DASH Diet Blog: Living the delicious life according to the DASH Eating Plan
Category: What We Ate: DASH Diet Meals
I show what we ate in two posts each week. My thought process in designing DASH-friendly meals based on how well we’ve been adhering to the DASH eating plan, ingredients on hand and our schedules will hopefully give you ideas for fitting DASH meals in your own life!
This will be the last Wednesday-Friday “What We Ate” post. Starting next week, I’m switching to a 1 workweek and 1 weekend post schedule. This period was a weird one in which I unintentionally underfed us, partially because I was sick the whole time. See what the two DASh diet followers ate this past 3 days:
I couldn’t believe it’d already been a week since the last Thai work lunch, but it was! I had stir-fried vegetables over jasmine rice and a cabbage-stuffed spring roll. Loading up on vegetables for free, woo hoo!
I spent the whole day sneezing and blowing my nose. Whatever I caught decided to stick around and today was the snot party, apparently. With my brain in a fog, I wasn’t productive on any front. Hubby and I spent some time in an outdoor cafe before heading home, because it was such a warm (one could argue it was even hot, at close to 80F in February) evening. For dinner, I made yakiudon, a stir-fried udon dish, with thinly sliced beef and leftover Thai veggie stir-fry. Nothing fancy, but it did the job.
I cut up some apple slices for dessert, which mystified Hubby. I told him I wanted something cold and soothing; he said “ice cream would work, too” with a big grin. Yeeeeah, right. I stood my ground.
Still under the weather with fog-wrapped brain, I slogged through the day. I packed some leftover yakiudon for lunch. I found it rather heavy, though I’m not sure if that’s the cold talking or me talking…
I was planning to stop by the library to pick up the two DASH diet books I’d put on hold after work, but I didn’t make it; by the time 5 pm rolled around, my cold was at full strength and I had to get home stat. Instead I checked out and started reading an ebook version of Marla Heller’s “DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution.” I’d been curious to see what offline resources are available for people interested in this way of eating, given the dearth of information online. This book wouldn’t have been my first choice, but it was available right away and it was by the evangelist of DASH, so I figured I’d see what it’s like. It was definitely thought-provoking, but at the end of the day, I just don’t think I’m her intended audience. (Well, I suppose I knew that.) More on that in a full review post!
Hubby made a chicken and orzo dish from Blue Apron for dinner. Thank goodness we had the box arrive on Wednesday; otherwise it’d have been a takeout dinner!
Fever had subsided by the time I woke up, but I was pretty exhausted. I took the day off and just sat in a comfy chair all day. The fact that I managed to just sit around (almost) all day in itself is proof that I was sick, considering how jittery I am usually! 😛 I had a leftover salmon filet in the fridge, so I made that into lunch with a side salad (watercress, celery and cilantro with lime juice, sesame oil and soy sauce) and jasmine rice.
I was craving something cool and sweet all day, but we were out of fruits. Toward the end of the day, I regained enough energy to mosey over to the grocery store to pick up some strawberries (my go-to when I’m sick). Alas, my sense of taste was wrecked, and I didn’t taste much of anything. 🙁 My fruit trick did work in terms of keeping me away from sugar, though.
Since I had some Russian-spiced meatballs thawed in the fridge, I made a quick egg noodle dish with tomato sauce scented with Georgian curry spice mix (khmeli suneli) and topped that with the meatballs (and some asparagus). It was a little low on veggies, but oh boy, the curried tomato sauce was fantastic. I love this Georgian spice mix! I’m pretty sure I wasn’t detecting some of the flavors, but it was still quite delicious. Definitely a keeper recipe.
DASH Diet Goals & Reality
I’m rather underfed. This is a little concerning, actually, since I know getting enough nutrients and calories is super-important for my energy level and life overall. (And I must say, as people get older, getting enough nutrition becomes more important in a perhaps weird reversal. I’m not quite there yet, but still!) This is mostly due to me being sick and uninspired, but I guess I should pay a bit more attention to whether I’m actually preparing us enough food… Happy to report, though, that I didn’t eat too much sugar, despite craving soothing, chilled, creamy, fruity desserts pretty much the whole time… Maybe I should just listen to Marla and get my paws on some sugar-free Jell-O (not)?
In addition to unintentionally underfeeding myself, I must have sweated a lot Thursday night, as I’d lost 2 lb overnight. It was odd to see the scale showing the weight I used to be 5-6 years ago! I think it’s too low for the late-30’s me now, but I’m sure it’ll go back to where it’s been as I get better.
Next Few Days
It looks like it’s going to be another rainy weekend. Seriously, this is like the 5th or 6th weekend in a row with crappy weather. If it’s not, it sure feels like it is. It doesn’t matter too much this time around since I probably won’t be up for a serious hike anyway, but it suuuuucks. This is the only situation I wish I kept my gym membership (but I know it’s not worth it)! When we stay home, I get jittery and sometimes I end up baking sweet stuff–which makes Hubby happy (which in turn makes me happy), but ultimately not great for DASH diet or our health. Urgh. #rantover
Anyhow. Though we do have two Blue Apron meals left, we are out of meal components, so I might use the rainy weekend to cook up some. I like having one or two meal components handy for the week for quick homemade dinners. Things like roasted vegetables (sweet potatoes and pumpkin in winter, zucchini and eggplant in summer, for example) and grilled chicken breast and meatballs are really handy. They can fancify an otherwise boring salad (like in this curry roasted root veggie salad); they can be the basis of an entree. Since I started keeping these meal components around, the frequency of us resorting to restaurants and takeout for weeknight dinners has plummeted. DASH diet is the easiest to follow when we cook most meals at home, so this has been an integral part of my strategy.
Other than that, I guess I should focus on getting over the cold, not sharing the gift with Hubby and not picking up yet another cold. Oh, and spending some quality time with my cats. 🙂
We did really well on reining in the sugar intake this period, but our vegetable intake took a nose dive. Read on to take a peek at our DASH diet meals for the last four days, and see what I’ve learned!
As planned, we drove out to PA to visit family. We wanted to make sure we got home before the forecasted snow storm hit, so we left bright and early at 7:15. These visits are always super-sedentary with lots of driving and sitting around, chatting. Since I’m one of those annoying people who can’t sit still (apparently), I really dislike this aspect, but seeing family was great!
For lunch, we grabbed an obligatory Philly cheesesteak and a turkey club sandwich, and everyone shared in. By the time we were done eating, the blue sky had given way to fuzzy gray clouds. It was time to rush home. We barely managed to make it back before the main part of the storm hit; Manhattan fading away behind sheets of falling snow was a fantastic sight from the elevated parts of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. I do love snow! 🙂
I was planning to cook something Japanese and low-fat for dinner to balance out the oil-heavy meals this week. What with the late lunch and low activity level, though, we weren’t hungry enough for a full meal, so I opted for a quick pizza toast. I just piled roasted red peppers, red onion, sliced sausage, parsley and cheese on two pieces of sourdough, and baked the whole thing for about 12 minutes in the toaster oven. It wasn’t the healthiest meal on the planet, but it was quick and tasty. We had those on the couch, watching a movie, as the snow kept on falling outside. It was a beautifully relaxing evening.
