Healthy meal ideas

Happy new year! Like almost everyone else, my new years resolutions usually involve plans to eat healthier. One year I actually did it! My idea of healthy eating doesn’t involve “low fat’ or “low carb” or anything else “low”. It consists of natural, fresh, minimally processed REAL food. Like Michael Pollan says ” eat food, not too much, mostly plants”.  In the past I’ve talked about how I do this on a reasonable budget.

So, here are lots of ideas. Not only are these basically healthy ideas, but they’re also mostly really easy and quick.

Warm potato and arugula salad, Whole Foods roasted lima beans, caprese salad, chicken salad with grapes (roast chicken, mayo, plain yogurt, sliced grapes):

Healthy meal.

Healthy meal.

I make roast chicken a couple times a month. One chicken will last 3 or 4 days and can be used in many different ways. This is a “bowl” with the roast chicken, some steamed broccoli, and warm pasta salad with tomatoes, feta chunks, basil, and olive oil.

Chicken pasta bowl

Chicken pasta bowl

Nothing is easier to make than eggs. Here’s a fried egg, some oven roasted potatoes, and a nice big green salad with veggies.

Eggs and salad

Eggs and salad

Fried eggs again. This time with a composed salad of greens, orange bell peppers, feta, and grape tomatoes. I also made some tzatziki, some hummus and some whole whole wheat pita.

Eggs again!

Eggs again!

Chicken posole and a green salad with lots of veggies. For dressing I usually just use olive oil and vinegar.

A big green salad and some chicken posole

A big green salad and some chicken posole

The best and easiest black bean soup, green salad with leftover roast chicken.

Black bean soup and grilled chicken salad

Black bean soup and grilled chicken salad

I really like one bowl meals. One of the healthiest things you can eat is mixed veggies. This is onions, broccoli, orange bell peppers, and corn sauteed in some olive oil. I probably either servied this in a bowl of rice and black beans or in a taco.

Veggie bowl

Veggie bowl

I hope these ideas help you in your quest to eat healthier. Let me know what you eat when you want to be healthier!

Merry Christmas, have you eaten enough?

Just one more week left in the holiday season. I bet you’re stuffed! But you still gotta eat. Soup is the perfect food for the week between Christmas and New Years. It’s easy (sick of cooking yet?), it’s light (maybe you’ll be able to button your jeans), and it’s simple (after all the excess of the holidays). This soup is crazy good given how easy it is to make, the fact that there are only 4 ingredients, and takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish. I got the recipe from Real Simple Magazine ages ago and make it all the time.  It goes great with the cornbread I posted about last week. Everyone I’ve ever made it for requests it again and again.

Simple Black Bean Soup

Simple Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup

4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of your favorite salsa
  • 2 cans of black beans
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • Sour cream or plain yogurt (optional for topping)

Directions

  1. Heat the salsa in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 or 6 minutes. You want to release the aroma and take a little of the raw edge off it.
  2. Stir in the beans and broth, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes- you can simmer longer if you’re busy doing something else, just keep an eye on it.
  3. Using an immersion blender blend it to make it a creamy soup. You can blend it as much or as little as you want- just get it to the consistency you like.
  4. Serve with a dollop of the sour cream or yogurt and some salsa.

So much amazing food in Chicago

Some of you might have noticed that we like to eat. For a lot of people, eating is something they do to stay alive. They call it a necessity.

But for us, eating is a hobby.

Lucky for us, Chicago has a few places to indulge us. We’ve been pretty busy, and we’ll talk about some more of these in greater detail later, but for now, here’s a list of some of this city’s amazing food offerings we’ve enjoyed:

