Multigrain Egg and Veggie Scramble

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When the mercury in the thermometer starts going lower in the fall, I’m rarely in the mood for a cold breakfast. Any new ideas I can come up with for warm, hearty breakfasts are welcome.

Here’s my latest. On a recent trip to Trader Joe’s, in addition to learning that my beloved soy chorizo is back, I picked up a couple packages of Multigrain Blend With Vegetables. It doesn’t get much more hearty than a blend of barley, spelt, and rice accompanied by peas, carrots, and corn.

Here’s what I did to round out this side dish into a proper meal.

Ingredients
140 grams Trader Joe’s Multigrain Blend With Vegetables, thawed
1/2 cup Egg Beaters, or 1-2 egg whites or real eggs
Your favorite raw veggies, chopped and/or diced (I went with onion, spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms)
Your favorite seasoning to taste (I chose Cajun seasoning)

Heat a nonstick skillet and spray with cooking spray. Mix together the multigrain blend and the vegetables and sprinkle your seasoning on top; sautee until the vegetables are softened or translucent.

Add the eggs on top of the grain and vegetable mixture. Let the eggs heat through and set, then scramble until the eggs are cooked through and mixed thoroughly into the grains and vegetables. Enjoy!

Cooking music: Confess, by Twin Shadow. I’ve left the 70s behind for something that only sounds like the 80s. In fact, Twin Shadow’s second album is just a few years old. My preferred track to be pon di replay (C) Rihanna is “Five Seconds.”

Dumped by Jason’s Deli, but Not Ready to Move on

One job ago, I learned from my coworkers about Jason’s Deli. I fell in love with the sandwiches, the speed of their to-go service, and the old school kitschiness of the dine-in use of number placards on your table to signal where your meal should be dropped off. (Having a little ice cream self-serve area wasn’t something I complained about, either.) I even suggested, when my family went for a trip to Atlanta a few years back, that we should stop at a Jason’s Deli there for meals one night. And we did. And everyone loved it.

What kept me coming back to Jason’s Deli? Their food. I loved that they catered to everyone with their offerings–including a decent menu of healthy, low-calorie items along with heavier fare. One of my favorite things to order was their Mediterranean Wrap.

To introduce you to this delightful sandwich (and to take myself down memory lane), it consists of an “organic wheat wrap with roasted turkey breast, roasted red pepper hummus, cucumbers, red onions, kalamata olives, roma tomatoes, organic field greens.” Lots of flavor and crunch for an impressive 350 calories.

But then, to quote an old Buju Banton/Beres Hammond song, “just like magic, you were gone.” Jason’s Deli shuttered its doors here a few years ago. (Apparently this is just Pennsylvania and about 19 other states. According to the location map on their Web site, it looks like many of you in the continental US can go to their restaurant anytime you please. Dear Jason’s Deli, please let me apologize on behalf of Pennsylvania if it’s something we said.)

We broke up via phone–one day, I suggested that my job order from there when we had a big deadline to meet, and after someone tried dialing in our order, they gave me the bad news, that Jason and his pantry of meats, breads, vegetables and condiments had rambled on. (My second choice may have been Baja Fresh, another excellent fast food restaurant with healthy options that also closed shop and set sail from my corner of suburban Pennsylvania.)

What’s a jilted lover to do? My choice, recently, was to try to recreate the magic myself. I didn’t have low-calorie sandwich wraps on hand, so my sandwich is an open-face pita.

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This is what I made with what I had around me. Call it “Culinary MacGyver for the Soul.”

Ingredients

  • 1 pita (whole wheat or regular)
  • 2 T of your favorite hummus (mine is traditional flavr, but I’m a fan of roasted garlic, too)
  • 2 oz deli turkey
  • 4 kalamata olives (mine are pitted by , cut in half by me)
  • Lettuce of your choice (mine is spring mix)
  • Tomatoes, sliced
  • Sprouts

Spread the hummus on the pita. Top the hummus with the turkey, then your lettuce and sprouts. Finally, add your tomatoes and olives.

If you’re brave, you can try to fold this in half and eat it like a typical pita sandwich. Or, cut it into quarters for an open-face sandwich.

