Omelette Taco! An easy 10 minute Super Meal

Spinach & Onion Omelette with cheddar, grilled in a low-carb wheat wrap, with turkey bacon and avocado sandwiched inside.
Spinach & Onion Omelette Taco with Turkey Bacon and Avocado

Life is stressful right now. There’s a lot going on in the world. And there’s a lot going on in my house. Things are chaotic.

Under normal circumstances, I cook or prepare 2-3 meals a day, 6-7 days a week. I try to avoid processed convenience foods. It’s a privilege of being underemployed and single that I have the opportunity to eat as healthy and clean as I want without a lot of time constraints. But when life is stressful and there are lots of other things to think about and do, it’s just not realistic to spend hours in the kitchen everyday. (I know for many people this is always the case.)

I try to maintain a diet that is low carb, high fat, with a good amount of lean protein. A lot of times that means chicken or fish with a big salad or cooked vegetables or both. Those things aren’t particularly hard but they can be tedious and take a deceptive amount of time. All the chopping and the different utensils and dishes to wash after can be annoying when you’re stressed and tired and really don’t want to bother.

So lately I’ve been working on easier, faster recipes. The alternative is takeout everyday, which is tempting but not a good solution if I want to stay on track with my nutrition goals. Instead I’ve been focused on making nutrient dense foods that don’t require prep or skill. This omelette taco is perfect because it ticks all my boxes, healthy, low carb, easy to make, easy to clean. Perfect.

the incredible egg

The omelette taco has become one of my favorites. It’s actually like half quesadilla, half taco but I couldn’t think of a good word for that. It’s not like a panini, it’s definitely not a pita, so Omelette Taco it is.

It’s an omelette. It’s a taco. It’s an omelette taco.

The Omelette Taco is 2 eggs cooked in a skillet then glued to a low carb wrap with cheese. You can add ingredients like onions, peppers, mushrooms, bacon, or spinach to the skillet to for the omelette, and you can fill your taco with other toppings like avocado, salsa, sour cream, meat, or greens. Most kinds of cheese you buy pre-shredded will work: cheddar, mozzarella, Mexican blend, etc. I have torn up little pieces of American and that worked fine too. You can season the eggs while you’re cooking, or season the taco after, or you can skip the seasoning. Use paprika, cumin, curry powder, chili powder, Italian herbs, garlic salt, whatever you fancy. Because of the flexible nature of both the omelette and and the taco, the flavor possibilities for these little ditties are pretty much endless.

I eat these at all hours of the day, mostly because of how easy they are. They are great because from prep to plate they take 10 minutes, clean up is easy, and even though they’re simple they aren’t boring.

When I say easy, I’m not kidding. I sometimes like just plain ones, which are (obviously) the simplest. Here’s what you do: make a scrambled egg patty in a medium frying pan. To do that just pour 2 whisked eggs into a pan with hot melted butter. (Yes, I use butter. No I don’t feel guilty.) Let the eggs run so it fills the area of the pan. Cook on medium until the eggs are hardening. Add salt & pepper. Sprinkle a healthy amount of shredded cheese (cheddar is my go-to) over the egg patty, then cover the surface with your tortilla wrap. Flip the whole thing over and heat on high. Pat the egg (facing up) with your spatula. When it feels flat against the tortilla, it’s finished. Put it on a plate, add some avocado slices, then fold it up and eat it like a taco.

The Spinach & Onion Omelette Taco

Making eggs with vegetables in them is slightly trickier but still easier and faster than your average dinner. Like I said above you can use any ingredients, just make sure they are chopped finely.

I make the spinach and onion omelette taco quite often because it adds a helping of greens and I usually have a box of spinach and a baggie diced onion sitting in my fridge. Plus it’s tasty. I often make this with white Mexican cheese blend (Oaxaca, queso quesadilla, & asadero), but I also like it with yellow cheddar. The instructions are exactly the same either way.

First get everything prepped. Cook your turkey bacon in the microwave per package instructions. In a bowl, whisk 2 eggs until yolks and whites are blended. Measure out your spinach and pull off the stems. I like to press the spinach in a paper towel to dry it a little bit. Dice your onions if necessary. Measure out 1.5 ounces of cheese (a heaping ⅓ cup).

Pull out salt, black pepper (grinder if possible), garlic powder and paprika. I use my fingers to add the seasoning but if you want to use a measuring spoon use the smallest one you have, because you only need a dash of each.

Also make sure to have your tortilla ready because the cooking process goes fast. My favorite tortilla wraps are these La Banderita Carb Counter tortillas. They come in both wheat and white and both are delicious, high in fiber and low in net carbs. (Unfortunately no one is paying me to plug these I just really, really love them.) If net carbs are not a priority or you can’t find these, you want to use “Soft Taco” size wraps, 8-8.5 inches.

Ingredients minus the spices which I forgot to include in the photo.

