Vegetables

I totally forgot to add this link to my post yesterday and it’s probably my favorite. I feel like I am constantly trying to eat for veggies and, why not, most of them are zero point on Weight Watchers! I have been utilizing all of these ideas recently and they really work. Veggies can bulk up anything you are eating quickly and easy!

#1: Shop for veggies one day a week. This one is easy to follow if you visit a farmer’s market once a week. Set aside $20 each week and wander around the market and ask what is best that week. Fruits and Vegetables can have short seasons, so this will ensure that you can try the best of each season’s bounty! Right now, load up on squash (butternut, acorn, kombucha), apples, beets, brussels sprouts, and root vegetables (carrots, kohlrabi, celery root). A good rule of thumb is try to and make your plate look like a rainbow.

#2: Prep your veggies. I don’t usually cut up my veggies but I do remove them from the bags/containers and organize them nicely in a colander or two. I wash them all and then put them in the fridge still in the colander. It makes them look pretty (almost on display) and it’s easy to see what you have to use. I find I waste a lot less by doing this.

#3: Breakfast. Adding peppers, onions, broccoli or even brussels sprouts to an omelette or scrambled eggs. Or try…

#4: Blendtastic. Try making a fruit and veggie smoothie in the morning. If you have a lot of dark, leafy greens that might go bad before dinner time, try my kale smoothie. This is a great way to sneak in a serving or two of vegetables.

#5: Snack time. I always have cucumbers, bell peppers and baby carrots in my fridge. Always. I also always keep some sort of healthy dip in there- baba ganoush, hummus and tzatziki are my favorites. It takes about 3 minutes to chop up the peppers and cucumber and these snacks are guilt free!

#6: Lunch. Salad in a mason jar. Enough said.

#7: Dinner. Cooking veggies in a crock pot is a great but not everyone has one sitting on their counter. I love roasting vegetables, especially all the fall/winter root veggies. Just cut them into bite size pieces, spread out in a single layer on a cookie sheet (lining with foil or parchment will make clean up a breeze), drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. It will probably take a bit longer than 20 minutes, so check them at that time and then check them every 5 minutes until they are done to your liking (it will probably take more like 30-45 minutes).

#8: Dessert. I haven’t personally tried using vegetables in dessert but think zucchini bread, banana bread, etc. Or anything pumpkin- just try using another type of squash!

I hope this helps some of you eat more vegetables. Let me know any tips or tricks you might have!

Blueberry and Raspberry Compote

This is an easy way to use fresh berries that are just past their prime. I have found that, although berries are a little pricey, berries are a great snack to keep in my fridge- I mentioned this in my Anthropologie Farmers Market Basket post back in April. Whenever I need something a little sweet, I just open the fridge and grab a handful for ZERO points!

I bought some blueberries and raspberries a few days ago but haven’t been eating them as quickly as usual. So, this morning, I decided I would make a quick compote to put on top of the last two Van’s Waffle I had in the freezer!

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Ingredients

1 cup of berries

1 tsp of agave nectar

1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

Directions

Heat a small frying pan over low to moderate heat

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Add all the berries to the warm pan and smash them gently as they being to heat up (using the back of a fork or potato masher will work well)

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Cook for 4-5 minutes. Continue to break down the berries with your fork or masher. Once most of the berries have burst (this should be right around the 5 minute mark), add in the agave nectar and balsamic and stir to combine

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Increase the heat slightly (to a moderate heat) and stir often for 8-10 minutes

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Continue to stir until the sauce has reduced by half (above: before being reduced; below: after being reduced by 1/2)

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All done! Remove from heat and serve immediately over waffles, pancakes or even vanilla ice cream! Reserve any unused compote in a small Ball jar or tupperware and use within 2-3 days.

WW Points: 3 points for the whole “recipe”

Fried Green Tomatoes

I mentioned yesterday that Nick and I bought green tomatoes on Monday so I decided to tackle making fried green tomatoes for the first time ever! I did some research (as always) before choosing a simple recipe from a blog called “Pretty Tasty Things.” I pretty much left this recipe alone other than adding in a little cayenne to the flour for some extra heat.

Whenever I batter and fry anything (which isn’t all that often), I look for a batter that uses flour and buttermilk as part of the dredging process. The flour is a perfect first step because it helps coat whatever you are frying so you get a true batter around everything. The buttermilk helps create the next step of the barrier and gives the outside layer some moisture to adhere to. The cornmeal and bread crumb outer layer creates a crunchy bite. So when I saw these in this recipe, I had to try it!

