It’s birthday week! And if you think I’m not cooking, you’re mistaken. True, I’ll probably refrain from time in the kitchen next weekend during my actual birthday–Saturday if you must know. During the week, though, I’m gearing up for a “practice” personal chef session TODAY! Things are getting real.
The birthday week kickoff would not be complete without an early birthday present, and apparently when you’re a grown-up, home improvement projects qualify as the best gifts. I’m legitimately ecstatic about my new hooks, installed, after 3 Home Depot runs, a disassembled bathroom mirror, and one broken screw, by Steve. As a reward, he also gets to be a photo prop and hold the menu board. Moral of the story: don’t try to drill things into a wall shared with a bathroom mirror and, potentially, plumbing.
I’m also doing some nutrition experiments this week. I had this problem prior to cutting my meat intake also, but I seem to be especially fatigued of late. Not exactly tired like I want to go to sleep every ten minutes, but more like I can actually tell my body is missing something and, as a result, doesn’t want me to engage in strenuous physical or mental activities. So more like I want to take both a morning and afternoon cat nap and am unexplainably irritable. No change in sleep, exercise, hydration, or alcohol consumption patterns have helped significantly. By now, I’ve also learned that the issue is highly resistant to caffeine, so while it may give me an excuse to drink more coffee, I don’t see any change for the better.
After asking around of my female friends and some recollection that immediate female family members had mentioned a similar affliction at some point in the past, I’ve self-diagnosed the possibility of an iron issue. Maybe a shortage, maybe a failure to absorb properly. So, in addition to seeking out make-ahead meals this week, they also have to have plenty of iron and a source of vitamin C, which should help me absorb the iron I am taking in. I think the issue might be the latter, as I check off many iron-rich foods as already being included in my diet.
Oh, and the worst part, the tannins in coffee may inhibit iron absorption! I’ve carefully plotted my revised morning routine to take in breakfast by 8, enjoy a coffee (and maybe a muffin from the batch I prepped over the weekend) around 10, and not touch lunch until at least 2 hours post-coffee. Bottom line is, though, if I can get my energy flowing, I’m totally willing to put some more thought and tweaks into my food “routine” (or lack thereof).
Dinner Plan, July 21 – 25
- Monday: Roast cauliflower, quinoa tabbouleh, hummus
- Tuesday: Spanish tortilla with artichoke and red pepper, fava bean and manchego salad
- Wednesday: Wine glazed lentils and simple fish or scallops (whatever looks good at the seafood shop)
- Thursday: Cheesy Mexican squash and black bean hot dish (my own creation–recipe to follow)
- Friday: Broccoli soup, croutons (gluten!), and beluga lentils…pending birthday activities which someone is being very sneaky about.
In case you’re interested, or have also experienced iron issues (if, indeed, that’s the culprit here), here’s my plan for breakfasts and lunch:
- Breakfast: pre-8 AM; high iron smoothie or oats with pumpkin puree and sunflower seed butter plus berries
- AM snack: COFFEE (hallelujah) with half and half, muffin if hungry
- Lunch: 2 hours post-coffee; one bean or grain iron source (I have several soups in the freezer meeting this criteria), one veg vitamin C source (starting with broc), one fruit (grapes or watermelon), some fat (avocado, olive oil, cheese)
- PM snack: Anything I wasn’t hungry for at lunch (or just more of it), decaf coffee (which still affects iron absorption, so being mindful of the 2 hour window around the coffee and meals)
Today’s trial run of make-ahead meals will be a whirlwind, I’m sure, but the camera is charging as we speak to make sure I capture the good parts on film.
