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The week in food

April 13th, 2014 · Holidays, Meal Planning

Spring Flowers

Last weekend I started sneezing. It’s just allergies! I was excited for allergies, because a little sniffling is better than the food poisoning and subsequent stomach virus I was fighting for the few weeks previous. Alas, it turned out that I had developed a cold, and worked through all of the natural remedies I could think of – ginger, lots of tea with honey, all of the liquids that one can humanly consume, lots of gut-building fermented food – sauerkraut anyone? – sambucus, and more. It could have been worse. Co-workers were experiencing the same “joyous” stomach bug I had previously suffered through, everyone seemed to have a sick kid, and another was laid up with pneumonia. I at least feel like I’m on the mend.

Yesterday I went to the store armed with my meal plan, and realized in about three minutes when I saw the matzah pyramids at the end of the aisle that I’d have to rework my plans to fit in the seders and passover friendly foods. Fortunately for my sanity, what for years was a real struggle each Passover season – what, you mean I can’t eat corn and soy and leavened wheat products and WHAT WILL I EAT?? – has now become fairly easy with my newfound Paleo-esque diet tendencies. Passover dietary restrictions are pretty much “primal-style”, and excuse to do a Whole7 reset if you forgo the permitted dairy and matzah. Who like matzah anyway? I know, I know, there’s all of those matzo crack recipes, and matzo balls, and every non-flour-based dessert known to man, but I probably shouldn’t be eating that all stuff to begin with.

Two weeks in a row without a strict meal plan and I’m feeling a little bit frantic, but this week is dedicated to spring, seder leftovers, and ancient reminiscence, so I’m trying to go with the flow.

This week I will be eating, in no particular order:

chopped liver // charoset (fruit chutney) // omelettes // tomato chicken // roman braised artichokes // egg lemon soup // brisket // roasted chicken // chocolate covered apricots // sephardic date truffles // asparagus

Are you celebrating Passover? 
What’s on your table this week?
Matzah, Matzo or Matzoh?

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A pineapple + the weekly meal plan

March 31st, 2014 · Meal Planning

Pineapple Time

Today I bought a pineapple, mostly because I like how they look. It was a toss up between daffodils or the pineapple, and the pineapple won out. At some point I’ll get to eating it, but for a few days at least it’ll be decorative – they are just such cheerful looking fruit. (On a side note, I’ve always been a fan of that Williams-Sonoma golden pineapple emblem. I’ve considered stealing it and making it my own, but I don’t really have any connection to the pineapple other than a passion for its spiky top, patterned body, and golden flesh.)

This afternoon, we experienced a minor kitchen tragedy: our microwave bit the dust. The control panel turns on, but the microwaving doesn’t actually happen. I suspect a fuse has blown, or something has burnt out, but you can’t really go and tinker with a microwave, lest you’d like to risk going back in time or exploding into a million small particles. (So I’m telling myself.) I suspect we’ll be living microwave free for quite a while. I’ve gone years at a time without one, and while they are very useful for steaming vegetables and reheating coffee, I find that I eat better when I don’t have immediate magical cooking rays at my disposal – mostly I end up snacking on things that I’d probably be better off not. I’ll have to figure out this coffee re-heating business though. If you have any brilliant suggestions, do let me know.

Week of Sunday, March 30th

Last week I tried out Cook Smarts, and enjoyed the relief of not having to make any meal planning decisions, but this week I was eager to mix it up a little bit and get inspiration from some of my cookbooks as well. Instead of the menu of the week, I wanted to try some of the Cook Smarts “favorite” week recipes, or at least use them as a starting point for my own meals.

Sunday: Maple-dijon salmon with asparagus. The maple dijon salmon was a Cook Smarts “favorite” pick that caught my eye – users rate the dishes they cook, and write short reviews – so I decided to try it out. For some reason Whole Foods had king salmon (I’m assuming it was frozen), and I decided to splurge in anticipation of salmon season starting at the end of spring. King salmon is hands down my favorite salmon.

Monday: Pork chops with balsamic brussels sprouts and orzo. Another Cook Smarts “favorite”, although I’m skipping out on the red onions because we’re ambivalent about them in this household.

Tuesday: Cumin-spiced lamb meatballs with shepherd’s salad + hummus. One of our favorites around here, I’ll be making Turkish köfte. I also picked up some roasted red pepper hummus, and will serve it all as one big salad.

Wednesday: Chicken thighs roasted with grape tomatoes. I try to operate under a meat and veg or two veg or three veg policy, but sometimes I just want a big bowl of slow roasted tomatoes with chicken. Does this make me weird?

Thursday: Salad plus fixins’. The truth is, I went to the store and the last few meals on my list weren’t sounding so good anymore. So I bought extra romaine lettuce, and I’ll crack open the pantry and the freezer and round out a good salad with all the fixins’.