Cooking music: David Gilmour, by David Gilmour. Before Pink Floyd’s own nasty split, back in 1978 David Gilmour tried his hand at being a solo artist. I stumbled upon this album recently and have enjoyed its smoothed-out moments of rock and blues, as well as the clear sonic imprint of the Floyd on it.

Southwest Pumpkin Corn Chowder With Bacon

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Sundays happen to be when I do most of my cooking, and it’s also the day I clean out the fridge to trash the last remaining bits of old meals or anything that I’ve (unfortunately) forgotten to cook that has passed its time of being edible.

Today I found a can of pumpkin I’d opened to make pumpkin oatmeal, and an open can of creamed corn that we’d mistakenly bought. The solution? A hearty soup.

Ingredients

1 can creamed corn
2 cups canned pumpkin
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Newman’s Own light lime vinaigrette
1 teaspoon Adobo seasoning (or to taste)
1 tablespoon chili powder (or to taste)
1/2 cup water (or more for a thinner soup)
3 slices cooked bacon (I went with pork bacon, but you could also use turkey, beef, or soy bacon)

Place the first 7 ingredients in a saucepan; stir. Heat through over medium heat until boiling. Crumble the bacon and mix it into the soup.

Cooking music: Soul Power, by Curtis Harding. I decided that I’m going to share some of the good music that keeps me in a cooking mood after I saw Rantings of an Amateur Chef ask his readers a while back what they liked to listen to. I always have something playing and, if you’re like me, it never hurts to have good new music to listen to. Harding is a versatile artist, and this recent release runs the gamut from soul to blues and a touch of garage/punk.

My Chili: A Spicy Hot-Button Issue

I have been making chili for nearly 20 years now, starting with a simple recipe I’d seen in the 800+-page Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. It started off innocently: diced onions and peppers, garlic, canned tomatoes, spices, and some ground beef or turkey.

I’ve since experimented with the spices recommended in that initial recipe, and I’ve also switched up the beans (from kidney to pinto or black beans) and added corn and fresh cilantro. But one modification I made ended up being a point of contention between me and an old boyfriend.

That was leaving out the meat. I had a quasi-vegetarian stage immediately after college, eating many vegetarian meals a week, without committing to that diet in full every day. So it made sense to me to modify the chili recipe, as the beans in the recipe were already providing protein. So I made a batch of chili, brimming with a supporting cast of vegetables and a blend of seasoning that was spicy and bold, but not hot to the point where you no longer tasted the flavor.

I mentioned to my boyfriend at the time that I had made vegetarian chili, and he was not amused. He basically wanted to know “where’s the beef?” like the original Wendy’s commercial. I made my disappointment known that he wouldn’t try something different. But I kept making the chili the way I wanted to; we just agreed to disagree.

Fast forward about 15 years, and I’m about to make vegetarian chili again today. I made it for a while after that tense conversation, but most often since then I’ve made it with ground turkey. This time around, though, I am prepared to accommodate my vegetarian version and a ground turkey version for my husband–I’ll be cooking the ground turkey separately, and he can mix it into the chili.

Mind you, my husband doesn’t have reservations about eating vegetarian meals–he’s eaten the chili sans meat before and has heartily eaten the soy chorizo and potatoes I’ve profiled. He also is a fan of vegetarian riblet sandwiches. Offering the meat is (1) me learning to not be pushy about my food preferences and (2) something that was going to be cooked anyway, for my son who won’t eat the chili (too spicy) but loves ground meat, only unadorned by any kind of sauce (no sloppy joe sandwiches, for example). 

Walking the line of eating the way that maintains your own health and still satisfying the palates of those who do not subscribe to your preferences is one of the biggest challenges I’ve had with eating healthy. But I realize now that it’s not fair to badger people into eating things they don’t want to (think the recent Bud Light beer commercial where the man is baffled by the quinoa patties that his girlfriend has brought to the tailgate party). I welcome the challenges that come with meeting the needs of different eaters, because it keeps me fresh on coming up with new recipe ideas.

Still Writing Down the Street

Thank you for stopping by to visit this blog. I have had a great time writing it, sharing my thoughts on weight loss, food and emotions. While my posting has gotten sporadic this year, I’ve been slowly putting writing efforts toward another blog I started recently, called The Savannah Spirit.

