starting the new year off LIGHT

Happy February, all!  (OK, where did January go???)

This post has been in the works for awhile now, and I’ve been dying to get it up here.  What set out to be a few snapshots of some of our ‘photo-worthy meals’ (yes, Andrew and I refer to them that way) has become a compilation of healthy meals we had in January.  I’m really proud of myself (and Andrew) that we have faithfully stuck to the “Meatless Monday” and one fish-dish per week goals I set for the new year.  And that we’ve–for the most part at least–stuck to the weekly menu plan and haven’t ordered pizza when the schedule got crazy.

Going forward, I’m adding one more weekly goal:  fix one meal from our list of ‘favorites.’  Andrew’s biggest complaint, by far, is that I make awesome stuff and save the recipe, but he never sees it again because I’m too busy trying new things.  It’s completely normal for me to put together five or six meals of completely new recipes, including side dishes.  That’s like 12-15 new recipes a week!  (I’m exhausted.)  And I love my husband and want to (finally) listen to what he wants.  So, a few of our favorites will be making a comeback 🙂

So, without further ado, here is my tribute to our healthiest month yet:

(Note: And all of these meals were planned AND eaten before I even saw Cooking Light’s current Jan/Feb “Start Your Year Off Light” spread.  I’m a little behind…what can I say?)

BTW–Cooking Light had THREE contributors this month with “RD” after their names…perhaps that will be ME one day!

Anyway, all that to say that we’ve been eatin’ pretty healthy around these parts so far.  Not that we were fast-food junkies, or even really needed to overhaul any part of our diets (OK, except my dessert habit, but that’s my own burden to bear), but I really wanted to add a little more structure to our weekly meals and, of course, make them even healthier.  But not less tasty.

Enter ‘Meatless Monday.  You can read my post for the co-op about it here, which includes the link to the actual ‘Meatless Monday’ site.

In short, I made two resolutions this year pertaining to our weekly dinners: to eat fish once a week, and to (purposefully) go meatless once a week as well.  I say purposefully only because I wanted to use MM as a chance to explore new ingredients/sources of protein, as opposed to using it as an excuse to make pancakes or spaghetti and marinara for dinner.  (Not that either of those are bad options–in fact, we had pancakes for dinner last Saturday night with the Nyes!

So anyway, here (in no particular order), are some photos of what we’ve been eating lately, as well as the link to recipes when possible:

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Everyday Food Mag’s Fish Tacos and Spicy Slaw.  I’ve made this a couple times now and Andrew is a huge fan, believe it or not.  Served with blue crunchy corn shells and avocado, as well as spanish rice.

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BTW, this is our new favorite wine: Layer Cake’s “Primitivo.”  Emily gifted it to me because of the name, and it’s a mild red both Andrew and I like a lot.

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Quinoa and Lemon Soup from my Quinoa 365 cookbook.

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Tilapia cooked with basil olive oil and lemon vinegar (Christmas gifts from Heather!) in a foil packet.

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Morningstar Farm’s Spicy Black Bean burgers served with spinach and all the traditional burger fixins’ on homemade bread.  I don’t normally buy “vegetarian” burgers at the grocery store, but Mrs. Nye gifted me with a box of these from her freezer, and I sensed if I didn’t use them they would succumb to freezer burn.  Don’t know that I would buy them again, but not half bad.  Andrew ate it, but didn’t want seconds.

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Mustard-roasted Chicken with Vegetables: an old-school, back-pocket classic.  This is one of three chicken recipes I cut from a Real Simple magazine forever ago that I make over and over again.  The other two are: Barbecue Apricot Chicken and Chicken Paprikash.  You can’t go wrong with any of them.

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Roasted asparagus, broiled salmon and a Barley and Fig salad from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals.  Andrew really liked the salad, which featured dried figs, green onions and a lemon dressing.

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This one was a toss-up, but Andrew ate it nonetheless.  It’s Cooking Light’s Smoky Black Bean and Butternut Squash Salad.  I’ve had it in my ‘to-try’ binder for more than a year and decided it was time to try it, Andrew’s dislike of beans be darned!  It was quite spicy–chipotles in adobo will do that!  Add avocado next time and it would be even better.

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Cooking Light’s Sweet-Spicy Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry, served with Spicy Cabbage Stir-Fry.  The chicken stir-fry was pretty good, although I totally overcooked the cabbage.

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Cooking Light’s Seared Scallops with Bacon, Cabbage and Apple.  My photo of my plate didn’t turn out well, but the color I got on the scallops was beautiful.  I’d never made scallops before, and Andrew had never tried them.  Can you believe he admitted they “weren’t fishy at all,” and that “I’d eat them again” came out of his mouth?  I almost fell out of my chair.

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A couple nights ago I made CL’s Quinoa and Roasted Pepper Chili, and can you believe Andrew had TWO BOWLS?! It featured pinto beans (which I find to be much milder than kidney beans for chili), zucchini and roasted bell and poblano peppers.  The flavor was traditional chili, but more vegetable-y.  Quinoa is a grain that is high in protein, so it’s an excellent option for meatless dishes.

Last night I made CL’s Beef Stroganoff, which is a dish I loved growing up, but I’m sure my mom made it with Cream of Mushroom soup and sour cream.  This healthier recipe featured a flour/beef broth mixture and just a tad bit of sour cream (I used plain yogurt instead).  I thought it was wonderful, but since Andrew picks around mushrooms, I don’t know that I’d make it again.  It was nice, however, to feel like I could make something I really wanted and that Andrew would eat it despite the offending ingredients.  He’s maturing like that 🙂

In case you’re wondering, I don’t keep all the recipes I try.  In fact, I barely keep any of them.  I make it, and unless Andrew and I are blown away, it goes right in the trash.  The truth is, I have too many cookbooks, magazines and already-torn-out recipes to keep any that aren’t absolutely fantastic.  I try to remember particular methods or ingredient pairings (like how coarse-grain mustard is excellent for pork or roasted potatoes) and then toss the recipe.  I’m also aways on the quest for “the best” recipes, like the best chili or butternut squash soup, so I’m constantly trying and comparing new and old recipes.  For every 10 recipes I cook, 9 are new and maybe only 1 is from the “favorites” binder, much to Andrew’s chagrin.

One thought on “starting the new year off LIGHT

  1. I have a similar meal strategy. I have a number of dishes that I make on a regular basis but I also like to try new recipes. If the new recipe doesn’t wow me, I make note of it so that I won’t bother making it again. (I record all the meals I make in Google Calendar…the search feature makes it easy for me to look up the last time I made a particular dish, or what the recipe was.) 🙂

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