Start Fresh! It’s a Whole New Year

Welcome to a whole new year! Of course every day is an opportunity for a fresh start and to revisit resolutions, but January 1 often sees folks making commitments to their health and wellness. I’ve talked about meal planning before, even including some tips and tools. The dark side of start-of-year diets and eating commitments is that they can be expensive, and involve a lot of foods you don’t necessarily know how to use up. Being in favour of a zero waste policy, I won’t tell you to throw out anything in your cupboard, but please don’t re-buy what you’re committed not to eat.

Ourselves we always have leftover holiday foods, and even in regular weeks there are meal plan days that didn’t happen, stuff that came in packages too large for the plan, things that looked intriguing but got forgotten in the cupboard. Once a month, or so, it’s worth taking stock of what you already hav, so you can figure out how to use it up as part of your plan, adjusting portions and how it’s used to account for your food goals. Cheesy lunch? Plan on a low fat dinner. Three kinds of lentils? Dal, curry or soup come to mind. We always have enough staples to stand up to a couple of weeks of emergency rations.


With that said, plan males shopping faster and more cost effective. This week’s purchases: carrots, peppers, celery, onions and a couple of sausages. The dinner plan looks like this – we will make according to what needs using the most:

Jamie Oliver Pie – the original has salmon but we will sub in some leftover turkey, as well as cabbage and carrot and onions for the leaks and courgettes

Veggie chili with mushrooms

Pumpkin chickpea curry with apples, raisins, and brown rice

Homemade mac and cheese with salad

Buffalo drumsticks with carrot sticks and blue cheese mashed potatoes

Split pea soup with homemade bread

Sausage with winter slaw

Wishing you a healthy and happy 2017 with enough – exactly what you need, no more, no less!

Are you up for the challenge?

As the supply dwindles toward shopping day, it can be tempting to run out to the store for just an item or two. But let’s face it, most of us in the developed world have enough food in the house. I’m not talking about low-income households, who face true hardship in feeding their families. But for the rest of us, “there’s nothing to eat” often means “I’m not sure how to make a meal out of what’s in the house.” 

This year we moved back to a location where I am in walking distance of a plethora of food sources. So when I started to throw together a quick chowder for lunch, I realized I didn’t have any potatoes. I have sweet potatoes, but I have plans for those. Those of you who know me, know that not having a meal plan is an unusual situation. But did this predicament really call for desperate measures? I think not.

Hence, this classic simple chowder now features turnip (more appropriately, rutabaga, but that’s not what we called the big purple and yellow root vegetable where I’m from).  We are still working hard to choose local first, and the veg in this dish came from across the street – and before that, from farms here in our own province. We’re happy that our neighbourhood FreshCo makes an effort to clearly identify local items, and usually has a good selection of those. If you want to know what’s in season in Ontario, check out this handy guide. Many provinces and states have something similar.

Here’s the result – it was pretty tasty. What do you have on hand that you can use up to keep your grocery bill in check this week?

  
For two:

2 c / 500ml water

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 c diced turnip

1 onion, peeled and diced 

1 6 oz / 180 g frozen fish fillet, slightly thawed and cut in 1″ / 2.5cm pieces

1 c / 250ml 1% milk

Fresh ground pepper

Bring the vegetables to the boil in the water. Turn down and cook for 11-12 minutes on medium low heat. 

Add the fish pieces and simmer for another 7 minutes.

Stir in the milk until heated through.

Serve with a grind of fresh pepper.

Eat Veggies Any Way You Can!

  
We’re well into the first week of 2016 and always looking for ways to get a few more plants into the diet, and to waste less.

Today’s feature? An open-face, use-it-up omelette. It features leftover salad and some unfinished quark, but cottage cheese and any leftover veg would work. For two:

2c/500 ml leftover veg, sautéed in a lightly oiled pan

Lightly beat 3 large eggs and pour over.

Start some rye or whole wheat toast if desired.

Top omelette with 1/3 – 1/2 c quark or low fat cottage cheese and cook over low heat until golden on the bottom.

