Sunday, November 27, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 27: Lentil Stew and Eating Out

The photo didn't turn out well since I took it with my BlackBerry. I was at Surfa's the other day and the bag of canary lentils were calling out my name. I knew I wanted to make a soup with kale and lentils, even though I've never cooked with lentils before, so I perused some recipes online and improvised.

The stew is atop some spaghetti squash that was cooked in the microwave. Trying to be a little more healthy, I thought it might be a good substitute for rice or pasta. Oh my gosh, this was so awesome.

I started with sauteeing some chopped celery, onions and carrots, then added red bell peppers and chopped sun-dried tomatoes, then water and lentils. After the lentils cooked, added kale for a little while, then seasoned with salt and pepper. Oh, added some fresh rosemary that was left from the focaccia making a while back. I love how the veggies make this so flavorful.

This turned out to be a really versatile dish, too. I had enough to eat over several days. One day, I sprinkled a little grated parmesan cheese over it. It added a little more depth to the flavors. Earlier, I ate a little for a snack and topped it with some kimchi to add some heat. That was really good, too. Since I didn't use any recipe, I'm not sure if I'll be able to recreate this again but it'll be fun to make another made-up soup one day.

A couple of days ago, I ate out and had a sandwich with a side of fries. I'm always amazed at how large serving sizes continue to be at restaurants. I'm not sure if it's the mentality of "getting your money's worth" that customers continue to demand, but if portions were smaller, I would think the dishes could be cheaper so you'd still have the same food-to-price ratio.

I've been making it a habit to eat no more than half of whatever I order when I eat out. I'm still more than full usually. This last time, even half the portion was more than enough. I ordered what was called a "Cuban sandwich" (although not at a Cuban restaurant) thinking it would only be a few slices of ham and other meats, but it was piled high with the meats like a pastrami sandwich. I could have just had a pastrami sandwich.

And of course, the fries were served by the moundful. I ate a little less than a half, I think. Since I was going hiking yesterday, I thought it'll be okay to eat the meaty sandwich the night before, and also have it for breakfast. I guess because the hike was pretty light, I really didn't need the sandwich for breakfast. So I ate the sandwich and about half of the leftover fries, so I still have some fries left. That's nearly three meals that this one restaurant serving made for me. And the crazy thing is, I'm sure many people eat it all in one sitting at the restaurant!

With all the talk about eating healthy and restaurants claiming to serve health-conscious foods, I still find it mind-boggling that these enormous servings are celebrated, along with heavy seasonings (everything tastes salty to me when I eat out) and lots of meats, cheeses, refined flours and other not-so-healthy stuff.

I can't see any viable solution to the obesity and other health problems in this country without addressing what we eat when we eat out. Sure, the customers demand it, but I think restaurants can be more accountable and proactive, too.

Lots to think about when I eat out. Now I'm off to make a hash-like side dish with the final leftovers of the fries - I think I'll mash it up a bit and fry it up in my saute pan with an egg and maybe some kale. One good thing about leftovers - especially unhealthy ones, it makes me think about how to make it a little bit healthy or stretch it out.

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