The Answer is Always Now – Day 7

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One week ago, I woke up with the realization that I had gotten into some lazy eating habits, and it needed to change.  When?  Now.  

That evening, I sat down in front of my computer and decided that for one week, I would share every food choice I made – good or bad.  And overall, it’s been pretty good.  So here’s the last day of that week:  Day 7.

As per usual, breakfast:

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This probably looks familiar, except this banana wasn’t quite as pretty as the ones earlier in the week.  The Quinoa Oatmeal is still pretty rockin’.

Lunch was good today.  When I had dinner with the rents last night, Mom sent me home some vegetarian chili she had made.  It was chock full of beans and zucchini, and it was quite, quite yummy.  She also gave me a piece of cornbread to go with it.

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I went to the cafeteria to microwave the chili, and as soon as I got back to my desk, I heard from the other side of the cubical wall “What smells so good?”  Yep, that’s my lunch!

Now, as you’ve probably realized over the past few days, I typically have some type of snack mid-afternoon.  Today, I really didn’t get hungry.  I had an apple ready to go if I need it, but it is currently residing in my refrigerator.  Hmmm….this might explain why I was so hungry for dinner…

I stopped at Krieger’s Market on my way home from work to pick up a couple of things – I wanted a good steak (they always have grass-fed Ohio beef) and since it looked so good, I got some Swiss Chard as well.

I had sweet potatoes and onions at home, so I picked up some carrots as well, and roasted them all together with some garlic cloves.

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With that, I sauteed the Swiss Chard with garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and cooked the strip steak on the grill pan on the oven.  It’s a bit warmer today than it has been, but I just did not want to go outside to grill!  I seasoned the steak with olive oil, salt and pepper, and got it a perfect medium rare.  If there’s one thing I can do, it’s cook a steak.  (If I do say so myself!)

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Short version of the rest of my night – I ate, I took a bath, I ran the dishwasher, I blogged.  Done!  One week of total food sharing.

So what, if anything, have I learned this week?  A few things:

  • Don’t be lazy.  It doesn’t take that much more time and energy to have good, real food.  Take the pizza place off speed dial.
  • I am not the kind of person who can have “just a little bit” of junk food, then go right back to healthy eating.  If I have one 16 oz Pepsi, I’ll want a whole 2-liter (although my recurring Pepsi addition is probably worthy of it’s own post).  If I eat a candy bar at work because I’m starving in the afternoon and didn’t plan well enough to have a good snack, I’ll go home and order pizza for dinner that night, then want a greasy cafeteria egg sandwich in the morning.
  • I sleep better when I eat good food.  I don’t think I really realized this before, but just after New Year’s (after the holiday season and my bad eating habits) I was having a hard time falling asleep, or I’d fall asleep, but wake up in the middle of the night and be up for hours. This week?  I fell asleep quickly, slept soundly and woke up refreshed – every night.
  • I don’t want to eat crappy food!  I really, truly believe in eating real, minimally processed local food whenever possible.  But if I really believe that, I have to live it.  I’m not quite where I would like to be, but I’m getting there.

So there you go.  A worthwhile week of food – now I just have to keep it going!

The Answer is Always Now – Day 6

20150115_075404 (2)In case you haven’t seen enough of my quinoa oatmeal over the last few days, here’s a close up!  So delicious!

Alright, let’s get into it – the reason why we’re all here: I’m on Day 6 of my promise to post everything I eat, good and bad, for one week.  (If you haven’t read it, here’s the post where it all started.)

Breakfast was pretty standard weekday fare:  Quinoa Oatmeal and a banana.  Seriously, the quinoa oatmeal is easy to make, packs and reheats well, is warm, and keeps me full all morning.  Boring maybe, but I’m sticking with it.

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I did okay for lunch, even though I did buy a wrap from our cafeteria at work.  I have to say, they do a pretty good job of having fresh, healthy choices, including this wrap with chicken, Swiss cheese and roasted veggies (onions, red and green peppers and mushrooms).  I brought grapes from home for an afternoon snack, but instead I ate those with the wrap and got a couple of hard boiled eggs for a snack.  I ate those around 1:30 this afternoon.

