Cooking · Dinner · Lunch

The Last Days of 2013

Hi there Blog Readers:

The last few weeks have been so busy!! Thankfully for the most part I was able to stick to my Holiday Eating Plan. Healthy snacks, and healthy meals at every chance I had. I definitely didn’t feel all that bad about indulging on the special nights (and there were a few!) and now the official holiday season is coming to a close and I’m not in a tizzy about getting back into eating healthy for 2014.

Here are a few things that have been on the menu at my house.

A couple of weeks ago I went to Whole Foods after the gym and bought a bunch of vegetables and some grilled chicken from their prepared food bar. I came home, chopped all of the vegetables up, sautéed them on the stove, made some brown rice and I ended up with a great meal and it lasted for a couple of days. Sometimes when I feel intimidated by the thought of cooking an entire meal, I will go to Whole Foods to pick up a grilled chicken breast. When you don’t have to worry about every aspect of the meal everything suddenly becomes more manageable!

Cooking the vegetables:

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The vegetables I used in this mixture are: broccoli, red pepper, carrots, mushrooms, orange pepper. I added fresh scallions and avocado on top of the finished dish.

Brown Rice on the stove – I put in two cups of water and one cup of uncooked rice because I wanted enough rice for about four meals. (I use about 1/2 a cup of rice per meal):

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The end result – a healthy meal that made me really happy!!

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(I put avocado and hot sauce on top!)

The next day I was so excited for my lunch at work:

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The Friday after Christmas I had a sudden need to make homemade eggplant parmesan. I put a healthier twist on this dish by baking the eggplant instead of frying it in olive oil. I think this change makes a pretty big difference in the overall nutrition of the meal.

The building blocks of dinner:

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Whenever I make eggplant parmesan, I always make my homemade tomato sauce. I always prefer to use San Marzano tomatoes and on this day I made a special trip to Whole Foods to pick up these cans of crushed tomatoes. For some reason I think the flavor makes such a difference – I just love it! I cut up the graffiti eggplant, salted the pieces and let them sweat for a few minutes while I chopped the onion and garlic for the sauce. Then I wiped off some of the salt, dipped the eggplant pieces in an egg white and water mixture, and then placed each side of each slice of eggplant into a mixture of breadcrumbs (panko) and grated parmesan cheese. I baked the eggplant in the oven at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, I took the cookie sheets out, flipped every piece of eggplant and then continued to bake for another 25 minutes.

In the mean time I had started the sauce. I sautéed the onion in olive oil and after the onion was starting to cook and turn translucent, I added the minced garlic. I always add garlic after onion has been cooking for a while so I do not burn the garlic. That has a smell and taste that is really hard to get out of your food! After the garlic had been sautéed for about a minute (constantly stirring so it doesn’t burn!) I add the crushed tomatoes. Then a splash or two of a dry white wine. This makes the taste of the sauce so amazing somehow! Then I add a handful of roughly chopped basil. (Nom!) Then I just let the sauce simmer for a while. The kitchen smells amazing while this is happening. The eggplant is cooking away in the oven.

After the eggplant is done cooking, I start preparing the baking dish for the final product. I spray the baking dish (I used a 9 x 11 dish) and put the first layer of sauce down on the bottom of the pan. Then I put one layer of eggplant slices. After that, a thin layer of cheese (mozzarella and parmesan) followed by a layer of the homemade sauce. I just keep doing this layering game until I’m out of eggplant. Once the last layer is finished, I put a layer of cheese on top (no need to glob it on – just a thin, even layer). Then you can pop the dish into the oven and let everything bake for about 20 minutes or so. You aren’t cooking everything – just heating everything through so it comes together as a cohesive dish.

The end product is just heaven:

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I roughly chopped up more basil to garnish the plates. I definitely went back for seconds.

Both of these dishes are two of my favorite of recent days – you can definitely still eat healthy during the winter. Throw in a couple of clementines every day, and you’re doing quite well for yourself!

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