My Pretty Apron: Day One

Let me start off by saying that I don’t like food journals. I like journals. I really like food. I just don’t like the whole food journal thing. For me, it takes the planning a shade too far and can be kind of obsessive. Plus, I’m not very consistent and having to keep track of everything I eat and drink during the day, every day just sounds….exhausting. And not fun. BUT, I get how this can be helpful for some people to keep track of their meals and to ensure that they’re not slipping in that extra scone or a Coke. I’m speaking for myself here. We all have our own ways of staying healthy and mine is no better than yours. That said, let’s talk about food. Ah yes, FOOD.

I can’t sit here writing a blog about nutrition without talking about food. Hell, I can’t sit and write anything without talking about food. I love cooking and baking. I love enjoying meals with my friends and family. But I’ve noticed that I’ve hit a bit of a rut the last couple of months. I’ve had greek yogurt, granola, cereal, salads, PB&J, and scrambled egg whites on HEAVY rotation in my diet. That’s just..wrong. And boring. I guess I just kind of fell back on what’s convenient and quick and somewhat calorie efficient. I said it. I’m guilty of doing exactly the kinds of things that I tell others NOT to do. Tut tut. I’m very self-aware and I feel my body cry out for more protein, more vitamins and minerals via heartier grains and vegetables, and more variety. I hear ya!
I’ve spent a great deal of time talking about this recently with my friend Kyndra, who’s currently training for the NY Marathon. She’s also interested in changing her eating habits to incorporate more foods that will give her the endurance she needs to keep her pace. And as I’m picking up my fitness routines, incorporating running into my training, I also need the fuel. But really, it’s SO much more than that! I miss being in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes, and trying different cuisines. I miss going to the supermarket and picking up an exciting new ingredient thinking, “I have to get this and cook something with it now!” I want to be able to take something other than a PB&J to work for lunch. I want to feel great about what I’m eating and that I’m enjoying myself. You know, without a food journal. I suppose a blog will do.
I put my foot down today to make the promise to myself that I will diversify my menu by trying new things (quinoa anyone?), pulling out my frilly apron (they’re so pretty), and getting to work in the kitchen. I’m going to chronicle all this experimentation here and fulfill my celebrity chef dreams with some fun multi-media (fingers-crossed) and share it with my friend Kyndra and all of you. This isn’t a Paleo/Atkins/South Beach/or anything else that falls under the heading of “diet plan.” I just want to eat as naturally as possible with an eye for balance and variety to help stimulate my taste buds!
So readers, here’s my version of a food journal.
I’m a regular subscriber to Cooking Light magazine and they had this great spread “40 Fast & Easy Meals,” in their April issue, and that’s where I got this first recipe. I HIGHLY recommend this particular series (which you can find on Cooking Light’s Pinterest board; SUPER HANDY) for all you hard-workers looking for an easy meal to prepare when you get home.
Made on Tuesday, August 28th
I won’t go into the entire step by step process here as the good writers of Cooking Light have already done that for you with a nifty little Nutrition fact breakdown to boot. However, I did deviate from this recipe in some spots. I tend to do this. I figure if I’m going to eat it, then I should adjust some things to make it more palatable for me since I’m the one cooking here. I think this may be why I sometimes prefer baking because then I don’t have a choice. It’s a pain in the neck, but you have to follow the recipe exactly otherwise you end up with a mess. Anyway, I digress.
Here are the ingredients in living color:
Some of the changes I made:
  • Substituted parsley for cilantro/coriander- I really don’t like parsley and besides I didn’t have any on hand. Plus I think the lemony flavor of cilantro goes nicely with the hummus even if it’s not traditional.
  • Substituted eggplant for green squash- This was also a likeabilty thing. Eggplant just doesn’t do it for me. But maybe it will someday, hmm?
  • Sugar Snap Peas instead of the suggested Avocado-Butter Lettuce Salad- I saw the peas at Whole Foods and they just sang to me. So I snatched them up instead.
  • Cheese- I originally substituted the feta for goat because I prefer the taste of goat cheese, but I actually omitted it completely from the wraps. Just didn’t think it needed any cheese.
  • Beans- The recipe doesn’t call for them, but I had some black beans leftover in the fridge and figured,  what the heck. I absolutely love adding beans anywhere I can because they’re such a power ingredient. Super healthy, yummy, and cheap. TIP: I buy canned beans because it takes too long to cook the bagged kind, but beware of the sodium! Best thing to do is to rinse them out in a colander under cold water to get rid of as much sodium as possible before you use them.