  • Uncle Sammy’s: Our first night in Chicago, we were having a horrible time finding a place to park a UHaul truck. At about midnight, we finally found a place and were walking home when we stumbled onto this gem. The Pilgrim is a very fine sandwich.
  • Kitchen Sink: Good, simple sandwiches.
  • Floriole: Adrienne loved it. I thought it was only OK. Quiche, apparently, is to die for.
  • Pasta Bowl: Delicious and affordable pasta.
  • Tzatziki Grill: Excellent Greek place that also has a pretty solid Italian Beef sandwich.
  • Margie’s Candies: It’s like time travel at Margie’s. Egg-salad sandwich and the Terrapin Sundae: Recommended.
  • Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria: Our favorite pizza in Chicago so far. Pizza in Chicago is like barbecue in other towns: Everyone has a very strong opinion. We loved Lou’s, but we’re still open to trying others.
  • Lito’s Empanadas: Delicious — and cheap. For $2.50, one of these little guys is great for a snack. Get two, and it’s lunch.
  • Del Seoul: Weird little Asian dumplings that are oddly addictive.
  • Paciugo: Gelato. Can’t go wrong with gelato.
  • Pret a Manger: This is Target’s cafe. Yes, I know. Why eat out at Target? But you see, here in Chicago, even going to Target is a dining experience.
  • Brown’s Chicken: Fried chicken place in one of the downtown pedways. Scenery wasn’t great, but loved the biscuits and mashed potatoes.
  • Bobtail Ice Cream: An almost-overwhelming amount of goodness.
  • The Edge: Cake!
  • The Grove: More time travel. Open-face turkey or meatloaf sandwich, with bottomless coffee.
  • Red Hen Bread: Tip: Get the day-old stuff for a little less money (same deliciousness, though).
  • Taco Joint: Best Mexican so far in Chicago. Lebanese Pork Taco: must have (available only on Thursdays).
  • Chicago’s Dog House: Our favorite dog place in Chicago so far. Good choices, good service, good prices.
  • Clark Street Dog:  Got caught in a storm and waited it out in here with a couple of dogs and a couple of beers. There are worse places to end up when it’s raining.
  • Red Hot Ranch: Our first hot dogs in Chicago. Our first experience with french fries on a hot dog. Interesting.
  • Big Star: Gourmet tacos. Service was only OK, but the decor was great. After Taco Joint, though, hard to compare.
  • Gibson’s Bar and Steakhouse: Best service of any of the restaurants we’ve been to. A shoutout to our server, who happens to be a Lincoln Park neighbor! Desserts are insane. And tall. You’ll need to share. Oh, and also: $$$
  • Filini: Ultra-modern, ultra-hip dining at the signature downtown building Aqua. Sotto Bosco pizza was impressive. As was the Carciofini spinach dip.
  • Rosebud: Best Italian so far in Chicago. Two must-tries: Penne Bolognese and their Cavatelli Alla Rosebud.
  • Toast: Great service. Outstanding breakfast burrito.
  • Stella’s: Delightful breakfast options.
  • The Bourgeois Pig Cafe: Carrot cake!
  • Goose Island Brewpub: We didn’t eat here, but for some great local brews, it’s worth a try.
  • Dunlays on Clark: $5 Cheeseburger special = delicious.
  • The Burwood Tap: One of the oldest continuously operating bars in Chicago. Really good free food Mondays through Thursdays (my fave was the chicken).
  • Smoque: Been having a hard time finding some barbecue out here, but this was fantastic.
  • Pizzeria Due: After a too-long wait at Malnati’s, we ended up here. Not quite as good as Lou Malnati’s, but if LMs is a 10, Pizzeria Due is a 9. Very good.
  • Portillo’s: Iconic. Worth it for the atmosphere. Still, Chicago’s Dog House wins out.
  • Potbelly Sandwich Shop: Grilled Chicken Mediterranean is a fine, fine sandwich.
  • Matisse: Did not expect deliciousness when we ordered the Reuben Potstickers. We were pleasantly surprised.
  • Do-Rite Donuts: You’ll find lots of Dunkin’ Donuts here, but few local places. These guys do donuts right.
  • Wow Bao: Quirky little place with neat little fluffy dumplings. A must-try.
  • Devil Dawgs: It’s worthwhile to try all of Chicago’s hot dogs.

So much food in this town — how do people here ever get anything done?

Sundaes, treats, floats. Plenty of tasty options at Margie's Candies.

 

If you're after treats, Bobtail is also an excellent choice.

