A pound of bacon…what?!?!

It all started with my aunt bringing me two gigantic and beautiful tomatoes last week when she visited. And to think I hated tomatoes when I was growing up… now, I could eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if the opportunity arose. Tomatoes, loaded with antioxidants and phytochemicals, specifically lycopene, which fights off cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, are boasted to be the most nutritious vegetable. I would disagree based on the lack of protein, and most importantly the sugar content, especially when cooked down into sauces and things. But I sure do love a fresh tomato.

So, these fresh tomatoes sat in my fridge, and I thought of my stepdad and his love for a thick slice of tomato smothered in mayo and topped with salt and pepper. I thought of BLTs. One of my favorite sandwiches once I started eating tomatoes as a teenager. There in lies the bacon. Organic turkey bacon. Pork bacon, well I haven’t eaten that in over two years. Not to say that turkey bacon is any better for you, yes the fat content is much less, but its still animal product that is processed and molded together into a slab. Hm, just talking about it makes me not want to eat it. But in any case, some turkey bacon every so often (maybe once every 3 months if that I buy some), won’t hurt.

A pound of turkey bacon, which is 10 slices in total, cooked for the week — created three dishes as well as leftovers for eggs (free-range, organic of course) in the morning if I really want to get crazy.

I started out with braised red cabbage (also from my aunt — she’s just the best, really). This simple dish started out with the pan used from frying the bacon (with basically no fat in it, again, turkey bacon has very little fat content), seared with vegetable stock to get all of the salty scrapings from the pan up. Then I added one whole red onion, thinly sliced. I sauteed this until soft and added the red cabbage. Look at how beautiful this glorious vegetable is…

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Red cabbage is a million times more nutritious than green cabbage, and much more tasty. Its loaded with polyphenols which offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. Red cabbage is low in calories, a good source of dietary fiber and a rich source of several vitamins such as A, C and E.

I let the cabbage simmer with the red onion and 1 cup of vegetable stock until it was tender and soft. I topped it off with 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 2 cloves of garlic minced and some black pepper. This dish is great hot or cold – perfect for this week since it will be sunny and in the 70’s…wahoo!

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Then it was time for two dishes with the turkey bacon. The first, one of my favorite dishes that a dear friend of mine makes — sweet potatoes, avocado, and bacon mash. I did a little twist on the recipe:

2 strips of turkey bacon, cooked & chopped

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, cubed, and boiled until fork tender

1/2 small red onion, chopped

1 avocado, cubed

1 cup arugula

*I mixed all of the ingredients together and topped with some ground black pepper. The combination of the sweet potatoes and avocado is good enough for me any day, but the addition of turkey bacon gives an added flavor and chewy texture that makes me feel like I’m consuming much more food…which I am, and more protein, which I always need!

When my friend makes it, she cooks the sweet potatoes a little longer, creating more of a semi-mashed potato dish and using a ton of fresh cilantro (I didn’t have any in the house, but I 110% recommend adding this!).

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Lastly, the BLT. A paleo version. I took romaine heart leaves and stuffed them with the fresh tomatoes and 1 slice of turkey bacon. I topped each one with freshly ground black pepper. That’s it. Seriously, nothing else. The tomatoes were perfectly ripe that I didn’t need any sauce with this, especially not mayo. I think my stepdad would enjoy these alot, mayo added, of course.

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Taking bets now on what I’ll use the extra bacon for this week — my moneys on the paleo BLTs.

Speaking of money, since my aunt brought me the tomatoes and cabbage, and I bought the red onions last week from the farmers market (6 for $2), I spent about $10 on these recipes for the week–

$5.99 for turkey bacon, $2 for sweet potatoes, $1 for avocado, $2 for romaine hearts. Even including the $5 or less that my aunt spent on the cabbage and tomatoes, thats less then $20 for the week. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

Enjoy the sunshine this week ya’ll, I know I sure will 🙂

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Change of seasons

Happy change of seasons, ya’ll! Wow, I can’t believe how cold it has been this weekend! Just last week it was in the high 80s and I was complaining about sweating through my summer dresses while teaching my students. Now I can’t seem to get enough layers on me to get rid of the fall chill that’s trickling down my spine.

My mom and aunt came out to visit this weekend and we had a blast! We enjoyed the public market in the morning, some antique shopping, a fantastic dinner at my local vegan spot, and a night in cuddled up watching a chick flick. Just what I needed after a very long and very stressful week at school. I bought myself a quaint mug for small sips of morning coffee and a bouquet of fall flowers to brighten up my life (preparing for another possible stress-filled week) and enjoyed them both as I worked on lesson plans for the week this afternoon.

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I also spent this afternoon cooking two dishes for this week – comfort food dishes, obviously, to warm me up during this cold week ahead! Each dish is prepared with fresh vegetables from either my garden, my mom’s garden, or local farmer’s gardens 🙂

First off — my mom’s cauliflower fried rice. She is obsessed with this stuff so I figured it was time to try making it for myself. I started out with 1/2 yellow bell pepper (from my mom’s garden) chopped, 2 portobello mushrooms chopped, 1/2 red onion (from the market) chopped, 3 cloves garlic (from my mom’s garden) chopped, and 2 medium sized carrots (from my garden) chopped. I sauteed these veggies in a little bit of olive oil and ground black pepper.