It’s also important to use a skillet that matches the size of your tortilla. You definitely don’t want to use a skillet smaller than the tortilla. A few centimeters is fine, but the whole thing works because the size of the egg matches the size of the wrap, and the egg size is based on the area of the pan.

The actual cook time for this recipe goes very quickly, so it’s critical to set up all of your ingredients next to your stove. I personally hate overcooked eggs, so I need to be able to grab everything the second I need it to make sure I don’t waste seconds on the stove.

Start by melting a teaspoon (5-6 grams) butter in your medium-sized skillet, on medium heat. Add onions, cooking for about 90 seconds until they are translucent. (If you want them more caramelized, cook an extra minute with a couple of extra grams of butter.) As soon as onions are ready, poor your whisked eggs into the pan. I always take a second to scrape the sides of the egg bowl to get as much into the pan as possible. The eggs will start cooking immediately. Twist the pan around so that the eggs reach all edges of the skillet. If you see egg liquid pooling too much in one spot, tilt it to help distribute it evenly. Also, use your scraper to play with the edges so that they don’t stick to the sides of the skillet.

Let the eggs cook for just 60 seconds. Then add the seasonings: a dash each of paprika and garlic powder, a healthy sprinkle of salt, and 4-5 twists of the pepper grinder. At this point, the egg should be about 70% cooked. Don’t worry about the egg that’s still liquid, it will finish cooking after it’s flipped.

This is what the egg looks like when it’s ready for spinach, cheese & tortilla.

So after about a minute of cooking, when a majority of the egg is cooked and you’ve added your spices, add the spinach, then the cheese. Make sure the cheese covers as much surface area as possible. It will act as the adhesive to connect the wrap with the omelette. Now add the tortilla/wrap.

Once the spinach, cheese, and tortilla are on top of the egg, use the rubber spatula to press the tortilla into the pan, to help the cheese glue the two sides together. This only takes a few seconds, then use the spatula to flip the egg over, so that the tortilla is on the bottom. (You may need to pick at the edges a little bit with your spatula but it should flip easily.)

Once flipped, turn the burner to high and let the whole thing cook another minute or two. Use the spatula to press down on the egg. You will be able to feel (and maybe see) the rest of the liquid egg harden as it finishes cooking. When it no longer feels squishy, it’s finished. If you want to, you can let this side cook longer as there’s enough barrier between the heat and the egg that it shouldn’t burn, but I wouldn’t let it go more than 2 ½ minutes, especially on the high heat.

When the egg feels firm, move it from the heat to a plate. Add two slices of turkey bacon and several slices of avocado to one half of the taco disc and then fold in half, forming a taco shape. And that’s it! Ready to eat. If I want a big lunch or dinner I’ll add a side of salad, berries or nuts, but in the morning or if I’m not too hungry it’s plenty by itself. 10 minutes and you have a whole delicious meal shaped like a single large taco.

Told you it was easy.

If you’ve noticed several different versions pictured, it’s because I really do make this all the time. It’s not always beautiful but it’s always delicious.

Spinach & Onion Omelette Taco

  • Servings: 1
  • Print

    Notes:
  1. The egg + tortilla in skillet idea came from Nadiya Hussain’s “egg rolls” which she presented on her Netflix show “Nadiya’s Time to Eat.”
  2. The actual cooking of this goes very quickly so it’s important to have all the ingredients ready next to the stove when you begin. You’ll risk burning your eggs if you have to look away from the stove for more than a few seconds.
  3. Read the instructions below thoroughly so you are prepared ahead of time.
  4. The nutrition facts at the bottom are based on the La Banderita CarbCounter wraps I discussed above and mild yellow cheddar cheese.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp (5-6g) butter
  • TBL (10-12g) finely diced onion
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 oz (14g) Spinach, stems removed
  • Heaping ⅓ cup (1 ½ oz, 42-44g) shredded cheese: yellow or white cheddar, Mexican blend, etc.
  • Dash paprika
  • Dash Garlic powder
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 8 1/2 inch low-carb wrap
  • 2 slices turkey bacon, cooked
  • 2 oz Avocado, sliced

Directions

  1. Set up all ingredients next to stove.
  2. In a 8 or 9in. skillet, Heat BUTTER on Medium. Tilt around skillet to coat.
  3. When butter is completely melted, add ONIONS, sauté for 90 seconds. Position them so they are distributed evenly around the space.
  4. Pour whisked EGGS into skillet over onions.
  5. Let eggs cook on medium heat for 1 minute, moving the skillet around to distribute eggs completely across pan, up to edges. Use a rubber scraper to lift the edges so the egg doesn’t stick.
  6. Sprinkle paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper onto eggs.
  7. Add SPINACH, distributing evenly.
  8. Add CHEESE, distributing evenly.
  9. Place TORTILLA wrap over egg & cheese, centering if possible.
  10. Press the taco with rubber scraper, helping cheese adhere egg to tortilla. Do this in a few different spots.
  11. Flip the taco so the tortilla is against the skillet.
  12. Turn heat to HIGH. Press scraper against egg, targeting spots that feel “squishy” like there is liquid below surface.
  13. The taco is finished when there are no more squishy spots. (Takes 1 ½ to 2 minutes.)
  14. Remove from skillet to plate. Place avocado and bacon on one half of the circle, then fold the other half over it.
  15. Eat!

