Saturday, April 22, 2017

Eat Your Way to Better Writing

Photo courtesy of dbreen, Pixabay          

            As I write this, I’m in the throes of a mid-morning slump and all I can think about is what I’m going to have for lunch. This is not to be confused with the mid-afternoon slump, during which all I can think about is taking a nap.

            I should also mention that I’m on a quest to take better care of myself, and so I’m counting every calorie I ingest using an app called MyFitnessPal (you can find it in the App Store on your smartphone). It’s amazing how logging all the food I eat in a day has made me far more mindful of everything I eat.

            With that being said, I’m in the mood to write about food, and in particular, healthy food that packs a nutritional punch. I’ve decided to share a few recipes I’ve found that are great in terms of providing lots of nutrients, helping me to feel full, and still staying within a reasonable calorie range. And they're delicious! Want to know the best part? With an emphasis on healthy food, I'm feeling more energetic (except in mid-afternoon) and that helps with the word count! So that's how I'm tying this post to writing. Maybe a stretch, but it's all I've got.

            Breakfast: this isn’t really a recipe, but more of a life-changing twist I tried on an everyday breakfast food.

            Do you eat oatmeal? How about steel-cut oatmeal? Steel-cut oatmeal takes longer to make than regular oatmeal, but it’s not labor-intensive and the results are well worth the thirty minutes it takes to simmer the cereal. Next question: what do you put on your oatmeal when you make it? If you’re like me, you add maple syrup or brown sugar and maybe a handful of raisins, in addition to a little milk or half-and-half.

            Here’s the life-changing twist: I swirled a quarter cup of skim milk and two teaspoons of butter into the cooked oatmeal and added salt and pepper, thereby making it a savory breakfast rather than a sweet one. Pow! I loved the nutty taste, the creamy texture, and the full feeling it gave me.

Photo courtesy of ponce_photography, Pixabay

I urge you to try something savory for breakfast—eggs are good, but venture out of your comfort zone a bit. It’s a great way to add some variety to your morning routine and you might just love it.

            Lunch: this is a great recipe for springtime because it features strawberries, which are in season right now. I adapted the recipe from The Pampered Chef.

Photo courtesy of szjeno09190, Pixabay

Strawberry-Spinach Salad

½ t. lemon zest
2 t. lemon juice
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. vegetable oil
1 t. poppy seeds

½ to 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut in slices
4 c. fresh baby spinach leaves
½ pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
¼ c. sliced or slivered almonds, toasted

Combine all dressing ingredients. Whisk until combined.
Cut each cucumber slice in half. Combine all salad ingredients (except nuts) with dressing. Toss gently in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle with almonds.

Makes 10 1-cup servings.

            Dinner: I would eat soup every night of the week if my family didn’t protest so loudly, so my dinner repertoire is wide-ranging and attempts to please at least two people at every meal. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. I recall one meal, in particular, that left one child in tears, another gagging, and another flatly refusing to take even one bite (turns out she was the smart one). It was truly awful. I threw away the entire meal. We refer to the as the Thai Curry Soup Which Shall Not be Mentioned and as I recall, we ate chicken nuggets from the freezer that night instead.

            But not to worry, the Soup Which Shall Not be Mentioned is not what I’m going to share with you here. Instead, I’m going to share a recipe that I made recently and that received rave reviews from the whole family.

Pepper Steak

1 lb. sirloin tips, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 T. vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
1 t. salt
½ t. pepper
1 c. beef broth
1 can (appr. 15 ounces) stewed tomatoes
1 large green or red pepper, cut into slices
2 T. cornstarch
¼ c. cold water
2 T. soy sauce
Cooked egg noodles or your favorite mashed potatoes with the skins left on

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add meat and cook until browned (about 15 minutes). Add onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and beef broth. Cover and simmer (low heat) for 25 minutes.
Add tomatoes (with their juices) and peppers to mixture and simmer for 10 more minutes, covered.           
Combine corn starch, cold water, and soy sauce and whisk well. Stir into meat mixture. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove garlic before serving over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.
Serves 4 with leftovers.

Enjoy and happy spring!


Unknown said...

Yum for lunch and dinner, j can leave the oatmeal alone unless it is covered in sugar and fruit! BTW, you listed beef broth twice in the dinner recipe, did you mean to do that? I would really like to make that recipe. My kids won't eat soup in the summer, which we are already in here in San Antonio. Hmmmm!

Amy M. Reade said...

I can't believe I put beef broth in the recipe twice! I'll have to go in and edit that--thanks for catching my mistake. I love oatmeal almost any way it's made, but I cannot stomach the instant packets. When I make the pepper steak I almost always cook egg noodles just because they take less time and effort than mashed potatoes. Thanks for stopping by!!

Amy M. Reade said...

Sharon, I forgot the stewed tomatoes! That's why the recipe calls for a can of beef broth--it's supposed to be a can of stewed tomatoes and they're essential for the recipe! I am so mad at myself for missing that when I proofread the post. I've changed it so it reads correctly now. Thank you!!

Unknown said...

I really need to try that recipe! I love those ingredients!

Amy M. Reade said...

Let me know what you think of it!

Maggie King said...

I love oatmeal, but haven't tried the steel cut variety. I cook mine with raisins and walnuts; once cooked, I add milk and cinnamon. Only slightly sweet.

Amy M. Reade said...

Maggie, that sounds like a breakfast that wouldn't leave you hungry before lunch. Yum! I love walnuts, too.

Liane Spicer said...

I disliked oatmeal since I was a child (they tell me I loved it as a toddler...) but now I'm steeling myself to have a go as it's supposed to be so good for you. I'm going to try your recipe!

I love soup too! Had some for breakfast yesterday and the day before.