Discovering this salad helped me realize that owning a grill is not the key to my summer food happiness. Strange, you might say, since the recipe involves grilling. For that reason, I almost missed out on this surprisingly filling, almost un-salad salad. I live near downtown Stamford, Connecticut, which is awesome in a lot of ways. For starters, I don’t need a car to function, and I can just as easily make my way to New York City as I can to my choice of the many Fairfield County farmer’s markets. One way in which it is far less awesome, though, is in the lack of a proper yard and the illegality of placing a real (i.e., charcoal) grill on the balcony. Rule follower, right here. Our neighbors don’t subscribe to the same philosophy and I can almost reach their grill from my deck…watch out neighbors.
I stumbled upon this recipe after searching too long and hard for a vegetarian dish combining both eggplant, for it’s meatiness, and Thai flavors, which I thought I might be hungry for during the next week. My heart broke (slight dramatization) as I realized it called for a grill not named George Foreman. Because it was way past my bedtime on a Sunday night, though, I got brainstorming and thought I might have some success using the open flame of the gas stove to char the eggplant, getting it nice and smoky and soft enough to peel off the skin and pull the “meat” into strips. Pulled eggplant. It’s the new pulled pork. [Read more…]
Before I run off to the grocery store bright and early on this somewhat gloomy looking Monday morning, I thought I’d jump right in and start sharing some dinner inspiration (dinspiration, if you will) with y’all. Last week’s dinner menu at my house ended up being a little more involved than expected. The dishes were seemingly simple, but I have a tendency to stray from the recipe, if there is one, in order to make what I think is the best tasting dish. For example, I’m hesitant to cook mushrooms in the microwave (sorry, Jacques) unless I have exactly ten minutes to prepare dinner. They’re so texturally perfect when browned and cooked on the stove top, don’t you think? And somehow, I estimated the equivalent of a pound of dried black beans to be two cans? Try seven.
At the outset of the week, my dinner plan was a nice pretty package, ready to be unwrapped and opened as the week progressed, leaving me with nothing but warm fuzzies. While all the food did just that, sometimes the plan doesn’t go exactly as anticipated.
As evidence of such real life existing in my kitchen, I’m going to start showing you the weekly menu snapshots with corners of my very real kitchen, exactly as is (unless noted), in the background. Maybe I’m a type A clean freak, but it’s comforting to realize that even chefs and food bloggers have some element of disarray to their workspace. Exhibit 1: The cannister of Whole Foods brand “nutella” over there on the counter. Don’t think I left this out for no reason. There’s plenty of space (okay, some space) in my cabinet for it, but after rediscovering it last night on a sweet tooth rampage, I purposely left it out so that I wouldn’t forget that I had it later in the week. Essentially, reminding myself to eat chocolate spread over graham crackers. #imarealperson
Dinner Plan, July 14 – 18
Tuesday: GF Fusilli with scape pesto, tomatoes, and chicken sausage
Wednesday: Baked saffron falafel, chunky Greek salad, orange tahini dressing
Thursday: Baked potatoes with traditional fixings (i.e., CHEESE/BUTTER), roasted asparagus, sautéed mushrooms
Friday: TBD or date night out!
So now it’s time for the shopping! Have a great Monday. The sun is coming out as I type, so I think there’s hope!
Also, if the thought of preparing this menu particularly fascinates or frightens you, the thought of eating it gives you those warm fuzzies, or you have never prepared a perfectly browned sautéed mushroom, check out my related services and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions (since, at the time of this post, the Services page is a little empty!). I’d love to help!
The Natural Comfort Kitchen blog, that is. I’m sorry if it took some advanced navigational skills to get here, and I applaud your persistence! The website will be getting much prettier and more organized in the near future (as in, I’m probably working on it at this very moment). If you’re looking for any of the following, bookmark or pin this site and check back soon! In the meantime, take a look at Balancing Active–a blog I developed but no longer update.
- Meal Plans
- Cooking Help…
…and more, coming soon!
If you have recipe requests, including something for a specific diet (e.g., gluten-free, vegetarian), let me know in the comments! I love a challenge in the kitchen, so if I haven’t made it before, I’ll do the research and a test run and deliver the results here.