It is now summer vacation. Ah, summer vacation. Every year, I am filled with plans and ideas about how I want to spend the next 6-8 weeks. And every year, it comes to the end of August and I’ve done none of them. So this year, I’m doing it differently. The kids and I made a list of sunny day things to do, rainy day things to do and a (much shorter) list of mummy things to do. I’ve already crossed off a number of things on my list and we’re looking forward to doing the ones on the list the kids created. Luckily, these are mostly fun things- swimming, the zoo, the museums, art projects, etc.
The big one on my list is to “quit” sugar. I read this book recently:
and while I disagree with some of her premise (I mean, if people evolved near the tropics, they would eat more fruit which means their bodies would naturally be able to process sugar more efficiently….right?), I agree with the general idea of having less sugar in our systems.
Sadly, I’m not sure that her recipes were tested prior to publication. That, or the Australian conversations to the U.S. weren’t so accurate. Her oven temps seem to be off and since I cook, I KNEW some of things she said wouldn’t work but I tried them anyway. Nonetheless, I have made some pretty tasty food so far (I’m about a week into this whole experiment) including her “meal-in-a-cracker” which my husband and daughter tried and spit out by my son and mother loved.
Tonight I did a spin on a polenta suggested meal by adding asparagus and mushrooms and playing around with the tomato basil “salsa”. Truthfully, I could have measured for the salsa a bit better but it worked.
Wish me luck on this journey! I’d like to reduce the amount of sugar I consume- I’m not sure I want to eliminate it entirely but let’s see.
Polenta with sautéed greens, asparagus, mushrooms, poached egg and tomato salsa.
Loosely based on the recipe from I Quit Sugar.
2 cups water
1/2 cup corn meal or grits
Optional: a bit of parm cheese, cream cheese or milk
About one to two cups of cooking greens (spinach, beet greens, collard greens, etc)
Olive oil, salt
1 egg per person
For tomato “salsa”
2-3 roma tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, minced
several fresh basil leaves (to taste, really)
a splash or two of olive oil
a splash or two of apple cider vinegar
Bunch of asparagus
This meal is mostly about timing. Since most of the elements are quickly thrown together, it can be hard to get everything to come out at the right time. Luckily, not to worry, many of these ingredients are also quite forgiving.
Okay, start with the polenta. Bring the water and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk in the corm meal slowly so as to avoid lumps. Once it’s all incorporated, lower the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring it once in a while so that it doesn’t stick. If you want to add cheese, etc., now is the time. Grease a pie pan or loaf pan (I used canola oil spray) and pour the polenta into it. Let it firm up in the fridge for a few hours.
Next work on your asparagus. Heat your oven to 425. On a baking sheet, place your asparagus and sprinkle with some olive oil and salt- not too much of either, just enough to coat. Roast them in the oven for 10-20 minutes depending on how crispy you like yours- I tend to go longer for mine.
Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add some olive oil and then the sliced mushrooms. Let them brown, shaking the pan occasionally, to help them not stick. Don’t stir for the first few minutes, then just once or twice.
Chop your tomatoes.
Once your polenta firms up, slice it into portions. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a skillet. Now, the quit sugar woman says to just place the sliced polenta into the skillet and let it brown on each side. However, I found that it sticks if you do that. So, it may make sense to dredge the slices in flour so that they are lightly breaded before you put them into the pan. Regardless, brown on each side then place on serving plates.
Take a spoon and stir your water that is simmering. You’re making kind of a tornado effect. Crack your egg into the tornado and then cover the pan. Let the egg cook over low heat for about 2-4 minutes, depending on how done you like your poached eggs.
Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet (you can keep using the one you started with) over medium high heat and add the greens. Cook them for about two to four minutes until they are wilted to your liking. Salt to taste.
Start with the polenta. (Mine fell apart, because I didn’t flour it first)
This was actually really good. I completely recommend it, in any iteration you desire– no asparagus, extra mushrooms, no cheese in the polenta, roasted peppers… it’s pretty easy to tailor it to your liking. It’s a good balance of flavors and textures- the polenta is creamy, the greens are bitter (in a good way) which plays nicely off the mushrooms and egg. It really was good, so much so, that I’m already thinking about having it for lunch tomorrow.