Meal Makeovers

Posted on January 18, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update, Product Review, Recipe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Today was the day. 1 week ago, I got a major craving for American chop suey–a pasta dish with elbows, tomato sauce, green peppers, and ground beef. We had this all the time when I was younger, and I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. As excited as I was that we would recreate it today, I was a little bummed that it’s a heavy dish and not an “everyday” kind of meal in my mind. So instead I thought that I would make it into an everyday kind of meal. I asked myself: How can I eat my pasta and enjoy it too?

American Chop Suey

An easy swap was the macaroni: regular for whole wheat and right there we were pumping up the fiber, protein, and whole grains. We used 2 instead of 1 pepper for more flavor and bulk. What we didn’t switch was the meat; we still used 85% ground beef, but a lesser amount so that is was more of a seasoning than a hefty portion. As a creative side, we roasted the other 1/2 of the spaghetti squash from last Monday. And finally, I took a cue from a vegan pantry and swapped the parmesan for nutritional yeast and sea salt(that and I just really like nutritional yeast).

Madeover American Chop Suey

Yum! Not only could you eat like this everyday, but who wouldn’t want to? The entire bottom half of the bowl I filled with spaghetti squash. Then I scooped an 8oz portion of the chop suey on top(which is probably the proper serving but definitely is not the typical amount of pasta served at restaurants or in American homes). And to top it off, I doused sprinkled with yeast. The chop suey flavored the squash really well; Joanna of Fitness & Spice made a great challenge this morning about surrounding your meal around a vegetable and not a protein or starch and I think this was a good example of that with the spaghetti squash being the real filling food here. I didn’t go for seconds on the chop suey but there was a little bit of squash left.

Emptied Out Spaghetti Squash

Did I mention I’m a member of the clean-squash club? ­čśë In the afternoon, surprisingly Mr. UPS made it to our house through the snow storm.

Zevia 6-Pack

I got a package and it was the Zevia I won on another blog contest! Yay! I’ll be drinking well now(that sounds wrong). Did you know they’re coming out with a Dr. Pepper style Zevia? That could be interesting; I just hope it doesn’t have all 21 flavors. The stylish lunch cooler will be put to good use in the new semester ­čśë After a while of reading and MLK TV marathons, I decided to use up my Artisana Coconut Oil and make another chocolate bar.

Homemade Raw Chocolate Bar

This one came out so much nicer looking than my last attempt; I must be learning. I also switched up the recipe by mixing the coconut oil and agave nectar first and using 2 grams less agave nectar and 2 grams more cocoa powder. You’re probably thinking that that doesn’t sound like much, but it actually made a HUGE difference. This was┬ánoticeably┬áthicker–more like a paste. After it set up in the fridge for 10 minutes, I made an afternoon snack tray.

2% Greek Yogurt With Raspberry Jam, 1/2 Homemade Raw Chocolate Bar

I could have gone the afternoon just eating the whole bar like yesterday, but this time there were witnesses who knew about(and expected to taste) the chocolate ­čśë Therefore, I only took half along with some greek yogurt. Like I said: The small adjustments in the recipe made a HUGE difference. This wasn’t exactly bitter, but it was┬ánoticeably┬áless sweet and darker than yesterday’s bar. It wasn’t perfect, but I liked it more and will continue to tweak the recipe once I get more coconut oil. And thank you for all your wonderful suggestions! I’m 99.5% sure I’ll be getting coconut oil soon and know what type/brand it will be.

For dinner, would you believe somebody suggested lentils? And would you also believe that somebody wasn’t me? It was actually my mom–go figure. Good thing, too, because after that meaty lunch I was not thinking about another animal protein. After raiding the pantry I found out we had the fixin’s for a new and delicious supper.

Lentil Taco Ingredients

Last time we were at Trader Joe’s, I picked up this taco seasoning on a whim, not really having any plans for it but thinking it’d be nice to have around. Tonight, it was just calling my name. On the back it gives a recipe for making 6 servings of beef tacos. Instead, we used lentils instead of beef, 3 servings instead of 6(because, uhh, that’s how many of us there are?), used 1/2 the packet and 7oz of tomato sauce. As I was whiffing it simmering, I could tell the taco seasoning had a little too much heat and threw in some cinnamon to balance out the flavor. We don’t keep taco shells or tortillas around here, so I improvised.

Doctor Kracker Fire Roasted Crisps

With some Dr. Kracker’s that I was sent to review pre-Christmas. Yikes! Didn’t the holiday season just fly by? And with all that good food! I guess it’s back to eating real stuff. i also made one of my favorite sides: maple curry squash fries. Just 1 1/2 acorn squashes steamed and sliced then tossed in maple syrup and curry spice and baked for 90 minutes until very dehydrated.

Fire Roasted Dr. Krackers, Lentil Tacos With Parma, Maple Curry Squash Fries

Whew! OK, where to start? First off–HOT! Everything here had so much heat; my mom(a spicy food lover) could hardly get through the taco lentils. Trader Joe really likes his pepper! These chips were also pretty hot, too. They definitely weren’t my favorite Dr. Kracker chip. They were bit more brittle, the black sesame seeds were awkward, and when did cheddar cheese even come in to play? At the same time, I can’t say they didn’t taste “fire roasted” or make a fire in my mouth. And the squash fries were so perfectly crispy and spicy, too. On top of the tacos I repeatedly shook some of my new Parma.

Chipotle Cayenne Parma

This is their second flavor, along with the original. I have to say I liked the chipotle cayenne sooo much more; it had some real flavor to it! And still all the nutrition of Omega-3’s and B-vitamins. Yum!

As for right now, I’m either

A) feeling oddly happy about the Roloff boys graduating from high school

B) thinking I shouldn’t enjoy Tick Tock as much as I do but c’est la vie

C) making up a menu for a meal makeover tomorrow night

D) all of the above

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