The Key to My Healthy Eating…Sunday Prep
Sunday prep sets every week up for success!

Sunday prep sets every week up for success!

It's really easy to fall into the trap of "too busy" and let the simple but important things in life get left behind.  You know what I'm talking about...the gym, taking walks, reading for pleasure and most importantly for me, healthy home-cooked food. It happens to the best of us, but the Girl Scout in me knows that preparation is your best friend for these situations.  So over the years I have developed what I consider a fool-proof plan to ensure that at the very least I'm eating healthy, homemade breakfasts, lunches and dinners throughout most of my week (leaving room of course for spontaneity and fun!). I'm not going to go into the dinners...because honestly that's what my weekly menus that I post every Sunday are all about so I think you all get my strategy there.  Plan the full week of dinners in advance, do all of the grocery shopping at once and then just stick to it ensuring you plan your leftovers for the busier nights of the week. If you're new to SavoryGirl here is my original post explaining my weekly dinner menu philosophy. What I haven't shared is what I do for weekday breakfasts and lunches...it's pretty simple and many might call it boring but I figure weekends, dinners and eating out are where I get my variety so if being a bit boring during the weekdays keeps me healthy so be it!

Breakfast...my go-to  choice here is a smoothie and a hard-boiled egg.  The beauty of this plan is that I make a full batch of smoothies up and boil/peel all of my eggs on Sunday so all I have to do is grab them out of the fridge in the morning and enjoy while I'm getting ready (see - efficient with morning getting ready time too!).  My smoothies are pretty straightforward...for 5 smoothies I puree 2-3 bananas, a mix of 2-3 frozen fruits (blueberries, pineapples, peaches, mangos, whatever you prefer), about a cup of OJ, another 1-2 cups of almond milk, a Tablespoon or so of wheat germ and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.  If you want higher protein then you can also add a couple spoonfuls of almond butter or peanut butter. Basically you want a full blender to make 5 servings...then pour them into 3 glasses (freeze the other two so they last until the end of the week) and put saran wrap on the top, making sure to push the saran wrap down to the surface of the smoothie so no air gets in and pop them in the fridge.  For the eggs I simply boil them up, peel them, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and pop them in an air-tight container in the fridge.  In the morning I just microwave my egg for about 20 seconds (I prefer them a bit warm, stir up my smoothie  (they can separate a bit in the fridge) and enjoy!  All of this prep takes 20 minutes max once you get in a routine.  Easy breezy.

Roasting Red Peppers at Home

Roasted red peppers are one of those ingredients that immediately elevate a dish to gourmet. So sweet, so smoky and so amazingly delicious. The problem is, however, that we like to eat them quite often and the store bought roasted red peppers are quite expensive and usually soaking in oil. So a few years ago we tried our hand at making them at home and haven't turned back since. If you have a gas stove they're incredibly easy to make, much healthier, less expensive, and...bonus...make your house smell incredible.

So let's get started! Place a clean red pepper directly on the flame of a gas stove set to medium-high. Using heat-proof tongs, turn pepper as each side begins to burn and blister until entire pepper is blackened and crisp. Usually about 1-2 minutes per side or about 5-7 minutes in total.  Sometimes you need to use the tongs and hold the pepper over the flame at an angle to get in the crooks if it's a bit more more misshapen.

Once the majority of the pepper is blackened, take the blackened red pepper off the flame and immediately place into  a tightly covered dish (plastic wrap will do if the dish doesn't have a proper lid) or you can simply place the pepper back into your plastic produce bag and tie it closed. This latter option is good for less clean up if you're just doing one pepper.
SG’s Favorite New Kitchen Gadgets!

I was a lucky girl during this holiday season...surrounded by family and good friends and healthy and prosperous enough to live a life that allows me to experiment with cooking and travel.  Maybe not quite full-time yet as I would like, but still, I know that I am indeed a lucky girl.  Another reason I'm lucky is because my family and friends know how much I love to cook so the gifts that I get tend to center around the kitchen.  Some women may hate getting household appliances for a present, but as long as it's for cooking and not cleaning I'm all in!

So this year, I got two items that I wanted to share.  Not because I'm promoting specific brands or getting anything at all from the manufacturers but because they honestly have made my life in the kitchen easier and more comfortable.  Both of which are extremely important!  The first was a gift from my mom and the second a gift from the fabulous hubby...
How to Cook the Perfect Steak

SavoryGirl's Perfectly Cooked T-Bone

Steak...so seemingly simple and delicious.  Yet if you're anything like me, you've had a hard time getting that home-cooked steak to even remotely resemble those over-priced beauties you get out at a restaurant.  So what gives?  Are we doomed to paying $49.99 for a good steak forever?  No!  You just need to understand a few basic steps (adapted from something I originally tried from Bon Appétit about  year ago) and I promise you that your steak will come out  perfectly.  Trust me, mine even passed the discerning Husband test!   So, first things first, unfortunately cooking a great steak takes a bit of planning, meaning it's not as easy to do on a whim.  So if you plan in advance your better off since you'll have time to do the following super important prep steps.  Trust me, time & salt are the two biggest secrets...
VIDEO: Making a Small Kitchen Work