Nutrition

Serving Size: 1 taco; 557 Calories; 42g Fat; 8g Net Carbs; 16g Fiber; 34.6g Protein

Building Change

I’ve been trying to write this post for more than 2 weeks now. I had a post in mind, but it seemed trivial to talk about dieting under the current circumstances. In my own home I have a parent suffering through the pains of cancer treatment, and out in the world there’s a global pandemic and systemic racism that is finally boiling over into nationwide protest and unrest. Amongst all of that, it doesn’t really feel right to talk about how I was feeling about my progress and comparing myself to other people. 

I’ve been watching protest footage on social media nonstop, unable to look away. Sometimes it would get to be too much and I’d start to take a break, but then I’d remember that it’s my privilege as a white person to be able to put down the phone and “forget” about everything going on,  while for black and brown people it’s a constant reality. So I pick the phone back up and watch more footage. I can’t protest due to quarantine, so the least I can do is bear witness. 

But it is a lot. To see all the violence and atrocities, the pain and grief, on top of my own family’s pain and frustration. It’s a lot. I had one day last week where it all got to be too much, and since then I’ve been taking the advice of my friends and spiritual gurus ranging from Archbishop Desmond Tutu to TikTok’s Earth Mother Tabitha Brown, and taking moments to recharge when I need to. All of these people remind me that I’m no good to anyone else if I let myself be worn down and forget to take care of myself. My commitment to my health isn’t something I should be willing to set aside, no matter how serious and important the distractions. 

But as I said, worrying about my weight and closing the activity rings on my watch feel insignificant while people are risking their lives to fight for equality. It’s hard to know if I’ve done enough, if “enough” even exists. I know we all have our own needs, abilities and limitations, and our own circumstances, but it’s difficult not to compare, even when comparison is counterproductive. It’s a silly waste of energy to make something a competition when it isn’t. 

We (as a society) tend to do that with too many things that are just too important to be subjected to pettiness. Case in point: it’s not a competition when you’re talking about whose life matters. Of course all lives matter but the fact is that Black humans face hurdles that most others can’t imagine, because of systemic, structural racism that’s been passed down for generations. Not to mention ingrained stereotypes many people have without even realizing it. To say another matters just as much is not the same as saying they matter more, and it’s not saying in order for them to matter more, you have to matter less. It’s not a zero sum game.

On a much, much smaller scale I have the same struggle over myself, internally. I was feeling a little doubtful because of a few reactions people have given me when Iately when I explained (before the protests) that I’m focused almost 100% on self-improvement and taking care of myself during this unexpected quarantine/sabbatical. I’ve even doubted myself because it does feel a bit self-absorbed to be so internally focused when it seems like the world is ending.

And it probably does sound frivolous. To a lot of people self-care might sound like a lavender bubble bath and hot yoga, but to me it’s literally turning my entire life around so that I can keep on surviving. And just in case 2020 really does end in apocalypse, I’d like to live a while past it in order to see what happens next. But I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I tell you there’s no way I can survive long term at my current weight and fitness level. It’s not healthy or normal to worry about going somewhere because you don’t know if you’ll fit in the chairs, or worry about taking a walk in the park because what if there’s too many stairs and you can’t handle it. The shame of those things are unbearable. It just felt like a breaking point, like a now or never, so I took a terrible situation and made it an opportunity.

When the circumstance is so dire that it simply cannot continue, there’s nothing else you can do but take action, no matter how disruptive or extreme it might seem to other people. Action is almost always the only way to make a permanent systemic change, whether it’s in one woman’s body or in an entire culture. 

But as I said, looking at videos on social media and news seeing everything happening in the protests and riots, and hearing (but distancing from) my dad upstairs, it’s hard knowing how to balance all of the intensities at once. One solution I found was really amping up my exercise routine the last couple of weeks, because I can’t read or watch twitter videos and workout at the same time, so it’s a mandatory break for my brain at least an hour everyday. And I think, hopefully too, it’s helping give me more clarity as well. 


I realize I haven’t even posted about my actual strategy, goals, and methods so this probably seems vague. But just know when I say I’m working on building a better Lydia, that’s a holistic goal: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. So this week when I say exercise is good but everything else is down, I mean, I’m cooking less, not doing my full skin routine, not meditating nearly enough. But what I am doing is keeping myself informed and educated. I considered myself fairly antiracist, woke, whatever you want to call it, but still I’ve learned a lot this week and thought of things from new perspectives. One thing that’s for sure is there’s always room to grow. 

