10 Days, 10 Dinners

Of all the things I get asked, “What do you eat?” or “What do you make for dinner?” is probably what I get asked the most. Last year I did a blog post that was an entire week’s worth of food in pictures.  It went over well – people loved to see what my meals / snacks consisted of.  I’ve been meaning to do one of those again but for some reason only seem to remember to take pictures at dinnertime!! So I thought I’d post a week and a half worth of our dinners so that you can see how I’m eating lately. So this is what I really ate for dinner from 4/28 – 5/7 (yes, it took me almost 2 weeks to get it into a blog post but when you see the LENGTH of this post you’ll see why!). I’ve included a loose version of a recipe for each meal (but I made most of these up on the fly with the exception of any linked recipes so it’s possible I’m forgetting an ingredient!) in case something interests you.

My hope is that these types of posts inspire you to get creative in your kitchen and see how easy and delicious more whole foods in your diet can be! And while I don’t want anyone to think that they need to eat exactly how I eat to lose weight or be their healthiest – eating the way I’m eating these days makes me feel my best. It keeps my cravings to a minimum, gives me tons of energy and it keeps the binge monster at bay. I want to encourage you to pay attention to how the foods that you eat make your body feel (and how the way your body feels affect your brain/emotions). It’s different for everyone and I encourage you to experiment to find what feels good to you.

My only gripe with our meals lately is that I feel like I need to make more of an attempt to eat  a couple vegetarian meals, at least for me. This is hard to do in our house as we don’t eat soy protein and John hates/can’t tolerate beans/legumes (and it’s rare for me to cook 2 different entrees). It’s something I struggle with. The meat / fish we do eat is always the highest quality I can get my hands on. I do not buy feedlot meats. I can’t support that and I cut back in other areas of spending so that we can afford healthier and more humane options.

Anyhow, enough blah blah blah here are 10 Days, 10 Dinners

1. Tues – 4/28
Wild Salmon and Oat Cakes with Salad and homemade tartar sauce

(and Tessemae’s Green Goddess Dressing). I totally went back for a second helping of salad and an extra “cake”.

These came out super good which I was sort of surprised by! I bought a 14.75 oz can of Wild Alaskan Canned Salmon – the kind that has bones and skin in it – and the only way I could think of making it that would disguise bones/skin (gag!) was by making salmon cakes. I’ve always avoided these types of cans because the idea of the extra bits grossed me out but since my dairy consumption consists mostly of butter, I need to make extra effort to get calcium from other foods and guess what salmon bones have?? Yup, calcium (and vitamin D too).  And eating the skin increases the amount of healthy omega 3 fats by more than double per serving and since those are essential for reducing inflammation we need to eat them where we can! I’m over my fear of skin and bones in canned salmon and will definitely buy it again – it’s quite a bit cheaper than fresh and it’s already cooked so it’s a great way to save time and money.

How long this took to make: 20 – 25 minutes total (includes Cakes, tartar sauce and veggies for salad)

Wild Salmon and Oat Cakes with Salad and homemade tartar sauce

How to make this:

I just drained the liquid from the 14.75 oz can of wild salmon, poured the contents into a bowl and literally crushed the crap out of bones and meat up with my hands. The bones are super crumbly and the skin was rather soft so it all blended up in small bits very quickly. When it was the right consistency for cakes, I stirred in 1 whole egg, an egg white (leftover from making mayo so I thought why not?), roughly 1/4 cup of rolled oats (processed in the food processor to a breadcrumb consistency), a few tbsp of chopped onion, 1 stalk of chopped celery, a little dijon mustard, garlic powder, parsley and a dash of tamari.  Mixed it together with a spoon and heated up my favorite cast iron skillet on medium high heat.  I added about a half tbsp of both butter and olive oil to the hot skillet and when hot, scooped about 1/3 cup of the mixture into the pan (per cake) pressed it down with a spatula so it formed a patty shape, cooked for about 3 minutes, flipped and cooked for about 3 minutes more. I cooked 3 at a time (and I think this made 7 or 8 total). They got an awesome brown crust and stayed together well.

TIP: I think the reason they worked out so well was that I let the mixture sit for a few minutes while I cut up salad veggies and the skillet heated up so the oats had time to absorb some of the moisture.  For the tartar sauce, I just made my homemade olive oil mayo and added some diced bubbies pickles to it, and a little of the pickle juice.

