This latest business trip has come in the midst of a health kick for both DH and I. We generally eat like poo (read: burritos for dinner every night, Starbucks lunches, 2 daily Starbucks drink breaks & buffet breakfasts) on this trip, as there is not a terrible lot to do and the Mexican options are so much better than where we live. Ooh. And our obligatory trip to Blaze Pizza for as much (halal but still awesome) Italian sausage as my cheese-less pizza can handle.
This last month, we’ve both been focusing our meals on protein first, generally eating low carb and for me at least – still veggies that (probably) won’t cause me issues. It’s not a terribly SMART goal (yet), but baby steps. One of us is digging out of a carb & cheese hole.
We have stayed at this hotel a bunch – but I forgot which one it was in the planning and was super sad to see there was no microwave. Life would be much easier with a microwave.
At least we’ve got a fridge, a kettle and fruit basket. I can work with that. Luckily, DH eats a big salad while at work and I’m generally full from breakfast (1 scoop of the curry of the day + 1 poached egg + 1 serving curry-supporting starch of the day + 2 scoops sautéed mushrooms is my go-to) until late afternoon. So, that makes things easier. We are both people who are happy with appetizers for dinner for the most part and we love a good snack.
The initial plan:
Aaaaand then reality hit.
Thank goodness we also have (half) a mini fridge and can push all the mini bar options to the side.
On to the groceries! My first full day here I made myself grocery shop, sans 3/4 of my plan, and picked up an assortment of options. A little light on veg, but this is only week 1. Hopefully I’ll eventually get into the swing of things.
Cucumbers, bell peppers, baby carrots, an avocado, quick-cook low carb mung bean noodles, dashi starter, 2 kinds of canned tuna, 6 eggs, weird looking potato starch wraps, red pepper relish, beet & orange smoked salmon, cream cheese bites for DH, sliced turkey, sliced salami, mushroom soup mix, 3 types of flavored mixed nuts, banana chips.
This all to go with the things I brought from home & a few staples I swiped from our usual travel day room service club sandwich dinner cart.
I had intended on making deviled eggs with a side of salmon cukes for dinner, but forgot how long to cook eggs in a kettle for, was too grumpy about life to look it up, and ended up with not that.
So, I made 3 soft boiled eggs mixed into 1 of the cans of plain tuna with mayo, mustard powder, garlic powder, a little soy sauce, red pepper flakes, black pepper & sesame seeds as seasoning. It was fantastic. Would highly recommend. Was supposed to be 2 servings, but DH wasn’t hungry after all and I skipped any semblance of lunch, so … scoopable bowl of yummy mush for one, please.
There went half my eggs & half my cucumbers, though. Oops. Will rethink for my second dinner.
We also snacked on some of the mixed nuts & I had a banana from the gift fruit basket so I wouldn’t perish while unloading groceries and figuring out how to squirrel them away.
I made deviled eggs right this time with the last of the mayo pot, mustard powder, half the pot of mustard, pepper and garlic powder. I repurposed the guac from last night’s inevitable Mexican to spread on cukes with the beet & orange salmon, and layed out some cream cheese cubes for DH to have with his. A nice little snack spread for dinner – and a pleasant surprise for DH who was gaming and had zero idea what I was up to.
This one was off. Most of the components were good – potato wrap, (halal) chorizo, avocado; but it was either the smoked turkey or sundried tomato spread I wasn’t digging. Probably the turkey. DH grabbed himself some cream cheese & chorizo and made a few little pinwheel wraps for himself with a side of nuts.
Overall, I’d say this meal prep was a success. Most nights one or both of us ate in, and had decently healthy meals. Could have had more veg, and the carrots and peppers were a miss – but loads better than delivery for every dinner & Starbucks sandwiches + chips for lunch. 10/10 would repeat again. Would love to add some precooked chicken slices, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes and hummus so I actually eat the carrots for next time. I’m glad we didn’t subsist wholly on delivery, Starbucks & unsatisfying candy masquerading as a protein bar. Go, us.
This is a decadent dinner and can stretch – we found the fattiness of the pork meant we didn’t need a huge hunk for dinner. I expect this piece we did to last 4-5 servings, depending on what else we do with it.
gluten-free, paleo, keto
Air Fryer Pork Belly
500-600g pork belly
2 Tbsp rice vinegar, divided
1 tsp Chinese 5-spice (or any 5-spice kind of situation, really – I think mine isn’t strictly Chinese, but that is what I was going for)
Salt & pepper
Score the skin of your pork belly about every half inch or so.
Add to a shallow dish (I used one of my largest Tupperware). Sprinkle with half the rice vinegar and dust with the 5-spice. Add some pepper.
Flip, pat the skin dry and let sit uncovered in the fridge 4 hours to overnight.