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Then I processed the cauliflower into rice using my ninja storm. This took seconds, so please don’t tell me this recipe is too difficult and time consuming, cause its so very easy 🙂

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Then I added the cauliflower to the sauteed vegetables and turned the heat up to crisp everything up. I ended with some freshly grated ginger and about 2 tbs of some sesame ginger dressing (Iron Chef brand).

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Can’t wait to eat this yummy dish this week – full of nutrients and flavor!

Next up – one of my favorite comfort foods, stuffed peppers. These peppers are loaded with protein, about 20 grams per, thanks to the french indigo lentils that have a whopping 13 grams of protein per serving and lean ground turkey. These peppers legitimately have less than 10 ingredients – super simple, yet so delicious.

I start out by cooking the lentils and brown rice together (about 1/2 cup of each) in 2 cups of water. I let that boil, then turn the heat down to a medium heat simmer with the cover on, stirring occasionally. Then I brown the ground turkey in a pan with some red onion and garlic. Once it starts to brown, I turn off the heat, add in some ground black pepper, thyme, and rosemary. Then I top it off with wegman’s ‘Grandma Pormodoro’s Sauce’. I combine the lentils and brown rice with the turkey and stuffed the peppers (from my mom’s garden) that I had already pre roasted (in the oven at 375 for about 10 minutes) and top with some more sauce. I put them back into the oven for another 15 minutes to let everything meld together and bam, done!

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I love prepping my food on Sundays. It’s a relaxing routine that I missed over the summertime… lesson planning, playing music, and cooking. Having just these two dishes done for the week makes things so much easier for me throughout the week. Lunches are either of these dishes or salads, already put into glass Tupperware, ready to go!

Here’s to enjoying the last bits of sunshine today coming through my window (totally not going outside, its in the low 50s!) and finishing up my lesson plans for this week. Looking forward to continuing our journey of learning about chemistry through inquiry experiences in my classroom!

Happy Back to School!

Wow! I can’t believe we are back to school already! Where did the summer go? I can’t complain, I had an amazing summer full of travel, friends, family, and food. So much good food. Food. My life’s journey. I ate out more than any one should ever. My kitchen sorely missed my delicate touch, my light dancing and loud singing.

Welcome back screamed my stove as I cooked my meals for this week – our first full week of school. I have to be honest, I’ve struggled getting back into the swing of things – school that is. I have the same students as last year so it was really fun to see them and how much they’ve grown- mentally, emotionally, and physically. Yet, I think the familiarity has slightly shaded my enthusiasm to be back to school. In years past, I am stay up at night, mind wandering aimlessly, thinking of all the possible things that could go wrong with my brand new lessons for brand new students. This year, I’ve slept soundly. I’ve planned brand new, exciting lessons, but it’s just different. I’m sure I’ll get fully back into the swing of things once we start our expedition — that’s when the real stress comes on. 

Enough of my rambling, let’s get down and dirty to the real stuff you care about – the food.

Fall is upon us so my cooking today blends together the end of summer sunshine and light eating with the fall cold breeze and warmth of an Indian stew.

First up, summer! A wheatberry summer salad. Simple, to say the least, but flavors burst in your mouth just as the tender wheatberries do.

Salad:

*1 cup raw wheatberry, toasted in hot pan for 5 minutes, then boiled with 2 cups water

*2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

*2 medium sized cucumbers, quartered and sliced

*1 bag of baby arugula

Dressing:

*2 tbs red wine vinegar

*2 tbs apple cider vinegar

*2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

*1 bunch fresh parsley

*cracked pepper & salt to taste

**Mix all ingredients in a large bowl

**Top with fresh goat cheese when serving if desired

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And then there’s, Sweet Summer Zucchini Slaw:

*1 large zucchini

*2 large carrots

*1 apple

**Add all items to the food processor until coarsely chopped.

*1/4 cup chopped red onion

*1/2 red pepper, diced

Dressing:

*1/2 cup coconut milk yogurt

*2 tbs seeded mustard

*cilantro

*cracked pepper to taste

**Mix all ingredient together in a bowl and enjoy!

 

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Lastly, for those cold nights after work — Indian Braised Beets and Lentils Stew

*1 cup green lentils

*4 medium/large beets, roasted & chopped into 1 inch cubes

*2 large carrots, chopped 1/2 inch 

*1/2 red onion, chopped

*4 cloves garlic, minced

*4 cups vegetable broth

*1 tsp tumeric

*1 1/2 tsp curry powder

*1 sprig fresh thyme

*1 sprig fresh rosemary

**Saute onions, carrots and roasted beets until onions are translucent. Add minced garlic and lentils. Saute on med/high heat for about 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth and spices and turn down heat to low simmer on medium/low heat. Simmer for about 45 minutes or until lentils are slightly tender.

 

May I say that these dishes are so different from one another that I look forward to all of their distinct flavors this week for lunches and dinners. Enjoy your first full weeks back to school! ❤

 

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