A Day on My Plate, 4-9-14

I thought it might be helpful to show you the types of meals I eat on a given day, and how I try to work real, nourishing food into my crazy schedule while accommodating all of my family’s differing dietary needs. I certainly won’t be doing this every day, but it may become an occasional series on the blog. This post describes my meals yesterday.

I eat breakfast on weekdays after Nolan heads out on the school bus. I always offer to make breakfast for Jeremy too, but lately he has been preferring to fend for himself with a protein bar or Greek yogurt. One of my personal food goals is to emphasize savory breakfasts that are high in protein and fat, and preferably incorporate a serving or two of vegetables. This isn’t always easy, because I love sweets and pastries, and sometimes the usual basted eggs or hashes start getting old. When that happens, I turn to ethnic egg inspirations like migasTurkish eggsFrench bistro salads (!), or the huevos rancheros I mentioned the other day.

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Yesterday’s breakfast had a Mediterranean spin that also happened to take advantage of leftovers. There was leftover polenta from a previous night’s shrimp dish, as well as a small amount of tomato-leek sauce from a meal of meatballs and spaghetti squash. I fried up two slices of polenta in the cast iron skillet (still freshly lubricated with bacon grease from cooking Nolan’s breakfast) and piled up another skillet with baby greens (a mix of organic spinach, kale, and chard that I get from Costco), cooking them down quickly in butter and a few tablespoons of tomato-leek sauce. I scrambled up some eggs (adding in the extra white so as not to waste it), and piled everything up with a dollop of very soft fresh chevre and a drizzle of olive oil.

The baby’s breakfast was gently cooked, julienned egg yolk “noodles” (a great finger food for older babies, incidentally) with a few tablespoons of chevre, a small taste of my polenta, and some banana. While he was eating, I started seasoning my new granite molcajete from Costco by grinding some white rice into flour.

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That particular breakfast was very filling, and a good thing too, because Theo ended up needing to nurse right around the time I was trying to put lunch together. Lunch foods are always really hard for me, which makes leftovers optimal, so I have been trying hard to plan ahead and make extra food at dinner time. I am fussy about reheating food, however, especially meat–so for me, the best option is really just to have extra cooked meal components like vegetables on hand, and put together something new using those prepared elements. Hashes and scrambles are good either for breakfast or lunch; sometimes I make quick soups in the blender with leftover cooked veggies; and fried rice is a nice change sometimes also.

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For this lunch, I stuck with the Mediterranean theme and made a variant of salade Nicoise. The potatoes were boiled from dinner the previous night (I specifically set some aside before mashing the rest to go with roasted chicken), and there were also leftover roasted green beans with chevre. I had just enough time to whisk up a red wine vinaigrette with Dijon and finely chopped Kalamata olives and toss that with the vegetables to marinate before Theo had his meltdown and needed to nurse. Once Jeremy came home for lunch and was able to distract the baby for a few minutes, I added some chunks of tuna packed in garlic olive oil, and there was lunch.

For dinners, I like to put in more effort and make some really thoughtful food, but very frequently I end up running short on time because Jeremy is generally not home until close to 6pm, and taking care of the kids keep me distracted. As much as I would prefer to eat earlier in the evening for purposes of digestion, we usually don’t sit down to dinner much before 7pm.

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The kids actually gave me a chance to get a jump on dinner last night, studding a grassfed rump roast with garlic slivers and popping it in the oven. Unfortunately, the reason Theo was so cooperative turned out to be that he had discovered the joys of the toilet paper dispenser; and the reason that Nolan was so cooperative was because he had taken off all of his clothes, climbed into Theo’s old co-sleeper, and had a big messy bowel movement (you can use your imagination on that one… I was not about to provide photographic documentation!).

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Once all the messes were cleaned up and the kids were occupied with bouncy seats and Sesame Street respectively, I was able to finish off cooking. Onions and red wine went in the cast iron skillet around the roast while it finished cooking. I mixed up batter for an easy paleo version of Yorkshire pudding, ready to pour in a preheated, lard-greased muffin tin as soon as the meat came out. Finally, I quartered some big Brussels sprouts, browned them in a stainless skillet with plenty of butter, and  braised them in a cup of fresh stock (still hot in the clay cooker from the bones of the previous night’s roasted chicken).

Simple flavors, but delicious. Jeremy raved over the Brussels sprouts and went back for more Yorkshire pudding (the leftovers of which will also make delicious breakfast “bread” tomorrow with some jam and butter). Theo gobbled down the braised onions along with his other foods (stewed apricots, full fat cultured cottage cheese, and tobiko, if I’m remembering correctly). Nolan had some leftover chicken, as well as drippings from the beef on noodles after rejecting the Yorkshire pudding. And now we will have leftover roast beef and onions for the next several days of lunch options.

Primal Popovers (aka: Yorkshire Puddings)

These may not have the dramatic puff of traditional popovers, but the light eggy texture and crisp crust are just right. I left them unseasoned except for salt so that we could have them savory with dinner and sweet with breakfast, but feel free to add herbs or cheese; I might test out a variant of this batter for Dutch babies with fruit some weekend also!

3 eggs
1 C full-fat coconut milk or heavy cream
1 C almond flour
2 T arrowroot flour
1/2 tsp salt
6 T lard

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Put about half a tablespoon of lard (or another saturated fat (bacon grease, roast drippings, duck fat, coconut oil, etc) in each well of a 12-muffin tin, and put in the oven while it is heating.

In a medium sized mixing bowl (I use a 4 C measuring bowl with a spout), whisk together the eggs and coconut milk. Add the almond flour, arrowroot, and salt, and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.Pull the hot muffin tin carefully from the oven and fill each cup 3/4 of the way full with batter. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Allow puddings to cool, and then remove from the pan; they may be difficult to remove while hot.

Source: Slightly adapted from Primal Palate.

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