Preheat your air fryer to 180C.
Flip the pork belly again, sprinkle with the rest of the vinegar and add a healthy amount of chunky salt.
Put on tinfoil, and fold/tuck the sides up to make a little tray.
Add to your air fryer and cook :45 – 1 hour.
Note: This may cause life to become smoky. I smoked the house out and have no idea why; the fat didn’t leak and nothing was burned.
Either way, brush the salt off the top.
If your life is smoky, finish off in the oven at 400 until the skin cracks.
If you managed to avoid such drama, crank the air fryer up to 400 and do the same. This should take 5 – 10 mins.
Enjoy! We have eaten this as-is alongside some parsnips one night and drizzled with a little sweet soy the next. I’m scheming a jammy wine sauce for a third night.
These baby meatballs are inspired by a Moroccan meatball dish I heard about somewhere on YouTube and are delicious. I’ve eaten them as-is, with chunky potato, topped with a fried egg, and alongside parsnips. All versions were great.
1 lb ground beef
2 Tbsp grated onion
2 Tbsp minced onion
3 Tbsp parsley, minced
3 Tbsp cilantro, minced
1.5 tsp sweet paprika
1.5 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
Mix together and roll into tiny big marble sized balls. Ish. Try to go for smaller than a ping pong ball if possible. Set aside while you make the sauce.
For the sauce:
350g jar plain tomato sauce or marinara
1/2 onion, chopped pretty fine
1 bell pepper, chopped pretty fine
4 cloves garlic, chopped pretty fine
1 chili pepper, chopped pretty fine
2 Tbsp cilantro, minced
2 Tbsp parsley, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp oil
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the peppers, onion, chili and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent.
Add the cilantro, parsley, oregano, pepper, salt, paprika and cumin and let meld until the spices bloom and become fragrant.
Add the tomato sauce and half a can of water if the mix looks like it may be too dry.
Let simmer 10 – 15 minutes or until the volume reduces back down to half.
Add your meatballs in a single layer and sauté 10 – 15 minutes, covered.
Serve with olives, eggs, whatever tubers you have lying around, polenta or cous cous.
Here I am with another weird one, this time from Sudan. This dish sounds bizarre, but is actually quite tasty and filling. I ended up eating half for lunch one day as pictured, and spread the other half over some thinly sliced deli roast beef in a sandwich with mayo the second day. Ah-may-zing. I will have to make this again!
gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan
Peanut Butter Onion Salad Toast
1 small red onion, sliced wafer thin
2 Tbsp no sugar added peanut butter – crunchy is great here
1-2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Add your thinly sliced onion to a bowl and cover with cold water. Massage with a generous pinch salt and let soak 20 minutes.
Drain well and add to a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well to combine.
I tried every which way from Sunday to screw this dish up. I let the meat thaw too long, wrapped it halfway and let it sit for a day, took little care in the actual cooking, and then added insult to injury by not eating it for a day after.
And it was still damn delicious, despite the disrespect.
(Nearly) Weeknight Wellington
3-ish pound beef tenderloin
Package filo or puff pastry dough
250g mixed mushrooms
2 tsp beef stock starter
1/2 tsp dry thyme
1 tsp soy sauce
Salt & pepper
1 package proscuitto
Chinese hot mustard
Preheat your oven to 400F/200C.
Rub your tenderloin with oil, salt & pepper generously. Put on a roasting pan and bake 10 minutes to brown a bit.
While the beef is working, chop the mushrooms very fine.
Sauté in 1 Tbsp olive oil until softened. Add 2 tsp beef stock starter, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp soy sauce, a splash of bourbon and 1/3 cup water. Let cook, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed.
When the beef is finished, remove and let cool completely.
Remove the mushrooms from the heat and let cool as well.
Lay some Saran Wrap down (or a layer of aluminum foil + a layer of baking paper if you, like me, didn’t get your ish together). Layer the prosciutto over top in a single layer with no gaps showing.
Spread the mushrooms over top in a thinish layer to almost the edges.
Slater the top of the beef generously with the mustard and lay down over the mushrooms mustard side down.
Roll the ham around the beef, using the wrapping to do so, tightly. Chill at least :30 (I let mine go overnight and it was fine).
When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven again to 400F/200C.
Prepare a baking sheet. Roll the dough over the sheet into a flat rectangle.
Unwrap the beef roll and place onto the edge of the dough. Wrap the beef in the dough, ending up seam side down.
Brush the seam with the egg (beaten) to seal. Tuck the ends under as well to make a package.
Make some small slashes in the top to let steam escape. Brush with beaten egg.
Bake :30 for rare-mid rare; longer for more doneness.
Serves 4? 5? 6? You decide how far you want to stretch it