After my recent run-in with a decidedly delicious Turkey and Cranberry Meatloaf, I had some ground (minced) turkey left over. Since it was 7:16 am – while rummaging in the ‘fridge – when I made this discovery, I decided I would see what hearty weekend breakfast I could conjure up with it. I think my body was still trying to get back to normal after 3 days on nothing but an IV. My desire to eat a large quantity of protein was rampant. Much as I love my green, protein-packed smoothies, one of those just wasn’t going to cut it. I was done with the whole liquid food thing, at least for a day or two.
When it comes to the weekends, I’ve always been a cooked-breakfast-girl. Growing up, Sunday breakfast was probably my favorite meal of the week. Typically a full English breakfast – eggs, bacon, sausage, fried bread, tomatoes and mushrooms – although sometimes there were Baked Eggs on the menu. Sunday breakfast was at 8 am. Sharp. And you were there. On time. No matter how late you got home the night before, no matter how ill you might feel. When Mum yelled, “Breakfast!”, you were out of bed and down those stairs in a flash. No. Matter. What. You were not late to breakfast. These days I revel in having Sunday breakfast at whatever time I feel like it, but I still to this day equate Sunday mornings with an ample cooked feast; and when it came to eggs, scrambled was always my favorite, so while everyone else was eating fried eggs, my mother scrambled mine. Bless her.
I suppose this would be considered more of a brunch than a breakfast, what with the turkey and the copious amount of spinach involved. Whatever meal label you choose to give it, it’s hearty for sure. I ate the whole lot, but I can see how for many of you, this would be a dish for two. There’s that Carrie Brown appetite again.
Before you get on with rustling this up, we should probably talk a little bit about oranges, because you might well be thinking that it’s a rather strange addition to eggs; and I admit, I’ve never put oranges – or any other fruit for that matter – in a scramble before. I remember when I was very young, my father put raisins in the scrambled eggs once or twice while my mother was in the hospital and he had child-feeding obligations. Although my brother and I dutifully ate it all up, I do not remember thinking that it was a particularly successful meal.
The orange idea came to me when I was recalling with great fondness a fabulous breakfast that I enjoyed with Jeanne one Saturday at a new café in Madison Park, Seattle. Jeanne had the Ham e Formaggio Frittata – Rosemary ham, cheese, spinach with Rosemary, orange & hazelnut dressing. Essentially an omelette with ham, cheese, and spinach – but with a hazelnut and orange dressing that had a whole pile of orange segments in. And I thought, ‘Well. If you can put orange segments in a dressing and slather it all over your omelet, it stands to reason that oranges and eggs go, and therefore orange IN your scramble must be awesome.” And so it was.
This is pretty much a perfect *SANE meal – as long as you eat it with the spinach.
As it does every New Year, January 1st 2013 seemed like a great day to start exploring a new lifestyle. This year, though, Rod and Kathy were really serious, and so they began their adventure into eating healthier.
“Honey, would you order a book for me?” My lovely wife Kathy asked, explains Rod. “It’s called the Smarter Science of Slim.”
“When the book arrived, Kathy wasted no time and quickly dove right in and absorbed all of the gems it had to offer. It was soon after that Kathy began espousing all sorts of strange and sometimes questionable ideas’, Rod said. “I was convinced she had joined a cult and was looking to recruit me. But with loving persistence Kathy began to get through to me and I was soon a convert. I knew Kathy was right; we needed to make some serious lifestyle changes. At 50 years old I was weighing in at 237 lbs (the highest I’ve ever been in my life) and wearing a size 42 pants….ok maybe 43! But I could squeeze into a 42 so that is the official measurement. I won’t even hazard a guess at Kathy’s starting point as I am happily married and would like to remain that way.”
