Categories
Food Recipes

The Incredible, Edible Egg Substitute

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but the older I get, the more affinity I find with Disney villains.

  • Like Scar, I have less patience for idiots.
  • Like Shan-Yu, I’ve conquered Mongolia.
  • Like Cruella, I like to be covered in dog fur.

But the bad guy whose characteristics I’ve most embodied isn’t Hook (though I also hate ticking clocks) or the Queen of Hearts (though I’m also bad at croquet) or Snow White’s evil stepmom (though I also choose my apples carefully.) The villain I most resemble these days is none other than provincial French playboy Gaston.

Why, you ask? Because I. Eat. So. Many. Eggs. (Don’t worry, I skipped the rampant misogyny part.)

If you haven’t watched Beauty and the Beast recently (cough cough fool), I’ll remind you that a line in Gaston’s big showstopper goes a little something like this:

“When I was a lad I ate four dozen eggs

Ev’ry morning to help me get large.

And now that I’m grown I eat five dozen eggs

So I’m roughly the size of a barge!”

Gaston’s 60 eggs a day IS a bit excessive, but I’m definitely eating more than that each month. While in childhood my egg consumption peaked around Easter time and Sunday morning breakfasts, my adult self has found eggs aren’t just for special occasions. At about 70 calories apiece, they’re packed with six grams of protein plus iron and nutrients, so if you don’t have cholesterol problems or follow a vegan lifestyle, they’re a great, inexpensive way to fuel up.

I eat eggs all sorts of ways — quiches, breakfast burritos, over grain bowls, mixed into cookie dough — but most of my eggs are made into veggie frittatas. No normal person has time to fry up an omelet before work, but you can cook a 10-egg frittata on Sunday night, cut it into five pieces, and heat it up at work for an easy, protein-packed breakfast on the go.

That’s what I’ve been doing every single Sunday since I finished Whole 30 more than a year ago, and it’s helped me avoid the sugar-laden cereal wall at work and start my days on a positive note. So imagine my horror when I opened the fridge last past Sunday to find the egg drawer bare.

I debated a grocery run, but with no cash in my wallet and a lonely bernese begging me to stay home, I decided to forgo my normal Sunday routine and search for something else protein-packed for my weekday breakfasts instead. I dug through my fridge drawers looking for chicken sausage or smoked salmon or anything remotely resembling an egg, but the only protein source I found was a block of extra-firm tofu.

Challenge accepted.

Although the tofu didn’t do much for Lucille, some quick googling revealed vegans have been making breakfast dishes with soybean curd for decades. Like eggs, tofu is high in protein and low in calories, making it a good base for my emergency mock frittata.

After draining it (note: something it took me years to understand was critical to proper tofu preparation), I added some soy sauce and cornstarch and spread it into a cast iron pan already full of caramelized onions, sautéed peppers and — fine — several tablespoons of bacon grease. (Hey, I said it was vegan inspired, not vegan.) Then I moved it to the oven to finish, like I would a traditional frittata.

Voila.

It may not look like much — tofu frittatas don’t look very yellow unless you add turmeric — but it tasted delicious. Sure, that was probably mostly due to the bacon grease and roasted peppers, but I’ll take whatever wins I can get.

Have you ever worked tofu into your diet in surprising ways?

Categories
Food Recipes

Carrots: Part II

No to toot my own horn, but I feel I’ve written a handful of moving and memorable blog posts these past five years. There was the August 2013 entry about embracing change. The October 2016 one on street harassment. The inaugural post in January 2012 that started it all.

But for all the thousands of words about hope and persistence and determination I’ve written on these pages, the blog post I get the most comments about — hands down — is this one on how to use up a surplus of carrots. #deepstuff

Don’t believe me? My 90-year-old grandmother (now hours from 91!) emailed the evening I published to propose a carrot, walnut and raisin slaw. I also got a blog comment praising juicing and another suggesting carrots may help regulate excess estrogen. The post even made its way into a me-themed Cards Against Humanity (er, “Hum-Anne-ity”) deck, designed by my thoughtful sister for my bachelorette party last November.

IMG_2672
(My maid of honor beats your maid of honor.)

I thought I’d said everything I had to say about orange roots in that original 2016 post. But just this week, I tried preparing carrots in a whole new way. I thought about keeping the news to myself, but who am I to deny the people what they want? So here’s another carrot recipe blog post, brought to you by everyone’s favorite vegetable.

