I am a regular reader of The Root, and being the domestic bella that I am, I particularly enjoyed Veronica Chambers column, The Nest. I’m a little heartbroken that she’s ending it today. (But she just started an ADORABLE children’s clothing line! Good for you, Veronica!)
Anyhoo, she did a post in June that got me to thinking — what’s MY easy go-to meal? Hers is a Rachael Ray recipe, steak on pitas with feta cheese and yogurt sauce, which I made for a little dinner get-together the other week. It went over like gangbusters — everyone loved, loved, loved it. But as much as I enjoyed the meal, it wasn’t MY go-to dinner.
I’m always on the hunt for a new spin on my faves, but I do have two main go-to very versatile dinner staples in regular rotation — dinner salads and lettuce wraps. Super healthy and super easy. I made these last week.
These are filled with lean ground beef, but of course you could use ground turkey, chicken, lamb, Boca burger or any veggie substitute… or just beans. Whatever’s your fancy. I spiced up my filling with Cholula Mexican Seasoning and Maggi Seasoning Sauce (which reminds me of home cooking). I prefer butter lettuce leaves for my wraps (although iceberg is also great), and I don’t buy the expensive fancypants hydroponic kind either — I’ve found that good ol’ store brand lettuce tends to have the big, sturdy leaves a lettuce wrap requires, if you don’t want it to completely fall apart while you’re eating it. Is it the hormones and pesticides? Perhaps. Any advice from my in-the-know healthy bellas and fellas would be appreciated in this department.
These are basically lettuce tacos — topped with black beans, salsa, and 4-blend Mexican cheese. Yummy, crunchy, healthy, and oh so easy. A one-pot dish you can make with minimal effort. And lettuce wraps are incredibly versatile — there are some GREAT suggestions at What’s Cooking America for Asian-influenced or Tex-Mex style lettuce wraps.
Dinner salads are on the come up at my casa these days — I am really trying my best to stick to my New Year’s resolutions with regards to eating healthier. I’ve been avoiding fast food and dessert (except for special occasions), and trying to put a fresh new spin on dinner. I still do frequent stir fry dinners, but I serve it on a bed of greens, instead of rice. Tuesday night’s Asian chicken dinner salad was out of this world — unfortunately I lacked the foresight to take a photo. But I’ll tell you my recipe. It all begins with chicken thighs.
I’m a dark meat kinda gal, always have been. So I baked chicken thighs with a yummy teriyaki glaze, and when they were done, shredded the meat for the salad.
I used Dole Spring Mix, added steamed shelled edamame (they sell them frozen at Whole Foods), Mandarin orange wedges (which are super yummy and also good for you, Sunsweet cherries (OMG I love them), and oven roasted Almond Accents in lieu of croutons, tossed it all with Island Grove Oriental Sweet Heat dressing. Incredible.
The New York Times health blog featured a list of The 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating — some are easier to love than others, but I’m slowly trying to enjoy them all. Cinnamon and pomegranate juice are no brainers. Cabbage is a popular Caribbean veggie so I am no stranger to the squeaky crunch… it takes me back to being little when my dad would make corned beef and cabbage sometimes on weekends (my island people know about that. And question — are corned beef and sardines the only kind of foods that come in a can with a frickin’ key on it? That is kind of weird, no?)
Speaking of sardines, they’re also on the NY Times list, big time — “Dr. Bowden calls them â€œhealth food in a can.’â€™ They are high in omega-3â€™s, contain virtually no mercury and are loaded with calcium. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese as well as a full complement of B vitamins.” Well how-de-do — I have never been a sardine lover. Until very, very recently, when I ordered a Caesar salad from a restaurant that kept it authentic like that. I was dismayed at first, but then I was surprised at how much I enjoyed their particular salty tang. Funny how that works — all of a sudden I’m learning to love the foods I shunned as a kid. Sardines + Caesar salad FTW, so there’s another go-to-dinner fave right there. I frequently make a seafood Ceasar topped with grilled shrimp or Parmesan tilapia, and a few sardines will add to the flavor quite nicely, and up the health factor.
My next recipe mission will be to incorporate as many as possible of these 11 best foods into a dream dinner salad — I heart beets, but the hubby does NOT. They’re so sweet and yummy….mmm, beets in a salad with goat cheese and carmelized pecans? Forget about it. But he has bad associated memories of slimy and gross beets in a can. But real, fresh beets are absolutely awesome, and according to the NYT, “a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters.” Raw is better, but here’s hoping that this roasted beet and Mandarin orange salad makes my reluctant hubby discover a new favorite veggie of his own.
Do you have a go to dinner favorite? Tell me — I’m always down to try something new in the kitchen!