What We Ate: DASH Diet Meals for 2/3/18 – 2/6/18, Saturday to Tuesday

Saturday

I was still under the weather, and my snot faucet was ON. Fresh air sounded good, though, so we went out for a bit. I wasn’t up for a lot, but I felt like gallery hopping would be just the right thing–not as intense as museums, with frequent fresh air breaks and just enough stimulation to keep my focus away from how “meh” I felt. This turned out right. We caught the last weekend before the show changes at many of the galleries in the Chelsea art district. There weren’t too many shows that I resonated with, but we had a nice walk and had a good time.

Lunch among Amigurumi

Beef & Wakame Udon with Amigurumi Wall
Beef and wakeme (seaweed) udon at a LIC Japanese cafe/art space. The walls and ceiling are covered in amigurumi!

Before we went to the galleries, we had lunch at a Japanese cafe in Long Island City that doubles as an art space. They had an amigurumi exhibit on, with works collected from people from all over the world. It was pretty spiffy to see the (some insanely well-made) crochet stuffed animals handmade by people from Poland, Thailand, US, Portugal and elsewhere. We almost purchased an awesome octopus! Well, what we really wanted was a large, beautifully realistic squid that was hanging from the ceiling, but it was $200! Oy. My lunch was a warming bowl of udon with beef, seaweed and some scallion. It was just what my sniffling self needed, but from the DASH diet standpoint, it’d have been nice to incorporate some veggies into the dish.

Cooking

Tofu, Root Vegetables & Mushroom Soup 2
We had a veggie-loaded Japanese soup called kenchin-jiru with baguette (!?) and a side of kabocha squash salad. The totally comforting meal filled up our DASH diet vegetable reservoir.

Given the almost complete lack of veggies in lunch, my dinner plan was VEGETABLES. I was still feeling soupy (being sick does that to you… grr), so I opted for a classic Japanese root vegetable soup, called kenchin jiru. It’s usually a vegetarian soup, but I added just an ounce or so of thinly sliced beef brisket to kick up the savoriness. Seasoned with just soy sauce and a bit of salt, the soup turned out mighty complex and tasty, thanks to all the flavors seeping out of the root vegetables. It was bliss. We had baguette and a kabocha-egg salad with the soup. Just because we had a baguette that we needed to eat before it turned rock-solid.

Oh, I also made some Russian or Georgian meatballs (not sure which, without being able to read the package of the spice mix from Brighton Beach) in the morning.

Sunday

I was still sick. Ugh. And the sky was gray with rain in the forecast for the afternoon. It ended up being a completely random day. Let’s see what we did:

In the morning, I made a Japanese-style onion dressing. Why? I guess because I had 10 minutes while Hubby was in the shower. I dunno.

We went to the farmer’s market to replenish our vegetable cache. The winter market was becoming pretty sparse, and I couldn’t find enough to tide us over for the week. We got a cabbage, a bunch of potatoes, parsnips and apples. Then we went to an ethnic supermarket for the rest of the grocery needs. We picked up a packet of Brazilian dried beef (carne seca), to make our very first pot of feijoada.

For lunch, we reheated the kenchin jiru and had it with rice and pickled daikon. Easy and tasty!

By the time we finished lunch, it’d started raining. We drove over to Target to walk around (apparently we are exactly like retired folks who go to the mall to get their daily exercise in, lol!) and get socks and underwear.

I didn’t feel like I’d accomplished anything when we got home from Target–I guess because I hadn’t–and I had to do something. Sometimes I struggle with just relaxing on weekends, even though I totally love curling up on the couch and losing myself in a good book with the cats hanging out nearby. It was one of those days! So I made feijoada with the dried beef, leftover Ecuadorian chorizo and dried black beans.

Dessert before Dinner (No, that doesn’t make it better.)

Tiramisu
Half a tiramisu. I usually share a slice of cake with Hubby, rather than have a full slice, in order to stay close to the DASH diet’s daily sugar intake guidelines.

While the feijoada simmered away on the stove, filling the whole apartment with an amazingly meaty, earthy smell, we shared a tiramisu. I’d been craving one since the cold started on Thursday, and I was happy to get one finally! There’s something about the light mascarpone cream that cools and soothes the cold-irritated throat. (Well. That’s my excuse, at least.)

For dinner, I made a orange, avocado and poached shrimp salad with roasted poblano dressing, loosely inspired by Rick Bayless’ recipe. This… sounded great on paper, but the result wasn’t. It came out bland and watery. (Not Bayless’ fault!) I think the culprits were the unseasoned quinoa (should have stirred in some of the dressing in there) and drippy lettuce leaves. The dressing might have needed a bit more salt as well. I definitely saw potential in the flavor combination–I might try making this again with some tweaks.

Monday

Uh, guess what. I was still sick. I was definitely on the mend, but my throat was sore and my brain wasn’t at full capacity. Since I didn’t have too many pressing tasks, I decided to take the day off work so I recuperate more quickly (hopefully).

Tomato Chicken Tikka Masala Lunch
I had leftover chicken tikka masala with additional grape tomatoes and a baguette. I reheated some mulligatawny soup, too, but the tikka masala was so rich and salty I couldn’t eat the soup. Not sure about the DASH diet compatibility of this salty meal!

