Breakfast · Cooking · Lunch

Heather and Bittman… sitting in a tree

Just kidding. But seriously – I think I am having a culinary love affair with Mark Bittman. I hope that is ok with you readers out there. 🙂 Seriously.

I don’t know what it is about Bittman. I have no idea – but I love being inspired by him! Last week before I came down with the cold from hell, I picked up Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating. I had been wanting to read the book for a long time (well, it came out in 2009) but I was soo pleasantly surprised to see that the book also came with 75 recipes! I am always looking for a way to gather more Bittman recipes… (yeah, I totally cut out the article he wrote for Runner’s World a few months ago… I live by his grocery list for runners!)

Today at lunch I took the book with me and started leafing through the recipe pages. I came across a vegetable chili. It was 11 degrees this morning when I left for work at 6:30 AM… a perfect day for chili. At around 12:30 I e-mailed my mom both at her school address and her home e-mail address, hoping to get the message across that I was going to make what seemed to be an amazing Bittman chili recipe for dinner tonight. When I had left the house this morning, she asked me, “have you thought of anything for dinner tonight?” which gave me the idea that I was officially in charge of the meal….. to be continued.

For breakfast I was sort of in a rush, although I cannot remember why. I think it is because I was out on Friday, I felt the need to dive right into work – no time to pause to heat up my whole grain hot cereal that I was planning on having for breakfast. Thankfully I had a back up plan – a small banana for breakfast.

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I love things that you can eat easily at your desk without preparing… especially things that are 100% all natural (ie fruit!). I was surprised that the banana kept me going until 11am. At eleven I had an apple, which got me through until lunch time which was at 12:15 today.

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Lunch consisted of low sodium whole wheat crackers, a light babybel and Greek yogurt with mix ins (cinnamon, PB2 and granola). A perfect lunch! (But less than perfect pictures – I had a meeting this afternoon, and a quick lunch was in order today!)

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Since I arrived at work early, I was able to leave by 4:15 this afternoon – and some how managed to beat some of the evening rush hour traffic. I went straight to the grocery store, newly inspired by Bittman to get the ingredients for my veggie chili along with a few staples to get through the week (greek yogurt and babybels were much needed in the house for lunches!)

Tomorrow I will write more on the grocery experience. One of the focuses of the blog for 2010 will be how to eat healthy on a budget. It is hard, I think, but manageable. I hope to think a lot about how to accomplish one of my goals which is to eat whole, healthy, fresh foods on a budget. When I moved home this summer, one of the things I did to make myself feel better was I let myself really buy any natural foods I wanted to at the fancy, fun markets (Whole Foods, East Side Market) and I did not need to be on a food budget, so I did not adhere to one. I think it will be a fun project to see how I can live on a more structured budget in the next few months… I will be reporting on it!

I was proud of myself – I did not linger at the grocery store. I was home from the market by 5:40 this evening… and as I am sure most of you know, going to the grocery store Monday after work is no walk in the park! It was busy. But I was able to do my shopping, stick to my list and survive the experience. I even remembered to bring my re-useable bags 😀

I mostly bought produce from the store today (but more on my actual shopping list, purchases, etc in tomorrow’s post). Produce can be expensive, and adds up quickly. But it is worth it! I had two bags of groceries when I got home…. to discover that my Mom had stopped by WFs on the way home, and picked up two chicken breasts already cooked in an amazing marinade with sun dried tomatoes. I was definitely scratching my head, examining the food we had both purchased. On top of our double purchases, my mom told me that we had been invited out for dinner by two of our great friends. I could not believe this was happening! I quickly realized that I would use one chicken breast to put on top of salads for our lunches tomorrow (I had already bought a box of mixed greens, a tomato, cucumber and we had carrots – the chicken would be a perfect addition!) I also realized that I could cook the chili tonight, and we could have it tomorrow for dinner and for lunch Wednesday and so on.

I quickly got to work on packing lunches which took all of ten minutes (I love it when I have energy on a Monday evening). Once lunches were squared away, I started peeling, dicing, cubing, and cooking for the veggie chili. More on the final results of that tomorrow but I will tell you – I love the way my kitchen smells when I am cooking a recipe written by Mark Bittman. Personally, I never would have thought to include zucchini, mushrooms and eggplant into a chili recipe. But the fragrance of the house as I was cooking these ingredients together with a diced onion, garlic and other veggies was amazing. My mom and I both tasted the recipe in its final stages tonight, and I am very excited to have the chili for dinner tomorrow! I can’t wait to report on it for you.

OK – my goal this week is to get a lot of sleep and hopefully return to the picture of health (haha) by the end of the week. Sitting up at 10:40 PM writing a blog entry is not exactly helping with this goal 😉 I am signing off…. more tomorrow, bloggies. Take care!

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