 

What's this? A hot dog? Yes, I guess so. Underneath the french fries, anyway. Interesting technique, Red Hot Ranch.

 

The S'mores cake at The Edge. Cake did not last long.

 

The best Chicago hot dogs, in our opinion. Chicago's Dog House.

 

A very full meal at Smoque BBQ: Chicken, mac & cheese, baked beans, and cole slaw.

 

Carrot Cake! At the Bourgeois Pig.

 

We don't only take pictures of food. We are also capital-A Artists. Or, maybe this is the view after we'd eaten too much and had to lay on the floor. Hard to say.

 

 

Oinkety fave: Montague’s Parlour Colorado Springs

Montague’s Parlour at 1019 South Tejon Street deserves its own post because it is so charming and has the best cake in the city, maybe even in the state. Plus they have really good hours and stay open late most days.

The decor is full-on granny old lady tea parlour, which I didn’t like at first, but it eventually grew on me. Think mismatched antique tables and chairs and vintage china.

Linda, Tori, and Mike at Montague's Parlour

Linda, Tori, and Mike at Montague's Parlour

They serve lots of different soups, salads, sandwiches and daily quiches. They have a decent vegetarian selection and breakfast on the weekends.

Cream of Broccoli soup at Montague's Parlour

Cream of Broccoli soup at Montague's Parlour

Pot pie and chili from Montegue's Parlour

Pot pie and chili from Montague's Parlour

Delicious turkey on croissant at Montague's Parlour

Delicious turkey on croissant at Montague's Parlour

These are the best cakes in the state!

These are the best cakes in the state!

The most fabulous coconut cake- you have to try this cake

The most fabulous coconut cake — you have to try this cake. This particular cake is the best cake on earth.

They also have breakfast pastries like croissants, scones, danish, etc.

They also have breakfast pastries like croissants, scones, danishes, etc.

Lots of different drinks, too. This is an Italian cream soda.

Lots of different drinks, too. This is an Italian cream soda.

Many many different kinds of tea, both hot and iced.

Many many different kinds of tea, both hot and iced.

Assorted espressos, teas, and snacks. Something for everyone at Montague's.

Assorted espressos, teas, and snacks. Something for everyone at Montague's.

If you haven’t been to Montague’s, you should go. You’ll like it.

Zucchini Soup Recipe

I thought I planted zucchini this year. But it turns out I didn’t. It was a zucchini-like plant. It was kind of hard like winter squash. I’m not sure if that’s how it’s supposed to be or if I let it get too big or what. Anyway, I wanted to do SOMETHING with it, but since it was hard it required a long time to cook. I love a silky zucchini soup, so that’s what I did. I made this up and you can do the same. If you start with onion and garlic sauteed in some olive oil, you can go from there with whatever you want to make your soup out of. If you want to use real zucchini, it will be tasty, too. If you like basil or some other herb better than cilantro, that’s fine. Soup is not that hard to make and the ingredient amounts are never the same, so you can start here and do your own thing.

Olive oil

A small onion

A couple cloves of garlic

Some zucchini

Chicken broth or water (chicken broth is better, and home made is best)

Cilantro

White beans

Pasta

Salt

Pepper

Some of the ingredients for zucchini soup

Some of the ingredients for zucchini soup

I sauteed the onion in the olive oil for 10 minutes or so. Then I added minced garlic for a couple more minutes. Then I added the chopped up squash. Cooked that all up till the squash was slightly softer. Then I added some chopped cilantro and some salt and pepper and cooked it for a minute or two more. Then I added the chicken broth- a good amount- covering the veggie mixture by a couple inches. I brought the whole thing to a boil, then down to a simmer and simmered it for an hour or so, until it all got soft and soupy. At that point it was a little too chunky for me so I pureed it slightly with a hand blender. Not too much, tho! Only a few seconds to get the really big pieces down a little! Then I added a can of white beans and a handful of spaghetti, broken in half. After 30 minutes or so the spaghetti was cooked and the soup was ready to eat. Yum!

Sauteeing the veggie mixture.

Sauteeing the veggie mixture.

There you have it, zucchini soup

There you have it, zucchini soup