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
Uncategorized

I Love the Nineties

Measuring one’s health, much like measuring the size of Donald Trump’s hands, is very much up to interpretation.

Really: what is it that makes someone “healthy” anyways? Is it their weight? Their BMI? Their pant size? Is it the number of miles they can run (26.2, baby) or the number of push-ups they can complete (no comment)?

From “carbs consumed a day” to “gluten consumed an era,” people measure health in all sorts of different ways, and those yardsticks continue to evolve each time we learn something new about science. Seriously: can you imagine telling your 1998 self she’d be trading in her Olestra-laden potato chips for full-fat coconut milk in 2016? (Or telling her about the 2016 election cycle, for that matter? She’d have thought you crazy on both accounts.)

There’s at least one measurement of health, however, that hasn’t been proven obsolete by some new report or study. The most surefire measure of whether someone’s healthy: can they live to 90?

Well, I know someone who has: my grandmother Marie. (Also, the queen.)

And in case you’d like to live to 90, too, I’ve got her tips for healthy living right here. Step on up, folks, and see the future.

I sat down with my grandmother earlier this month ahead of her epic birthday bash that, no joke, had more guests than my wedding will, and asked her what’s her secret to nine decades and counting on this fine earth.

Gin,” she told me over the breakfast table on her backporch, before laughing and redacting her statement. “Don’t write that! Ok fine, you can write that. Everyone will think it anyways.”

And you wonder why I love this woman.

But it’s not just her 5 p.m. cocktail that keeps my grandmother spritely and sharp. Although she said she has no special regimen that explains her continued health, I still quizzed my favorite nonagenarian on her habits and have compiled a useful list for all of your personal betterment. Enjoy:

  • “Always eat breakfast.” During this specific conversation, my grandmother was having yogurt, orange juice, decaf coffee and sliced bananas in milk, and she says that’s a pretty typical morning meal for her. Even if something else is on the menu, she always works in fruit — a practice we could all pick-up.
  • “Sit down for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” In our modern world, it’s easy to inhale fast meals standing over the kitchen sink or straight out of the refrigerator, but sitting down makes the process slower and more deliberate. My grandmother doesn’t just sit; she also always uses a placemat. Classing it up at mealtime can never be a bad thing.
  • “Have an activity every day.” At 90, you may not be running ’round town or uni-cycling down the street, but my grandmother still has something on her to-do list every single day. Maybe it’s cleaning the windows, maybe it’s lunch at her favorite restaurant, maybe it’s bridge with friends. Having something to look forward to (or maybe not, if we’re talking window cleaning…) is a great motivator that keeps us from staying in our pajamas every day — a great temptation for yours truly some mornings.
  • “Surround yourself by super amazing grandchildren.” Ok, ok, so my grandmother didn’t actually say this one, but I’d like to believe having 14 grandchildren (plus kids, spouses, great grandkids, and granddogs) helps keep her extra busy. Selfies don’t hurt, either. 

So here’s to a happy birthday (month) to my lovely grandmother. May we all learn from her healthy habits, but may we also remember it’s not worth being healthy if you can’t celebrate from time to time with a splash of gin. 

Categories
Food

Milk and Cereal

They say the most important meal of the day is breakfast.

I say the most important meal of the day is my office’s 3 p.m. champagne ration, but sure, breakfast is a close second.

(Just kidding. This is from that day we won a Pulitzer. Usually champagne’s at 4.)

I’ve been an advocate of breakfast for as long as I can remember, though it’s taken different forms with each passing decade. As a kid, breakfast meant the five of us squeezed around the kitchen table over Cap’n Crunch and the comics. As a college student, breakfast meant strawberry yogurt, Cracklin’ Oat Bran and the immediate dissipation of hangovers because 21-year-old bodies are resilient like that. When I moved to New York, breakfast meant bacon, egg & cheese sandwiches; homefries; bagels and – surprise surprise – what I like to refer to as the Manhattan 15.

Or the Manhattan 45. Semantics.

It was really only in January 2011 when I started to wise up to my unhealthy ways that I began to give some serious thought to my breakfast composition. I mean, I knew from body-conscious DJ Tanner I was supposed to eat breakfast every day, but I had never really stopped to think about whether a bowl of Fruit Loops was actually cutting it. As I began to learn more about energy, calories and the importance of nutrition, I swapped my kids cereals for what I was sure were more sensible varieties. You know, the brands with important things like fiber and fruits and whole grains and riboflavin. Mmm. Riboflavin.

I ate Special-K. I ate Kashi. I ate Bare Naked granola. I felt like a grown-up!

And then this winter, I decided to look at the nutrition label on my beloved granola.

granola

Adding a box of raisins and a cup of almond milk, and it brought me to a whopping 40 grams of sugar — or 74 percent of my daily intake — before 7 a.m. Eating granola every morning, I felt like a grown-up all right. One about to be diagnosed with diabetes.

With that realization, I decided this year to revamp my breakfast routine. After decades of carb-laden morning meals, I pledged at the ripe age of 29 to find creative ways to work more fruits, vegetables, legumes and protein into my a.m. routine., and I’ve (mostly) so far stuck with it. Don’t get me wrong: It’s not always easy to forgo free cereal at work, and I have been known to backslide into the delicious world of Basic 4 when the mood strikes. But planning ahead and packing my own nutrition-dense breakfast brings so many positives — from feeling fuller all morning long to giving my sore muscles the protein they need to recover — that I’ve mostly been able to justify the added prep work and planning it takes.

I’ve tried several morning combinations with a healthy make-up of protein, carbs and fat, and these are some of my favorites:

  • Half an avocado on whole wheat toast with two hard boiled eggs for 19 grams of protein and just 6 grams of sugar.

    photo 1 (71)
    Paas Easter egg dye optional.
  • A smoothie with peanut butter, banana, cashew milk and baby spinach for 7 grams of fiber, 10 grams of protein and two servings of fruits/veggies before sun-up.
photo 2 (65)
Why cashew milk? Because the full-page ads in Runner’s World clearly worked for me.
  • Chia seed pudding (chia soaked in dark chocolate soy milk) with a sliced pear for 18 grams fiber, 13 grams protein and one delightful day of finding chia seeds hidden in your teeth for hours on end. I ate it before I remembered to take a picture, so here’s a photo of a wheaten terrier — not Keira — I dogsat last weekend instead. You’re welcome.
She prefers dining on duck.
She prefers dining on duck.

Are there still going to be days I choose the buttered bagel or bowl of French Toast Crunch over the healthier options? Absolutely. But if I can swap out my sugar-filled breakfasts for something more wholesome at least three days a week, I know I’m making strides toward health.

And that’s worth toasting with a bloody mary.

What’s your breakfast routine?