I didn’t have a post-dinner dessert, either. A big DASH diet win. Hooray!
My legs were itching for a walk, and the day was beautiful–sunny and warm, with the last night’s snow melting quickly. Before we went for a long walk, though, we cleaned the apartment a bit, and I started working on decluttering a bit–since I know we’ll be moving out in the not so distant future, I wanted to start getting rid of the stuff that we’ve accumulated over the years. Hopefully this will mean that we’ll have less to deal with when the time comes.
I was in the mood for something “nice” for lunch. Something I couldn’t make at home, in a setting that would transport me to a world just a tiny bit away. We went to a bustling French bistro on Upper East Side, and it totally fit the bill. I had an omelette stuffed with crab meat, cream cheese, avocado and corn. It came with some butter-drenched, rosemary-scented roasted potatoes (ooooooh) and a classic French frisee salad. The star of the show, though, may have been the gougeres–the slightly sweet, airy, eggy and savory French-style popovers. Their version had a few slivers of toasted almonds on top, and they were just heavenly. (Seriously, just writing this has turned on my saliva gland.)
It was a big lunch, and kept us going strong for a 20K-step day. I decided that this splurge was alright because we didn’t have to pay for lunch yesterday (thanks, family!), so we had room in our weekend eat-out budget. I made a similar calculation on the DASH diet front.
Glutinous Barley & Japanese Dinner
I was starting to feel as though I’d caught yet another cold (ugh) by the time we got home, but managed to cook up a quick Japanese dinner. I’d purchased a bag of glutinous barley from Japan a while ago and tried it tonight. It’s supposed to be a fiber-rich addition to normal Japanese rice that people eat for health reasons, but I’d seen so many Japanese food bloggers rave about this stuff from the “OMG, this is delicious!” standpoint that I’d been curious about its culinary merits. And, yeah, it’s was pretty good. This glutinous barley is somewhat similar to sticky rice, but it also has a nice “pop” when you bite on the grain. I was somewhat apprehensive that it may have an unpleasant odor (that I remember from a “healthy rice” my mom sometimes made when I was a kid), but that turned out to be an unfounded concern.
The rest of the meal were veggie-loaded miso soup, broiled sardines stuffed with spicy cod roe, and a quick cabbage salad with shiso. It was a deeply satisfying meal with a nice glass of white wine. I also managed to avoid dessert. Yessss!
I woke up with a definite feeling that yes, I do have a cold. Sigh. I did have some meal components in the fridge, but didn’t have enough mental energy to assemble a lunch to take into work. Oh well… I went to a cafe near work and got a cup of corn chowder (meh) and a dainty little ham sandwich on baguette (tasty but tiny). I need veggies. Oy. I also had some dried prunes and nuts.
I was thinking about making a quick vegetable korma with a sauce mix that comes in a jar. I had all the vegetable ingredients in the fridge–sweet potato, cauliflower, carrot, onion; all I had to do was pick up a jar of korma sauce. Easy! Except that I couldn’t find the korma sauce at the three stores I stopped by on the way home. Defeated, I resorted to the leftover Greek beans in tomato dill sauce. We had that over basmati rice (yum), with a quick side of garlic oregano cauliflower and asparagus. The korma veggies found their way onto our dinner plates somehow. 😉 The bean-based meal ended up being a meatless Monday dinner, which I’m happy about!
The subway was having a fun morning. Our subway sat at our stop for 40 minutes before moseying to the next stop, where we were told that there’s a bus downstairs. WTFF!? I gave up at that point, walked home, and worked from home the rest of the day. Luckily, I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to make it into work with the stewing cold, so I’d emailed myself some work files on Monday evening. Being sick turned out to be a blessing!
It was such a nice day out, too. Even when I’m just working, it’s so nice to be able to see the blue sky out the window and breath in the fresh air. I was planning to fix something quick and easy for lunch, but Hubby (who was also working from home) got lured outside by the beautiful spring day. We had lunch at a Brazilian buffet in the neighborhood. The pinto beans were so earthy and flavorful–they totally inspired me to try cooking them up at home. It was a nicely balanced meal with rice, beans, veggies and pork, but I got fooled by the giant platter (yet again), so I decided to just go light on dinner to balance it out for our DASH diet goals.
We took a walk over to Astoria Park after work. Even though I started working later than usual due to the morning subway debacle, since I didn’t have the commute back home, so I had more free time in the evening. That felt great (and so did the 11K steps). The sunset over the two bridges turned out to be beautiful, too. We came home and had a quick salad I made with what we had on hand. I added a couple of strips of shabu shabu pork and drizzled the whole thing with homemade Japanese onion dressing. Yum! We watched a few episodes of Expanse and had ice cream for dessert. This was a planned dessert rather than a habitual thing, and I feel good about that! 🙂
DASH Diet Goals & Reality
Heeeey, look at that! We managed to push the sugar/sweets category way under control this period. Beautiful. Knowing just how much sugar is in a small serving of certain ice cream helped; being extra conscious about after-dinner desserts being a “special” treat rather than an everyday thing also helped.
What Happened to the Veggies & Fruits?
In other categories, we didn’t do as well on vegetables and fruits. Looking at what we ate in this period, this is definitely due to us eating out more frequently than the recent norm:
Saturday’s family visit had us eating sandwiches for lunch with not a lot of veggies. We had a very small dinner that night (as lunch was huge), which further reduced the veggie count.
On Monday, because I didn’t bring in lunch, I ended up with a soup-sandwich combo from a nearby cafe that sorely lacked veggies. I focused on vegetables for dinner that day, but it wasn’t enough to compensate fully.
Then, our Brazilian buffet lunch on Tuesday was also on the low side for vegetable intake. Though Tuesday dinner was a salad, it wasn’t a lot, as (again) we weren’t too hungry after a large lunch.
I think there are two, maybe three, lessons here.
One is that eating out really does lower our fruits and vegetable intake.
The second, related lesson, is that bringing in lunch has been a lot more helpful on this front than I’d realized. It’s a lot easier to ensure that I get enough vegetables when I control what I eat for lunch. It’s a bit of a “duh” realization, but I guess I just didn’t realize how big of a difference it’s been making.
The third and the last: I usually try to crowd out the meat, fat and sugar categories with grains, fruits and vegetables. What happened this period was the exact opposite: On some days, we were too full from big meals that we didn’t have room for veggies and fruits. Crowd-out is real!
Next Few Days
Avoid eating out for a bit, and definitely bring in lunch the rest of the week! That’s what I’ll focus on.
I’ve been hitting a bit of a blog bleh lately. I think I’m going to switch up the posting schedule a bit so that a) more of the recipes are already posted when the “what we ate” posts go up, and b) I post 4 days a week rather than 5 days most weeks. Like the DASH diet, sustainability is important; for that, I think a bit of simplification will do some good.
