Dinner Dilemma

It’s 6:00 PM, you’ve had a long day at work, and now you have to figure out what you will do for dinner. Then it hits you. You succumb to what is known as “hangry.”

hangry
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By now, you couldn’t care less what you eat just so long as it is takes care of your hunger. I believe this is a common scenario for all of us, and of course it is difficult to eat a balanced meal when you are overly hungry and in need of food quickly. Dinner, especially on a weeknight, is not always going to be a gourmet, five-star meal. It can, however, be incredibly enjoyable and nutritious so long as some planning and preparation ahead of time is completed.

pho
seafood pho with cilantro & scallion

Just as with packing oneself a lunch, dinner can be created by simply combining foods from the different food groups to achieve a meal that includes protein, fat, and carbohydrates for sustained energy. Many times, I cook a large pot of brown rice or other grain, roast a pan of vegetables, and bake salmon/chicken/pork tenderloin early in the week to have on hand to rotate between my lunches and dinners. In this way, you are already well-equipped to put a great meal on the table without much fuss at all. In addition, other flavors, spices, and ingredients can be added to these simply cooked foods to transform them into a new dish!

mahi mahi
sautéed mahi mahi encrusted with blackcurrant mustard, freshly roasted garlic, sea salt, pepper medley, & dill / roasted portabello mushroom topped with rice blend, freshly roasted peppers, & fresh basil / sautéed broccolini with balsamic vinegar / roasted tomatoes on the vine with olive oil & fresh thyme
chicken and squash
pan-cooked dijon-dill chicken / sautéd onion, kale, pom seeds, & black olives in lemon extra virgin oil / TJ’s spelt risotto / roasted Moroccan-spiced delicata squash with spicy pepper extra virgin olive oil

It is important to note that certainly not all meals or dinners need to include an animal protein source. It is advantageous for one’s health and wallet to incorporate vegetarian meals into the week. Doing so may sometimes require us to think outside of the box, but beans/lentils either from fresh, frozen, or canned can be the start of a wonderful pot of chili, bean burrito, smoked lentil salad with craisins and fresh herbs, soup, and the list goes on.

beef stew
beef stew with caramelized onion & roasted garlic, parsnip, turnip, and carrots
chicken
rosemary baked chicken / sautéed dill red potatoes, squash, zucchini, ‘shrooms, onion / sautéed beet greens

Below I have included a recipe for stuffed portobello mushroom with cheesy polenta and roasted squash seeds that Matt and I developed one night for our dinner. I hope this post has helped you to approach dinner planning in a different, easier way! vegetarian dinnerI Ingredients for 4 servings: olive oil salt & pepper 4 portobello mushroom caps, wiped clean 1 small onion, peeled & sliced into half moons roughly 4 c fresh kale & spinach 4 cloves roasted garlic 4 – 8 T pomegranate seeds Bob’s Red Mill Polenta, 1 c dry cooked according to directions on package 4 oz shredded provolone cheese grated parmesan cheese roasted pumpkin seeds Directions: Preheat the oven to 400* F. After tossing the pumpkin seeds in olive oil and desired spices, roast until crispy, shaking the pan periodically to ensure even cooking. Lightly coat the mushroom caps with olive oil. Roast for approximately 20 minutes. Meanwhile, caramelize the onion by cooking a low temperature until translucent and soft. Simply sauté the greens in the same pan until just wilted, adding the roasted garlic while cooking. Season to taste with salt and pepper. After cooking the polenta, incorporate the provolone and portion among four plates then sprinkle with parmesan. Evenly divide the greens and onion among the four mushroom caps, top with pomegranate seeds, and plate the pumpkin seeds. **Alternatively, you could grill the mushroom caps and serve parmesan grilled corn on the cob for a great summer meal!

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