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It’s funny, I never used to like hard-boiled OR sunny-side up eggs – now, I love a good sunny-side up egg, by itself, on toast, or best of all, on a burger.  Yum!  Hard-boiled eggs still aren’t my favorite, but I like them okay, and they make a good snack.

Here’s where I fess up.  I went out to eat tonight.  Yep, for those of you keeping count, that’s three times since Saturday.  Which is a bit more than usual for me, but my mom and dad invited me to dinner at Rico’s in Brimfield tonight.  Not only do I like that restaurant, I like to hang out with the rents, so I said, “yes please!”

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Now for the big question – what did I eat? Side salad (sweet-and-sour dressing on the side – I just dipped my fork instead of pouring it all over the salad), grilled Italian sausage with peppers and onions, a side of spaghetti and yes, some garlic bread.  And it was all good. And I enjoyed the dinner and the company, and yes, I will go back to my quinoa oatmeal first thing tomorrow.

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I’m a complete sucker for garlic bread.

I will say that I got full and didn’t quite finish the spaghetti, so I did exercise some portion control.  (That’s totally a big deal for me!)

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Thank you to those of you that have been hanging in there with me all week – one day to go!


The Answer is Always Now – Day 5

Wow, this week is going fast!  Welcome to day 5 of my food recap.  Let’s get started, shall we?

Breakfast:  This is looking familiar.  Quinoa oatmeal and fruit – grapes this time.

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Because the building I work in is freezing cold all day, I went for coffee with breakfast – for the warmth as much as the caffeine.

Thanks for the coffee, sis!  It's tasty.

Thanks for the coffee, sis! It’s tasty.

After coffee, I switched to water until lunch.  Lunch was also planned for temperature today – a sweet potato and leftover steamed broccoli.  It was surprisingly pretty… and warm.  Warm was good.

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Mid-afternoon, I started to get a bit peckish, so I went for the trusty banana.

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That kept me until I got home.  Since I still had pizza dough, I couldn’t resist another pizza tonight.  I sauteed some kale, then topped the pizza dough with olive oil, roasted garlic, kale, mozzarella cheese, crushed red pepper flakes and fresh basil.  The kale that poked up through the cheese got crispy, like kale chips, and made a nice contrast to the gooey cheese – yum!

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And that’s it for tonight, folks!  No nighttime snack needed – just a big glass of water and catching up on some TV for a bit.  See you tomorrow!

The Answer is Always Now – Day 4

20150113_185655 (2)Welcome to Day 4 of my self-imposed quest to make better food choices!  So far, I’m doing pretty well – as I should be. I know how to find and cook good, minimally processed food, I just need to do it!

Today’s breakfast looks strikingly similar to yesterday’sQuinoa Oatmeal, a banana, and hot tea.  It’s fricking cold in Northeast Ohio right now, and when the temperature drops like that, I want a hot breakfast.  Making up a big batch of this oatmeal means that I have a great alternative to a cafeteria breakfast sandwich with very little effort.

All the swag might be a little misleading, but I don't work at UPS.  I do have a great source for cool UPS stuff, however.

All the swag might be a little misleading, but I don’t work at UPS. I do have a great source for cool UPS stuff, however.

Remember the apple from yesterday that didn’t get eaten?  It made a lovely snack around 11 o’clock.  I was in a meeting at my usual lunchtime, so a before-lunch snack was a must.  Otherwise I get hangry – and that’s not good for anyone!

I didn’t pack a lunch today, but our cafeteria has a pretty good salad bar, so I headed there as soon as my meeting was done.  Mixed greens, spinach, tomatoes, cumcumbers, celery, chickpeas, cheese and chicken – plus a couple hard boiled eggs – kept me going for the rest of the workday.

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My sister came over after work tonight, so I got to cook for someone besides myself, which I don’t often get to do during the week.  It’s a good excuse to make something a little bit fancy.

Now, too much takeout pizza has been part of my food issues lately, but homemade pizza is a totally different story.  Water, Flour, Salt, Yeast by Ken Forkish has the best pizza dough recipe I’ve ever made, but it does involve some planning since it has to rise overnight.  I started the dough yesterday, separated it into balls this morning, and had it ready to go when I got home from work.