The same ol’ work meeting lunch: Thai vegetable stir-fry, jasmine rice, vegetable spring rolls. Nothing new there, though I was happy to get my fill of vegetables this week!
It was a nice evening with the temperature still in the 50s when I left work. I was tempted to put in another nice walk, but I wanted to get back on schedule on the blog front, so I took the subway home. For dinner, I made a tasty substantial salad, loosely based on a recipe in the cookbook “Plenty.” On a bed of lettuce, I piled on roasted sweet potato and parsnip chunks, as well as sauteed chicken breast and blistered grape tomatoes (blistered in the same pan as the chicken). Then, I drizzled the whole thing with the caper vinaigrette Ottolenghi created for the roasted veggie dish. It was quite tasty! The dressing, made with capers, mustard, sherry vinegar, olive oil and a little bit of maple syrup, might become one of my staples.
Then again, I’m not sure–I have a feeling that I’ll have many more dressing recipes to try from this pretty amazing cookbook. I’m still leafing through it, and finding myself sticking post-its on so many recipes it’s kind of crazy. At the end of the day, maybe this caper vinaigrette won’t make it on the keeper list just because there are even better ones in this book. We shall see.
This week’s been feeling looooooong. I might be a bit more stressed out than usual, what with the need to move out of the apartment we’ve lived for almost 8 years, and the general work frustrations (mostly with myself). Ugh. Anyway, just like the DASH diet, there’s only one way, and that’s forward.
We had a catered work lunch again. We’re being very well-fed lately. It was Mexican, a first for me here. The newness was nice, but oh boy, everything was so salty, though nicely spiced. I didn’t/couldn’t finish the beef part of the fajita because of the saltiness. I had some strawberries from home for dessert to get the edge off. (I wonder if I’m becoming more sensitive to salt as I’ve been eating out less frequently and trying to use a tiny bit less salt in my own cooking.)
We had another beautiful, springlike evening. I met up with Hubby at the beer garden, where we had the giant outdoor space almost to ourselves, save for just a few other groups. We had a mug of dunkel each, under the gradually darkening blue sky. For an easy dinner, I made quesadillas with leftover beef fajita from lunch and flour tortillas I had on hand. To up the veggie content, I tossed some lettuce, celery, radish and grape tomatoes in lime juice and a dash of smoky taco sauce (also from lunch). It was almost free, easy and quick, but not great from the sodium standpoint…
On the way home from the beer garden, Hubby lured me into Artopolis, a truly world-class Greek bakery. We’d been talking about bakery madness on Valentine’s Day, and somehow, yes, somehow, we ended up with two different types of chocolate cake slices. (I’m blaming all of this on him, haha.) These turned out to be absolutely amazing chocolate cakes–especially the “truffle” one. It had all the characteristics of an excellent chocolate truffle–tart, fruity cacao notes, cooling mouthfeel and deeply chocolatey complexity. I’m sure these filled up our DASH diet sugar buckets for the next couple of days,
but they were SO worth it. It was one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot of good chocolate cakes over the years. 😉
It was the first time in 4 days without a catered work lunch. I could have brought anything I wanted, but somehow I ended up with the leftover Italian food from Tuesday’s catered lunch. Because, uh, cheap won out. 😛 Since the tomato cream sauce penne and chicken Parmigiano didn’t have much in the way of vegetables, I brought sauteed peppers and squash from home to supplement my lunch. Unexciting, but they were fine.
I spotted a couple of goodie bags of Valentine’s Day treats lying around at work, but I stayed away. Mediocre chocolate is just not worth it, even when it’s free! (See Thursday, above. :P)
After work, I walked over to the library (that iconic one on 5th Avenue with white marble lions…) to pick up a DASH diet cookbook I had put on hold. Or rather, I attempted. Except I realized, midway over there that they were closing at 6 pm and there was no way I was going to make it in 3 minutes. I veered over to a nearby subway stop and went home. Oh well, at least that added to my step count!
Still feeling laden with oily, heavy lunch, I wanted something light and refreshing for dinner. Since I had cans and cans of chickpeas (a long-lasting Costco haul), I made a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern salad with those. The garlicky chickpea salad with cumin and lime was just what I needed, and Hubby was happy with the falafel addition from the food truck as well. They are super tasty and only $2 for 4 sizable ones! An easy win, if a little high on the fat/oil category.
DASH Diet Goals & Reality
I knew that the sugar/sweet category was literally off the chart this week.
While I’m totally, completely, 100% okay with the chocolate cake (because its tastiness to sugar ratio was off the charts), if I’m being completely honest, I do think we’ve gotten a bit slack on the after-dinner dessert front. I don’t want it to be an everyday thing, but it’s becoming one again. It’s time to rein that back in, given that we’ve been over the DASH diet’s daily sugar intake limit pretty frequently, and sometimes by a lot, lately. It’s hard to form a new habit for sure!
Next Few Days
I must admit, I’m pretty tired of the recent pattern of weekend bad weather. My legs have been itching for a good winter hike for something like a month now! On Saturday, we are leaving home bright and early to visit family before the snow hits. The good thing is, we’ll be home for dinner, so I have more control over what we eat. Since the Friday meals were oily, I’ll probably go Japanese to manage that category.
I do hope to put some urban walk in on Sunday, depending on how much snow we’ll get overnight–and how much of that will still be around in the morning. I still have some roasted root veggies and leftover Greek beans in the fridge, so I don’t think I’ll be making any meal components over the weekend.
Get inspired. I need some cooking inspiration to keep me (and this blog) going.
Get back to the routine with tasty and DASH diet-compatible eating, plus my blogging schedule.
Let’s see how we did on those!
I was really hoping for a good long hike for both my mental and physical well-being, but the rain in the forecast was pushed earlier into the day. We decided to stay in the city and wander around instead. As usual, I didn’t have a destination in mind, so we just started walking. We somehow ended up on Randall’s and Ward Islands, where we discovered that the western side along the Hudson has been spiffed up quite a bit since the last time we were there–at least a couple of years ago. The riverside walkway had a beautiful planting beds on the side, which sported all kinds of grass and hardy plants. I even spotted a big patch of rosemary! Between the gray weather and isolated location, the path was more or less deserted save for a couple of dog walkers and a birding group. As the path wound north, it sort of devolved into a no man’s land with a semi-industrial construction site feel, but still it was a fun discovery.
By then, it’d started spitting. Somehow I managed to leave my umbrella at home (how!?), but had a rain jacket on, which helped me get through the drizzle. We went to the Gun Hill Tavern just north of the islands for lunch–or what we thought was the Gun Hill Tavern. Apparently it had been turned into a different tavern recently. It still had a good local beer selection and a wider range of food items than I’d remembered, with a fun sprinkling of Hispanic-inspired items like hangover sancocho. Hubby had a (very good) burger with fries; I had arroz con pollo, which was basically a HUGE bowl of yellow rice with a pretty well-executed grilled chicken breast with a bit of pico de gallo on top. It was way salty with barely a hint of veggies, but it was pretty tasty. I had plenty to take home (which provided a lunch and two breakfasts).
