Friday, November 09, 2018

Omelet meal prep, Halloween eats and Books

It looks like meal prepping is having a moment. Beautifully laid out containers of prepped and portioned meals are all over the food blogs, Instagram and other forums. Of all the food trends out there (looking at you, cake pops, bacon everything and salted caramel), meal prepping- preparing several well-balanced meals in one go- is a pretty useful one. Given access to a fridge and freezer, making several portions of a meal at once can save time and money and make it easier to eat in a healthier way. All while making one feel very wholesome in a domestic goddessy way.

I am not typically into large scale meal prep, preferring to make a fresh meal every evening with extra servings for lunch the following day. Breakfast is another story. The dash to school and work starts at an ungodly hour in our household and it is useful to have breakfast prepped and ready to go. No two people in our little family like the same thing for breakfast. V eats granola every single day- I make it in big batches every couple of weeks and can share our house recipe if anyone is interested. The kids rotate through a few simple breakfasts- pancakes, oatmeal, idli with ghee, avocado toast, boiled egg, smoothies, cereal with fruit. All of these can be made ahead or made in a couple of minutes. As for me, I like eggs for breakfast.

I'm sharing a very simple omelet and veggies meal prep that I have been doing pretty consistently for a few months now. Omelets don't sound like a typical make-ahead dish but in fact they hold very well in the fridge. You make omelets while a tray of vegetables is being roasted and portion the combination into containers. It makes for a filling and nutritious breakfast/lunch that can be warmed up and made piping hot in a minute or so in the microwave oven. For the final touch, I choose from Sriracha sauce and Valentina hot sauce that I have tucked away at my desk for dousing purposes.

My sister gave me a spice mix called "R-Pure omelette masala" that I love and use in this recipe all the time. But basic salt and pepper work beautifully if you don't want to go hunting for a special spice mix.

For the masala omelets

6-8 large eggs (depending on whether you want 1.5 or 2 eggs per serving)
1/4 cup  minced onion
Handful of cilantro, minced
1 small tomato, minced (optional)
Minced hot pepper or red pepper flakes to taste
Salt and pepper (or omelet masala) to taste

Beat the eggs until frothy. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Make 4 omelets in a non-stick pan using a little oil.

For the roasted veggies

Raid the crisper tray in the fridge. Any combination of cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, potato, carrots, onion, peppers, mushrooms etc. will do.

Dice the vegetables and spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet, season liberally with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 425F.

I use the convection setting on my oven for 12 minutes. Then I turn the oven off and leave the tray in there for another 5-10 minute for perfect roasted vegetables.

Let the omelets and roasted veg cool down for a few minutes, then portion into four containers and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

* * *
Some simple Halloween treats from last week...

Clementine "pumpkins" (celery for the stem)
Corn and black bean salsa

Lila had a hankering for pumpkin pie around Halloween. I found this recipe for impossible pumpkin pie- it was impossibly easy. You just put a bunch of things (all stuff I already had on hand) in a bowl, stir (or get your kid to stir, better yet), pour into a pie dish and bake.

This pudding-like pie turned out perfectly delicious and not too sweet. The recipe is eggless. I'd definitely make it again.

My adorable weightlifting instructor went all Pinterest mom on us and made us post-workout Halloween treats: white chocolate covered strawberry "ghosts" and peanut butter chocolate oat "bats" with blue tortilla chip wings. So sweet!

* * *
On the subject of my last post, I picked up a library copy of Lean Habits For Lifelong Weight Loss: Mastering 4 Core Eating Behaviors to Stay Slim Forever by a Canadian nutritionist, Georgie Fear. The four core eating behaviors endorsed in this book are to eat 3 meals without snacking, mastering your hunger, eating just enough, and eating mostly whole foods. No surprises there. Truly, there are very few surprises when it comes to losing extra weight. We all know what to do, more or less, but just because something is simple doesn't mean it is easy. This slim book (written in tiny font for some reason) has very practical tips to build solid habits, although each person will have to do their own work to figure out, for instance, what is "just enough food" for their own needs. The book suggests building each meal with 2-3 cups of vegetables, adding a certain amount of protein, some form of healthy fat, and carb-rich foods if there is room, depending on how your body can handle them. The book also has chapters on emotional eating, drinking enough water, not drinking liquid calories (soda, juice, sugary coffee drinks), getting enough sleep and so on. 

Continuing with the Read Harder 2018 challenge...

For Task #10 A romance novel by or about a person of color, I read a graphic novel, Bingo Love, written by Tee Franklin with art by Jenn St-Onge. Two teenage girls meet at their grandmothers' church bingo game in 1963. They are quickly inseparable and in love by the time they graduate high school. But the time isn't right for their romance; they are forced apart for the next several decades, marrying men and raising families before reuniting as grandmothers. The art in this slim graphic novel is incredible and the romance is sweet but the story-telling felt rushed and underdeveloped.