The Savannah Spirit is a bit more free-form, about my life, and how I am fighting my way out of the shyness and social anxiety that has followed me around for pretty much all my life. At one point you could say I put value on these qualities for how they protected me from the things I thought were negative and harmful in my life, but now I am longing to live more freely and more connected with others. To that end, I have been focusing my writing on the ways that I have fought back at my fears and defenses.

I am not shutting down Let Them Eat Great, but I will not be keeping up the three times a week publishing that I once provided. Stop by the new blog for tales about how my life has been enriched by BBC Sherlock, Led Zeppelin, and other experiences that don’t involve British people, like neglected scallions, board game luncheons, and a rock climbing wall. And, here’s a little something on why I’ve given my new blog its name.

Fun With Chia Seeds

ChiaSeedsI agree with this ABC news post that chia seeds have replaced kale as the “it food” this year. These tiny seeds, which most of us are more familiar with as giving Chia Pets their “hair” or “fur,” have gotten a lot of attention for being loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. They are also chock-full of protein and fiber, for few calories.

What’s the advantage of dumping some into your food? A nutrient boost, as well as fiber to help you feel fuller longer.

I decided to buy some on my last visit to Whole Foods, and then the experiment was on. My first stop: breakfast.

I added the chia seeds to fat-free Greek yogurt, along with honey, and I topped off this breakfast bowl with diced banana and strawberries. It was delicious, as you would expect honey and Greek yogurt to be, and the chia seeds added extra crunch. (Shout-out to ripe banana and strawberries as well.)

The interesting thing about chia seeds is that they become a bit gelatinous when exposed to moisture for a bit–which explains the paste you’ve seen slathered on Chia Pet heads in the past–so you could also consider them a thickener for whatever you ChiaYogurtwant to make. It is something to get used to, and I’d think that would be what would make this a love-it-or-hate-it superfood. I didn’t mind; my yogurt got a little thicker over the course of time, but was still enjoyable, partially because despite swelling to sport a gel-like coating, the crunch doesn’t go away from the seeds.

I purchased my bag of chia seeds on sale for about 6 bucks, but a bag can hover around the $10 mark, give or take a few bucks, from what I’ve seen from the other options at Whole Foods. (I’m still on my first bag after having made several meals with chia seeds now, though, so I think it’s worth the price when on the left side of $10.) I haven’t explored yet whether chia seeds have hit the regular grocery stores of if they’re still a specialty item to be found at health food stores, but I imagine they’ll make their way to a Pathmark, Ralph’s, or Publix near you soon. (Wheat germ is still on the shelves after making its debut in 1936, according to this New York Times article, so why not?)

Chia seeds seem like they’d be a little more shelf-stable than wheat germ and, from what I understand (without having tried them), flax seeds.

Interested in adding chia seeds to your meals? Let you know what you come up with! I’ll have more recipes to share here soon myself.

Surprisingly Good Oven-Fried Fish

Have you ever had a weekend that just wasn’t long enough? I bet you have. I seem to have had too many of them in a row lately.

This past weekend, I wanted to make oven-fried catfish. I’ve made it before: Tenderize the fish in some form of dairy, dust with seasoned flour, spritz with cooking spray, bake, eat. Only it didn’t go down that way. I marinated the fish for several hours, and I seasoned some flour and dropped in the fish, but I didn’t get to actually make the fish right away. Not until the next day, in fact.

My husband was awesome enough to actually bake the fish for me, but he got a bit sidetracked, too, and ended up leaving the fish in too long. But that ended up being the final unfortunate event that made the best oven-fried catfish I’ve ever eaten.

Here’s the recipe:

2 lbs. catfish nuggets
1 c fat-free Greek yogurt
2 c flour
Seasoned salt to taste

Cover the fish with the yogurt; refrigerate it for an hour.

Wash the yogurt from the fish. Mix the flour and the seasoning; place it in a gallon size Ziploc bag. Add the fish; shake thoroughly to coat it. Refrigerate the fish mixture for several hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking pan or two with cooking spray. Add the fish, being careful not to crowd it in the pans. Spray the fish with the cooking spray. Bake for an hour, or until crispy.