I had put some frozen caramelized onions in the fridge to thaw when I started the dough last night.  Today, I chopped up some leftover chicken, broke out the burrata cheese I found at the grocery store, and viola!  Beautiful, tasty pizza.

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A little fresh basil and some red pepper flakes sprinkled on top – yum!  Warm, satisfying and delicious.

For a little dessert, I broke out my chocolate bar collection. I like to keep a number of different dark chocolate bars, and here’s why:  If I only have one chocolate bar, I will likely eat the whole thing.  Because I can.  If I have  8 – 10 chocolate bars, there is absolutely no way I can eat them all, so I can just have a few squares and put it back in the cupboard. Crazy?  Maybe.  But for me, it works.  (Also, keep in mind that I’m not talking about stuff like Snicker’s bars.  If I have a Snicker’s bar, not only will I eat the whole thing, but I’ll want three more. I’m talking good quality dark chocolate only – otherwise this system doesn’t work.)

Here are some of the chocolate bar varieties I got out for my sister and I to sample for dessert.

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A few squares of chocolate-y goodness later, we were set.  Happy tummies, warm couch, funny YouTube videos (once you watch one, it’s really easy to go down that rabbit hole).

And that’s it!  Four days down, and I’m feeling good about my food choices.  I’m still eating the things that I love, but I’m opting for real, non-processed versions.  Most importantly, I’m planning my meals, which keep me from getting caught in the “must have food now” trap that leads to bad choices.  Here’s to another day of good eating!


The Answer is Always Now – Day 3

Day 3, the first non-weekend day of posting all my eats, can be summed up in two words:

Better Choices.

I ate pretty well today.  More importantly, I’m happy and I feel good!  Let’s start with breakfast:  I promised you pictures of oatmeal at my desk, so here you go:

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This isn’t just oatmeal.  This is Quinoa Oatmeal from the Thug Kitchen cookbook.  Oddly, although I don’t like plain oatmeal, this is really good without anything added to it.  The quinoa gives it an almost nutty taste that I quite enjoy.  Also, an orange.  I ate breakfast around 8ish, and this kept me good and full until 11:30.

11:30 is my typical lunchtime at work.  If you read yesterday’s post, you won’t be surprised that lunch was leftover burrito fixin’s.  Chicken and brown rice in one container to be zapped in the cafeteria microwave, and cold items (tomatoes, avocado, cheese and sour cream) in another.  This wasn’t the best picture, but I assure you it was just as tasty today as it was yesterday!

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I promise, there are veggies under the cheese!

Around 2 o’clock, I started to get a little bit hungry.  Fortunately, I had planned ahead today,and I had an apple and a banana with me.  (Does anybody else sing that Gwen Stefani song in their head every time they have to spell banana?  B-a-n-a-n-a-s…Nope, just me then.  Ok…)

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I ate the banana, but wasn’t hungry enough for both.  Don’t worry, apple.  Your day will come… Mwwwhhhhhaaaaaa!!!! (That was my evil laugh, if that was unclear.)

Monday’s are dinner with Mom days (when Dad’s bowling league is in session) and today, I was fortunate enough to have dinner with my Mom and my sister.  We went to a restaurant called Delanie’s in Tallmadge.  They have a new, very good menu – if you’re in the area, check it out!

I had a pan-seared salmon, asparagus and a baked potato.  I love salmon, and this was cooked perfectly.  Again, not my best pictures today, but yummy food.

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So that this point, you’re thinking “Not bad”, right?  And those were, overall, pretty good choices.  Real food, most of which I prepared myself.  I didn’t go get the Pepsi that I really wanted mid-afternoon (yay me!), which I’m actually pretty proud of.  So I’m okay with the choice that I made next.