I don’t even know if this post makes sense, it’s probably rambling but I committed myself to doing this blog and this is what I wanted to say. 

Here are some books/articles that I think are excellent for educating yourself about the Black/African-American experience in the US, how racism persists, and ways to stay spiritually and emotionally healthy in these kinds of crises. 

The audiobook is also excellent!

-The Water Dancer by Ta-nehisi Coates

-Becoming by Michelle Obama

-Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

-Black Looks by bell hooks

-Black Boy by Richard Wright

-Autobiography of Frederick Douglass

-I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

-The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

-An Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe by Yumi Sakugawa

-The Voice of Knowledge by Don Miguel Ruiz

This Anti-Racist Resource Guide

Prejudice vs. Racism: What’s the Difference

Books and Media I intend to read/watch to educate myself:

-Between the world and me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

-Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

-White Fragility by Robin Deangelo

-The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

-Biased by Jennifer Eberhardt, PhD

-“When They See Us” Ava DuVernay, Netflix

-“If Beale Street Could Talk” Barry Jenkins, Hulu

-”The Hate U Give” George Tillman Jr., Hulu

-”I Am Not Your Negro,” James Baldwin, Netflix

-”Hello Privilege, It’s Me Chelsea,” Chelsea Handler, Netflix

-“Just Mercy” Bryan Stevenson (Movie free to rent on iTunes)

The New York Times Magazine 1619 Project

-Pod Save the People podcast

Also this is a YouTube playlist of fundraising videos for the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Or a link to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund if you want to skip ahead. 

You can also check out BLM petitions on change.org.

I hope with this list my point of view will continue to grow more enlightened. It’s certainly not an exhaustive list but it seems like a good starting point. Unfortunately I think this fight will continue for a while, but I do believe it is much closer to the end than the beginning. 

xo

Eggplant Tomato Stir-Fry with Tofu

Eggplant Tomato Stir-fry

Sometimes you just want a vegetable

I made a cake last week. A carrot cake for Mother’s Day, my mom’s favorite. I don’t do a ton of baking. For starters, I try to avoid sugar and other carbs. Also, my style of cooking is to sort of throw stuff in a bowl or pan and hope for the best. Baking is way too science-y. The ratios matter, the temperature matters, everything needs to be precise. Except with carrot cake, a very throw it in the bowl kind of cake. I made mine with pineapple & dates and cut out half the sugar. There was plenty of sugar in my frosting. The whole thing was annoyingly good.

But this post isn’t about carrot cake. It’s about making amends for the approximately 9 pieces of carrot cake I ate over the next 3 days (yikes). By Wednesday I was feeling like garbage. You know when your insides feel puffy? Gross. I had a zit on my face, nearly never happens if I’m living clean. So I decided I needed to revamp with a perfect day of food.

Natural Energy

I love that feeling of natural energy I get when I’ve eaten really healthy food. And alternatively I like to avoid the feeling of sluggishness when you eat too much heavy, starchy food. This is easier in theory than in reality because if someone offers me a big plate of mac & cheese or some fish with steamed vegetables, I’m not necessarily making my decision based on how I’ll feel an hour after I eat. I’m thinking about how good that mac & cheese will taste in my mouth versus how much I do not enjoy plain steamed vegetables. Impulse control & immediate gratification are real issues. But when I overindulge for too long, like around holidays, it catches up to me fast and I miss my veggies (still not steamed, though, please).

In the last few months I’ve noticed the more I avoid indulgence foods like cake and mac & cheese, and the more I make sure to include vegetables in every meal, the faster I hit that point where I don’t want more cake, I want more salad. It’s hard to imagine a time when I will skip a homemade carrot cake all together, but if I can want *less* of it, that’s a good start. And even better if I don’t want to have cake instead of salad, but as a small bonus, which I suppose is how dessert was meant to be eaten in the first place, by normal people.

So anyway, after the zit arrived I decided that was enough of the cake, and I needed some extra fresh meals to balance the system.

The day started with eggs & berries. Then a cruciferous veggie salad with salmon and seeds, and then this vegan vegetable & tofu dish that I’m about to talk about. All three were slightly less delicious than homemade carrot cake but still very tasty, and ultimately much more satisfying than all the sugar and flour.

Already by Thursday I was feeling much less contaminated. We reluctantly threw out the rest of the carrot cake but never even missed it. I was so happy to feel fresh it didn’t matter to me anymore.

What is a stir-fry, Actually?

I literally just googled the definition of stir-fry, and I’m still not sure if this recipe counts as one or not. It’s not a stew though, or a curry, so I’m sticking with stir-fry just because I need something to call this.