Friday: Out!

What’s on your table this week?

–– Sam

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Eat, move, repeat.

March 28th, 2014 · Fitness

Exhale Yoga Back Bay

The challenge: trying to find the right balance of our passions, fitting in all the things we want to do into the all too short hours of the day. It seems as though I’ve found something that feels like gold – a day job in a fitness company surrounded by people who all love exploring the world, and like food just as much as i do. In addition to all the trips that I love with RunKeeper,  I’ve been trying to spend more time trying new activities, and taking notes on which ones I enjoy best, and how my fitness is progressing

This month, in addition to the CrossFit, I’ve been on a few new fitness adventures thanks to a complimentary month long ClassPass –  10 total classes at studios around the city –  and I plan on using it to it’s fullest! Combined with the CrossFit opens, and an upcoming race season, I’m taking the opportunity to whip myself back into shape after a relatively relaxed winter.  

Here’s what I’ve been up to, complete with selfies.

Exhale Spa Yoga

Exhale Battery Wharf – Exhale Flow Yoga (60 minute class)

Exhale Battery Wharf is a studio and spa at the Fairmont hotel at Battery Wharf, at the edge of the North End, right by the Coast Guard, and good eats at Aragosta.

Exhale is known for their core fusion classes, but anything that has “core” in the name terrifies me. This probably is a reason to take one of these classes, but yoga just seemed like a much more appropriate thing to do at a spa studio. I signed up for the Exhale Flow class, taught by Lauren Koenig-Plonskier. After arriving a half hour early, I got a little tour: a co-ed hammam, a sauna, several treatment rooms, and an expansive locker room with code-access lockers, rain showers with warming towel racks, robes, sandals, hair dryers, straightening irons, razors, posh shampoo and conditioner, etc. I changed and entered the studio – the lights were dim, and everything is provided for you: high quality mats, blocks, blankets, bolsters. I liked Lauren’s class, she was peppy, upbeat and talkative in the best possible way. She had me grinning through class, which is exactly my type of stress relief.

Loved this class, and loved the location! I’ll definitely be heading back for another experience here.

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Studio J – Pilates Tower Half Hour (30 minutes)

I made a mid-workday excursion to the new Studio J, a Pilates and Yoga studio right near Government center, for a thirty minute Pilates tower class. It took me a little bit of time to actually find the studio (despite having worked right around the corner in Old City Hall when I was in high school). While the studio was packed for a yoga class on the bottom floor, I was the lone Pilates student. My Pilates is a little rusty, but because of my extra mobility and strength work, ultimately I felt like I didn’t get much out of the machine. Diane the instructor was very nice, and the studio is lovely, so I might try to come back soon for one of the yoga classes as it’s a little bit more up my alley.

After class, I stopped in to the new cold-pressed juicery in Government Center, Cocobeet, to prolong the positive health decisions I was making. I went for the all green Bright Lights. I think it could have used an extra squeeze or two of lemon, but provided the verdant refresh that I was looking for.

Flywheel time

Fly45 at FlyWheel (45 minutes)

My second class at FlyWheel, and a fast favorite. Who knew that I’d like indoor cycling? Seriously. I haven’t been on a bicycle in far too long. This time I managed to best my score, and spent nearly every sprint in the top two on the leaderboard. Loved it!

Exhale Back Bay – Flow Yoga Open (90 minutes)

I love yoga, but this class was a dud for me – not every yoga class is right for everyone – if you are a newbie and think you don’t like yoga, make sure to keep searching for classes you like! While I loved the experience at Exhale Battery Wharf, the Back Bay location had a different vibe (a lot more crowded, a little less zen-like). I still got a good workout, and every workout counts!

I have five classes left – not sure what I’m going to take! What’s your favorite type of studio class?

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Everyday Chicken Thighs + Potatoes, and the Weekly Meal Plan

March 23rd, 2014 · chicken, Meal Planning

Everyday Chicken and potatoes

Before I get to my meal plan, I have to share with you the best dinner that I made last week – the one that hit the spot in every which way. It ended up feeling a little bit Mediterranean, and a little bit Scandinavian, light and fresh and springy.