About a half hour ago, I wanted a snack.  So, instead of demolishing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s like I’ve done in the past, I found this in the freezer:

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Recently, a Market District Giant Eagle store opened near me.  They carry a pretty good selection of local foods, including ice cream from Mitchell’s in Cleveland.  Here’s why I’m okay with this choice:

  • I didn’t eat the whole container, just a few spoonfuls
  • There are only a few ingredients, all of which I recognize and can pronounce (the first three are milk, cream, and strawberries)

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It comes down to this:  I don’t want to be on a diet. I want to find a way to eat things like ice cream and still be healthy and feel good.  And I think this is a good start.  Thanks and see you tomorrow!

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The Answer is Always Now – Day 2

20150111_094926 (2)Welcome to day 2 of what I’ve been eating!  Let’s get started.

I woke up late today, so I’m going to call this brunch:  whole wheat toast, grapes, two sunny-side up eggs. (Well, mostly.  Yes, I broke one of the yolks cracking it into the pan.  Yes, it was still delicious.)

I also had some hot tea, and started pre-planning meals for the work week.  I made a big batch of Quinoa Oatmeal from the Thug Kitchen cookbook my awesome sister got me for Christmas.  Not only are there fantastic recipes, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve laughed out loud reading it!  Highly recommended.

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It’s true. Cats DO like obedient people.

I’m calling my late breakfast brunch because next was dinner.  Dinner for me was a burrito bowl (with both chicken and steak – both from Brunty Farms).  I made extra so I could pack leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  Oops, spoilers!

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Brown rice, avocado, tomatoes, cheese and yes, sour cream. But not too much!

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I marinated the chicken in a tequila lime marinade, and the beef got a sprinkling of Penzey’s Southwest Seasoning. It was the hands down winner.

Now, this may look like a lot, but I’d like to point out that although I had one burrito bowl, my boyfriend ate three – yes, three – regular burritos with flour tortillas (two steak, one chicken – he doesn’t like to mix meats in his burritos).  There are reasons that I tend to cook in large quantities!

My burrito bowl!

My burrito bowl!

Along with a couple glasses of iced tea and water, and a handful of gummy bears while watching a movie (sorry, didn’t take a picture of them), that’s it!  Monday, here I come!

The Answer is Always Now – Day 1

Yesterday, I decided that I needed to change the way I was eating – to get back to eating healthy, real foods that made me feel good.  As part of that, I decided that I was going to photograph and post everything I ate for the next seven days.

Welcome to the end of Day 1, everyone!  Let’s see how it went:

Breakfast:  I woke up hungry, and made myself an omelet.  Last night, I had sauteed some Swiss Chard for dinner, so I used the leftover greens and some sharp cheddar in the omelet, with a side of whole wheat toast.  Oh, and hot tea.

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Disclaimer – remember that it’s Saturday!  Come Monday, don’t expect to see anything fancy like this, but you can look forward to pictures of a bowl of oatmeal at my desk at work.  Yum!

So far, so good.  Next, lunch:  My boyfriend and I had to go run some errands today (we stocked up on wine and I bought a new snow blower – January in Northeast Ohio is a bad time for that to crap out), so we went to Rockne’s for lunch.  I chose the Firestone salad – grilled chicken, dressing on the side and an iced tea.  The picture doesn’t really do it justice, though.  Their salads are huge!

20150110_171222 (2)Lastly, dinner: Cheese, bread, greens, fruit.  It took me all of 5 minutes to make, and was so good!  The rest of the leftover greens and some brie on whole wheat bread with apples from the last farmer’s market.  Delicious!

20150110_213110 (2)And I had to try a glass of the new wine.  I chose this because it was $4.99 and I wanted to see if it was any good.  It’s fantastic!  It’s just a red table wine, but I definitely should have bought more than one.

20150110_194450 (2)Not bad, right?  This is why I frustrate myself.  With the exception of lunch, I had all this good, real food in the house.  I had local, farm fresh eggs.  I had bread that I had made myself a few days ago and just hadn’t cut into yet. (And for the record, I can made a kickass loaf of bread.)

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So why in the world wasn’t I eating it?  And would I have made these same choices if I wasn’t posting it here for anyone to see?  Good questions.  And I’m not sure I know the answers, but at least I’m on the right track.

See y’all tomorrow!