Here’s what it is: fried tofu, eggplant, and a bunch of other vegetables sautéed and simmered in a bold garlic tomato sauce.

I made this for the first time a few weeks ago after I got the idea from Ali Wong’s book Dear Girls. She talks a lot about Vietnam, Vietnamese food, and Asian food more broadly. At one point she says her favorite cooking base is garlic, tomatoes, and fish sauce. I thought that seemed interesting so I decided to work with it.

The problem was, I didn’t know where to go from there. I tried to search around for recipes that used this exact base and never found anything that was an exact match, but I got some ideas. I thought about what goes with tomatoes and garlic and decided to try eggplant. Eggplant obviously goes with tomato sauce and garlic, because I think the king of eggplant dishes is probably Eggplant Parmesan (it’s also one of my favorite things). I figured eggplant would work well for this dish because it’s found in Italian things like eggplant parm, but also in plenty of Asian stir-fry dishes, so it could work with the fish sauce as well. I’ve been on a big eggplant kick lately so this seemed like a win all around.

Next, I pulled out other vegetables that would go with these flavors and were already in my fridge. (I don’t keep shiitake mushrooms lying around but they weren’t in the first version of this.) Finally, I decided to use tofu as my protein because I knew it would pair well, also it’s easy and healthy.

A few notes upfront. I follow a high fat, low carb diet. This recipe calls for a lot of oil, but it won’t hurt you, I promise. You need these calories when you’re eating a dish made of entirely of plants.

Second, like I said at the top, I follow a throw it in the pan method of cooking. If you don’t like spicy or you don’t like broccoli, leave it out. I recommend keeping the tomatoes, garlic or ginger because those are sort of the point, but pretty much everything else could go if it had to.

How it works

Before I start, I want to emphasize that this recipe is easy. I’m still trying to learn how to make a recipe seem easy, but still make it thorough enough that you can make it even if you don’t cook much. I like to include a lot of details but I don’t mean to make it look scary. It really isn’t!

First thing to do is chop your eggplant. I slice it into 1 inch slices, then quarter each slice. Then you sweat it. Lay it out on paper towel and sprinkle salt over the pieces. This draws out moisture to let it fry better. Let the moisture sweat for 15 minutes, then get fresh towels, flip the pieces onto the new paper, salt again, and sweat for another 15 minutes. (If you do a web search, there is a big debate over whether or not this is necessary. I’ve never *not* done it, so I have no idea how pan fried eggplant would be without sweating.)

While that’s happening, get out your block of tofu. For this recipe I use half a block, but I think you could use the whole thing if you wanted to. The sauce just wouldn’t spread as far. Either way, drain and rinse. Slice it into rectangular blocks, maybe like 2 inches x ½ inch. Then sandwich between paper towels to dry. (10 minutes is enough but I usually just leave it until all the other prep is done.)

Do all your mincing and chopping while you’re waiting on the big boys to get ready. Once you get cooking it can go fairly fast so I like to have everything laid out next to the stove. That way when I inevitably forget something (not pictured here: broth) I can grab it without causing too much chaos. Is this obvious to other people? I’m causing chaos all the time so I do not know.

All the prepped ingredients lined up by the stove. Not pictured: vinegar & broth (I forgot to get them out.)

The cooking happens in 3 stages, but all in the same pot. Start with the eggplant. Fry in 2 tablespoons of oil on medium high for 8 minutes, stirring it around occasionally. (If it seems too dry and/or is sticking to the pan, add a little more oil.) It should be soft and slightly browned on both sides. Set it aside on a plate and move on to tofu.

In the same pan, heat another 2-3 tablespoons of oil (depending on how much your eggplant soaked up and how much is left). I recommend removing the pan from heat when you add your tofu because it will jump and splash immediately. Arrange the tofu so that the pieces have enough space in the pan, then move to the burner, and heat on medium-high.

How I like to fry my tofu is to do one side, then flip it 90 degrees and do the next side, until 4 sides are done (no need to get the small ends). Start the first side at 2 minutes, then do diminishing increments for each side after. So 2 minutes, turn pieces, 90 seconds, turn pieces, 60 seconds, turn pieces, 30 seconds. I start the timer after I’ve flipped every piece, and I try to begin the flipping at different spots in the pan each round. At the end of the process, scoop tofu onto a paper towel with a slotted spatula, and let the towel soak some of the oil.

Tofu on Side 2

Now it’s time for the sauce. Make sure your can of crushed tomatoes is opened and ready. Add the garlic to the oil left over from the tofu, sauté on medium for 30 seconds only! The oil is already very hot so anymore than that and your garlic will burn. (The garlic is burnt in all of the photos you see in this post tbh.)

Now add the tomatoes, stirring to blend the garlic. They should be cooking at a fast simmer or a low boil. Continue simmering on Medium while you add the rest of the sauce ingredients: fresh ginger, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Stir in each ingredient, then add the next. When you have added all sauce components (other than broth) let the whole thing simmer together for 3-5 minutes to let the flavors blend.

