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!

 

Pizza with Garlicky Mixed Greens

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I love the farmers market, and I’m lucky enough to have a fantastic year-round market ten minutes from my house.  (Woo Countryside!) One of my farmers market issues is overbuying greens.  (As I typed that, this is what I heard in my head:  Hi, my name is Melissa and I buy too many greens…Hi, Melissa!)

They always look so beautiful and so tasty, and and I end up coming home with bags like this:

Left to right:  Swiss chard and collard greens, baby swiss chard, spinach

Left to right: Swiss chard and collard greens, baby Swiss chard, spinach

I recently read the book An Everlasting Meal, by Tamar Adlar.  Not a traditional cookbook, but a fantastic book about cooking and food – I highly recommend it.  The author is passionate about eating well, but also eating responsibly and not wasting.  One of the things she suggests is to cook veggies, like greens, as soon as you get home from the market.

Typically, I use a little bit of greens right away, then rest get all wilty in the fridge while I forget about them for a couple of days.  This time, I got home from the market and started cooking. And boy, am I glad I did!

I took all three bags of greens, removed the big, tough-looking stems and gave the leaves a quick chop.

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I got out my only pot that I thought would hold all the greens – a heavy enamel dutch oven-style pot.  I covered the bottom of the pot with olive oil, turned the heat on medium-low and added six cloves of garlic, sliced.

Once the garlic started to turn just slightly golden brown, I turned up the heat.  I added all the greens (it took several handfuls to transfer them to the pot), salt, pepper and a good amount of red pepper flakes. I like ’em spicy.

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Because the pot was so full, I very carefully stirred the greens around until they were all coated in the garlicky oil.  I let them go for a few more minutes, stirring a couple of times, until they cooked down to a beautifully dark green pile in the bottom of the pot.

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Yum!  Yum, yum, yum.  The smell of the garlic, the lovely dark green color with bits of red Swiss chard stems poking out here and there….awesome.

Now, these are fabulous as is – immediately after cooking, or reheated a day or two later.  But I wanted to try something different.  And I just happened to have some freshly made pizza dough in the fridge.

My favorite pizza dough recipe comes from the book Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast by Ken Forkish.  It’s easy, it’s consistently good, and it make an awesome thin crust pizza.

After I stretched out the pizza dough, I added a generous amount of the cooked greens (and garlic pieces).

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I kept it simple.  On top of the greens, I added sliced fresh mozzarella and some shredded asiago cheese, just because I happened to have it on hand.  I topped it with a few shakes of red pepper flakes and popped it in the oven at 500 degrees until the crust got brown and the cheese got bubbly. I preheated the oven with my pizza stone inside to help get the bottom crust all crispy.

Before cooking...

Before cooking…

...after cooking!

…after cooking!

Pizza may, in fact, be the perfect food. And this pizza was damn near perfect, if I do say so myself (and I do!).

Do you have any tricks or tips for using all your produce before it starts wilting?  Or do you have the willpower not to buy three large bags of greens at one time?  Or both?