This week, I made carrot pasta sauce. And DAMN it was delicious.

IMG_2648
And you know something so colorful has to be good for you.

I got the idea from my aunt on a recent 20-hour stopover in Rhode Island. She’s been making a tomato-free sauce this summer from a night-shade-free cookbook, and it sounded like a perfect way to use up the hundreds of thousands of pounds of CSA carrots (perhaps an exaggeration but I can’t be sure) sitting at the bottom of my fridge.

I didn’t follow a recipe, but I know enough about flavor combinations to build something delightful. First I sautéed onions in olive oil til translucent. Then I added several cups of coin-sized carrot slices. When the carrots started to soften, I threw in copious garlic, an ice-cube or two of frozen chicken broth, stems from a wilting parsley bunch, and plenty of salt and pepper to taste. I deglazed with rosé — because, you know, summer — and let everything cook through. I then moved the pot contents to a blender, added some starchy pasta water to thin it out, and blended until it was sauce consistency.

And then I tossed it with buckwheat noodles, roasted up some Italian sausage and fennel, and called it lunch. And, my god, it tasted so good. Who knew carrots were living a double life as secret pasta topping?

Kind of like Keira’s secret life as a personal-masseuse tester. It’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it.

IMG_2619
“A little to the left, please.”

How are you using carrots these days? To store your fine jewelry, perhaps?

Categories
Food Weight Loss

“Don’t Reward Yourself With Food: You Aren’t a Dog.” (Or are you?)

I could point fingers any number of directions, but I most blame my tendency to reward myself with food on Pizza Hut’s early 90s BOOK IT! reading program.

My fellow Millennials know the drill: you’d read five non-homework books a month, have an adult drive you to your local Pizza Hut franchise and collect a personal pan pizza to reward your extracurricular scholarship.

Of course, this wasn’t the only place I was rewarded for good behavior with delicious, pepperoni-topped calories. From infancy through college, I was subconsciously taught food is an appropriate payment for a job well-done, and I bet you were too:

  • Finish your dinner, get dessert
  • Visit the doctor, get a lollipop
  • Win the canned food drive, get a pizza party
  • Perform a successful Christmas concert as first-chair clarinet, go out for ice cream with your dad because first-chair clarinetists tended to have very few friends

(I’m just kidding. Even nerds have friends!)

Old habits die hard, and I find I still reach for consumables as reward well into my 30s. Made it through a tough workday? That calls for take-out. Took a hard yoga class? I deserve a bagel. Raced a 10k? Let’s get softserve.

IMG_2320
(To be fair, this was an ice-cream themed race, so they kind of forced it on it.)

Food-based rewards make sense when you’re training, say, your Bernese mountain dog to use stairs, but they aren’t the healthiest choice for someone trying to cut calories, rein in mindless eating or — mostly importantly for me — rewire an emotional attachment to food.

IMG_2272
Lu’s favorite reward: coffee, two sugars.

So this summer, I tried an experiment. I’ve been trying to break my 2 p.m. dark chocolate addiction for months years ever, but after six hours at my desk, I always feel I’ve “earned” my sugary (antioxidant-filled!) treat. So I hit up the bulk food section at my office, inhale a half cup of almondy goodness and then find myself wondering the rest of the workday whether that was really the best use of my calorie deficiency.

Looking to break the chains (#redrising) of sugar addiction, I decided to see if anything could overpower the pull of food as a reward. So I went to Runners World’s website, found a cool tank top I’d been eyeing for months, and ordered it for myself. And when it arrived in the mail, I did the unthinkable: I didn’t open it.

Instead, I told myself I could have the shirt if I went all June long without touching the almonds. And you know what? I did it! And it wasn’t even that hard. Knowing I had a reward — a non-food one — waiting for me if I pulled through, I was able to beat the craving and make it through the month. (Of course, July marked a massive backslide, but baby steps.)

A running shirt worked for me, but it might be a different non-food reward that inspires you to make a change. Maybe you promise yourself a massage after a month of marathon training, or a manicure if you eat all your veggies this week, or you buy yourself a bouquet of flowers for taking the stairs, or treat yourself to a bubble bath for a day without sugar. Find what works for you, and give it a try.

Who know? You might break a habit once and for all. And if you don’t, at least you’ll have a cool new tank!

 

IMG_2228
Running IS a natural high! Thanks, shirt!

How do you reward yourself without reaching for a New York slice?