Since I had access to a full kitchen and my entire fridge, I could do any number of things for lunch  (oh, what a dream!). I decided to reheat the gravy from the takeout chicken tikka masala and add some grape tomatoes and pre-grilled chicken to make a more or less rounded meal. I also reheated the leftover mulligatawny soup. Too lazy to make basmati rice for just myself, I had a hunk of baguette, which went surprisingly well with the chicken tikka masala. It… turned out WAY too salty. I wasn’t sure why I didn’t feel it when we had it fresh on Friday, but it was so salty it was stinging. Between that and the surprising richness of the gravy, I couldn’t even touch the mulligatawny soup. It went right back into the fridge. I had some strawberries afterward to sooth the saltiness away. Restaurant food is scary sometimes…

Sick Day Activities

I spent the day doing small things between breaks–reading “Obelisk Gate” I’d checked out from the library, working on the blog, some financial house-cleaning and so on. By late afternoon, I felt much better, and I went for a walk. The day was beautiful–a bit chilly but sunny, clean and peaceful. I felt refreshed and restored (and, if I’m 100% honest, longing for the day I don’t have to work for someone else so I have this freedom every day).

Feijoada with Kale & Rice
I adapted feijoada, a Brazilian black bean stew with a ton of smoked and cured meats, to be a bit more DASH diet friendly (as well as budget friendly), by reducing the amount and variety of meats by a fair amount. Even with the change, the feijoada came out amazingly meaty and savory!

My plan for dinner was a spinach-loaded gnocchi with Russian-spiced meatballs. (The meatballs I made on Saturday.) However, Hubby found a liquor-tasting event and didn’t need dinner, so I pushed the easy button and had the feijoada over basmati rice and some baby kale. The chorizo in the Brazilian black bean stew retained a surprising amount of spice and flavor, and was totally delicious. The real star was the black beans, though, which soaked up all the meaty, smoky essence of the dried beef and chorizo. I nearly swooned!

Tuesday

There was a catered lunch planned at work. I skipped packing lunch, but did bring in some strawberries to snack on. Strawberries was a good idea, as lunch was classic red-sauce Italian with a lot of salt. The combination of penne in vodka sauce and chicken parm was a tad heavy on cream, salt and fat. I did enjoy the Italian-American goodies, but I thoroughly enjoyed the fresh taste of the strawberries (and the salad that accompanied the heavier items).

I needed to balance out the meaty, starchy and oily lunch with a less meaty, less starchy, less oily dinner. Unfortunately, my original dinner plan was a spinach and mushroom gnocchi with meatballs. That just wasn’t going to cut it. So I opted to reheat the feijoada and served that over basmati rice and a heaping pile of shredded cabbage and kale. I kept the veggies undressed, because the feijoada had somehow turned pretty salty in the fridge. The dried beef must have been really salty, as I didn’t add any other salt to the giant pot of beans. On the bright side, I was pleasantly surprised by a slightly peppery taste of the baby kale. It was a great counterpoint to the salty, meaty feijoada.

We shared a slice of cheesecake from an excellent local Italian bakery for dessert. I didn’t need or want it, but it was in the fridge (acquired during our hunt for the tasty tiramisu) and had to be eaten.

DASH Diet Goals & Reality

DASH Diet Graph 2/3/18-2/6/18
We were about 50% over in the sweets category for DASH diet and close to 100% on grains (which is high for us). Combined with the salty restaurant meals we relied on while I was sick, this is making me hunker for simple, fresh home-cooked meal!

Well, this period has been awash, with me being under the weather the whole time. Sweets is again over the limit by about 50%. Grains are running on the high side, too. They are still under the DASH diet guidelines, but I might be starting to feel a little too starchy lately. I could cut back there, just a little, and load up on vegetables a bit more. My nuts & beans are also way over the limit, but I’m not concerned there, as most of that is from eating more beans and tofu, which helps me rein in our meat consumption without jeopardizing our protein intake.

Next Few Days

Between the salty Italian lunch and salty Brazilian dinner–and the salty chicken tikka masala lunch from yesterday, too, come to think of it–I’m feeling a bit meh about restaurant-style rich foods at the moment. Unfortunately, Wednesday is another lunch meeting day at work and I know there’s something planned for Thursday as well. I can’t really skip the Wednesday Thai food without being conspicuous, but I might opt to bring in something home-cooked on Thursday. DASH diet goals aside, I’m really hunkering for simple, fresh home cooking!

The main focus, though, will be on getting back on the habit of not having dessert every day. I let it go this period because the sick me wanted something sweet, cold and soothing. Those days are over, lol. I stocked up on fruits (strawberries, various apples, grapefruits and Comice pears) just for this purpose. Hopefully good tea and refreshing fruits will distract us away from the siren call of ice cream!

On a different note, I won’t be able to ignore the desperate cry of the spinach to be used for much longer, so Wednesday night will need to be the spinach gnocchi night. 😛 We have an after-work meeting on Thursday, and I really want to avoid eating out after that. Which means I should cook up something ahead of time so we can come home, reheat it and have dinner right away. Wednesday will be busy!

 

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