This recipe is relatively easy but the dredging can be a little tricky. I found using a fork to flip, cover and move the tomato slices from bowl to bowl was the easiest way. You can use your fingers but be careful to use one hand for the dry ingredients and one hand for the wet ingredients so you don’t end up with a gloppy mess!

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Ingredients

3 green tomatoes

1 cup of flour

1 cup of plain bread crumbs

1 cup of yellow cornmeal

1 cup of buttermilk

salt and pepper

cayenne

vegetable oil

Directions

Rinse and pat dry the green tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4-inch thickness. Season both sides with salt.

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In three separate bowls, add flour to the first one with some salt and pepper, buttermilk to the second, and combine the breadcrumbs and cornmeal in the third.

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Taking a slice of tomato, lightly coat it in the flour, coat both sides with the buttermilk and then dredge into the breadcrumb/cornmeal mixture. Repeat process for all the slices.

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Heat a large skillet on medium heat with vegetable oil about 1/4-inch high. Once the oil is hot, gently place 5-6 slices into the pan. Let one side turn golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side, before turning it over.

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Remove and place on a baking rake to drip the excess oil. I kept mine in the oven until all the slices were fried (at 170 degrees).

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WW Points: 5 points for 2 slices

Don’t forget to try them with the buttermilk ranch dressing from yesterday’s post!

Grilled Caesar Salad

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One of my favorites things to make during grilling season is a grilled Caesar Salad. It is so simple to prepare yet grilling the romaine completely elevates this “recipe.” I honestly hesitate calling it a recipe! The first time I tried this was at my friend’s house in high school. Her mom used to cook for us all the time and this is one of the recipes I have taken on as my own!

Grilled Caesar Salad

1 head of romaine lettuce (try to get one that holds it shape- no leaves falling off)

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Caesar dressing (store bought or homemade)

Croutons (store bought or homemade)

Directions

Start your grill (propane, charcoal or grill pan) and bring to a moderate heat. You want to grill and heat the lettuce slowly but you want it warm enough to leave grill marks.

Cut the romaine lettuce in half lengthwise then cut each half in half again. Make sure you take care to keep all the leaves in tack!

Brush each 1/4 of romaine on all sides with 1-2 tsp of olive oil (just enough to lightly coat ) and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place on the grill turning every 2-4 minutes until the outside of the lettuce is warmed through and has grill marks.

Drizzle with dressing and top with croutons. Serve immediately.

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This is by far the worst “recipe” I have written on this blog but that is mainly because grilling lettuce is all about trial and error. I have made this salad a number of times and it turns out differently every time. Just wing it and I promise it will turn out well!

Flaxseed

Flaxseed is one of those things that I have had on my radar for a while but never really understood. I’ve always been interested in seeing what it is all about so, when I was visiting my parents in Atlanta last June, I picked some up at the Dekalb Farmers Market. I have had the ground flaxseed in my pantry for almost a year and I am FINALLY using it.

flax seed

A few quick facts about flaxseed:

1. It has been cultivated since 3000 BC in Babylon!

2. There have been studies that show it may reduce risk of heart disease, cancer, stoke and diabetes.

3. It is high in Omega-3 fatty acids (the good fat). 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed (flax meal) contains 1.8 grams of omega-3s!

4. They contain 75-800 times more lignans (chemical compound found in plants) than other plant products. Lignans contain estrogen and antioxidant qualities.

5. Flaxseed contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. This means it helps with digestion!

The most important thing is that you buy ground flaxseed because your body cannot absorb it otherwise. Just add a tablespoon of two to your morning smoothie, yogurt or oatmeal and you’re good to go. You will definitely notice a difference in your digestion and it can help you in the long run as well!

WW Points: 1 point per tbsp

Dekalb Farmer’s Market

My mom and I go to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market every time I visit Atlanta. Honestly, I would move to ATL just for this market. Anything you could ever need or want to buy for your culinary adventures is here. When I visited my parents last June, I was able to stock up on Asian kitchen necessities so I could finally try to cook some Vietnamese and Thai foods. I think I got all my oils, curry pastes, spices, etc for under $20- and these are the ingredients that would normally cost $7.99/oil in NYC. Their spice section alone is worth the trip. My mom bought me bulk spices (everything from fennel seed to curry powder to whole nutmeg) and each ¼ pint container cost 58 cents. Yup $0.58!