When the mix is fragrant and the thickness of a jar of pasta sauce, add ½ cup of vegetable broth to thin it out. Turn the burner to high, stirring continuously, until sauce comes to boil. Turn back down to medium immediately, stir more to prevent from sticking to pan.

Next, add onions, red peppers, mushrooms, and broccoli. Let simmer until the broccoli is starting to look soft (maybe 5 minutes) then add in the eggplant and tofu. Continue stirring occasionally for another couple of minutes until the eggplant and tofu look like they have soaked up some of the sauce. Finally, add in the spinach and chia seeds, stirring well until the spinach is wilted and everything is blended together.

The final product in the pan

Add some sesame seeds to the top and enjoy! Serve with rice or another grain if you want, but I eat it plain. Sometimes I add in some cashew pieces for extra crunch.

The Food


EGGPLANT TOMATO STIR-FRY WITH TOFU

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Print

A hearty and healthy vegan single pan dinner

Notes: Vegetables are all different sizes, so I recommend using the weighted amounts I provide if you have a scale available. (You should totally get one if you don’t have one!) Please don’t be discouraged by the number of steps in the recipe. It’s easy! Cook your eggplant and tofu, then basically throw everything else in the pan in order of ingredients and you’re good to go.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 TBL Avocado Oil (Olive is fine)
  • 400g Eggplant (1 small)
  • 220g Tofu (½ block)
  • -¼ tsp Black Pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 14g Garlic (2-3 cloves), minced
  • 15oz can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 14g Ginger (large chunk), minced
  • 2 TBL low-sodium Soy Sauce (Tamari for gluten free)
  • 2 TBL Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 TBL Rice Vinegar (or Apple Cider Vinegar)
  • 1 TBL Maple Syrup
  • up to ½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes (for desired spiciness)
  • ½ Cup low-sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 70g Onion (½ medium), chopped
  • 90g Red Bell Pepper (1 cup), chopped
  • 40g Shiitake Mushrooms (1 cup)
  • 100g Broccoli florets (1 cup)
  • 56g Spinach (2 cups), stems removed
  • 1 TBL Chia Seeds

Directions

  1. Sweat eggplant: spread pieces onto paper towel, add salt and let moisture draw
  2. out. After 15 minutes, switch sides and repeat.
  3. Set tofu slices on paper towel to dry.
  4. Prep everything else.
  5. Heat 2 TBL oil on medium-high heat.
  6. Pat the excess moisture off of eggplant, then add to oil. Sauté 7-8 minutes until soft and browning. Set aside.
  7. Add more oil, then pull pan off burner and add tofu. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Cook on all four long sides. Start with 2 minutes, flip 90 degrees, cook 90 seconds, flip, cook 60 seconds, flip, cook 4th side for 30 seconds (if it doesn’t seem crispy or look tan enough give it another 15 seconds.)
  9. With a slotted spatula, set tofu onto paper towel to drain oil. NOTE: if there is more oil than needed to sautee garlic, you can pour out the excess.
  10. Add the garlic to oil, cook 30 seconds.
  11. Add tomatoes, stirring until garlic is blended. Let simmer 1 minute.
  12. Add ginger, simmer another minute.
  13. Add soy sauce or tamari, Worcestershire, vinegar, maple syrup, and red pepper flakes. Stir in each ingredient before adding the next. When all added, let simmer 3 minutes.
  14. Add broth, stir until combined. Turn burner to high and let sauce come to a boil, then turn back down to medium again.
  15. Add onions, red bell pepper, mushrooms, and broccoli. Simmer until broccoli is soft, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  16. Add eggplant and tofu, folding into the the rest of the stir-fry. Let simmer 3-5 minutes.
  17. Add in chia seeds and spinach. Stir until everything is well-mixed and spinach is wilted.
  18. Serve as desired. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving size: ⅓ of dish (573g); 446 Calories; 28 g Fat; 26.6 g Net Carbs; 12 g Fiber; 15.2 g Protein

Welcome Back

Hi. I’m Lydia. I’m a mess. 

I don’t mean that like, “omg I ate 7 pieces of pizza today,” or “I’ve worn this hoodie everyday this week” or “I gave myself a black eye in my sleep” (although all recent truths). I’m saying, I am a whole mess. I’m a 30something single woman living with her parents, abandoning 5 years and 2 degrees worth of graduate school because standard day job work gives me crippling depression, and so I work as a Lyft driver with six figures of debt and sometimes well-managed mental health issues. And on top of all of those things I’m the kind of obese that has to shop in a specialty store because the plus-size section at the regular size store probably doesn’t have sizes big enough. That’s a lot of issues, and a lot of mess. Nevermind my inability to arrive anywhere on time or organize a closet. Last year, I tried to Marie Kondo my part of the house, but ended up just moving into the guest room and started calling the bedroom my walk-in closet. See? A mess. 