Balsamic chicken and potatoes with cucumber, avocado and dill salad. For this one I preheated the oven to 450 Fahrenheit, grabbed some chicken thighs, and seasoned them with salt, and a generous sprinkle of Italian seasoning (from the bulk Frontier spices). I made a dressing that was one part balsamic vinegar, and two parts olive oil – about 1/3 of a cup for about a pound and a half of chicken thighs – and coated the chicken in the dressing in a bowl. I set that aside while steaming some halved new potatoes in the microwave for 10 minutes, then layered my 12 inch skillet with the potatoes and chicken, gave everything a good mix with my hands, and then nestled the chicken thighs on top of the potatoes, baking for about 15 minutes, flipping the chicken, and cooking 15 minutes more. Once the chicken was cooked, I took it out of the oven, and let the potatoes cook for another 15 minutes until golden and a little puffy. Once they were done, I made a very quick salad – just a chopped cucumber, avocado, handful of fresh dill, olive oil, and a little salt. It was one of the first meals that I’ve eaten in my kitchen while sunlight was still in the sky! Welcome spring!

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For the past few days I’ve been in Washington D.C. on a little vacation, although tragically I came down with a pretty awful stomach virus (or food poisoning, can’t be sure), and haven’t been very interested in any food. But, I knew that I’d be feeling better soon, so I decided to outsource my meal planning to the lovely Jess of Cook Smarts, and try out the service! (Yep, that’s an affiliate link – I get a small cut if you buy a plan yourself, but I purchased the plan with my own hard earned moolah!) Cook Smarts has a four day meal plan that is released each week (and access to the archives if you subscribe – plans are currently $6-8 a *month* depending on if you buy monthly or yearly), and after looking through the sample meals, I decided to bite and try things out. The meals are all quite adaptable, with substitutions for paleo, gluten-free, and vegetarian, and I’ve made my own little tweaks with vegetables that we prefer at home.

Week of Sunday, March 23rd

Sunday: Eggs, a tiny bit of cheese, and scoop of raw sauerkraut.  I’m still trying to get back to a happy tummy, so I’ve been chowing down on sauerkraut, and other gut-building foods for the past day. I do well with full fat dairy, so I added a little bit of special cheese to make myself feel better.

Monday: Cook Smarts Meal #1. fish sandwich with kale chips. For me this will be fish salad with greens, and with a homemade tartar sauce.

Tuesday: Cook Smarts Meal #2. classic tacos with iceberg lettuce and avocado salad. Another slight modification as taco salad, and I’m guessing that we’ll both be enjoying this one! I’m not sure if I’m going to do iceberg or romaine.

Wednesday: Cook Smarts Meal #3. skillet chicken with chard and salsa over roasted potatoes. Chicken and potatoes never let me down, and I always gravitate towards these simply homey recipes in cookbooks when I see them. Sometimes it’s the meals with the least ingredients that can really shine. (I’ll report back.)

Thursday: Cook Smarts Meal #4 breakfast burritos with spinach and tomato salad. This will be a breakfast omelet for me – but I like that it uses some of the leftover potatoes from the previous night’s meal to put together something quickly! Economy and leftovers are key in my kitchen!

What’s on your table this week?

–– Sam

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Weekly Meal Plan

March 15th, 2014 · Meal Planning

The Succulent

That light is coming back to us – the kind that feels restorative, and lasts past 6 in the evening. It’s sweet relief after this brutal winter, although I won’t presume that we’ve seen the last of the snow in New England! My meal plan this week is short, as I’ll be flying to the nation’s capital on Wednesday for a re-charge with Wellesley friends. I’m looking forward to lots of fabulous meals, and hopefully some real spring-like weather!

Simple meals this week, mostly built off a protein and a vegetable – the kind of dinners that come about when I shop without a grocery list. I decided to swing by the market *before* making my weekly meal plan today (usually my planning is an elaborate affair of my own volition where I surround myself with my cookbooks and get lost in them for hours) – so to avoid over-purchasing, I simply picked a few random proteins, vegetables I know we’ll both eat, some extra lettuce and spinach for salads, and hightailed out of there before I spent a paycheck on chocolate covered potato chips, matcha powder, fancy olives or some other superfluous treat.

Week of Saturday, March 15th

Saturday: Eggs, brussels sprouts, pancetta and a little bit of cheese. When in doubt – eggs for dinner. I think I might make a regular habit of a weekend egg dinner, instead of an extra meal out that too often occurs when I’m tired from batch cooking.

Sunday: Chicken thighs, brussels sprouts, and new potatoes. A variation of what I go to week after week. I picked up a few new cookbooks this weekend including Anya von Bremzen’s The New Spanish Table and David Leite’s The New Portuguese Table, so I’m guessing we’ll be having some seasoning from that general region to spice things up – maybe a large dollop of homemade mayo to bring it all together.

Monday: Marinated Pork tenderloin and broccoli.  A little boring. I’ll be coming home from an evening yoga class, so I needed something quick and relatively hands off.

Tuesday: Vietnamese-ish beef and carrot salad with mint. My everyday favorite: ground beef with five spice, and a carrot and mint salad with a basic Nuoc Cham, a dressing of fish sauce, a little sugar, and lime.

What’s on your table this week?

–– Sam

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