On our trip on Thursday, we had a specific grocery list for our dinner at home. We wanted pork tenderloin, veggies for a side dish and we needed a starch. There were also a few miscellaneous items to find. Here are some pictures I took while inside the market (sorry for the bad quality- you aren’t technically allowed to take pictures inside!):

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Fresh herbs

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Our shopping cart

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Oranges

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Shrimp (we bought so of these!)

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Crab

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Salmon

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Every cut of chicken you could ever want

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Skin-on chicken thighs (by far the best cut you can buy)

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Turkey meat, I believe?

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Olive bar

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Beef

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More beef

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Lamb tongue, kidney, etc.

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Lamb

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Pork

Next time you are in Atlanta, definitely check it out. You can wander for hours and find things you didn’t even know existed!

First Dinner in Atlanta

When I received my schedule for the restaurant last week, I was only scheduled to work Monday and Tuesday. I was initially shocked because I usually work at least 5 nights a week. I had been asking to move down a few shifts because the commute is long (40 minutes during the day but up to an hour and a half at night) and I just started at Haven’s Kitchen. Once I kind of realized that I have Wednesday-Friday off and didn’t have to be at Haven’s Kitchen until Saturday at 4pm for an event, I decided I needed to get out of the city.

My family and I are extremely close. We have a family text thread that buzzes throughout the day, everyday. About 2 weeks ago it hit me that I hadn’t seen my parents in almost 4 months. I have NEVER gone this long without seeing one of them- not even when I was living in Asia for 5 months because Pia (my mama) visited me about 2 months in! Around noon on Monday I decided I would go to Atlanta and visit my parents at their new house that I’ve only visited twice since they moved here last June. I don’t have a ton of extra money laying around (none actually because rent is due in a week or so) so I bought a ticket using my Delta points!

I arrived yesterday around 1:30 (which is why I didn’t get to post until later in the day!) and we just lounged around their adorable house/backyard for a few hours.

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I met some neighbors and then we headed to Holy Taco for dinner. My mom has been telling me about this place for a while now and, I must say, it exceeded my expectations. Here’s what we had:

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Homemade tortilla chips with guacamole and salsa (and of course a house organic margarita)

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Beef tongue taco to share (yum!)

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Fried chicken heart taco with homemade kimchi to share

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Short rib torta with black beans and jalapeno for me

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Chimichanga with 12 hour roasted pork for my dad

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Chorizo quesadilla with poblano, fingerling potatoes and tomatillo salsa for my mom

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Cauliflower with olives and dates for the table

The meal was unbelievable and had so many unexpected flavors. I also loved that every dish was a unique set of flavors and nothing tasted like anything else. Every bite was exciting and everything was locally sourced (score!). Our drinks were refreshing yet strong and we were able to bring Lucy (my parents’ dog) with us and sit on the patio. All in all it was a perfect first night in ATL!

Spring (?) at the Union Square Green Market

I went to the Union Square Green Market today in search of one thing: spring onions. I was at Esca this past weekend for dinner and had burrata with ramps as an appetizer. Then, when I went into work on Monday, we had spring onions on our new crab dish. Although it has been a cold spring so far, I figured that if both of these restaurants had spring onions on the menu, the green market must have them! I made the trek downtown (it takes about 35 minutes to get to Union Square) and could not find any spring produce!! I did find some beautiful flowers, a dwindling supply of winter root veggies, and a yummy jalapeno and cheddar scone from a bakery called Our Daily Bread from Chatham, NY.

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I love going to this green market because, if I strike out, I can walk across 14th St and check out Whole Foods. Low and behold, Whole Foods had spring onions! They weren’t local (from GA) and they were a little bigger than I expected but I bought a bunch for $2.49.

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Roasting spring onions is such an easy way to add an easy side dish to a meal. Make sure you wash the onions and cut off a few inches of the green to get rid of any not-so-pretty tops. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, cut them length-wise and lay out on a roasting pan (I line mine with parchment to make clean up easier).

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Cover the spring onions with oil (I used my Pam Olive Oil spray to try and control the calories) and then sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and pepper. A great addition to this dish is fresh thyme- if you have some on hand. The last (and most important) step is to put a small slab of butter on top of each bulb- about 1/8 inch sliver cut off of the stick of butter.

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Once the oven is at 350 degrees, put the onions in and roast for about 35 minutes or until tender.

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WW Points: 1 point per onion (two halves)

3 points for the bunch of 3 onions

(The only real calories in this dish is the butter added unless, of course, you opted to use real olive oil)

Enjoy!