IMG_9071
My face

Um, okay…

So many blogs, and even more instagrams, want you to believe that their lives are perfect. That the outcome you see is simple and organic. Every pie, soup and refurbished bookshelf turns out perfect on the first try, and looks beautiful in its gorgeously decorated, perfectly lit kitchen or living room, enjoyed by beautiful people in their pristine, dry clean only casual attire. Usually the blogger is a superwoman who runs every aspect of her life like clockwork, works out all morning and still has time to do her hair and makeup before this baking and cooking and painting happens. All over the internet are people who want you to believe they’re the next Martha Stewart, but with fewer felonies and more used Anthropologie gift cards.  

But none of that is real. A lot of those accounts have entire staffs working for them, teams for cooking and staging and web design. Which, good for them for their achievements. A thriving small business is something to be proud of for sure. But that’s not what’s presented to us.What we see is one person writing a quick entry to show off what she just whipped up. We don’t see all the attempts that weren’t a success, the photos that didn’t turn out exactly perfect. We only see the best version, no matter how much editing goes into it. 

To be fair, maybe for some people it is real. Maybe they really have culinary and domestic intuition to get everything right on the first try. They really achieved the charmed life, and were blessed with the ability to be organized and task-oriented and never miss a beat. Congratulations to those magical people (and their pharmacists). But the rest of us are messy. Maybe you’re not as messy as me, but we all have our moments. 

Weight loss stories are too often the same way. “Well, I realized drinking Mountain Dew was bad for me, so I stopped doing that and lost 200 pounds.” If only it was that easy. There is so much to weight loss, and obesity in general, that no one wants to talk about. Ups, downs, plateaus. Oddities and unpleasantness that we guard and hold inside ourselves because of the shame and guilt we’ve been told to feel. Too many people want to talk about results, but they aren’t prepared for the journey. I don’t love using buzzwords like journey, but that’s what it is. It takes time, effort, and a kind of self-control that I only possess some of the time.

I don’t mean to sound overly critical. I love the kind of accounts I’ve been talking about. I love seeing people’s transformation stories, and I love seeing a perfectly set farm to table meal in a rustic gourmet kitchen. It’s aspirational. In spite of everything I know about myself and the world of Influencers, I can still look at something and think, “if she can do it, there’s no reason I can’t too.”  

But as much as I like looking at those things, I know they aren’t what I need. I need something true. Something more relatable. I need to write about my struggles with weight loss, self-care, and healthy living. I can’t pretend everything is going smoothly if it isn’t. I don’t have time for that, really, because the sooner I’m healthy the better. So I need a place where I can hold myself accountable. If I mess up, get distracted or stumble, I want to have this place to tell someone about it. Really talk about it, without sugar-coating. Sugar is what got me in the plus size section in the first place, so we’re done with that. 

I hope that you can read this and think, “Omg, I can’t believe there are other people that do that. That’s crazy, I thought I was the only one.” You’re not, and I’m not! One time when I was signing up for personal training at the gym, the training manager said to me without preamble, “Don’t even worry, you’re not the most out of shape person I’ve seen doing this training. Not by a long shot.” At first I was put off, like ‘…well obviously not. That thought never crossed my mind.’ But the more I thought about it, the more I wasn’t offended, I was reassured. Like, ‘well good. Maybe I’m not the only person feeling a little bit embarrassed working out in this giant open room.’ And who’s to say only the people with the most work to do will be the people feeling shy or embarrassed? Or that the people who appear to be fit aren’t self-conscious for their own reasons? And who’s to say the people who that guy thinks will be embarrassed are going to be?? Maybe they’re proud because they showed up to do the best they could. The point is that we all have our journeys. We all have our own insecurities, our own hurdles, and our own measurements of success.  

I want a place where I can feel safe to be honest about my progress. I want to talk about both my wins and my failures, because even the failures (there are many) are ways to learn how I can do better. When I started this blog over a decade ago (!!!) I knew nothing. It’s been so long since my last post, and a lot has happened. Now I have so much further to go, but I also know so much more about food, wellness, and myself. Hopefully if I tell you about what and how I’m doing, that will make both of us feel a little less alone. I’m trying to build a better Lydia, but I think you’ll find some ways for how to better yourself too. 

But You’re A Mess…

Sometimes my messiness is funny. Sometimes, it’s heartbreaking. Occasionally, it goes away and I seem like I know exactly what I’m doing. I’m trying hard to make that last one happen more often. What I said in the beginning about the messes with the pizza, the hoodie, and the black eye? Well, the pizza was made with cauliflower crust, and it was a small. The hoodie is the shirt I wear when I go for my nightly walk. I wash it frequently. The black eye…okay that one was weird. My friend Google says it was actually because of my sinuses; my mom agrees I would have definitely woken up if I punched myself that hard. No matter, cold compresses, allergy meds, and a cucumber mask cleared it up a few days later. 

