Healthy habits

Content note: diet & exercise.

Today I finally started the morning with 30 min. walking on treadmill (at 2.0 speed) while doing recipe posting (instead of sitting on couch). I’ve been meaning to get back to that for weeks, and somehow every morning I just didn’t. But today I did.

And I’m now making a batch of sherried mushrooms with Swiss for an omelette this morning + egg bites for the rest of the work week. Going to grill some shrimp later today, to toss into caesar salads, etc.

I’ve been so harried for months that all my healthy habits fell by the wayside, but am determined to get them back, esp. as clothes are getting a bit tight. Bah.

Also, this is yummier than grabbing random carbs just because they’re easy and fast, and I feel physically better if I start the day with walking — more energy throughout the day, sleep better.

Just need to slow everything down a little bit overall. Breathe.

Our Valentine’s weekend brunch, courtesy Kavya

Our Valentine’s weekend brunch, courtesy Kavya.

(How much mess was generated in this process? So much. Did we make her clean it up? Not this time — we’re mostly working on her being confident in the kitchen right now; we’ll get to ‘clean as you go’ when she’s a little steadier on the actual cooking part. Our Valentine’s present to her was silently cleaning it all up later in the day…  )

Chai-Spiced Banana Bread Recipe

Chai-Spiced Banana Bread
(serves 12, 45-75 minutes)

(for gluten-free option, use Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free 1 to 1 baking flour; used for snowflake-shaped breads below)

We are perpetually throwing overripe bananas in the freezer around here, and when they start squeezing out the other items, we know it’s time to spend a Saturday morning baking banana bread. This is based on a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. Adding in the spices we’d use for chai, along with dried fruit / ginger, makes for a festive and hearty holiday loaf. Makes 1 loaf, or several mini loaves (nice for gifting).

2 c. flour
3/4 t. baking soda
3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
1/4 c. plain yogurt
2 eggs, beaten lightly
3/4 c. sugar
6 T butter, melted and cooled
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. cloves
1/4 t. cardamom
1/4 t. black pepper

Optional add-ins (1 c. total): dried cherries, dried cranberries, crystallized ginger, chocolate chips, chopped cashews…

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour pan(s).

2. Mix flour and baking soda in a large bowl; set aside.

3. Combine remaining ingredients (except for optional add-ins) in medium bowl with a wooden spoon.

4. Fold banana mixture into flour mixture with a spatula until just combined. If adding in dried fruit, ginger, chocolate chips or nuts, fold in now.

5. Scrape batter into prepared pan(s) until loaf is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hr for a loaf, 25-35 minutes for mini loaves.

6. Serve hot, slathered with salted butter.

Sri Lankan-Style Green Chili & Onion Egg Bites

Sri Lankan-style egg bites, done in the sous vide — delicious. it was very satisfying finding a way to make my favorite egg breakfast in egg bite form.  The sweetness of the onion, the flavorful heat of the green chilies, all wrapped in unctuous egg and creamy cheese — perfection!

10 minutes active cooking time, serves 7.

1 T ghee or butter
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1-2 green chilies, chopped fine
8 eggs
3 oz. cream cheese
1 t. salt
1 t black pepper
extra equipment: 7 4 oz. / 125 ml canning jars with 2-part screw on lids

1. Fill sous vide cooker with water and set to 172 F.

2. Sauté onion and green chili in ghee until golden.

3. In a blender, combine eggs, cream cheese, salt, and pepper until smooth.

4. Distribute onion-chili mixture evenly among seven canning jars, and follow with evenly distributed egg mixture.

5. Attach lids and close to fingertip tightness — do not over-tighten.

6. Once closed, submerge jars in water bath and set timer for 1 hr.

Serve warm — I eat them straight from the jar, generally, but you can also slide a butter knife around the jar, invert onto a plate, and broil or sear with a torch for color if you’d like a fancier presentation. They reheat easily in the microwave (no lid!) for about a minute on low heat. Enjoy!

Pongee

Happy Pongal! Pongal is a four-day-long harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka (this year it’s Tues Jan 15 – Fri Jan 18) — when crops like rice are harvested. Yes, it’s a little goofy celebrating it in Chicago in midwinter, but any excuse to celebrate, right?

I haven’t made pongal (rice & lentil porridge) before, but I think it came out pretty well. A quick, simple, one-pot dish, packed with protein, that would be even better accompanied by a nice curry –– eggplant, perhaps? Coconut chutney and sambar are traditional accompaniments.

