Posted by: thehungryrunner | January 7, 2008

This week’s menu: A return to the skillet

Well I said this was a blog about running AND eating, so let’s get to the good stuff already!

I’ll admit, I can be a very boring person when it comes time to eating.  Not unlike when you find yourself “into” a particular song, and can listen to it over and over and over again, I find that I tend to latch on to a few foods at any given time, then settle into a schedule in which they reappear and reappear and reappear.  I know that contradicts the wise advice of eating a varied diet, but it seems to be my compromise in my effort to eat healthfully.  What can I say, my mind likes routine, the predictability of it and all, but my other reason is just to be able to make that checkmark and free my mind to think of other things.  I can’t imagine having a completely clean slate every day for my food choices; I’d probably fry my brain’s hard drive just over deciding about breakfast!

Anyway, recently I’d gotten away from one of my good ol’ reliable stand-by’s, the skillet meal.  I’m the queen of skillet meals.  They’re quick, they’re tasty, they offer a balance of the various nutrients one needs — proteins, complex carbs, essential fats, AND you can vary them endlessly, so no worries that dinner will turn into a one-note wonder for the next four months.  Plus I get a kick out of their simplicity.  Get a nonstick skillet, spray it down with Pam, and away you go.  It’s mostly just a matter of adding ingredients and stirring (okay, some chopping and measuring is probably involved too).  I also have a stir-fry pan (and I’m not afraid to use it), so even more options there.  Typically, I start with some oil and or cooking spray, add some aromatic like chopped onion, then add my protein — in my case, typically either fish of some sort or some vegetarian protein, such as seitan (“meat” made from wheat gluten) or baked tofu.  Then it’s whatever vegetables are on hand (if frozen I’ll microwave them first to at least get a thaw going), anything from green beans to carrots to corn to lima beans to snow peas.  I’ll stir it all until cooked to my liking, usually waiting until that last minute or so before adding (if I’m using one) a small amount of some salsa or other sauce, such as a reduced-sodium teriyaki or (my favorite) just about any peanut sauce.  Or I’ll use those vegetarian “meatballs’ for the protein, zucchini and yellow squash, then add some tomato sauce and some chopped Italian parsley or other herb at the end.  Or even a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  The whole thing gets dumped onto a plate, sometimes over cooked brown rice or couscous, sometimes not.  It’s filling and absolutely delicious!

So here’s to getting out of the arrows and slings of holiday leftovers, and back to the comfy confines of the mighty skillet!  I’ll report on what combinations I come up with these first few times, get the creative juices flowing.

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