatmeal in the morning)
  • Indian lamb curry with spinach
  • broccoli
  • pineapple
  • green salad with cucumber and peppers
So, we have this new fancy butcher in Harlem.  It's all grass-fed, organic, etc. and being the good hipster liberal that I am, I feel the need to buy something from the shop every once and a while to show my financial support and hopefully help quality businesses like this thrive in my neighborhood.  We hardly ever cook red meat at home because we see it as an expensive and unhealthy treat that is better at a restaurant or dinner party.  When we buy something from Harlem Shambles it's usually a couple of their breakfast sausages.  We eat them on Sunday morning along with some fluffy pancakes and all the fixins'.  But this Sunday I wanted to make something special for dinner and I chose a lamb curry recipe from our slow cooker cookbook.  Surprisingly, we had all of the spices and vegetables in the house already.  The only thing I had to buy were the chiles and the lamb.  I expected the lamb to be kind of pricey but I figured  that even if it's $9 or $10 a pound I'd still get at least 8-10 servings out of the pot so in the end it's still more economical than getting Indian take out.  Anyway, I went to the shop and asked for exactly what the recipe called for "3 lb. boneless leg of lamb of lamb."  The only lamb they had on the display case had bones.  I noticed it was $9/lb and I mentally prepared myself to pay over $30 for a hunk of meat.  But, the butcher went to the big walk-in fridge to get "the cut you need" and proceeded to cut it up into cubes for me.   After carefully trimming and cubing the lamb for me he plunked down and neatly wrapped package and chirped, "that'll be $54.26 please."  Guys, I nearly keeled over and died!!!  Once I regained my composure I sheepishly handed over my debit card while furiously calculating the price per serving of this now VERY IMPORTANT curry.  I made a little joke to him that now I have to find a reason to celebrate something since I just paid celebration prices for this meat.  I don't think he laughed.  Needless to say, I walked out of there feeling a bit crestfallen.  I was almost afraid to tell Mr. Man how much I paid for 1 meals worth of meat.  He is even more miserly than I am and would not be at all embarrassed to march right back to the shop try to return it.  The main point is that I should have asked how much it was before anything went down.  I hate feeling like an uniformed consumer.  Besides, the lamb was really delicious and perfect and I would not have bought it any place else.  Harlem Shambles is a great butcher shop and I still plan on buying meat from there.  But we're back to our breakfast sausage budget for the foreseeable future.

Try this recipe:

Indian Lamb Curry with Spinach*
  • 3 lb boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 small fresh hot green chiles, seeded and minced
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (I used 2 tablespoons of this instead)
  • 1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom (I substituted a teaspoon of ground ginger since, who has cardamom?)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 6 cups pre-washed baby spinach leaves
Put the lamb in a big bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Warm the oil in a large frying pan and add the lamb (medium-high heat).  Brown until even on all sides for about 5 minutes.  Place the browned cubes in the slow cooker to wait for the other ingredients.  Add the onions to the same pan and sauté over medium-high heat until golden brown (about 7-10 minutes).  Add all the other ingredients to the pan, except the spinach and chicken broth, and stir until the the spices are fragrant and evenly coat the onions.  Pour in the broth and deglaze the pan. 

Pour the onion/spice/broth mixture over the lamb in the slow cooker.  Cover and cook for 8 hours on the low heat setting.  A few minutes before it turns off, add the spinach to the slow cooker and stir until completely wilted.  I wanted to serve this with some brown basmati rice, but I couldn't find any of the pre-made frozen stuff at Trader Joe's so I boiled up a few small potatoes and poured the curry over that instead.


*This is how I decided to make this recipe.  It's not exactly the way it is written in the book, but it's the way that worked for me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Who Would've Thunk It

I think I am starting to like pasta.  Will wonders never cease?

  • Brussels sprouts
  • strawberries
  • whole wheat pasta with some canned wild salmon, broccoli, peppers and a little tomato sauce
  • frozen pineapples
Pasta has never been a favorite of mine.  It's not that I DIS-like's just that sometime the texture is too squishy for me.  Thankfully, whole wheat pasta is a little more firm so I've been adding to my diet more.  So far so good. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Desperate One

Today's lunch was packed fast and furious style.  I had less than 2 minutes to figure out what I wanted and it was as desperate assembly of flavor and nutrition:

First off, a word of warning: don't EVER eat this much broccoli in one meal!!!  Your stomach will hate you and anyone that comes within whiffing distant of your desk will be offended by you.  Nuff said.  Anyway, other than feeling like the Goodyear blimp with a slow and foul leak, this meal was pretty good.  I really wanted to put some cheese on my freshly toasted English muffin but we didn't have any at home.  So I had the brilliant idea to go to the closest sandwich shop by job and ask them for a slice of cheddar cheese.  They charged me 69¢ for 1 measly slice of cheese.  See, this is why I can't be trusted to not pack my lunch.  When I'm hungry I get irrational and buy any and everything my heart desires.  Bad for my wallet and bad for my thighs.  So, like a sucker I plunked down my 69¢ and schlepped it (wrapped up in deli paper and tape and inside a paper bag, so wasteful) back to my office and had a simple sandwich.