Now, we grill!


 Aren’t these veggies pretty??!?! And nothing beats the taste of grilled veggies, especially during the summer. Note that I’m using a cast-iron grill pan. I switched to cast-iron for most of my grilling and heavy-duty meat dishes because it evenly distributes the heat and you can easily pop it in the oven for a roast or additional cooking. But hey, if you have a backyard and an outdoor grill, by all means, have at it!

Steam, little peas, STEAM!


This is really not that hard. Invest in a decent steam pot or one of those steam baskets that you can slip into an existing 2-qt pot and you’re good to go! All you have to do to these little guys is the following:

  • Steam for 3-5 minutes, or until they’re soft enough to poke a fork through but retaining that crunch
  • Take them immediately out of the steamer; you don’t want them to overcook! *Remember: The longer you cook vegetables the more nutrients get sucked out in the process.*
  • Pour into a bowl, add a tiny nub of butter (like a teaspoon) or a tsp of EVOO if you prefer
  • Add a dash of kosher salt and a couple cracks of fresh black pepper and you’re good to go. Tip: Adding seasoning like salt and pepper is best done after you add the oil/butter because it sticks to the veggies and doesn’t fall to the bottom of the plate. Which means you’re not reaching for that salt shaker later on. 🙂

Ok, onward. What about the hummus?


 Hummus is just awesome, isn’t it? A note about the wraps I’m using here. I just picked this up in Whole Foods and I really really loved it. I’m using the All Natural Flax Roll-Ups from Damascus Bakeries ( and they are INCREDIBLE. So light and delicious, packed with fiber (6g) and protein (7g), and each roll-up comes perforated in half so that you can create smaller snack wraps without wasting extra bread unnecessarily. So there’s my plug for the day; go out and buy some!

As for the hummus, I also used the Whole Foods in-store made Original Hummus BUT my goal is to actually make my own. Which I’m really excited about! It’s an easy thing to make and it keeps me close to that goal of staying as natural as possible. Lots of experimentation to look forward to!!

Ok, enough of the jabber. Let’s get to the FOOD!! So here was my dinner by the end. TADAAA!!


What do you think? Not too bad?

It wasn’t bad at all! Aside from stopping every 5 minutes to take a picture, this meal took less that 40 minutes to prepare, and that’s mainly because of the prep and vegetable grilling time. It tasted great and I was SO full! Plus, I made enough that I was able to take some for lunch the next day. That’s one lunch that I didn’t eat a PB&J- SUCCESS!!!

I’m not equipped here to calculate nutritional facts like calories, carbs, and total fat for the meal. But that’s sort of my whole point. I want to cook these meals, be mindful of all the ingredients I’m using, maybe share my kitchen experiments on my blog, and enjoy myself. You have to be smart about it. And more importantly for me, it has to be flexible and natural. Look at how much I changed from the recipe. I get inspired by what I see at the market and go from there. Cooking has always been a bit of a stress-relief for me, It’s a way for my mind to shut off. It won’t do that if I’m constantly fussing over a calorie count.

This was SO much fun!! Hope you guys enjoyed my little picture story here. I’d love to hear your thoughts, tips and suggestions for eating healthy! What are your weeknight meals? What are your nutrition goals? Please share. 🙂

Oh and don’t worry; I didn’t forget dessert. Bought for a whopping 50 cents from a fruit vendor outside of work, I got some more fiber in and a great end to my meal. Until next time, ciao guys!


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