“Still not completely sure what we were doing, we began by scrubbing the kitchen of all of the processed foods, ingredients, and grains that we could find. Our house became so clear of Chametz (food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, or their derivatives, which have been leavened) that it would make a Hassidic Jewish household pale in comparison. We cleaned out cupboards, drawers, pantry, and refrigerator. With the deconstruction accomplished it was time to rebuild the kitchen supplies.”
“Kathy and I were so excited about becoming the next super-models—and like obedient cult followers—we quickly assembled our shopping list from the Smarter Science of Slim book and blindly headed out the door. We were on a mission! We looked like a couple of crazed mountain men running a trap line. We went to Costco, QFC, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and the little produce stand at the local gas station. If we made one more stop I would have had to rent a U-Haul truck. Later, back at the house, and peering into the empty 22 cubic foot refrigerator against the 60 cubic feet of groceries piled high on the counters, kitchen, and floor, I was wondering how we were going to fit everything in.”
“Are you SURE we need 18 bags of spinach Kathy?” I asked. “I’ve learned a lot about Kathy since we’ve been married, but I have to say I never knew she was a Tetris master. She deftly managed to get all the perishables into the refrigerator. Honestly, I’m still not sure if the light in the refrigerator is burned out, or if all of the food is just blocking any light emission from escaping. It took about 2 weeks before I knew the answer to that question. Slowly the contents of the cupboards and refrigerator began to diminish to normal levels as Kathy and I mixed up strange brews using some new-to-us ingredients. We started off a bit discombobulated, but quickly found a rhythm that seemed to work for us. SANE green healthy smoothies in the morning, fresh veggies throughout the day – with a protein chaser. Plenty of water throughout, and lean proteins with steamed veggies, or one of Carrie’s SANE recipes for dinner. It was good.”
“The first thing we noticed was that we seemed to have more energy, although you wouldn’t have guessed as we collapsed each evening facedown into the couch. How is that having more energy you ask? We never had the energy to make it to the couch before”, Rod grins.
“We lived with the kitchen counters amassed high with all sorts of bags that had strange ingredients in them such as Chia Seeds, Guar Gum, Ground Flax, and Xylitol. Whenever we wanted to cook something we found ourselves searching for an ingredient among the piles. This simply wouldn’t do if we expected to be successful at eating SANEly. We needed to get organized! WWCD? (What Would Carrie Do?). We consulted her website and saw how nicely organized her cupboards were…..we wanted to be like Carrie…like Carrie…like Carrie”.
“There is a very dangerous combination for me. The first is that I’ve always found it more beneficial to ask for forgiveness than permission, and the second is that I have a credit card and access to the internet. It didn’t take me long to find some really nice storage jars online. Why yes of course I need three dozen jars of every size you make. Kathy was very forgiving as I opened up the cupboards to reveal an AWESOME display of well labeled containers that hosted every imaginable ingredient one could possibly use in eating SANEly; and finally we had some control over our kitchen. As we progressed through the weeks we found our new normal – shopping and food prep became second nature and we were making great progress. I knew that we were making progress when I had to keep cinching in my belt. It was either that or wear my pants around my knees…and although I hear that is the latest fashion statement in some social circles, I really didn’t want to be confused with a gang member. YES! I actually had to go to my size 40 pants, and soon after that down to my size 38 pants. Well, HELLO toes, I haven’t seen you guys in a long time!.”
“I have had co-workers comment on my transformation over the past few months. Usually they ask what type of diet I am on. My standard reply is, “I’m not on any diet, I am just eating healthier”. Eating SANEly is not dieting, but just eating the way we were meant to eat. I am getting more than I need to eat, I feel better, and I don’t have any of the cravings that I thought I would. I don’t miss the pastries, pastas, or other such carbs. Kathy and I still have our moments when we decide to just let loose and eat whatever we like. But those moments are the exceptions to the rule. We don’t stress about the days that we eat a little less SANEly. We don’t throw in the towel and give up because of one weak moment. We allow ourselves a few cheats. Interestingly, our bodies seem to self correct by wanting the SANE foods afterwards. I find that I crave the SANE foods more than the inSANE foods. And that makes it all so much easier.”
