Sep 08 2010

Recipe: Spinach and White Beans – Chrissy’s Taste Odyssey

Published by under Recipes,Vegetarian

A life-long lover of food in all its glorious variety, I’m a latecomer to cooking. Over the past few years, I’ve gotten in to the habit of seeking out delicious-sounding recipes and trying them out, often with great success.  It’s been slow-going, though, and it’s left me with a somewhat limited repertoire and a tendency to fall into ruts.

What occurred to me recently is what I really need is to build up a base of go-to dishes that I can easily throw together. Dishes that require with minimal time and effort to prepare, and can be made using whatever ingredients I happen to have on hand. Dishes simple enough that a recipe isn’t even required.

This weekend I whipped up my first such improvised dish. I had a large bag of pre-washed spinach in the fridge, and wanted to use it in a hot dish (spinach salad is all well and good, but I love the way cooked spinach absorbs flavour). First, I did a quick web search and peeked at a handful of recipes to get a general sense of what ingredients might be common to a cooked spinach dish. Then I boldly headed to the kitchen sans recipe, but in possession of a rough plan of action.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 bag pre-washed spinach
  • 1 can white kidney beans
  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 a medium-sized cooking onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg*

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

  • Finely chop the onion and mince the garlic (Time-saving hint: you can purchase fresh garlic that has already been minced and frozen into to cut down on both prep and clean-up time). Rinse and drain the canned beans and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, combine olive oil, onion, garlic and cumin seeds, and warm over medium heat.
  • Once the onions started to turn transparent, add the full bag of spinach (don’t worry if it seems like way too much: it’s going to shrink down. A lot. You probably won’t be able to do much more than poke idly at it with a kitchen implement until it begans to wilt).
  • When the spinach begins to wilt, add the lemon juice and a  vinegar (Note: white wine vinegar would probably be an even better choice, but I didn’t have any on hand when I whipped this up)
  • Add dried thyme and nutmeg. (Quantities in the ingredients list are approximated, as I threw this together on the fly. You could definitely add more or less to taste).
  • At this time you could also add some ground black pepper and sea salt.  If you’re watching your sodium intake, it’s probably best not to add any while cooking — you get a lot more bang for your buck if you salt your serving to taste.
  • Add the drained and rinsed beans to the saucepan.
  • Stir/flip everything everything a few times to evenly-distribute the flavours, and then let beans warm up until the pan is sizzling again.

And that’s it! The whole process probably took about fifteen minutes end-to-end, with the most time consuming portion being the chopping of the onion. As a main course, this produced about two servings; as a side dish it should comfortably serve four. I had some the next day and it reheated well.

One note: if you’ve never cooked spinach before, you may not realize how much it shrinks when you cook it. It shrinks a lot. So don’t be alarmed if you feel like you’ve added way too much: I often find that what looks like enough spinach to feed a small army at the outset ends up seeming quite reasonable in the end. My giant bag of spinach was visually overwhelmed by a single can of beans in the finished product.

So that was my first experiment in basic, intuitive cooking. If you try it — and especially if you make any modifications — please let me know. I’d love to hear about your experience. As for me, I’ll be continuing to experiment with simple, recipeless dishes and will share all my success stories here.

*Thanks to my cousin Nicole for this tip: she always uses nutmeg in cooked spinach dishes. I never would have thought of it but it was indeed delicious!

No responses yet

Aug 04 2010

The Fresh Diet on the Go

Being busy is no excuse to be forced to eat poorly, at least not with The Fresh Diet!  You can just take your cooler bag with you, which holds all you need for your long day.

I took a day off this weekend from The Fresh Diet, partly because I had company in town, and knew I would have to take them somewhere for lunch and/or dinner, and wasn’t up for the torment of being called a party pooper, and I partly took a day off to try and stretch my delivery days a day longer! My trial month is quickly coming to a close and I’m getting sad, and a bit worried that I’m just not ready for it to end.

It is definitely very difficult for me, to try to eat as well as I do on the Fresh Diet without having that wonderful Green cooler on hand.  Needless to say, I was relieved when I got my delivery the next day, I felt back on track!