The best part was this meal came together in just a few minutes – I think start to finish was 20 minutes. It helped that I didn’t make the salad dressing – Tessemae’s makes ones with really simple ingredients so I buy it occasionally to save myself some time (not that dressing takes more than a minute – but I get tired of whisking!).

2. Wed – 4/29
Whole Roasted Chicken with sweet potatoes, onions, cauliflower and green beans
.

I know, who the heck makes a whole roasted chicken on a weeknight? This girl does. We eat pretty late so even if I don’t get home until 7 I can still stick a chicken in the oven for dinner. I will roast a chicken with just about any vegetable combination – it’s an amazing way to have a delicious dinner that looks and tastes like you slaved forever! The juices from the chicken flavor the vegetables and the natural sugars in your starches caramelize – you can’t replicate this stuff on the stovetop (well you can but it’s a lot of work)!  After you’re done with the chicken, save the carcass for making broth (I put them in the freezer until I’m ready).

How long this took to make:  Active time, 5 minutes Inactive time, 90 minutes

Desktop Pictures2

Whole Roasted Chicken with sweet potatoes, onions, cauliflower and green beans.

How to make this:

Prep for this took 4 minutes!! Chopped up a head of cauliflower into big florets, sliced two sweet potatoes into thick circles (skin left on but scrubbed well), rinsed a bag of fresh green beans, chopped an onion into a few chunks and then placed all of that in a big roasting pan. Drizzled with a little olive oil and tossed the veggies with my hands. Sprinkled with a little sea salt and black pepper, made a well in the center and stuck in a 5 lb organic chicken. The only thing I do to prep the chicken is open the bag it came in, remove any neck/giblets or whatever, stick it in the pan and sprinkle it with salt. That’s it (no rinsing, no trussing, no butter, no fuss!!).  Bake a 4-5lb bird with lots of veggies/root veg of your choice at 425 for 80 – 90 minutes. It’s perfectly done every time!  You don’t have that much time? You can cook just the bird by itself at 450 degrees for 50-60 minutes (and cook your veggies another way). This is the type of stuff we should all learn I was talking about here – techniques for cooking instead of specific recipes.

3. Thurs – 4/30
Got take out from You You in Nashua

I ate my weight in sushi and spicy mayo (though the spicy mayo was homemade and I used low sodium tamari instead of the soy sauce they gave us). Sorry no pic! Just picture me eating a massive plate of various sushi and smiling the whole time. I swear, I would eat it every day if I didn’t think it would give me mercury poisoning.

4. Fri – 5/1
Ground Turkey hash with kale, zucchini, mushrooms and onions, served with baked kabocha squash and a fried egg.

I was feeling a little breakfast for dinner ish but had some turkey I wanted to use up so a hash it was! I added some weird spices because that’s how I roll. Meals like this are a great way to work vegetables in and not even feel like you’re eating them. You’ll laugh but I cooked kabocha squash for me and potatoes for John. He can’t do squash but I would cut off my arm to eat it more often! I could have eaten potatoes too, but I just really wanted to eat my squash, so I made two things out of selfishness really. To be honest, the way I cook, it didn’t make extra work for me. I literally roasted the squash and his potatoes on the same cookie sheet in the oven for the same amount of time. This time, I went back for seconds of just the squash. I love me kabocha.  You should try it if you haven’t before – it’s drier and nuttier than butternut squash.

How long this took to make:  About 30 minutes for the hash and eggs, 60 min for my potatoes / squash (but you can microwave so that it can all be done in 30).

Ground Turkey hash with kale, zucchini, mushrooms and onions, served with baked kabocha squash and a fried egg

Ground Turkey hash with kale, zucchini, mushrooms and onions, served with baked kabocha squash and a fried egg

How to make this:

Cook your starch however you want (I baked potatoes and kabocha squash whole in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour or so. You’re welcome to microwave yours to save time). While your starch is cooking, saute a big bunch of chopped kale (I used lacinato – it’s my favorite), 1 chopped zucchini, half a chopped onion, and 8oz of sliced mushrooms in a little olive oil, coconut oil or butter. When they’re mostly cooked, remove from the pan and cook 1 to 1 1/4 lbs of ground turkey in the same pan until cooked through.  Add the cooked veggies back to the pan, plus some paprika, garlic powder, turmeric and (weird I know) ground allspice, plus some sea salt and pepper and stir / cook until most of the liquid released from the veggies are gone. While you’re cooking in the spices, heat a skillet up over medium low heat, add some fat and fry up a few eggs to your desired doneness. Serve the hash on top of your starch and an egg or two on top of that.  It’s super awesome with salsa on top.