Task #15 is A one-sitting book, which makes me think of genres like kid lit and graphic novels. But for this task, I read a novella, The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. If you read more than 30 minutes in a sitting, this is a one sitting book but I, ahem, read it over three nights. Such is the reading life of a tired parent. I enjoyed this book very much and highly recommend it. The Queen (yes, the one in England) stumbles upon a mobile library in a corner of the palace grounds and makes a new friend in a kitchen helper named Norman who is an avid reader and frequenter of the mobile library. In a matter of days the queen becomes a voracious reader, much to the chagrin of her advisers. Book lovers will love this cheeky and funny little novel which celebrates the pleasures of reading. “Books are not about passing the time. They're about other lives. Other worlds.”

Task #18 was A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image. Now, I don't know a thing about comic book publishers but I am guessing this task was designed to encourage reading beyond the superhero comic genre. I chose Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol. Anya is struggling with high school, resentful of her immigrant Russian background and feeling quite blue one day when she falls into an old well and meets and befriends the ghost of a teenager from nearly a century ago. Again, I thought the artwork in this graphic novel was absolutely terrific and the story was just okay for me.

Task #23 was A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60. Here I turned to the tried and true beloved elderly spinster (what an archaic term that is) Miss Marple and read A Murder Is Announced (Miss Marple #5) by Agatha Christie. Because sometimes you just need to read an Agatha Christie and this is a terrific one that somehow I hadn't read before.

Happy Diwali to everyone who is celebrating it this week! We are deferring our celebration to the weekend when we will be sure to light a row of lamps and make a nice meal.

Do you prep your meals in advance? What are you reading these days?


  1. Hi Nupur,
    Pumpkin pie looks delicious:-)
    I am not too much into meal prepping and like you just make extra portions during dinner to carry for lunch.
    However now with a 3 year old and a 2 month old and almost no help days are a bit unpredictable so getting dinner on time is sometimes a struggle. I am thinking of spending some time to see if meal prep is something whuch can help me.
    Could you please share your granila recipe. Would love to try it out

    1. Hi Kejal,

      It is indeed hard to get anything done with two little kids to take care of! Some form of meal prep really help me a lot, such as keeping the kitchen stocked with ingredients that make it easy to put quick meals together, and keeping some meal components handy- for instance, containers of prepared chutneys/sauces in the freezer.

  2. The simplicity of the Canadian book reminded me of a mentor of mine who used a similar set of principlesto lose weight and has kept it off for a good 10 years now.

    His "rules" are:

    Eat the same meals everyday
    Don't eat anything strange
    Don't overeat
    Avoid dairy-wheat-white sugar

    He was already vegetarian but the last one was due to some intolerances he had developed over time.

    He was never overweight but he had gained some "age appropriate" haha weight but is now back to his high school weight.

    There was another book called the vice busting diet which also takes an exception management type approach by identifying what exactly one is doing wrong and fix that.

    For example , if you have a post dinner ice cream habit or a daily 3pm cookie habit then just eliminate that one thing, your "vice", and monitor results.

    PS: those clementines look so cute and your instructor is adorbs.

    1. Hi Janani- I think the "don't overeat" rule is fundamental! It seems like each one of us has to come up with a set of rules for ourselves, something to live our lives by, because the default is "eat anything, anytime, as much as you like" and that backfires in our food-laden culture. There are just so many approaches out there, and that is exciting because it means each one of us can experiment and find something that works.

  3. Meal prep photos look very pretty but I like to put my meal together when I serve - so while I am happy to have stew and rice and broccoli I don't have them sitting waiting to be warmed - my fridge isn't huge and I don't mind putting them together to serve - that is the least of my worries! Sounds like you had some fun over halloween and are doing some interesting reading - I understand that sometimes agatha christie is just what you need - and it is nice to know that there are some older heroines that are easy to think of.

    1. Johanna- I have wondered about that "putting the meal together" bit that you mention! For instance, I see photos of meal prepped taco bowls that have tortilla chips sitting next to raw veggies, including avocado, and some meat/beans mix. How does the avocado not brown and the tortilla chips not get soggy over 2-3 days and how would one reheat the meat/bean thing without popping the raw veg into the microwave? So many questions ;) Anyway, I too would put the meal together right before eating and pack different components in separate containers.

  4. Meal prep - Not a huge fan. When we were in US and doing the cooking by ourselves, we used to make extra dinner for lunch next day. And frankly, I can eat the same food only 2 times consecutively (lol). I remember trying meal prep back in the day, but somehow eating food that has been sitting in the fridge seems not too appetizing. A lot of my friends though swear by meal prep, so I guess depends on the taste and personal preference.
    In India, we are fortunate to have found an amazing cook who cooks the meals fresh. My meal prep is now limited to making snacks for the kid's and my dabba and for husband's snacking - granola (would love ur recipe btw), roasted nuts, nutribars, energy balls/laddus and nut butters.