Pongal
20 minutes, serves 4

1 c. rice
1 c. moong dal
4 c. water
1/2 t. salt

2 T butter or ghee
1/2 c. cashews
1/2 c. sultanas
1 t. cumin seeds
8-12 fresh curry leaves
1-2 green chilies, chopped, optional

1. Add rice, dal, water, and salt to a pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and let simmer 15-20 minutes, until cooked.

2. While rice is cooking, heat butter or ghee, sauté cashews, stirring, until golden. Add cumin seeds, sultanas, curry leaves, and green chili if using, stirring for a few more minutes. Mix into cooked rice & lentils and serve hot.

Other standard ingredients: chopped ginger, pinch of asafoetida, turmeric, black peppercorns (whole or crushed).

 

Egg Bites with Red Pepper and Leek

I love having a quick, warm (30 seconds in the microwave) eggy breakfast on a busy weekday morning!

 

 
Not writing out the recipe because it’s not perfect yet. The sautéed leeks are tasty, but the texture is a little too much for something this light; I won’t be using them next time. The fresh bell pepper is good, but I want a little more cheese. Got a brûlée torch, which I’ve been wanting for awhile, and it does help make for a pretty presentation, though I admit, most mornings, I just eat them straight out of the little jars with a spoon. Will likely make another batch this weekend, so perhaps a proper recipe next week.

 

Bell Pepper and Goat Cheese Egg Bites

I can’t take credit for this recipe — I pretty much followed the instructions on the Anovo website for egg bites, using leeks instead of scallions, because I happened to have them on hand. But I’ll say that it was yum.

Very delicate, roasting the peppers — honestly, I think I’d be fine with using raw peppers in this, for more of a fresh bite. And I’d probably use a little more cheese, a bit more black pepper, for some more oomph. But the general concept, good.

Nice to take fifteen minutes on the weekend to prep, one hour in the sous vide, and then have six warm eggy breakfasts for the week to come, that you can just grab and eat with a spoon, or decant (maybe over some fresh spring greens, lightly dressed) for a slightly fancier presentation.

In general, I’m trying to do more weekend prep to make healthy meals easy during the week. Egg bites, white wine-poached chicken, grilled shrimp, etc. It’s a bit of a process, adapting, but I think it’ll make my life easier during the semester.

    

Pistachio & Rosewater Mini Scones

Delicate and fragrant, with a little nutty goodness to add to your morning or teatime. (If you don’t have a mini scone pan, you can cut and shape these by hand, and bake on a regular baking sheet, placing them quite close together.  If you pop them in the freezer for 30 minute before baking, they’ll hold shape better.)
 
2 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup cold butter
1/2 c. chopped pistachios
1/2 c. dried edible rose petals
2 large eggs
1 T rosewater
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 t. lime zest
1/2 cup milk
 
Glaze:
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
6 T water
1 T lime juice (or substitute water for a plain sugar glaze)
 
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Spray mini scone pan with Baker’s Joy (or butter and flour pan, which will be kind of a pain).
 
2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Chop butter in small pieces and cut into flour with a pastry cutter (or with your fingers) until mixture resembles coarse meal. (It’s fine to have small lumps.) Stir in pistachios and rose petals.
 
 
3. In a medium bowl, combine remaining 5 scone ingredients, beating eggs lightly. Pour into dry mixture and stir with a fork until a soft dough forms.
 
4. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead a few times. Cut into 16 equal pieces and press into the cavities of the pan.
 
5. Bake 20-25 or until medium brown. Let cool 20 minutes in pan, then remove from pan to wire rack and cool completely. Serve warm, with coffee or tea.
 
6. Optional: Glaze. In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, water, and lime juice. Line a baking sheet (with sides) with parchment. Pour glaze in, then dip scones in glaze. Remove to wire rack to dry. Alternately, drizzle glaze over the top.

Broccoli-Cheddar Sous Vide Egg Bites

Another sous vide egg bite experiment, pretty good. This was mostly using up farm share stuff in the fridge — garlic scapes, zucchini, broccoli, plus eggs and cheddar. Could’ve used a little more zing, maybe more black pepper, though Kat recommended just eating it with hot sauce. Maybe a little cream cheese too, so it sets a little fluffier.
 
But good, will likely make again, next time in 4 oz., straight-sided canning jars so that I can un-mold them easily and have it pre-portioned to an amount I’m likely to want to eat. Thought eating it with a spoon wasn’t hard, and you could just stick it back in the fridge for a day without any negative consequences, I think.