ALC with The Fresh Diet Cooler Bag

ALC with The Fresh Diet Cooler Bag

The Fresh Diet has proved to be the perfect solution for eating healthy. I’m just far too busy in life to worry about what to make to keep my body up and running. It actually keeps me on a schedule of remembering  to eat. I love having discovered The Fresh Diet and having it in my life.

Here is my menu for Wednesday with pictures.  Enjoy!

  • Breakfast:

    Cajun Style Egg White Omelet with Bell Pepper, Onion, Turkey Sausage & Roasted Roma Tomato

    Cajun Style Egg White Omelet with Bell Pepper, Onion, Turkey Sausage & Roasted Roma Tomato

    • Lunch:
    Fresh Diet turkey wrap

    Roasted Turkey Breast Whole Wheat Wrap with Fresh Guacamole and Spring Mix Lettuce

    • Hors D’Oeuvre:
    • fresh diet shrimp skewer with mango salsa

      Grilled Shrimp Skewer with Fresh Mango Salsa

  • Dinner:

    Grilled Tofu with Orange Tea Leaf Sauce with Steamed Asparagus and Lemon Parsley Roasted Brussels Sprouts

    Grilled Tofu with Orange Tea Leaf Sauce with Steamed Asparagus and Lemon Parsley Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  • Dessert:

    Sugar-Free Butterscotch Pecan Brownie

    Sugar-Free Butterscotch Pecan Brownie

  • ~Until Next Time!

    Eat Well. XO
    ALC

    Please note – TasteOdyssey.com is not affiliated with the company in any way – I won a contest to try it out for 30 days and I am journaling my experience.

    One response so far

    Jul 29 2010

    Let’s Talk About Portion Size!

    Just because you are on a diet doesn’t mean you can’t continue to eat amazing meals. The key to your success is portion size, portion size, portion size!

    I thought I had a pretty good idea of what 1200 calories looked like, until I started The Fresh Diet.

    Everything is portioned out perfectly for me.  I was very surprised at how much less food there is at each meal, then I thought it would be.  We are in the land of the Super-Sized everything, so it has been quite an eye opener to see just how much food my body needs a day to work properly and lose, or maintain weight.

    Today with my menu, I’m adding pictures of each dish, so you can see what an average daily menu looks like on The Fresh Diet.  After a while, it will be a cinch for me to use the eyeball method if I am unable to eat my Fresh Diet meals that day.

    • Breakfast: Hawaiian Pineapple Stuffed Whole Wheat French Toast with Strawberries and Blueberry Cottage Cheese

    the fresh diet - breakfast

    • Lunch: Turkey Souvlaki on Whole Wheat Pita with Minted Yogurt Sauce, & Celery Sticks

    the fresh diet - lunch

    • Hors D’Oeuvre: Chicken Skewer with Tequila Lime Glaze

    The Fresh Diet - HorDOeuvre chicken skewers

    • Dinner: Grilled Chicken Breast with Citrus Chipotle Sauce with Spaghetti Squash in Fresh Basil Pesto and Sauteed Baby Bok-Choy

    the fresh diet - dinner

    • Dessert: Sugar-Free Chocolate Cupcake with Mocha-Hazelnut Cream Cheese Frosting

    the fresh diet - dessert

    As you can see each portion is about the size of a hand or two-fists, and really your body doesn’t need much more. Each meal I ate today was just enough for me to feel satisfied, not to mention VERY delicious. So, the moral of today’s post is DON’T BE FOOLED by portion sizes that restaurants serve, that is TOO much foood for one person to eat! If you must eat out, share your meal with a friend, or eat ONLY the amount you should eat using the “EYEBALL METHOD” and pack up the rest for lunch the next day.

    Once you get in the routine of controlling your portion sizes you will be well on your way, to a healthier, fitter you!

    If you want to know more about THE FRESH DIET follow them HERE on their Fresh Diet Facebook page, and be the first to hear about all the contests they have for free weeks, and months of The Fresh Diet.  You have nothing to lose but weight! That bathing suit is calling your name 😉

    ~Till next time,

    XO

    ALC

    Please note – TasteOdyssey.com is not affiliated with the company in any way – I won a contest to try it out for 30 days and I am journaling my experience.

    One response so far

    « Prev - Next »