Week 31: Sometimes Foods

img_6993A good friend of mine from grad school came and stayed with us last week and gave me my new food words to live by. In my work in community nutrition we never refer to foods as “good” or “bad” but instead would say they are either “everyday” or “sometimes” foods. A very true statement that is pretty easy to follow. My new and revised version of this concept is that there are no bad foods, just bad quantities. For people who like solid rules with specific quantities or lists of allowed and disallowed foods, this won’t work for you. But for everyone else who tries to navigate the world of food on their own with whatever knowledge they have, this works pretty darn well. Thanksgiving and the holidays are full of sometimes foods, but they are sometimes occasions that only come around once a year. As much as I love pumpkin pie, I truly only get to enjoy it once a year as with about 90% of the dishes I make and eat around the holidays. In my festive build-up to my favorite day of the year, hint: it falls on a Thursday every year, I mix in sweet potatoes, cranberries, and other fall staples but try to find healthier ways to enjoy them in a more everyday way. The Cranberry-Shallot Sauce this week calls for only 2 Tbsp of brown sugar as opposed to the 1 cup of sugar used in a typical cranberry sauce. I love rich, delicious holiday food but not everyday. It’s easy to make a dish taste good when it is loaded with sugar, cream and butter but finding a tasty ways to cook those same foods without all of those sometimes ingredients is much more of a challenge and something I am glad Eating Well has taken on for me! I haven’t had the time to try these yet, but here is a great example of a healthy twist on a delicious dessert with their Chocolate-Sweet Potato Parfait. I am sure I would skip the meringue step and just top it with whipped cream, but they look beautiful and sound very tasty. This week inadvertently is a very meat heavy comfort food kind of menu. Maybe I am trying to compensate for the 70 degree weather we are getting during the day by making cozy food for dinner. Either way I still think it is delicious and full of colorful veggies and whole grains. Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Slow Cooker Creole Chicken & Sausage with Brown Rice and Green Salad

  • Now I can’t actually take credit for making this but it was so tasty! My good friend from grad school who stayed with us last week and while we were away last weekend made this for us to find Sunday when we returned from being out of town. All of Travis’s coworkers were wondering what he was eating for lunch the next day it smelled so good. Best house guest ever!

Tuesday: Tuna Noodle Casserole

  • This is a glorified version of a lunch I make for myself on days when I can’t find anything to eat. A box of whole wheat Annie’s Mac & Cheese, a small can of tuna, and frozen peas.
  • I get creative with the veggie additions in this dish adding a combo of leftovers, frozen and fresh.

Wednesday: Turkey Tenderloin with Cranberry-Shallot Sauce, Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  • This dish screams fall to me and is a perfect combo of tart and sweet. So good!
  • I couldn’t for the life of me find a turkey tenderloin so I used chicken breast but a pork tenderloin or chicken or turkey tenders would do the trick. We just cooked the chicken in a pan instead of the oven.
  • The longer the cranberries cook and bread down the better it is. If you hit an undercooked whole cranberry it will make you pucker since there is not much sugar in the dish.
  • I halved the Brussels sprouts and tossed them with oil, salt and pepper and roasted them at 425 for 25 or so minutes while everything else was cooking.

Thursday: Bavarian Leek & Cabbage Soup with Garlic Bread

  • I almost didn’t include this since it was so bland, but I still think it has potential and is a good fridge cleaner. We had potatoes, carrots, celery and cabbage that needed using up so it was the perfect dish for this week.
  • Towards the end I panicked and just started adding anything I could find to help add some flavor: 1 tsp caraway seeds, paprika, salt, etc. It was a dish that definitely improved over time. The final night I had it I added some leftover roasted cauliflower which was perfect. So my suggestions to pick and choose from would be to roast the veggies, add more spices like the caraway seed, add more salt earlier on, a can of diced tomatoes, use a flavorful green like kale, and garnish the heck out of it.
  • I don’t think I would recommend this if you didn’t have a bunch of produce to use up, but I always love a challenge and figuring out how to save this soup certainly was just that.

Friday: Grilled Steak with Chimichurri Sauce, Roasted Cauliflower Steaks and Red Rice

  • My cauliflower steaks did not hold together beautifully like theirs but it was still delicious.
  • I used a different chimichurri sauce that I made this summer and froze, but I am sure this recipe would due in a pinch.
  • I thought the red rice went well with the cauliflower and sauce but any grain would do just fine.

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