“Up until six weeks ago I was weighing myself once a week to see where I was at (the last time I weighed myself I was at 212) and it was driving me crazy! I would even blow dry my hair after taking a shower before stepping on the scale to make sure I was at my lowest weight possible. Ok, let’s see a show of hands of those of who can have done this. I would eat SANEly all week and find that I either had not lost any weight, or I had…GASP…gained weight! After reading in the omnipotent and wise SSoS book to toss out the scale I haven’t weighed myself since. I find this very liberating as I really don’t care what I weigh. I am now forced to listen to my body. It tells me how I am feeling and whether I am doing the right things.”
“I believe that Kathy and I are successful because we get support from each other, and from Carrie’s and Jonathan’s websites and Facebook pages. We aren’t dieting, we are eating healthy, and we are committed to a lifestyle of healthy choices. I hear a Greek-yogurt with berries calling my name.”
HUGE CONGRATS to Rod and Kathy, and THANK YOU for sharing your story with us!
This week I decided it would be nice to add a dab of Asian flavor to our *SANEity. I love Asian food – particularly Chinese and Thai, and I sure do miss the chinkysback home.
For the uninitiated, “chinky” is a term of endearment in England. It’s the British nickname for a Chinese takeaway – those barren little store fronts with a few cheap chairs, a chipped, laminate countertop, a pile of newspapers and trashy magazines, a small TV hanging from one corner. You’re greeted by whichever family member happens to be available at the moment.
After 5 minutes of being entertained by a wok-clanging, sizzling kerfuffle out back – punctuated by a lot of yelling in mandarin – you’re out the door with a plastic carrier bag packed full of identical foil containers with cardboard lids, stacked on top of one another, and each one crammed to the brim with delicious made-in-minutes authentic Chinese food. I have yet to find Chinese food in Washington State that tasted anywhere near as good as the Chinese take-away of my homeland. I miss it. Some days I want to fly to England just to have a big old plate of Chinese – prawn crackers on the side. That’s how much I miss it.
There’s nothing quite like a Saturday night at home with a Chinese take-away and a good movie, curled up on the couch with someone nice. That trifecta of Saturday night awesomeness has not happened in, oh, over 13 years. Let’s make Egg Foo Yung! That and a good movie and I’ll be two-thirds there. Throw in a cat – or five six – and it won’t be half bad.
I deliberately made this recipe lazy. I mean, who has the time or inclination to make a separate sauce to drizzle over your Egg Foo Yung? Not me. So I just mixed the sauce right into the egg. I admit, it’s not the same as the real thing, but you get the flavor, and that was my goal. More laziness – bake them in the oven instead of dragging the wok onto the stove top, heating oil, and fiddling with layers of egg and veggies. Easy. Lazy. Who cares?
These gorgeous little eggy omelets are bursting with vegetable goodness. They are super-moist because you do not pre-cook the veggies. They’re super-simple, speedy to sling together and make a super-SANE breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack. They puff up like little prima donna soufflés in the oven, and look fantastic when you take them out. Sadly they collapse as they cool, but the crispy, crunchy veggies, and the sweet sassy flavor remain.
I use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos instead of soy sauce – which is made from wheat. Of course, the small amount of soy sauce that is in here won’t kill you – or bring your *SANEity to a grinding halt – but if you are gluten-free, or if you’re like me and don’t keep soy sauce in the house, then Bragg’s Liquid Aminos are a great alternative. Mirin is a low-alcohol rice wine and is used just for flavor. You can leave the mirin out, the flavor just won’t be as good. I found it in my local Fred Meyers, so I am hoping no one has difficulty finding it. You could also leave both the Bragg’s and the mirin out and dip the Egg Foo Yung in your favorite Chinese dipping sauce instead – although these will likely contain wheat and sugar. For those with a Trader Joe’s at hand, their Balsamic Glaze drizzled over the top would be a brilliant and easy sauce.