5. Sat – 5/2
Went out to dinner at Copper Door with the hubs and his dad

I had Wood Roasted Haddock with corn-crab hash, fingerling potatoes, pearl onions, bell peppers and sweet compound butter. Also had 2 chicken rangoon appetizers (yup, I ate wheat) and a Manhattan the size of my whole fist. (sorry no pic!). I could totally replicate the haddock dish at home, no problem. Those rangoons though . . .

6. Sun – 5/3
Chicken Soup with Bok Choy, celery, onion, arborio rice and ginger/star anise

Made homemade Chicken broth (using the saved carcass from Wednesday’s dinner) while we were home this weekend and turned it into a delicious and easy to digest soup (was having stomach pains after my wheat indulgence the night before).  If you have a high quality, rich tasting broth, you can make delicious soups with just a few ingredients since the broth is already so flavorful. Try it, I swear you will wonder why you ever bought store broth!

How long this took to make: Since I had homemade broth already, soup took about 30 – 35 minutes total.

Chicken Soup with Bok Choy, celery, onion, arborio rice and ginger/star anise

Chicken Soup with Bok Choy, celery, onion, arborio rice and ginger/star anise

How to make this:

Place 1 to 1.5 lbs organic boneless chicken breasts or thighs in a 4 quart dutch oven or stock pot. Add enough broth to cover the chicken plus 2 inches (they should be completely submerged and covered by 2 inches of liquid) and bring to a boil. Once boiling, I added a 1/2 cup of arborio rice, a two inch piece of peeled fresh ginger and about a tsp of anise seed (which I immersed in the broth tied into a piece of cheesecloth). You can also use 3 or 4 whole star anise.  I brought it back to a boil, then reduced to a simmer and let the chicken cook 15 -20 minutes (or until cooked through). I removed the chicken from the pan and let cool for a few minutes. Keep the rice cooking at a medium low temp and add more broth if needed. While the chicken is cooking, heat up a saute pan with a little fat of your choice and saute a chopped onion and 4 sliced stalks of celery until softened, about 6 or 7 minutes. When chicken is cool enough to handle, chop up into bite sized pieces. Remove anise seed and ginger from the rice/broth, add chopped chicken, sauteed celery and onion and your raw but sliced head of bok choy to the pot. Add 1 tbsp low sodium tamari, a dash of rice vinegar and 1/2 tsp ground turmeric (or 1 tbsp fresh grated). Heat everything through and season with pepper.

7. Mon – 5/4
Ground Beef, onion and fennel stuffed Zucchini boats, topped with homemade fast marinara sauce and served with organic corn and steamed green beans

This was the result of one of those nights when I came home and stared into the fridge several times and didn’t know what to make. Nothing was appealing to me, I was tired and really didn’t want anything that we had. Took a chance in throwing this all together and it worked out well!

How long this took to make: About 45 minutes.

Ground Beef, onion and fennel stuffed Zucchini boats, topped with homemade fast marinara sauce and served with organic corn and steamed green beans

Ground Beef, onion and fennel stuffed Zucchini boats, topped with homemade fast marinara sauce and served with organic corn and steamed green beans

How to make this:

Preheat your oven to 350. Cut two big zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon then lightly rub with olive or melted coconut oil. Place on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes. While zucchini is cooking, heat fat of your choice in a medium sized saute pan and cook 1 diced onion and a roughly chopped fennel bulb (freeze the fronds for the next time you make broth – adds a delicious flavor and it’s good for the belly) until softened (about 6 or 7 minutes). Add 1 lb grassfed ground beef and break up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.  Add 1 tsp paprika, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1/4 tsp ground allspice and stir until ground beef is cooked through. Season with sea salt and black pepper.  While the meat and zucchini are cooking, make a quick marinara sauce. I take a whole onion, cut in half and remove the skin and place the two onion halves in a hot sauce pan with a little olive oil or butter and then I add some dried oregano, either fresh or dried basil and 1 clove minced garlic and stir until fragrant (a minute or two). Then I add a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, a pinch of sugar and generous sea salt and black pepper and I let it simmer for a good 25 -40 minutes (depending on how hungry I am!). When your meat and veggie mixture is cooked through, fill up your zucchini boats with the mixture and place in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with marinara sauce (feel free to add grated parm or gruyere if you eat dairy). Serve with steamed green beans and (frozen) organic corn.