It wasn’t an epic walk I was hoping for, but I did manage to put in around 18,000 steps. I can’t say I checked off Goal #1, but I guess it’s good enough given the weather. 🙁
Cooking up an Inspiration
When we got home, there was a note from our landlord that she needed to talk to us about the lease. Uh oh. I kind of knew what that’d be, but being kept in the limbo was mildly annoying–we both felt the uncertainty looming in the back of our minds as we went through the rest of Saturday.
I spent the rest of the afternoon leafing through Yotam Ottolenghi’s vegetable-centric cookbook, “Plenty.” I’d bought it many moons ago, probably when it came out, and marked some recipes with post-its. Seeing what recipes appealed to me 8 years ago versus what appeals to me now was pretty interesting! I think the culinary world has finally caught up with where Ottolenghi was when the book came out. Now that I’m more familiar with the flavors and combinations from what I’ve had at restaurants fancy and casual, I’m finding more of his recipes easier to imagine the taste of, hence more droolworthy and intriguing.
As I oohed and aahed over the cookbook, I roasted a pan of sweet potatoes and parsnips. This will be a component of a few meals this week, one of which will be along the lines of one of Ottolenghi’s recipes. For dinner, I made two kinds of poke–tuna with sesame soy sauce and yellowtail with dill, onion, red pepper and lemon salt. These were mighty tasty with white wine, as well as a bowl of rice. Since lunch was almost devoid of vegetables, I made a big miso soup with vegetables, and a quick ponzu-based salad with celery and red pepper. Hom nom nom.
We had to talk to the landlord at 11, so we wrote the morning off to errands: Farmer’s market, laundry, grocery store. Totally mundane, but it was gray and rainy anyway… The apartment situation turned out to be exactly what we’d expected, so we’ll be moving! This made me annoyed and excited at the same time–annoyed because I’m pretty sure the move would be a downgrade for a higher rent (our rent has been way below market), but excited for the opportunity for change, as our low rent has been somewhat of a golden anchor that prevented us from living anywhere else in the city. I’m not looking forward to the extra expense, but I do feel a change might be a good thing. We’ll see.
For lunch, Hubby wanted to go to an excellent Greek seafood spot in the neighborhood. The choice was either that, or the leftover feijoada before I froze the rest for later, and he went for the eat-out option. I was okay with that; I think we sort of needed the fresh air and “not home” atmosphere after the conversation.
We tend to order the same few favorites over and over at this restaurant, but this time I put my foot down and went for something new: Greek Lima beans in tomato sauce. This, my friends, was the bomb. All the flavors–acidity of the tomatoes, the sweet fragrance of the dill, the earthy and sweet carrots, the silky beans–were perfectly balanced! Everything was understated yet oddly satisfying. I’m so glad we tried it! The rest of the meal: Olive-studded bread, grilled whiting (which is absolutely amazing–simple, elegant and perfect) and roasted lemon potatoes. Oh, and a complimentary slice of galaktoboureko (Greek custard pie in phyllo), which is to die for. Of course, it probably filled up a couple of days’ worth of my DASH diet sugar budget.
Another Walk (Soggy!)
I braved the torrential rain in the afternoon for a walk. While the foggy East River was beautiful, this is the one situation I wish I still had a gym membership. With 10,000 steps under my belt, I came home and spent the rest of the afternoon working on the blog, mostly figuring out how to organize the sugar intake guides.
I reheated the sukiyaki tofu and vegetables for dinner. Two salads on the side: A sesame miso broccoli salad (loosely inspired by a recipe in, you guessed it, “Plenty”) and the leftover ponzu-based salad/pickle of celery and red pepper. I added a bowl of rice, and called it dinner.
Another work week! I didn’t feel like I had a real weekend (thanks, rain!), but I gotta earn my paychecks… Anyway, I had some of the leftover arroz con pollo and sesame miso broccoli salad for lunch. The usual snack of peanut butter crackers and dried prunes rounded up the work food.
Dinner was a sesame shiso salmon poke, a stir-fry of shishito, bean sprouts and pork belly, and a bowl of rice. I tried a stir-fry sauce that a friend recently told me about: A mix of sambal oelek and soy sauce koji. It was pretty tasty but not the transcendence I was imagining. 😛 Maybe the ingredients weren’t quite right for that sauce. I might try it with cauliflower or broccoli sometime… We had a small bit of ice cream for dessert, which we probably shouldn’t have, considering the galaktoboureko yesterday!
It was another catered work lunch day. It was Italian. I had a standard lettuce-cukes-tomatoes salad, eggplant pasta and chicken piccata in lemon sauce. They were all rather oily… #firstworldproblem I was glad I’d brought a small apple; cold, crisp and just slightly tart, it was a perfect counterbalance to the heavy lunch.
More Walk, on a Work Day!
We walked up along Central Park after work. It was just to squeeze in some extra physical activity on a workday, but it turned out to be a beautiful sunset walk. The buildings along 5th Avenue were drenched in that gorgeous orange-gold light of the dusk as we briskly walked up. It was a tad windy, but all in all, a fantastic, invigorating walk. I need to do this on a regular basis!
I was able to take the time for the walk because I had leftover feijoada ready to go in the fridge. I reheated it when we got home, chopped up some cabbage and celery to go on the side, made basmati rice, and had dinner in about 30 minutes. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out: About 12,000 steps on a regular workday with a decently DASH-friendly dinner at home! Just a few months ago, I’d have resorted to picking up takeout on our way home or stopping by a restaurant for a sit-down dinner. Not now; having a ready-to-go meal in the fridge works so well in keeping us on track for our DASH diet goals. (And, importantly, for our budget also.)
DASH Diet Goals & Reality
The Three Goals
Goal #1 was a struggle–crappy weekend weather didn’t help, but I think I need to do something about my weekday activity level. Since I moved into my current office that’s closer to the subway station than my previous one, I’ve been feeling really sedentary and stale. Balancing cooking at home and weaving exercise time into my workday has been a real challenge. Though my Tuesday plan worked out perfectly, I’m not sure what the permanent answer is here–something I have to figure out. (My brilliant idea: Treadmill installed in the kitchen. That’d win me an Ig Noble Prize!)
I feel alright about Goal #2, the cooking inspiration. I have one meal component in the fridge (roasted sweet potatoes and parsnips) and a few things I want to cook. So, yay!
Goal #3 is hard to tell, since it’s about a long-term routine than what I do in the course of a few days. But I think I’m back on track.
DASH Diet Goals
Now to the DASH diet radar graph.
The train wreck of the sweets/sugar category owes it to chubby hubby. Not my own, but the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. I just discovered that the sucker has almost double the amount of sugar, compared to many other ice cream. I thought it tasted a lot sweeter than Breyer’s, which is why I looked at the nutrition facts panel. And oh, horror! At 26 grams in a half-cup serving, it’s more than 3 day’s worth of sugar! Ugh. I think this brand will be off my grocery list from now on!
Even our go-to ice cream, the Breyer’s, I realized, contains about 2 day’s worth of sugar in half a cup (14 grams). Apparently I’ve been counting ice cream way too low on the sugar scale. (Then again, I’m getting confused: Sorbet, NIH’s DASH dessert of choice, seems to have generally higher sugar content than ice cream, with some of them in the Ben & Jerry’s range and others way higher, at over 30 grams. A half cup of that is considered one serving of sugar/sweets, while a straight-up sugar is one serving at 12 grams. What gives? I need to research this a bit.)
Next Few Days
Anyway, the takeaway here is that I’m still too high when it comes to my sugar intake. I’m doing better overall compared to a year ago, but I still have ways to go. I also want to figure out a way to incorporate what we did on Tuesday into our weekday routine: Walking more, preferably in different neighborhoods, and coming home for a more or less heat-and-eat dinner. I might be able to do that on Thursday or Friday with the pan of roasted sweet potatoes and parsnips, if I prepare a protein to go with them on Wednesday.
And this is more like the next few weeks/months: We need to get serious on eating through our pantry and freezer. We’ did it toward the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, but it’s built itself back up somewhat. Now that we know we’ll be moving out in a not so distant future, cleaning out our food cache is another necessary dimension of our healthy, tasty eating!
Another Wednesday, another Thai lunch. I had pad thai with chicken, roasted salmon with broccoli and mushroom, a small veggie spring roll and a fried shrimp dumpling. It was tasty but oh man, I’m tired of them! #firstworldproblem I also snacked on dried prunes and had a granola bar, which was totally not worth the sugar expenditure! I mean, it was tasty, but I can’t justify it considering that eating the granola bar basically filled up my entire day’s worth of sugar allotment and I don’t love granola bars all that much to begin with. #dashdietfail
I didn’t leave work until past 6, and I was sorely tempted to pick up a fancy salad to share with Hubby. I was feeling lazy and craving fresh veggies… However, I knew there was a bunch of spinach in the fridge desperately waiting to be used up. I came home and dutifully made what I’d planned: Spinach and mushroom gnocchi with dill sour cream, and threw in some Russian-spiced meatballs for protein. This was a mighty delicious DASH diet dinner–rich, complex and satisfying without a ton of meat or devastating amount of heavy cream. I thanked the weekend me for making the meatballs ahead of time.
There was yet another catered lunch planned at work. I brought in a small apple as a snack, but didn’t eat it because… there were paczki! I try to stay away from free sweets at work, but I make exception to paczki that a Polish colleague brings in almost every year around this time of year. They are amazing!
I went somewhat lighter on the soup & sandwich lunch, having half a soup (some sort of lime-spiked chicken orzo soup) and half a chicken sandwich. I probably did okay on the overall amount, but by the time dinner rolled around, I was craving fresh veggies badly.
We didn’t get home until 7 pm or so, as we stopped for a pint after an after-work meeting. I was tempted to get sucked into one of the easy takeout options near us. (This is the frequent equation around here: Tiring work + beer buzz + cooking doldrums = temptation for takeout.) My cravings for a home-cooked meal with veggies won out, though. I made a quick sukiyaki-style stew and a ponzu-based cabbage and red pepper salad, and had those with a bowl of rice. Yum! It was a good thing I managed to cook at home, as we’d be having dinner out with a friend on Friday.
For lunch, I’d stashed away some of the Italian fare from a couple of days ago in the work fridge. To add fresh crunch to the penne a la vodka and a giant meatball, I brought a tupperware of grape tomatoes, red pepper and celery. I was very happy about the veggie addition! I wasn’t sure if I’d eat them all, but I polished them off with no problem.
I worked a part of the day in an open area, and had a chocolate truffle that a colleague offered me. I didn’t really want it, but I had it for being the sociable coworker (or whatever). It’s a good thing I don’t usually work in that open area; otherwise I’d have to come up with ways to vow out of those constant offerings of food without damaging my relationship with my well-meaning colleagues.
We met up with a friend in Williamsburg after work. My subway ride over the bridge was awesome–a dreamlike view of the Lower East Side and the river. I wished the subway car had the lights off so I could see the cityscape without the reflection! For dinner, we went to an excellent Japanese restaurant with a great bang for the buck. What we had: Fried chicken with watercress, wasabi-spiked scallop ceviche, braised pork belly and a bunch of sushi. SO good. (SO lacking in vegetables–but that’s okay. We’ll catch up later.)
DASH Diet Goals & Reality
Quite aside from whether we did well on the DASH diet goals, I felt heavy and unenergetic this whole period. Uninspired. Clearly, a part of that is just the effect of the cold I had over the weekend. Another is the inadvertently high frequency of restaurant meals, mostly due to catered work lunches, but also from the Indian delivery we resorted to last Friday when I was sick. I don’t think the popular “carbs should be avoided, as they make you feel heavy and bloated” line of thinking applies to me, but the combination of too much salt, lots of starch and not enough simply cooked veggies is most likely a part of this sluggish feel.
But of course, physical is just one side of the coin. I also suspect a psychological aspect: There’s a dose of blog fatigue somewhere in there, as well as work stress. I can’t change those psychological aspects as easily, but the physical side is easier to manage. Which brings me to the goals for the next few days:
Next Few Days
I have three goals for the next period, which includes the weekend.
Get physical. Preferably a long hike on Saturday before the weather gets clammy into Sunday, but if not, I need a good, solid flaneuring in the city.
Get inspired. I need some cooking inspiration to keep me going. When I’m not excited about cooking up something tasty and interesting, either of the two things happen, and both are bad for DASH diet:
I refuse to cook and we end up with a restaurant or takeout meal more often than I’d like. Bad for budget, bad for health.
I’m not completely satisfied with dinner, and reach for dessert. Not where I want to be, either.
Get back to the routine. This past week, mostly due to being under the weather, I let a bunch of routine go, including our typical way of eating and some of the blogging schedule. I want to reestablish my routine.
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
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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).
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).
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!
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
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!
Hmm, it’s already February. Here’s a quick recap of what we ate in the last 3 days.
Another Wednesday, another Thai work lunch. Happily, I was able to get some of the stir-fried veggie dish that I like. I had rice and a small vegetable spring roll as well. As usual, I had peanut butter crackers and dried prunes for snack.
I was feeling a little ambitious in the morning, and made a plan to make 3 different kinds of meatballs after work. Having meal components like cooked meats, roasted veggies, etc. really lessens the dinner cooking load, so my plan was to turn the 1-lb pack of ground beef in the fridge into handy dandy meatball babies that I can top a salad with, make a Japanese-Chinese stir-fry out of, and throw into a pasta dish. Of course, work intervened and I didn’t get home until past 7. I didn’t even have time to make the kofta-style meatballs I was planning to eat with a Middle Eastern-inspired salad. Boo.
We also had a pretty interesting beer: Greenpoint Beer & Ale Company’s cloudy, Northeast-style multigrain IPA. This was a nicely complex and different brew! I think I tasted spicy rye note and a lot of hop bitterness. Yum. After dinner, I briefly contemplated making the meatballs, but I didn’t have the energy. Oh well, the ground beef has to wait.
I rattled to work under the featureless gray sky. Or rather, the plastic tub of sesame-peanut clusters (that I’d picked up for work snack last night) rattled as I walked to work. For lunch, I made a quick grilled chicken sandwich in the morning, with baby kale, the last of the peanut dressing and sambal oelek. With some broccoli florets dipped in the same peanut dressing on the side, this was a pretty tasty lunch! And of course, I ate some of the rattlers. Nom nom.
I felt like I was coming down with something–the back of my throat was weirdly dry and a tiny bit sore. That meant I needed a meal of comfort foods. Japanese home cooking is a huge part of my comfort food repertoire and I had all the right ingredients, so that’s what I did. Rice, miso soup, stir-fried shishito peppers with ginger and a bit of ground beef, and a dish of simmered kabocha. It was mostly vegetarian (other than the beef), low fat and quite tasty. Sadly it didn’t let me beat the cold, though. I went to bed early. Oh well.
I woke up still feeling meh. My head was a bit hazy and I didn’t pack lunch. I did have some leftovers I could cobble together into a lunch, but I just didn’t feel like it. At lunch time, I went out, not knowing where to go in the lunch dessert I work in. On a whim, I popped into a little tiny empanada cafe and picked up an Argentine sausage empanada. It was more like a Bolognese sauce empanada than a sausage empanada, but it was mighty tasty! (Real low on veggies, though.)
Still under the weather, I went home. A cold front must have been coming through the city; the air was way sharper than it was in the morning. The cold air felt great, though, after spending 8 hours in a stuffy, dry office. I took the longish route to supplement my pathetic step counts, as the fresh air made me feel somewhat better.
I couldn’t decide what I wanted to make for dinner. My brain felt like it’d been boiled to a mush. Hubby decided to get Indian delivery. Our favorite Indian place have an awesome delivery combo for $15 that includes an appetizer or soup, a main, rice or naan and a drink or dessert. It’s a lot of food–a guaranteed leftover lunch, which I like. I had a sesame rice cake as we waited for delivery.
I had a mulligatawny soup, vegetable korma and basmati rice. Nom nom! This worked out great, as I wanted veggies (given the non-veg lunch) and something soupy. It was probably pretty high in sodium; I’d need to take that into account the next few days.
DASH Goals & Reality
The last few days have been a little too heavy on grains, but that didn’t show in the weekly graph. I guess I was underfeeding us on that front earlier in the week. The problem is still the sweets category. I reined it in a bit in the last couple of days, but it’s still over the limit. This is a damn hard category to come under!
Next Few Days
Getting over the cold! Lol. In all seriousness, though, that’s on top of my to-do list. If I feel okay, we might have a get-together over hot pot on Sunday. Now that I think about it, hot pots should be a pretty good DASH diet party food: They are usually low in fat, chock full of vegetables and lean protein like fish or chicken. Hmm…
Aaaand as usual, I’ll need to work on reducing the sugar intake. Since ice cream after dinner is a part of the issue, maybe I should stock up on tasty fruits that we can eat as dessert and see how that works out. I could even freeze some of them and pretend they’re ice cream? Or move the yogurt + fruit combo from our breakfast table to evening dessert. Hmm, I have to brainstorm a bit on this front!
I was low on ingredients, but I managed to put together a hiking lunch before we left. The hike was going to be about 10 miles, so I suspected we’d have dinner out. From the DASH diet standpoint (as well as budget standpoint), I didn’t want to eat out twice in a day, so I persevered! We had the packed lunch–nori-wrapped rice balls, stir-fried pork belly, carrots, shiitake and onion, and taro stew with fish cakes and egg–at a rock ledge overlooking the Verkeerderkill waterfall, which was quite awe-inspiring.
The Sam’s Point trail and High Point trail in the Shawangunk Ridge area were absolutely awesome. It’s apparently the only place in the world that has dwarf pitch pines, which needs fire to propagate. The parks people had done a prescribed burn a few years back, which created an alien, dreamlike landscape on top of the ridgeline. Charred pine branches jutted out from a red-orange ground cover of sheep laurel and blueberry bushes, into the blue sky over the hazy valley below. Some of the pine trees had sprouted new needle clusters, whose green contrasted beautifully against the otherwise red-and-black landscape. We spent 5-6 hours hiking and taking in the views. It was a great first hike of the year!
Delicious German Dinner
For dinner, we hit the German brauhaus we’d been curious about for many, many years. It was already packed at 5:30 pm, but we waited with a tall glass of Kostritzer a while and snagged a table relatively quickly. Our delicious German dinner… ahem… don’t have a place on a DASH diet blog, lol. They were meat-heavy, salt-happy, ginormous and wonderful. We even had an apfel strudel for dessert. This had the most buttery, flaky crust and a perfectly sweet and tangy apple filling. It was way too much food in general and way too much meat, sodium and fat, but it was bliss.
If you want the gory details, knock yourselves out: Pumpernickel with butter, bratwurst cooked in Riesling with cabbage and apple; Reuben strudel (stuffed with corned beef and cabbage, topped with cheese); chicken jaeger schnitzel with red cabbage and spaetzle, and apfel strudel with vanilla ice cream.
One saving grace: It was a day of over 25K steps with a good amount of climb. I didn’t need the salt and meat/fat, but I did need the calories. 🙂
It was warm but gray and rainy. I needed some serious replenishing of the veggies, so we started the day with a big grocery stop at an international supermarket nearby. I stocked up on a whole bunch of veggies for $30 or so. Since we were driving, we decided to check out a well-liked Vietnamese restaurant in the middle of industrial nowhere between Queens and Brooklyn. We’d walked past it once many moons ago, but it was in such an inconvenient location we’d never made it back. Bunker turned out to be a very cute restaurant with high ceiling, colorful tiles and mismatched tables and chairs. I’d expected a total hole in the wall, so it came as a bit of a surprise. The prices were a bit of a surprise, too. 🙁 $12 for a banh xeo and $17 for a chicken curry was approaching outrageous.)
We went to a beach afterward. The temperature was in the upper 40s, but thick fog was swirling about just at the edge of the steel-green ocean, and I got a bit of a chill. It was spectacularly beautiful, though, and I felt blissfully lost and restored.
Sweet Potato & Chorizo Chowder Dinner
After spending an hour or so at the windswept beach, I wanted something warm and hearty for dinner, but didn’t want a big, heavy meal given the size of lunch. I went for a chowder with a Latin American twist with what I had on hand. The sweet potato, chorizo, roasted poblano and kale chowder came out just the way I wanted: Lighter yet flavor-packed.
I made enough chowder to feed us on Monday night, as we had a meeting scheduled after work. We’d be home too late to cook from scratch.
For lunch, I brought the leftover jaeger schnitzel, spaetzle and red cabbage. It was low on vegetables, so I added a bunch of blanched broccoli to the Ziploc container. Schnitzel came out rather oily from the microwave. Boo! Spaetzle in mushroom cream sauce and red cabbage were just as delicious as they were on Saturday, though. I also had some smoked almonds in the morning.
The meeting after work was low-grade stressful, though I know we needed it. When we came out of it, I just wasn’t feeling it for the sweet potato and chorizo chowder. Sensing the same from Hubby, I suggested we go to a Japanese drinking hole down the street. We did, and I had a stir-fried veggies with beef liver along with a bowl of rice. It was oilier I’d have liked, but at least I got a lot of veggies in. Hubby had a beef rice bowl. We both had happy hour beers. Then some ice cream.
I totally succumbed to stress today; I do wonder if starting the day off with a sweet breakfast of lotus seed paste steamed bun had something to do with it. Sometimes, sugary breakfast seems to trigger a cascading effect of unhealthy eating throughout the day, but I’m not sure how much water this theory holds. It could be that when I’m stressed out, I resort to sweet breakfast and the stress, not the breakfast, affects the rest of the day’s eating pattern, too. At any rate, I’d have to avoid fat and sugar and load up on veggies on Tuesday.
I walked the 20+ blocks between the office and the meeting location, which pushed me above my 10K step goal for the day. Yay!
Lunch was the last of the jaeger schnitzel, grape tomatoes and blanched broccoli. It ended up being on the small isde. I debated whether I should step out and pick up a roll or a pastry, but got too busy to do that. I soldiered on, munching on peanut butter crackers, dried prunes and almonds.
We stopped by a local beer spot for a beer and cheese tasting after work. We were pretty hungry–Hubby skipped lunch because his favorite Halal food cart guy wasn’t there. I’d have resorted to getting dinner there a few months ago, but we went home to polish off the remainder of the sweet potato and chorizo chowder with whole wheat pita to sop it all up. #dashdietwin #budgetwin
I have a 1-lb pack of ground beef that’s thawed in the fridge. I have to use this up in a day or two, so I’ll most likely make a freezable component, maybe a Bolognese sauce with half of the ground beef. The rest I’m thinking of turning into a kofta, since I have some roasted curried root vegetables that could go with a Middle Eastern-style meat. I might serve it salad-style rather than do a meat-vegetable-grain platter. Other than that, I’ll continue Tuesday’s theme: Balance out the indulgent meals in the last few days with more DASH diet-compatible meals heavy on veggies and grains.
I waffled about whether to bring in my own lunch to avoid eating yet another work lunch that’s heavy on meat, sugar and oil and light on vegetables. In the end, I settled for bringing in some kiwi to eat before the 1 pm lunch meeting and going light on the meeting food. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself during the meeting, so I compromised. It worked alright.
It was a bit of a stressful day at work, and I got home mentally spent. We were planning to watch “Paterson,” so I opted for an easy Japanese dinner, relying on the leftover taro, daikon and fish cake stew. With a quick salad and seasoned rice with shiitake and pork, it was a homey, comforting dinner. Bonus: It was overall pretty low fat. #dashdietwin
Lunch: Scallion rice, dill kabocha salad, broccoli, pork chop with chile morita tomato sauce. All from previous dinners in the last couple of days, and nothing really to write home about, but they were tasty and filled me up. I wanted to use up most of the leftovers because a catered lunch was planned for Friday at work–and I managed to make a pretty big dent.
Since we picked up a bunch of dill on Saturday, I’d been wanting fluffy and fragrant Middle Eastern dill rice for a while, and Thursday was the night. While the dill rice cooked, I experimented with a sheet pan dinner of za’atar salmon and root vegetables with ras el hanout and dried currants. Both the fish and veggies came out perfectly! I see why sheet pan dinners are all the craze these days–it’s a wonderfully hands-off method to cooking. I managed to square away a task while dinner cooked. That was awesome.
We had chocolate ice cream for dessert.
Another catered lunch day at work. It was fancy French sandwiches! They were tasty, though way too heavy on meats for DASH diet. (And the “French” part might have been a little questionable?) Anyway, given the amount of roast beef and crispy chicken that was in my sandwich halves, dinner was to be vegetarian. The sandwiches didn’t arrive until around 1, and I was glad I’d brought some strawberries to tide me over.
Our fridge was looking pretty spare. I made a salad with arugula, lettuce, cilantro, red onion, red pepper, Ecuadorian cheese, radishes, scallion and cucumber. I topped Hubby’s with some Ecuadorian chorizo, since he didn’t have a meat-heavy lunch like I did. (Although I did steal a few pieces.) To go with the vaguely Latin American theme of the cheese and chorizo, I whipped up a dressing with the Mexican chile morita salsa from Sunday, lime juice and sour cream. The lime-chile morita dressing kicked some serious ass–so smoky and savory. 🙂
DASH Diet Goals & Reality
Yeaaaaah, baby. It’s looking pretty good! I’m patting myself on the shoulder for staying under the sugar/sweets limit. This… might be the first that’s happened? Anyay, I’m pretty happy with the shape of the graph, too, given how close it is to a circle. That means our meals were well balanced, as far as the DASH diet goals are concerned. We had a lot of salad dinners this week to balance out the more indulgent lunches/brunches, and I think that helped.
One thing that doesn’t show in the graph: Alcohol. I had a beer or a glass of wine every day of the workweek. It’s still within the DASH diet framework, but I should probably cut back a bit. It’s a constant battle against this habit that keeps reforming itself! I’m not too stressed out about it, but I do want craft beers and cheap n’ tasty European wines to be an indulgence I enjoy with attention, not an everyday routine that flows past me.
Next Few Days
I want to go hiking on Saturday, as Sunday will be rainy. It’s been too long since our last hike, and my legs are itching mightily! I need a nice, long hike to get lost in the nature. I may or may not pack a hiking lunch. The fridge is pretty bare at the moment, so I’m not sure if I can make a nourishing enough lunch with what I have. We’ll see!
Next week, we have an after-work meeting on Monday, so I should cook something over the weekend that I can quickly pull out of the fridge and make a meal out of. Other than that, I want to find some new salad ideas. I do have a decent repertoire, but this salad-heavy week left me somewhat drained of ideas! Maybe I’ll leaf through some of the veggie-focused cookbooks I have…
I got up later than usual. By the time we had breakfast (a big fluffy Dutch baby!!) and gave our little apartment a cursory cleaning, it was close to lunchtime. Feeling like I squandered away a perfectly fine weekend morning is something that frustrates me to an unreasonable degree, so this was not good. 😛
Anyway, we had a late afternoon pick-up for a u-haul van, so we headed out to enjoy what’s remained of the beautiful, warm, spring-like day. (We were planning to pick up a TV to replace our ailing one. Since our tiny car wouldn’t fit even a 35-inch TV, we needed to rent a larger vehicle.) We shared a country fried steak and Brussel sprout salad at a neighborhood pub. “Sharing” and “salad” sound more sensible than reality. The country fried steak was about as big as a lost flip-flop of a cave-dwelling giant; the salad probably contained 5 times more chicken than Brussels sprouts in weight. Though they were both quite tasty, this meal definitely affected my plans for the next few meals! (Which is okay, because flexibility and guilt-free course correction, I think, is one of the reasons why DASH diet is the best diet.)