I’ve already eaten 12 of these veggie-packed protein dynamos, and they’ll be in my lunch box every day this week. Well, depending on if I can resist eating them for dinner too.
Hang on to your hats, folks! Something big is about to happen: it’s a recipe post.
I realize they’ve been a bit thin on the ground lately. There’s been a lot going down over at Marmalade HQ, and, as it happens, a lot coming up.
My white blood cell count was up to 3 times what it should be, and – without putting too fine a point on it – there was an awful lot of stuff coming up out of my mouth that should have exited my body from another orifice. Yes. I was taken out by the “Thing”. Even my therapist’s office did not escape the ravages of the “Thing”. Thanks goodness for garbage cans lined with plastic bags, located close at hand. Oh, and tissues. Thank goodness for tissues. Boxes of tissues. So that was 3 days and 2 nights of my life last weekend; and brought the number of ER visits in the last 6 weeks to 2. I like to think I am done for the year now, thank you very much.
Curiously, after a rather disoriented ramble around Trader Joe’s on my way home from hospital, I had a sudden burst of energy and decided that I needed to make meatloaf. Bear in mind that I have never made a meatloaf in my life. I am trying to remember if I have ever even eaten meatloaf in my life. I think maybe once. Possibly twice, but I really don’t think so. We Brits, we’re just not big on meatloaf like Americans. Americans love meatloaf. Why I had the urge to make meatloaf at all is a little perplexing to me. Why I got that urge after being supine in a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV merrily shunting sugar-water around my veins for 3 days is a deeper mystery altogether; and not one I think we should pursue at this point.
So I called Bea and said, “Bea, I’m going to create a *SANE Meatloaf. Have you eaten? Would you like to come and be my guinea pig?”
Bea did indeed wish to be the first person to chow down on my inaugural meatloaf. She’s a brave soul. I didn’t even know if it would work, let alone taste good. When Bea rolled up and plonked herself at the kitchen table, I was in the last throes of meatloaf creation. “Oh!”, she exclaimed. “That’s a very fancy mixer-upper thingy!”, pointing to my food processor. Indeed. It made very short work of chopping the veggies in about 12 seconds flat.
This is super-fast and simple to throw together. Then it’s an hour in the oven and marvellous meatloaf *SANEity will be yours. There’s A POUND AND A HALF of veggies in this sucker, and you wouldn’t even guess. Trick your children! Trick your errant anti-diet husband! They’ll never know.
I was really worried about my first meatloaf falling apart when I tried to get it out of the tin, or even worse – watching it crumble when I sliced it. It was time mis-spent worrying. This meatloaf holds together beautifully, and slices like a dream – especially when it’s cold. I would recommend using a serrated knife to cut it, and using a sawing action. It will slice better that way. Don’t use a straight-edge knife that you push through the loaf.
This is fantastic comfort food served hot. It’s fantastic lunch food served cold. I even ate it for breakfast one day; but that’s because I just couldn’t wait for it to be lunchtime – it was cooing at me from the ‘fridge and I was powerless to resist its charms. You can freeze this whole, you can freeze this in slices. You can freeze each slice individually and then just grab a slice (or two) as you head out the door in the morning. Eat it alongside salad. Eat it with steamed veggies. Eat it with a huge dollop of mashed cauliflower. Eat a slice as a snack when you get the munchies – it’s pretty much a balanced meal all on its own. It would even make fantastic party food sliced into small cubes or fingers and speared with a toothpick. And look at that puppy – fancy dinner party offereing if I ever I saw one.
It’s true. I have succumbed. I’ve been converted to the throngs of meatloaf lovers across America. Hurrah!
PS. Bea loved it. She also said it needed more salt, so I adjusted the recipe. It’s why we love taste-testers around here.