New Tastes

I don’t do much after work. On Tuesdays, I go to the gym for a session with my trainer.Β On Wednesdays, we’ve started playing trivia at The Sandwich Bar — and we won our first go at it last week!Β On all other days, you’ll probably find me at Whole Foods.

Since Whole Foods opened up by my office a couple years ago, I over-frequent it. I’ve started buying groceries once per week, but I still find myself stopping by Whole Foods to stock up on the things I plow through — tomatoes, spinach, and berries.

On my way home from work on Friday, I popped in to buy the essentials – my fridge was barren – and happened upon a find that I can’t seem to get enough of: valbreso feta.

This isn’t at all like greek feta – not even in its texture. Valbreso feta is french and is super tangy – almost lemony in its brine – and incredibly creamy versus crumbly. It’s more like a goat cheese in texture than anything else. I’m a big fan of using goat-like cheese with lentils, and so I decided to make just that. I think in the past three days I’ve had lentils for almost every meal.

I’ve had a pantry full of lentils for a while – I once bought a giant bag of black (or beluga) lentils at Whole Foods, and it’s been sitting there, unopened ever since.

These little guys seem to cook a bit faster than their brown and green counterparts (one quarter cup lentils to one cup of water for about 15-17 minutes over medium heat).

Once the lentils were cooked through (tender, but not mushy), I transferred them to a pan that was heating up withΒ one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and finely minced garlic. I added baby spinach, chopped heirloom tomatoes, and a little lemon juice to the pan. The lemon juice adds great flavor, but also deglazes the pan.

Once the lentils were combined with the vegetables and nicely sautΓ©ed, I transferred them to a bowl and sprinkled some valbreso feta over the top.

The creaminess of the feta added a really nice rich flavor and smooth texture to the earthiness and bite of the lentils and the acidity of the tomatoes.

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Office Cooking Part II: Using What You Have to Measure Portions

In an effort to save money and lose weight (again – shameless moment: have lost 26 pounds and counting!), I’ve been bringing ingredients to the office so that I can assemble healthy lunches and snacks that satisfy my cravings throughout the day.

Because I bring my food to the office as ingredients and not already assembled, I tend to keep some measuring tools handy so that portion control is in-check, but for those of you who don’t have an extra set of measuring cups/spoons, here are some great resources that show you how to practice portion control on the go (in order of my favorites):

Image Courtesy of NourishMoveThrive.ca

Image Courtesy of DietSystems.info

Image Courtesy of PhotoCalorie.com

Food in the Workplace

If you read my blog, or know me at all, you know that I am passionate about food — ordering, cooking, eating, feeding, serving. That said, I’m also interested in nutrition and healthfully coexisting with food and my eating habits.

In the past two months, I’ve lost 17.8 pounds, and one of the big changes I’ve made, especially in following a plan, is that I’ve started holding myself more accountable for the food I eat during work hours. In the past, my breakfasts and dinners were fairly healthy and homemade, but I’d use work as an excuse to order out all too often, and snack in a less sensible way.

Working in a fast-paced environment is no excuse to not eat wholesome, healthy meals. As someone who works in digital publicity, fast and easy are essential, but that doesn’t instantly qualify fast food (something that I’ve never found appealing or appetizing) or takeout junk. I’ve made a habit of bringing ingredients that I can leave in my work refrigerator and prepare in our kitchen at ease.

While I wish we had a proper kitchen at the office, we have a toaster oven — a personal favorite — and a microwave. I fell in love with the toaster oven when I first moved to Astoria. Clean, easy, and compact. What’s not to love? Real Housewife of New York City, Sonja Morgan, would agree. At the office, my go-to lunch is to toast whole wheat tortilla for a few minutes, spread on some non-fat Greek yogurt, add some fresh vegetables (I tend to stop by the local grocery store and peruse their salad bar for tomatoes, peppers, and chickpeas), and sprinkle on a little feta. Full of protein and fiber, low in fat and calories. I season these tostada-style lunches with garlic powder and black pepper, as I keep a fresh pepper grinder in my office (as well as a sea salt grinder, za’atar, and garlic powder).

Yesterday’s lunch, featured above, is a whole wheat tortilla (toasted), guacamole (spread on tortilla), salsa (spread on tortilla), topped with red and yellow pepper, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, tofu, and a little sprinkle (about a tablespoon) of reduced fat feta cheese.

Beyond lunches, I often find that stocking healthy snacks that tide me over longer are the key to me avoiding the unnecessary vending machine. I keep my office stocked with 100 calorie packs of raw almonds, and often bring in fruit, fruit leather (a sweet treat after lunch), as well as flavored Greek yogurt. For a fun twist on autumn-themed foods, consider flavoring non-fat Greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree, a sweetener of your choice, cinnamon, and a dash of pumpkin pie spice. #yumalert