Fold and serve with toast, comme ça:

  

Serendipity Dinner

In an effort to use up last year’s batch of canned tomatoes before the new ones are ripe, we made a huge pot of marinara on the weekend. Some has gone to the freezer, but the mother of all sauces is so versatile, it’s getting used in all kinds of dishes. Yesterday, pizza toast for lunch. Then on a stroll to Plank Road for a chicken breast big enough for two, we spotted these luscious two-colour egg noodles. They went perfectly with the chicken…which we cooked in a 400F oven for about 40 minutes. Here’s what was in the pot: 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, 1 carrot and one yellow bell pepper, diced. Five large white mushrooms, quartered. 1 cup/250ml of marinara. Cover and bake.

20120724-085925.jpg

A Lemony Twist on Winter Pot Supper

This roast chicken dinner features some traditional fall flavours (like red potatoes and cabbage), with a twist.

First, we zested a lemon and grated some ginger. We mixed this with coriander, the juice of the lemon, and about a teaspoon (5ml) of olive oil. This was rubbed under the skin of the chicken. Then to the pot, we added some quartered red potatoes, and wedges of cabbage. We rubbed the cabbage with a little sesame oil.

We roasted it without a lid until it was nearly done, then added some water, popped on the lid, and put it back in the oven for about 10 minutes to get the chicken up to temperature. When the chicken was done, we tented it to rest and returned the remainder of the dish to the oven (now turned off) to keep warm.

Putting the lemon under the skin gave the chicken a strong, lemony flavour that might have been diluted if we’d rubbed it on the outside. The sesame added a nice touch to the sauce. Best of all, only one pot to clean!

Salmon Basil Pasta

An easy weeknight supper, when you don’t feel much like cooking: pasta. But spaghetti with meat sauce can get old, really fast. So can red sauce from a jar.

So instead, put some whole-grain vegetable pasta on to cook. Meanwhile, quickly stir-cook some fresh veggies in a large skillet with a lid (we had peppers, broccoli, celery, onions, and mushrooms). Stir in a chopped tomato and turn the heat to low, and cover it.

When the pasta’s cooked, toss it all together (use a little pasta water if it needs moisure; ours didn’t). Then stir in some herbs (we had a little basil), pepper, and pop the lid on again. Let it stand with the heat on very low, about 4 minutes, for the flavours to combine.

No Knead to Fear – It's Batter Bread!

One complaint (dare I say excuse) we often hear about not making homemade bread is that it’s so much work. We disagree of course, since we love breadmaking and it doesn’t feel like work as it can fit in around dinner-making, book-reading, or blog-writing.

However, in an attempt to tempt the non-bread-bakers out there, I decided to try some batter bread this week. Confession: I have never made this kind of bread before. Also, I must admit that I adapted the original recipe before even trying it, as I had some buckwheat flour we wanted to use up. You can find our version here.

Fishy Fall Flavours

Sometimes certain foods have a “season place” in our minds. We always think of swordfish as a summer food, cooked on the grill, with a fresh salad, some tomatoes, or avocado.

But with fall arriving full-force, we weren’t willing to give up swordfish for the season. This version was grilled, but on a tabletop grill. We served it with some blue fingerlings and steamed carrots, topped with a peach-pear salsa tossed in a mustard vinaigrette.

Soup Season has Arrived

The cold weather is here. Soup season has definitely arrived. After church today we wanted something to warm us up before heading out to rake the leaves (again) that the blustery day has loosed on our yard.

We had some leftover chicken broth, pureed pumpkin, and bacon (yes, leftover bacon). Along with some potatoes, beets, a shallot, and some chili powder, we had the makings of a warm, delicious soup.

Albacore Tuna Marinara

A couple of weeks ago we were down at Hooked and they had a delicious-looking slab of sustainably-caught albacore tuna. It was just the thing we were looking for, to be tossed with some homemade marinara and whole-wheat spaghettini. Tasty, fast, and healthy – the perfect Friday night supper.

%d bloggers like this: