/* Google Analytics */

Monday, April 20, 2009

Who says money can't buy happiness? It can...when you use it to buy food.

Photo credit: www.veganyumyum.com

Lately, I feel like I’m back in college…during finals. I’m preparing to take the GMAT exam in early May, and so my “free time” has become much more structured. Instead of coming home from the gym and debating whether to watch “Real Housewives” or “The Daily Show” while I savor my vegan mac and cheese, I find myself going through quick-fire motions of showering, cooking, eating, and pulling my review books off the shelf to get in a couple hours of studying before I fall asleep…and then get up in the morning, go to work, and get ready to do it all again.

Unfortunately, I cannot program myself to function robotically, and this schedule has fallen apart on more than one occasion. Inevitably, something doesn’t happen – either I don’t make it to the gym, or I don’t cook, or my willpower crumbles to the temptation that is “Lost”…

(What lies in the shadow of the statue??)

…and thus my score on the quantitative section has not gone up in two weeks.

It might be easiest for me to forgo the cooking for a while – just pick things up or order take out, and eliminate all of the time it takes me to plan, shop, prep, and, of course, blog. But, I can’t bring myself to do this.

When I was in college, finals was the time when I was most rigid about my sleep schedule – I had to get my eight hours; if I didn’t, I couldn’t function optimally, and the studying became somewhat useless. What sleep was to me during finals, food is to me now. Eating frozen crap or soup that was prepared in large batches two days ago just doesn’t do it for me.

So, I’ll wake up earlier in the morning to do GMAT review before work. And, instead of going to the gym every day, I go every other day. But, I cook and eat my food, and it makes me happy and able to focus on everything else I need to get done.

Here’s to contented tastebuds, a nourished soul…and to me getting better at math!

This week's dishes:

Thai Spicy Eggplant with Sweet Basil

Kale and Sundried Tomato Hummus

Spring Spinach Salad

Purple Cabbage Salad with Currants, Carrots, and Almonds

Pizza with Pineapple, Sundried Tomatoes, and Basil

This week’s menu:

Dinner: Thai Spicy Eggplant with Sweet Basil
Cook: Thai Spicy Eggplant with Sweet Basil

Lunch: Thai Spicy Eggplant with Sweet Basil
Dinner: Spinach Salad with Hummus on Sourdough
Cook: Spinach Salad, Kale and Sundried Tomato Hummus, Purple Cabbage Salad (for Tuesday)

Lunch: Thai Spicy Eggplant with Sweet Basil
Dinner: Purple Cabbage Salad
Cook: Pizza with Sundried Tomatoes, Pineapple, and Basil (for Wednesday lunch)

Lunch: Pizza with Sundried Tomatoes, Pineapple, and Basil
Dinner: Spinach Salad with Hummus on Sourdough
Cook: Spinach Salad

Lunch: Pizza with Sundried Tomatoes, Pineapple, and Basil
Dinner: Purple Cabbage Salad
Cook: --

Lunch: Purple Cabbage Salad with Hummus on Sourdough

This week’s recipes:

Kale and Sundried Tomato Hummus on Grilled Sourdough with Spring Spinach Salad
I love dishes that sneak healthy things (kale) into delicious things (hummus and bread). With the warm weather upon us, I also enjoy citrus in my salads.

The quantity of dressing that you will make in the recipe below is enough for the week. Make it once and store it in the fridge. The salad recipe is for each serving so that you can assemble it fresh.

Click here for the Kale and Sundried Tomato Hummus recipe.
Spring Spinach Salad recipe:

For Dressing:
Juice of 1 orange
¼ cup shallot, finely chopped
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. agave nectar (or honey or maple syrup)
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper

For Salad (per serving):
1 navel orange
2 ½ cups, baby spinach
½ cup, sliced radishes
1 Hass avocado, peeled and sliced
¼ cup, sunflower seeds

1. Place all ingredients for dressing in a bowl. Whisk to blend. Set aside.
2. Peel orange and remove white portions. Quarter the orange and slice it into fans.
3. Toss the spinach and radishes with 3 Tbsp. of the dressing in a large mixing or salad bowl.
4. Top with avocado and orange slices.
5. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Serve!

Thai Spicy Eggplant with Basil
Making Thai food can be intimidating – but this dish is not. It’s surprising easy and quick to make and the flavors are subtle, but definitely present. If you want, you can add some cubes of tofu to this dish.

If you can find it, (I usually do at the farmer’s market in Union Square), buy Thai basil for this dish. The leaves have a hint of purple in them. While the flavor is great with regular basil, the Thai version is distinctive, and I think you’ll find that the dish tastes more authentic as a result.

1 cup of jasmine or brown rice, cooked according to package directions
2 Tbs. peanut oil (vegetable is ok, too)
½ tsp crushed red pepper (more to taste)
3 baby eggplants, cubed
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
¼ cup scallions, diced
2 Tbs. white vinegar
3 Tbs. soy sauce (or tamari)
2 Tbs. dark brown sugar
2 handfuls, fresh basil leaves, chopped

1. Heat a deep skillet or wok over high heat. Add the oil and crushed red pepper, and let it sizzle for 10 seconds.
2. Add the eggplant, and stir-fry for three minutes.
3. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, ginger, and scallions and stir-fry for another three minutes.
4. Add vinegar, soy sauce, and brown sugar, and toss for 2 more minutes.
5. Remove from heat. Add basil and stir gently to combine with eggplant.
6. Serve with cooked, hot rice.

Purple Cabbage Salad
Every now and then, my stomach craves something full of flavor, crunch, and general yumminess, but that also feels really light…so that when I’m done eating, I’m completely satisfied, but not needing to change into sweatpants. This salad does just that. Not to mention that cabbage is full of Vitamin C and thus, super good for you.

Click here for the Purple Cabbage Salad recipe.

Pizza with Sundried Tomatoes, Pineapple, and Basil
I love pizza. I also love sweet and savory combinations – give me a bag of kettle corn, and it will be gone before you can grab some bowls so we can share it.

I usually buy ready-made crusts from Whole Foods when I make pizza. But, as I don’t have plans to make a second pizza this week, I’ll buy Whole Foods Naan and make mini pizzas on them – so when I say “crust”, you can take this to mean a full pizza crust, or some mini version like mine.

The sauce for this pizza is inspired by one I found here.

Ingredients for sauce:
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Pint, Grape Tomatoes
¼ cup ground pine nuts
¼ Tsp. Salt
½ tsp. dried Italian herbs (oregano, basil, if you don’t have an Italian mix)

Ingredients for pizza:
Cooking spray
1 ready-made pizza crust (or naan)
1/2 cup sauce, (prepared using ingredients above)
1/3 cup pineapple, diced
¼ cup sundried tomatoes, diced
3 Tbsp., basil, chopped

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat oil over medium-high heat.
3. Add tomatoes, and toss in the oil until the tomatoes start to soften (about three minutes).
4. Add salt and herbs, and cook for additional two minutes.
5. As tomatoes continue to soften, gently mash them with the bottom of a wooden spoon. Stir in the ground pine nuts, and allow to cook for 2 to three more minutes.
6. Remove sauce from heat.
7. Spray pizza pan with cooking spray before putting the crust on the pan.
8. Spread sauce on crust. Layer with toppings. Bake for 10 minutes, serve, and enjoy!

This week’s grocery list:

3 oranges
5 cups, baby spinach
1 medium red bell pepper
1 bunch, scallions
1 bunch, basil
1 small bunch, kale
4 carrots
1 small head, purple cabbage
1, 4 oz. package, radishes
2 Haas avocados
3 baby eggplants
1 medium yellow onion
1 shallot
1 bulb, garlic
1, 2-inch piece ginger
1 Pint, Grape Tomatoes
1 Pineapple
Sundried tomatoes*

Oils, Spices, and Condiments
Cooking spray
Olive oil
Peanut Oil
Canola Oil
Balsamic VinegarSeasoned Rice Vinegar
Red wine vinegar
White vinegar
Soy sauce (or tamari)
Dijon mustard
Agave nectar, honey or maple syrup
Ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper
Dark brown sugar

Bottled and Canned Goods
1 bottle, Tahini
1, 15.5 oz. can, chickpeas

Dry Goods
Sunflower seeds*
Pine nuts*
Sliced or Slivered Almonds*Dried Currants or Raisins*
Brown rice
Baguette, or sliced bread of your choice
Ready-made pizza crust, or package of pita bread/naan

*If you can buy them loose, just get a handful, otherwise, buy the smallest possible package. For sundried tomatoes, you’ll need about 15 for the week.

1 comment:

  1. Tasty menu!

    Don't settle for takeout - I'm a firm believer that good food fuels your body and makes you feel better... thus more successful studying! Good luck on the GMAT, I'm sure you'll rock it!