I'm really loving these English muffins.  They are hearty and grainy and really satisfying to chew.  That makes sense, right?  I like eating a bread that's got good chew.  Sometimes some of the little grains land in a perfect spot between my top and bottom teeth and powerful choppers turn the little grain into a tasty dust that rolls all over my tongue.  Yum! But one random thing that annoys me about this brand of English muffin is that they give the nutritional information on the side and use half a muffin as 1 serving.  Yeah right!!  I hate that kind of foolishness.  Who eats half an English muffin?  A maniac!  That's who!  The type of person that slices a muffin in half and then LEAVES the other half floundering around in the bag only to become depressed, despondent and dry, is the type of person that I would cross to the other side of the street to get away from if I saw them coming.  So listen, Ezekiel people, I know you probably think your customers are health conscious people who like low calorie, portion controlled servings, so you want to please them by putting smaller numbers on your nutrition info, but COME ON!!  You know only sociopaths eat half a muffin and they are too busy callously charming old ladies out of their pension to eat your muffins.  So just give it to us straight.  We can deal with the fact that English muffins have a lot of calories.  Don't try to play us for fools with this half a muffin per serving crap.*

*Yes, yes I did just go on an unprovoked rant about English muffins.  Not to mention, my creepy description of chewing bread.  No excuses, just acknowledging that it happened.  I bet you think this way too sometimes.  Right?  Hopefully?  Um, who are these men in white coats  coming into my room and why do they have a butterfly net?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

All Aboard

Hello again!  Get ready for a ride on the lunch train.  Here's what I've been eating for the past few weeks:

  •  Bowl of salad with mixed greens, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, grilled salmon
  • cara cara orange

I've been taking lunch and breakfast with me to work lately.  The 4 photos above are examples of what I ate every day for over a week:

  • Trader Joe's sandwich slim
  • 3 clementines
  • broccoli
  • strawberries
  • green salad (I keep the salad dressing in the fridge at work)
  • tuna salad (with a little bit of veggie frittata mixed in)
  • Breakfast:  egg white & veggie frittata with a slice of Ezekiel (we have a toaster at work too)
This is what I pack on Friday's when I know I'm going to go out with friends for dinner.  Last week we went to a hip new Southern restaurant that features shatter skin fried chicken and a chocolate mousse parfait that could make you slap your own mother!  I wanted to eat clean and low calorie/fat during the day so I could indulge in the pleasures of the flesh (and cocoa bean) that night:

  • lunch:  salad bowl full of mixed greens, cucumbers, bell peppers, salmon (at the bottom of the bowl) and balsamic vinaigrette 
  • breakfast:  same old veggie frittata

Finally, here's what been on the menu this week:

  • strawberries (I put them in my oatmeal, packets of which are kept at my desk at work)
  • grapefruit cocktail (I forgot how delicious this is)
  • broccoli 
  • clementines
  • mixed green salad with cucumbers and bell peppers
  • boiled potatoes (yellow skin, red skin, and PURPLE)
  • whole wheat pasta with a little bit of chicken sausage and lots of Brussels sprouts and tomatoes
  • turkey meatballs
Phew!  That was a long one!  

I may or may not have had a Miss America viewing partying this weekend, where I may or may not have served a boiling pot of cheesy fondue in which I definitely dipped potatoes, Brussels sprouts and broccoli instead of bread.  I also, allegedly, served a big pot of creamy chocolate fondue as well and dipped the strawberries and some bananas in it.  Sooo, even though I tried not to have leftovers this year (all three weeks of it), most of my veggies this weeks were leftover from this supposed party that might have happened on Saturday night.

I'm going out to dinner at a steakhouse tomorrow night so it's going to be veggie frittata and salad again tomorrow.  So far, my packed food has been the best damage control for my late night muchies habit and dinners out with friends.  It's restaurant week here and I know I want to try some of the places that I'd normally never be able to afford, but it's going to be tough to not over indulge.  I figure if I fill up on broccoli and fruit all day I'll be too bloated to eat an entire 10 oz. steak and 2 slices of cheesecake at night.  I hope so, anyway!