    1. Neha- You are so right that meal prepping is a matter of personal preference. I LOVE food that's been sitting in the fridge (for 2,3 days, not more, of course) and then reheated until steaming hot- I think it improves the flavor of most Indian food, and things like chili. Also, I don't mind eating the same thing several meals in a row. So meal prepping actually makes a lot of sense for me. But it is not for everyone, particularly if you have access to someone who can cook fresh meals for you!

    2. Nupur, ditto! Thanks for saying that! glad to be in good company!

  5. Hi there! Its great reading your blog and whenever i see your post, thats the first thing i read :) lovv how u always manage to do great meals and plan so well! Wud lov to try your home made granola so am gonna be on the look out for that post :) Happy belated Diwali!

    1. Happy Diwali to you too and thanks for the nice note!

  6. Dear Nupur,

    I have been a silent reader and admirer of your writings. I have tried many recipes from your Blog with success. Thanks for the wonderful and easy recipes.

    1. Thank you, silent reader, for this kind note- I truly appreciate it! :)

  7. hello Nupur,
    I commented on your previous post on weight management; looks like it got lost. Anyways, about a month ago, hubby was confirmed diabetic. He has it in his family; we were disappointed, not surprised. Meal preps have become the norm for past 4 weeks;more now than before.
    I'm cooking recipes from ADA (American Diabetes Association) website, portioning them into individual containers for the entire week. So each day he has to carry a box for breakfast, lunch and some homemade hummus for snacks and nuts if needed. For breakfast, we tried cooked cut oats portioned in mason jars, with some fruit/nut toppings, stew (veggies/beans) portioned for lunch, nuts/home made hummus, roasted nuts with spices, low-skim cheese sticks etc. for snacks. I tried low-fat ricotta cheese/spinach lasagna and everyone loved it. One week I tried moong dosas and plan to alternate this with different chutneys each week to bring in some variety. I also plan to make quinoa for the week and we can eat with yogurt and chutney variations for lunch/dinner.With food in check, he has lost 10.2 lbs in a month and I'm happy for him.:-)
    Loved your Halloween treats; such an inspiring trainer. How fun !! Haven't had any time to do reading as work has been very hectic and we've been busy outside of work too.

    Belated Diwali to you and your family and have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving :-)

    1. Dear Meena, I'm sorry to hear of your husband's type 2 diabetes diagnosis. That's a bummer for sure. Good for you for making so many dietary changes and seeing the results!

      From my previous experience with gestational diabetes, and looking up the ADA website, I must say that I was sorely disappointed with their emphasis on low fat and insistence on eating carbs (which diabetics are struggling to tolerate), I feel like their diet advice is very outdated. Healthy fats are satiating. Anyway, that's my personal opinion.

      Wishing your family good health and happiness! All the food you've mentioned sounds delicious :)

  8. Hi Nupur,

    The clementines and strawberries look so cute. I made a spider pizza at home before the kids set out to trick or treat.

    I do a little bit of meal prep over the weekend. Nothing major, just a few basics to help during the week. I make a batch of granola as well since hubby and I both eat it for breakfast. Other than that, I'll do stuff like boil a few eggs, prep fruit like grapes (de-stem and wash), cut melons/cantaloupes, make a batch of muffins or waffle batter. I try to bake or grill chicken on Monday for dinner so, I'll marinate it on Sunday itself. Soak and start sprouts, make a batch of idli/dosa batter. I don't do all these things every weekend but, some of them, depending on what's going on that week.
    I used to prep veggies, like chopping them etc but, no longer do that. Cut veggies lose nutrients even more rapidly so, I now cut them before I cook them. But, I will do stuff like clean a bunch or two of cilantro, if I've bought methi, remove the leaves. Make a batch of ghee or chicken broth.

    I do meal plan somewhat so that gives me an idea of what I could do over the weekend to make things a bit easier during the week.

    Do read the book "Eating on the Wild Side" if you get your hands on a copy. It gave me a lot of tips on how to store and prep veggies and which order to eat them in. Some such as broccoli and spinach should be eaten right away since they lose nutrients rapidly after they are harvested.

    I do like your idea of the omlette-veggies situation. Will try it one week.


    1. Hi Anu, spider pizza sounds awesome! Will file away that idea for next year. I love your meal prep. I too make hard-boiled eggs and cut some fruit, and those little things come in very handy especially when you have kids at home who clamor for snacks on the hour every hour. Like you, I cut veggies right when I need them- with practice, it takes no time at all. Thanks for the book reco- I will look for it!

    2. Forgot to mention, the author is Jo Robinson.


  9. hi nupur, i just read this lovely essay and thought of you immediately. thought you might like to read:


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