The Answer is Always Now

“Who. What. Where. Why.”
I blinked. “Not ‘when’?”
She shook her head. “The answer to that is always ‘now’.”
– From Variable Star, by Robert A Heinlein and Spider Robinson

I’ll admit it.  For the past few months, I haven’t been eating the way that I want to.  Oh, I haven’t started eating Twinkies for breakfast or anything like that, but I have been guilty of too much pizza, too much ice cream, too much convenience “food”.  And I know it.

It’s been too easy to tell myself, “I’ll do better next month, next week, tomorrow, after Thanksgiving, after Christmas…” I just haven’t made it happen.  And I know that when I cook, when I eat real, not-processed food that I feel better.  My skin looks better.  I have more energy and frankly, I’m happier.

What I don’t know is why knowing all that hasn’t been enough to get me back in the good eating groove, but it doesn’t matter.

That changes now.  You saw the quote at the beginning, right?   For whatever reason, I woke up today with that snippet of dialogue from one of my favorite novels stuck in my head – the answer is always now.

No more next week, no more tomorrow.  Now.  And no, this isn’t a New Year’s Resolution or anything like that.  But I am going to resolve something – for the next week, seven days in a row, I’m going to document every food choice that I make and share it on this blog.

Every evening for the next seven days, I’ll post what I ate that day.  If I make good choices, fantastic.  I’ll post it.  If I screw up, I’ll post that too.  And if (I will not say when) I screw up, I won’t let that start an unhealthy pattern.  I’ll get back on track – now.

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Grilled Tomatillo Salsa

20140825_173106Basket of Life Farm does a really cool thing with their CSA.  When you go to the farm to pick up your veggies, they have your prepacked box of goodies, plus you get to make some selections from the assortment of “members choice” veggies.  These are items that are may be at the beginning or end of their growing cycle, or perhaps this week there weren’t enough for every box.

One of my members choice options last week were tomatillos.  I had never cooked with tomatillos, but they looked amazing – such a bright green!

Hot peppers no longer go in the boxes, since not everyone is crazy about them like I am, but there’s usually a big box of jalapenos to take from as well.  With those choices, a tomatillo salsa seemed like the obvious next step.

Since I’d never made a salsa with tomatillos before, I decided just to wing it.  I’ve seen tv chefs roast tomatillos, so I thought – why not grill them?  Easy, quick, won’t heat up the house…yep.

Five tomatillos, two onions and a bunch of jalapenos.  I always have garlic and limes, so no worry there.  I did have to pick up some cilantro, since that’s about the only herb I didn’t grow this year.

I took the papery outer skin off the tomatillos and cut them in half. Same thing with the onions. For the jalapenos, I removed the stems and cut them in half, but I like the heat, so I left the seeds and stems.  I really could have added another jalapeno – when it was all done, it had a good flavor, but not much heat.  I added the garlic cloves and tossed it all with olive oil, salt and pepper.


Next, onto a hot grill.  I used a grill basket and put it on the grill first to preheat.


 I grilled the veggies (along with some chicken breasts) for about 25 minutes, until they got all brown and toasty.  These smelled amazing when they started getting all roasty!  I mean, grilled onions always smell good, but this was another level.



This was crazy easy for how tasty it was – next, off the grill, into a food processor with a big handful of cilantro and the juice of two limes.  Pulse until it’s as smooth or as chunky as you like.  I thought it smelled good when it was grilling, but as soon as I started the food processor, the roasted jalapeno and cilantro scents came out – so good!



Remove from food processor.  Eat and enjoy!  I highly recommend it with chicken, avocado and cheddar on soft tortillas – like this:



This salsa was good warm right out of the food processor, and equally as good cold the next day out of the fridge.  It made probably about 3 cups of salsa which seemed like quite a bit, but it didn’t last long!

Grilled Tomatillo Salsa

  • 5 tomatillos, hulled and halved
  • 2 medium/small onions halved, or one large onion quartered
  • 2 jalapenos, halved and stems removed (if you don’t want as much heat, you can remove the seeds and stems as well)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 1/2 bunch (a large handful) of cilantro
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Toss the tomatillos, onions, jalapenos and garlic in a coating of olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Grill this veggie mix over a high heat for 20-25 minutes (I recommend using a grill basket, or at least covering the grates with foil). When they’re done, remove from the heat.