8. Tues – 5/5
Spiced Pan Seared Mahi Mahi with pineapple avocado salsa, quinoa and roasted brussels sprouts

This is really easy to make and John liked it despite not liking fish.

How long this took to make: About 30 minutes (Mahi Mahi takes about 10 minutes but brussels take a bit longer)

mahimahi

Spiced Pan Seared Mahi Mahi with pineapple avocado salsa, quinoa and roasted brussels sprouts

How to make this:

I totally cheated with my salsa. I had some Salsa Fresca from whole foods in the fridge. To that, I added some chopped fresh pineapple, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a diced avocado. Voila, Pineapple Avocado salsa bitches. I do make my own salsa sometimes but I’m also a fan of improvising with what I have available at any given moment. Put your salsa aside and make a spice rub for your mahi mahi. Use this as a rough guide and adjust to your needs: 1.5 tbsp paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp thyme leaves, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp sea salt. If you like spicy you’ll probably want to add some cayenne to that but I leave it out for John. Put it all in a bowl and mix together and then rub it all over (front and back) of 1 – 1.5 lbs Wild Mahi Mahi fillets. Let your Mahi Mahi sit for a few minutes, make some quinoa and prep your brussels sprouts. I roughly follow this recipe. Though I use less olive oil, less salt and cook at a slightly higher temp for less time (say 425 for 25 minutes – it really depends on how big your sprouts are). When your quinoa and sprout are almost done, heat a cast iron skillet or good saute pan over medium high heat, add about 1/2 tbsp of both butter and olive oil and when hot add your Mahi Mahi fillets. Cook for about 4-6 minutes on each side or until cooked through (will depend on thickness of your fillets – fish cooks pretty fast!). You should get a good sear if the pan is hot enough. Serve the Mahi Mahi with the salsa on top or on the side.

9. Wed – 5/6
Wild ramps, swiss chard and organic pork sausage risotto.

My risottos are really more like a bowl of vegetables that have some slow cooked rice mixed in, instead of the other way around. I used more of the chicken broth I made on Sunday instead of store bought – it’s way more nutritious and tastes so much better too.

How do we make risotto? I promise, it’s not as hard as people make it out to be but you do need to be present and available to stir regularly. Once you see that risotto is a cooking technique – and you just need to learn the formula you realize you can add anything to it – there are endless delicious variations. One word of advice, you probably don’t want to make it for the first time on a weeknight if you have hungry little ones waiting on you (try it on a weekend when you have some extra wiggle room).

How long this took to make: About 40 minutes.

risottoramps

Wild ramp, swiss chard and organic pork sausage risotto

How to make this:


You can follow this recipe here. To this, I added a whole bunch of chopped rainbow swiss chard in the last 10 minutes or so of cooking. I also use more than 3 cups of broth (probably closer to 5 cups) and have my broth warm before adding it to the rice. I used DuBreton Organic Mild Italian Pork Sausages. If you can’t find Ramps (not exactly in every grocery store are they!), try using scallions, leeks or egyptian onions for a similar light onion flavor (though you won’t want to use the tough green tops of leeks – again save those for broth making!).  If you don’t have vermouth, try white wine – and if you don’t use alcohol, skip it and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a little acid kick. Lastly, the parmesan in risotto is totally optional – it’s still creamy and delicious without.

10. Thurs – 5/7
Paleo Pad Thai

This is super delicious.

Paleo Pad Thai (from The Clothes Make The Girl)

Paleo Pad Thai (from The Clothes Make The Girl)

How to make this:

Use this recipe for Paleo Pad Thai by Melissa Joulwan. It’s basically spaghetti squash with grilled chicken thighs, sugar snap peas, scrambled egg and a delicious sunbutter sauce. We’re not paleo but searching for paleo recipes is an easy way to find recipes that only contain whole foods / real foods and you can adjust them as you see fit. This recipe can take a bit to make so I usually try to make the sauce and cook the whole spaghetti squash the day before (both of which only take a few minutes of active time – but having some steps done saves time when I’m actually cooking).  This is definitely quite different from traditional pad thai but that creaminess and crunch we’ve come to expect from pad thai makes this total healthy comfort food.

There you have it. 10 consecutive days of dinners at my house. What have you been eating lately?

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