Sunday, January 20, 2013

dinner winners

Yall. It has been a weekend of good eatin' in these parts-- and the best part is, it's (almost) all been Bird Food Diet-approved! A few of you asked for recipes/reviews on my blogs/Instagram pics last week, so since it's a lazy Sunday afternoon and we have nothing but hours of football ahead of us...seemed like a good thing to get around to today. At first I was just gonna be like "I have a whole Pinterest board for this, go look there yourself." But then I realized...well, first of all, that's a jerky thing to say. But mainly- looking at someone's Pinterest board doesn't necessarily help me know whether that recipe was actually good...or easy...or anything. Who knows who actually wrote the "OMG easiest and tastiest thing ever!!!" blurb under the photo? It could actually be nasty and hard. So with today's links I will give you the lowdown on how the dish ACTUALLY went. Don't worry, though-- I don't fancy myself a food blogger or anything, so I'll keep it short and sweet. (Unrelatedly: I just used the word "actually" four times in as many sentences. Apparently I like that word?)

To start with, let's review The Rules: No meat, dairy, eggs, gluten, caffeine, soy, or added sweeteners. (Also, EVERY SINGLE TIME I type "sweeteners" I spell it "sweetners" first. Weird. I guess that's how I pronounce it.)

So let me start by confessing that phasing out the caffeine in my morning coffee (one cup only, but ALWAYS EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE LAST DECADE AT LEAST I NEVER MISS IT) is going poorly. One day Matt cold-turkey-switched me to decaf, which of course I did not notice until I had a horrible headache for the final 15 hours of the day. Which was awesome. I begged him to please never do such a horrible thing to me again. So now we're trying to mix a little decaf in with our full-caf, and maybe after a few weeks of incrementally upping the decaf/cutting the full-caf, I will be weaned off? All that to say-- I'm still drinking coffee. But for the last few months (we started phasing out dairy awhile back, maybe in October) the coffee has been less-than-thrilling because the half-and-half (and flavored creamers) had to go. So we've just been using unsweetened almond milk...which is fine, albeit boring. So when I saw this recipe, I had to at least try.


Like me, you are probably wondering "well if there's no dairy or sugar...what the heck is it made out of?" I'll tell you. It's a very non-scary, non-chemistry-experiment-ingredient-filled concoction of coconut milk and date paste as a sweetener, then things like vanilla/almond extract, cinnamon, or whatever else depending on which flavor you make. I did the french vanilla and I must say- it's good! I won't lie-- it's not as good as your favorite chemistry-experiment Coffeemate. But it's a vast improvement over plain almond milk. It wasn't hard to make. And it wasn't expensive. Therefore, I'm chalking this one up as a win...and next time I'm gonna try the Cinnamon Streusel kind, because that sounds way yummy.

Alright, next up was a HUGE WINNER in the lunch/light dinner category:

Maybe it helps that I'm a huge fan of 'salad' type dishes (ya know, tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad) to start with, but I loooooved this. I would eat this every day. I might eat this every day. Now I did have a problem with finding something to 'wrap' the salad in and ended up just tossing up my hands and using whole wheat (GLUTEN FILLED) tortillas. BUT. Since then I have discovered GF rice cakes which I think would be really good with the salad on top, AND I have purchased GF sandwich bread (which is a story all unto itself). So those would both be better 'carriers' for the salad. But trust me, this salad is awesome and you should make it whether you're on a Bird Food Diet or not. You should make it because it's delicious, filling, healthy, and cheap.

Alright. This next one was a semi-winner.

I liked it. Matt didn't. And he TOLD me! I can probably count the number of things Matt has actually admitted to not-liking finger. So that must mean he really didn't care for this. I mean, he ate it. It wasn't inedible for him. But he didn't like it. Me, on the other hand...I enjoyed it. Matt's complaints were that the polenta didn't taste like anything (which, it kind of doesn't...that's just how polenta is...I told him to put some salt on it and then it would taste like salt. Duh?) and that the brussels were bitter and had crispy burned all his mouth could taste was burned bitter things. That's a fair enough assessment. Brussels are kind of bitter. And they were roasted for 30 min, so there were definitely burned outer layers...but whereas I like the flavor of blackened/burned crispy pieces, Matt doesn't. I will say that I could barely taste the balsamic-- if I made this again, I'd triple the amount. So, this recipe might be good for ya if you know you like brussels and/or crispy black burned brussels. If not...maybe skip it.

Sticking with the 'balsamic-flavored' theme, let's go back to another hands-down winner...this one with no picture to go with it. Fish Fillets and Baby Spinach with Balsamic Vinaigrette is a recipe I found in that red-and-white giant Better Homes and Gardens cookbook you probably got for your wedding-- you know what I'm talking about? I know, right-- we actually busted that thing out and cooked out of it! And it was GOOOOOOD. We used cod, and this recipe was easy and YUM. That balsamic-honey sauce? I could eat it off a spoon. We will definitely be making this one again.

We made this one just this afternoon for lunch:

...and dayum was it good!! Not to mention WE HAD EVERYTHING ON HAND for the recipe and didn't have to go to the store. WINNING. Seriously people. This was fabulous. And easy. And healthy. And made a crap-ton, so we'll be eating on it for days (a good thing in my book).  Between this and the chickpea salad, I think I have my Lunch Plan for life. The 'dressing' you put on this (EVOO, lime juice, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt)...I kind of want to put it on everything I ever eat. It was awesome.

Alright. So I think that's enough recipes to tide you over for a little while. In summary, I would die (or rather, have given up attempting this Bird Food Diet the day after I started) without Pinterest and GF bloggers, so for that...I am very thankful. If you have any fab tried-and-true recipes that follow The Rules that you think I need to know about, send 'em my way!! Have a happy Sunday!


  1. I shall be consulting this post as soon as I get rid of my current lunch/dinner plans!

  2. Thank you for all of this excellent research and experimentation! I showed Andrew (my personal chef) and we have all the ingredients to make the fish dish and have been meaning to try quinoa so bon apetit!

  3. My mom JUST commented on the chickpeas that I have in my pantry today. Now I can't WAIT to make that chickpea salad for a sandwich wrap this week!! Thanks :)

  4. These sound really good -- except for the polenta and roasted Brussel sprouts. I'm with Matt on that one.

  5. So impressed with your adventurousness... is that a word? I am the world's most boring eater in comparison to you!

  6. I am ALL about delicious, filling, healthy, and cheap eats so I will be adding this chickpea dish to my list of "to makes." :) Keep your recipe finds coming!

  7. I probably wouldn't even try a bite of any of those things. I'm a special kind of grown-up.

  8. My 2 cents on the coffee. If you aren't having luck doing the slow fade, just go cold turkey. You'll have DEBILITATING headaches for a few days but then it's done. It's a rip the band aid off method for sure but that's how I ended up having to do it.


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