In a food processor, blend the grilled veggies with the lime juice and cilantro until it’s the desired texture.  If you want a thinner salsa, add more olive oil as you blend.  Taste it.  If it needs more salt or pepper, add them and blend again.  Remove from food processor and eat!

This post is shared at Fresh Foods Wednesday.

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Dip

Someone (that might have been me) had a few bites before I remembered to take a picture.

Someone (not saying that it was me) had a few bites before I remembered to take a picture. Oops.

I used to say that I didn’t like eggplant.  (Well, except fried eggplant, but who doesn’t like that?  Cold fried eggplant on a sandwich with tomato and Swiss cheese…yum.  Now I’m hungry.)

However, when I joined a CSA a few years ago, I started getting eggplant – lots of eggplant!  Suddenly, I couldn’t just say that I didn’t like eggplant.  Instead,  I had to figure out how to like it.

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So I started with fried eggplant, of course, and that led to Eggplant Parmigiana, which is fantastic.  (I highly recommend this recipe.) But I wanted to find a way to like eggplant when it wasn’t fried.

In desperation, I figured that if I put enough olive oil and herbs on it and roasted it with some garlic, it had to be good.

It was good.  It was better than good; it was fantastic.  And when I took that roasted eggplant and garlic, added cheese and smushed it all together, it became a warm dip (a bit reminiscent of a spinach artichoke dip – but better).  I loved eggplant!

Here’s the best part: You can make this ahead of time and hold it in the fridge for a few days or the freezer for a few weeks, pop it in the oven to warm and have a delightful appetizer for any company.  Even people that say they don’t like eggplant.  (It totally won over my dad.)

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Dip

  • 2-3 medium eggplants (I used white eggplant simply because that’s what I had in my CSA)
  • 2 heads of garlic (seriously)
  • Olive oil
  • Herbs – dried rosemary, thyme and oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • About 1 and ¼ cup cheese, grated (I used Gouda, but Fontina would be nice as well)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the tops off the eggplants and cut in half.  Cut the tops off the heads of garlic,exposing the cloves but leaving the heads intact.  Place both in a casserole dish (you may need to use two depending on how much eggplant you’re roasting).

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Drizzle olive oil over the cut side of the eggplant and the garlic.  Make sure that the eggplant is well coated – it will soak up a lot of the oil.  Sprinkle a heavy layer of the rosemary, thyme and oregano over the eggplant.  Salt and pepper the eggplant as well.

Roast the eggplant and garlic for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until the eggplant is soft and the garlic is caramelized.

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Remove the eggplant and garlic from the oven and wait until the eggplant is cool enough to handle.

Scoop out the insides of the eggplant (along with all the herbs) and the roasted cloves of garlic into a large bowl.  Mix with a large spoon or potato masher until the garlic is well distributed and there are no pieces of eggplant larger than a silver dollar.

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Add about 1 cup of the grated cheese and mix into the eggplant/garlic mixture.

Farmers market cheese is the best!

Farmers market cheese is the best!

Transfer to a small casserole dish or a pie pan.  At this point, it can be refrigerated, frozen, or eaten right away.

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If you’re planning on eating it right away, top it with the rest of the cheese and pop it back in the oven until its hot and the cheese is browned on top.

If you’ve stuck it in the fridge or freezer, do the same thing when you want to use it – top it with about a ¼ cup of cheese and bake it in a 350 degree oven until it’s bubbly and the cheese is toasty.  This takes about 25 – 30 minutes from the fridge and a bit longer from frozen.

Serve with bread, crackers or veggies for dipping.  I like it with rye or multi-grain toasts.

Apparently, everybody liked it!

Apparently, everybody liked it!

Have you ever found yourself in possession of too many vegetables that you’re not crazy about?  What did you do?  Did you end up liking the very vegetable you thought you hated? 

This post is shared at Fresh Foods Wednesday.