The point is that right now my goal is small victories. I don’t know enough about architectural history to give you some clever allusions to fast and small building processes, but just know I’m trying to show you the means before I show you the end. I’m trying pretty hard to build a better Lydia.

That’s all lovely but isn’t this a food blog?

Only kind of. I want this blog to be all about self-improvement. Not just clean eating, but healthy living, physically and emotionally. But I also want to offer something readers can take away from each post (aside from my clever prose). I’m a “jump to recipe” type of gal 90% of the time, so I think that’s important. Today though, I just wanted to touch base and say here I am and this is what’s happening moving forward. 

Stay healthy,

Lydia

 

9 ‘Healthy’ Alternatives that are Just as Bad as the Originals via HuffPo

9 ‘Healthy’ Alternatives that are Just as Bad as the Originals via HuffPo

Oh wow, I am so sorry I am the worst blogger ever! It’s inexcusable but here’s some excuses anyway: I sprained my knee, badly enough that I was totally incapacitated for a bit, then I went on vacation, then I started a new job, then I went on another vacation and then I got the flu. There you have it, my entire summer in one run-on sentence. 

I’m happy to report I didn’t gain any weight while recovering from my knee sprain, which is unusual, usually people gain anywhere from 5-20 pounds, but I was trying hard to keep myself in line even if I wasn’t spending an hour on the elliptical or doing 100 squats. (Sadly I still can’t do either of those things…yet!) But with the new job, I’ve had less time to devote to the healthy living process. I worry about getting sucked into easy routines that aren’t as clean or healthy as I’d prefer, so I’m trying to stay aware of what I’m doing to and with my body via food and exercise. It is hard though, and I promise to write more about it later. 

In the meantime, I thought this article was pretty interesting. I didn’t really know that about skim milk. Interesting. While rehabbing my knee I’ve been ingesting more conventional (re: animal) forms of protein, so this is definitely something important for me to think about. I had a bag of microwave popcorn a couple weeks ago and it genuinely tasted like chemicals. The idea that we are ingesting the GLUE and INK from the bag is really horrifying.

Anyway, I just wanted to pop in and post this list. And to say hello. Hello! I will be back soon. 

Summer Salad

All winter long, it felt like I was on a great quest only instead of a holy grail I was searching for easy and tasty ways to prepare vegetables. In the summer, I don’t have to look very far. Inevitably, when summer rolls around, all I ever want is a nice dinner salad. I think it’s the sunlight that inspires me to eat brightly colored cool foods. I search Pinterest for new summer salad recipes at least once a week. One thing I love about salads is that virtually anything in your kitchen can go in one. That leaves a ton of room for creativity and innovation. But a lot of times salad recipes in cookbooks and online call for ingredients that require a special grocery trip or take too long to prepare, which is great sometimes but not always. Sometimes I just want a plain old dinner salad.

Lately, my favorite salad to make has been just that: one that gets back to the basics. Honestly it reminds me of the kind of salad you’d make at a salad bar, except the ingredients are fresh and haven’t been manhandled by who knows how many strangers.

Summer Salad
Summer Salad

This salad is all veggies (plus some sunflower seeds). It is super easy to prepare, and would be a good option to take for lunch at the office. The recipe as it stands is for one entree-sized salad. If you want to make more just increase the amount of ingredients proportionally.

Summer Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • Handful Mixed Greens and/or Spinach
  • 1 Heart of Romaine
  • 1 Campari Tomato (or other small variety)
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Cucumber
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Carrots (or Matchstick Carrots)
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Broccoli
  • 1-2 TBL Chopped Red Onion
  • 1/2 a Small Avocado
  • 1 TBL Sunflower Seeds

Combine all ingredients except avocado. Toss. Address vinaigrette and avocado. Toss again. Enjoy!

Honey Dijon Vinaigrette:

1 Teaspoon Each:

  • Honey (or Agave if Vegan)
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice

summer saladOne important thing to note about this salad is that these proportions are not mandatory. I don’t like much tomato or onion in my salad, so I limited the quantity. One the other hand I love lettuce and avocado so I added a bit more. If you feel the opposite, just adjust your quantities accordingly! This is just a starting guide, really. The dressing, Honey Dijon Vinaigrette, is one of my favorites, and is generally my go-to for a vegetable salad. You can make a big batch and store in a mason jar, but it only keeps for a few days.

This salad is easy to make and pretty tasty. Plus the fiber and nutrients make it surprisingly filling, even though it is fairly low in calories (around 250). It’s just a nice, crisp and refreshing bowl of vegetables that works best in summer, but could probably be enjoyable all year round!