Over the last few years, I’ve discovered that I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. As a result, the list of kitchen casualties I’ve racked up is getting pretty long. I’ve melted a colander and the handle of a knife – two separate incidents; I’ve dumped a tray of perfectly crispy-coated chicken all over the open oven door; I’ve curdled cream sauces with too much garlic; I’ve made flat bread on accident (my version was not delicious) and once, because of a shared adoration of all things spicy, almost had to clear out our apartment while making Tabasco-flavored popcorn because I made tear gas instead.
Perhaps becoming slightly concerned for our safety, a couple of Christmases ago my parents bought us subscriptions to Bon Appetite and Clean Eating. One is gourmet and regularly asks me to buy ingredients at specialty stores that cost their weight in gold – actual vanilla beans, anyone? To be fair, you can get them at Trader Joe’s for $3.99, which isn’t bad at all, but I couldn’t come up with another specialty ingredient off the top of my head. While the other asks me to buy pounds of kale, rice flour and spirulina. Yes, I recognize that those are still odd ingredients to most people out there, but easier to get a hold of and less expensive. Somehow, I’ve struck a balance between my adoration of cheese and fresh baked bread versus delicious kale chips and hiding more vegetables in my food.
Unsurprisingly, the healthy meals make us feel better than the four hour Bourbon Pumpkin Pie Brule I made for Thanksgiving or the maple goat-cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped Medjool dates I made when my sister graduated from law school. Every now and then, that kind of food is fine. But when I’m eating it on a regular basis, I feel gross inside and out. Sure, it’s harder to cook something that’s tasty and healthy, but it’s worth it. And, if you’ve found the right recipe, it can actually be easy with no need to evacuate your living quarters. Hurrah!
Clean Eating recipes are tasty, fairly quick and way better for us than our go-to pasta dinners. For the most part, the magazine takes traditional meals – be it mac and cheese, noodle bowls, creamy winter soups or even deserts – and “clean up” the ingredients list simultaneously making it better for us while still tasting like the salty, bacon-infused potato soup I’m used to. To top it off, they also include five budget-friendly, weeknight meals that are fast and healthy. We use and adapt recipes from there a lot and save Bon Appetite for weekends or special occasions when we’re fine splurging on a pound of hand-made, organically grown, Italian-imported spinach fettuccini from Pike Place.
Yesterday’s dinner is a prime example. It was one of the first truly beautiful, blue-sky spring days here in Seattle and when Josh got home from work, we went on a bike ride down to Alki and then pedaled back up a ginormous hill. I wish I had a picture, but suffice to say, the grade varies between six and eight percent for just about the whole two miles you’re riding back and, stubborn as I am, I refused to stop despite not breathing for about a mile and a half. Once we fought down the craving for nachos and my legs quit shaking, we made a vinaigrette from a Clean Eating recipe* and had it with romaine and red pepper salad, sliced baked red potatoes, and grilled portabella burgers using our amazing panini press from Josh’s Dad. It’s one of very few special cooking appliances that we take out on a regular basis (thanks, John!!).
With these easy, health recipes at our fingertips, cooking has gone from a chore that one of us has to take care of to something we enjoy doing together – as long as I’m not too bossy and an economic idea doesn’t distract Josh. We rinse, chop and cook while listening to a podcast and end up with a delicious dinner in the same amount of time it would take to have nachos delivered to us at The Matador. In more ways than one, eating healthier makes us happier and, in my book, that’s worth annihilating a couple pieces of cookware.
*I would link to the recipe, but it looks like Clean Eating is having website issues.