The late afternoon u-haul thing turned out to be a total debacle. The lady behind the counter demanded that we give her not one, not two but three phone numbers, just to get started. Because someone drove their van into a bike stand in Times Square or some such nonsense. As to how having a random relative’s phone number on file prevents them from incurring losses form incidents like that, I have no idea. Then “the system wouldn’t let her process the order” without us taking out insurance, even though Hubby had already completed a reservation online with no insurance and no problem. All in all, it was oh-so-scamy and we walked out. It’s not like we don’t have other options, like hiring a donkey cart… or waiting for the next big snowstorm and borrowing a team of sled dogs. You know, options. Grr.
The u-haul debacle totally ruined our mood. I could tell Hubby was stewing inside, as he was secretly excited about a new TV. A firm believer in grocery therapy, I dragged him over to a grocery store in the neighborhood that, as I’d discovered recently, carry a ton of ethnic food items. We wandered around the store, checking out dried Latin American chiles, bags of Middle Eastern grains and refrigerator after refrigerator of seemingly never-ending variety of cheeses. I picked up a handful of chile morita along with regular grocery to restock the fridge. This grocery store adventure mostly restored our mood. A few British beers and potato chips at home took care of the rest.
Since lunch/brunch was way over the top in the meat and fat/oil department for DASH diet adherents, I opted for a salad dinner. I thinned the leftover peanut dressing (from this crunchy Thai cabbage salad recipe) with a juice of half a lime, added a small pinch of sugar, and tossed the vegetables in the slightly sweet, bright and creamy peanut dressing. The arugula, roasted sweet potato, pepper and smoked tofu salad in lime peanut dressing came out beautiful.
While Hubby researched alternative ways to hault the TV home (sans donkeys or sled dogs) in the morning, I made salsa de chile morita, using the dried chillies we picked up during our grocery therapy. Shallow-frying the dried chillies in oil filled the kitchen with the most wonderful smoky aroma. I didn’t have any particular use in mind for the salsa yet, but it sure smelled fantastic.
In the end, Hubby found a perfect solution for the TV: A minivan from a local car service. This turned out to be quicker, much cheaper and way more pleasant than the u-haul option. For lunch, I reheated the Tuscan chicken and lentil stew from a few days ago while Hubby finished setting up the TV.
Since I was still feeling rammy, we went out for an aimless walk in the afternoon, which involved discovering a Buddhist temple tucked away in a nondescript basement, sharing a slice of vanilla mousse cake at the best bakery in New York City and a mercifully brief stop at Best Buy to pick up a cable. (Mercifully, because I hate electronics shopping with an unreasonable passion.) I hit 20,000 steps on both weekend days!
Dealing with DASH Diet Meat Portion Size & Presentation
I wanted to make something with the chile morita for dinner. Luckily, we found two pork chops for $2 at a grocery store, so I sauteed the pork chops and made a quick tomato sauce with the fond and the chile morita salsa. It could have used some additional dimensions–I’m thinking cumin and oregano for next time–but the woodsy, smoky sauce on the subtly sweet pork was quite good. The pork chops were a little too big (at about 5 oz and 7 oz respectively) from the DASH perspective, so I cut the 7 oz one in half and saved one for lunch later in the week.
That made the chops look a little small. I want to adhere to the DASH diet portions, but sometimes the balance on the plate doesn’t look great when the meat is small, especially in a meat & potatoes type of dishes. Since the pork chops were very thick, I banged on them with the back of my knife for a while. Flattened a bit, they became quite presentable!
We had the pork chops and chili tomato sauce over rice, with dill kabocha salad (this was, OMG, so delicious) and broccoli on the side.
I brought some teriyaki chicken, roasted kabocha pumpkin, scallion rice (all from the tasty teriyaki chicken bowl with scallion rice meal) and broccoli for lunch. A meal cobbled together from leftovers and components, but it was quite good! I also had a couple of peanut butter crackers in the morning and a piece of chocolate in the late afternoon. Somehow I wasn’t very productive. Ugh.
I couldn’t wait to eat the eddo root (a close, possibly tastier, relative of taro root) from our grocery therapy haul, so dinner had to be a Japanese meal. I simmered the taro with daikon and a couple of fish cakes, and paired that with a stir-fried veggie dish accented with a small bit of yakiniku-marinated beef. With a bowl of rice and hearty miso soup, this was a satisfying veggie-heavy dinner, just what I wanted.
Work had catered lunch, and it was pretty tasty and DASH diet-compatible, though I suspect a bit high in fat and oil. I had roasted salmon with carrot, onion and celery; an interesting salad of lettuce, radicchio, watercress, grape tomatoes and cucumber with dill yogurt dressing; and short pasta with asparagus and dried tomatoes.
Not so shabby! I was pretty happy with the fresh lunch with a lot of veggies and seafood. Plus, I survived a potentially stressful meeting with the boss relatively unscathed. After that meeting, though, I resorted to my go-to stress relief: A few pieces of chocolate. That filled up my DASH sugar quota for the day, so I skipped after-dinner dessert.
Hubby went to a liquor tasting event after work, and I spent the evening doing research for DASH n’ Delish blog (and writing this post). For dinner, I made an arugula-packed sandwich with a leftover piece of country fried steak, and had it with broccoli and dill kabocha salad I made (and loved) on Sunday. These went down with a glass of a quenching pale ale from Firestone Walker.
DASH Goals & Reality
Pretty good so far this week. This might be the first period where most of the categories are close to 100%, though that’s of course dependent on how accurately I’m eyeballing the serving sizes. I’m particularly happy that I’m under in the sweets & sugar category. I can’t remember this has ever happened before, but it’s certainly a rare occurrence around here!
Next Few Days
Wednesday will be another Thai lunch day at work. I’m seriously contemplating bringing something from home and eat it before the meeting so I have more control over what I eat. I like free food as much as anyone, but the relative lack of vegetables, combined with suspected high sugar content in the sauces and oil everywhere, this lunch is not something I want on a weekly basis. It limits how much sweets I can eat for fun and how much oil I can use in my cooking in the rest of our meals. And if I’m totally honest, the same Thai food week after week is a tough one for a sucker for variety like me. Mmm… #firstworldproblem
On the blog front, I was looking at the Google Search Console for DASH n’ Delish today, and was pretty happy to see that someone found the site with the query “DASH diet bloggers.” That’s exactly what I want to be found for! It’s taken about a month for the site to be picked up in any organic search, so this is great news. It’ll be a long time before I see any significant traffic, I’m sure, and that’ll take a lot of work, but I’m feeling encouraged. Onward!