 

The more I blog & talk about SavoryGirl the more I hear people assuming that I must have an amazing kitchen to do as much cooking and entertaining as I do.  Ha ha, I wish!  The reality is that I live in a tiny 1 bedroom apartment in San Francisco with a tiny and not very cooking friendly kitchen so I thought I would show you around my kitchen and provide some thoughts on how to make fabulously healthy & gourmet meals regardless of the kitchen you have.  Really,  if a small kitchen is set up properly it can be your best friend and you can stop cursing it's compact size...lots of famous chef's got their start in very difficult tiny kitchens after all!  The high-level points on the video are below, but it's short and sweet so click above to watch. 

No More Crying Over Chopped Onions!

I'm sick of crying like a baby every time I chop onions, aren't you?  I mean, I have tried every trick in the book.  Partially freezing the onion first, keeping the root intact, holding a piece of bread in my mouth to absorb the gas that the onion's now broken cells are emitting, etc...  And to be perfectly honest, I am an efficient and effective onion chopper so I do it pretty quickly too!  But despite my knife skills I am extremely sensitive to the gas that onions emit so I am crying like a baby within a few cuts....like mascara running down my face crying.  And that just sets me up to chop a finger off since I can't see what I'm doing despite my good knife skills!

So I say, enough is enough!  And poor Christian shouldn't have to be the designated onion chopper in our family all the time. So despite how ridiculous it makes me look, I have been chopping onions happily for the past month wearing my swimming goggles.  Ridiculous? A bit.  Effective and time-saving?  Absolutely.    
A Family that Cooks Together…

...stays together.  Isn't that the way the saying goes?  No?  Huh.  Well, that's how we feel in our house at least.  And honestly, it's one of the main ways that we are able to crank out so many delicious home-cooked meals while both being extremely busy working professionals.  So my SavoryGirl tip for today is two-fold.
First, if you haven't yet found your partner in life when you're thinking about who to settle down with make sure it is someone who has similar life goals to you.  Now this may sound obvious, but I can't tell you how many people I have watched be upset when their husband is content eating fast food for dinner but the wife wants to spend time/money/energy on home cooked meals and then ends up bitter because she feels under-appreciated (or vice versa).
Weekly Dinner Menus
My weekly menus are one of the key elements to living what I refer to as a SavoryGirl life...meaning they afford me a way to keep my passion for cooking and trying new recipes front and center in my otherwise busy life.  Over the years, I have developed a few philosophies that I try to develop my menus by...they’re not hard and fast rules just guiding principles that align with what is important to me personally and allow this system to work best for us:
  • Balance meat, fish and vegetarian meals throughout the week with a slightly heavier emphasis on the latter two
  • Seasonal menus...so for the most part you won’t see corn on the cob in the winter, for example. To be fair...I do eat bananas and pineapple all year round even though those are never in season here really
    • Keep in mind that I live in CA, so what’s in season for me (strawberries in the winter!) may not be in season for you...when that is the case I encourage you to choose frozen or canned alternatives.
  • Leftovers! I’m a huge believer in leftovers so they are regularly incorporated into the menus.
    • Remember that we’re only a family of 2, so if you also want to incorporate leftovers you may have to double or triple the original recipe
    • If you don’t love leftovers as much as we do and want to skip that, feel free to dig back in the archives to find a substitute recipe...or add a “DIY night or a recipe of your own (and please share!)
  • “DIY” Nights - on some nights there won’t be a detailed recipe to go along with the dinner and instead it will indicate “DIY” in parentheses, which means “Do It Yourself” or in other words, wing it! Experiment and create your own recipe for that dinner...these are often quick and easy dinners at my house or things that I have made a million times and can do on autopilot.
  • Eating Out - I also build in nights to eat out...because trying new restaurants is is just as important and fun to me as trying new recipes and cooking...especially when you live in a great food city like San Francisco!
    • Of course, you don’t have to eat out on the same night as I am so feel free to rearrange the menu to fit your schedule or pick an archived recipe to skip the eat out night all together.
One last word of advice...use short-cuts and your support system often! I am extremely fortunate that my husband, Christian, has a more flexible schedule than I do and is always extremely willing to help out. It wasn’t always that way, but we’ve learned and compromised over the past 10 years to foster the things that are important to us...one of which is regularly home cooked yummy meals that we can sit down and enjoy together at the end of a long day. So Christian is my best sous chef and dishwasher...find yours whether it’s a friend, roommate, spouse or kid...it’s worth it and it can help develop an interest in cooking in others while you chat it up and spend some good quality kitchen time together.