Fuel Yourself During The Pandemic: Fresh or not so Fresh Fruits or Veggies

During this time of Pandemic fruits and veggies are getting hard to find. Maybe you stocked up and forgot about that bunch of broccoli in the back of your refrigerator, or those tomatoes are looking a little wrinkly.

How do you know what to eat and what to toss?

I am going to tell you some of the ways I look at our fruits and veggies. How I assess what I have and what we can use, and some ways to use them in your cooking. As a chef a lot of these would just be thrown away during times of plenty. The idea being you want to serve the best of the best to your clientele. However, we are also taught what is healthy, how to use all of the product you have, and what you can get away with trimming. We cover how to avoid food waste a great deal as well.

Grab a cup of coffee, tea, or what ever you are drinking its going to be a bit of a long blog.

As always use your best judgment, and stay safe.

These are some of the most common grocery, and produce items you can get here. If I missed something that is common where you live please feel free to ask, I will answer, and let you know if I have any familiarity with that product.

Cheese –

This is not produce but it is important. Hard cheese you can keep if it has mold on it. Rule of thumb is cut about an inch around and under the mold to remove the mold spot, then wrap in a new piece of plastic.

Dairy (like sour cream and yogurt), and Jam/jellies/preserves –

Throw these out. They may contain poisons, and toxins that are very dangerous. Never take chances with these.

Bread –

If it is moldy throw it out. The mold can be very dangerous on bread.

Hint: If you have the freezer space you can freeze your extra bread. Place it on the counter to come to room temp after freezing. It is better to buy fresh, but this can help stock up to stay at home.

Hard vegetables and Fruits you can generally cut away the mold and use.

(Example: Carrots, Bell Pepper, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, root veggies, etc.)

Produce and what to do with them:

Tomatoes –

  1. If your tomatoes are wrinkly and not firm they are good for cooking, sauces and soups.
  2. If they are moldy throw them away. Remember mold on soft fruits, berries, etc you should throw away.

Carrots –

  1. If your carrot is looking limp, feeling flimsy, and the tops/greens looking yellowish, and limp. They are good for roasting, cooking in soup, making a sauce, sauteing up.
  2. If your carrot is moldy, cut about inch around the mold off. If for instance at the tip, I just cut the tip off.

Onions –

  1. If your onion has a black sooty mold on outer skin, peel till you see new flesh/skin. If you don’t need that onion right away a new papery brown skin will form from the new skin you exposed.
    • That black, sooty-looking substance on the skins of onions is a mold. Aspergillus niger is its name. It is a common fungus found on onions in the field in and stored in bags at the grocery store. It is found on the outside of the onion and is typically harmless.
    • What to do if a bunch is touching an onion that has some mold. I remove both. Peel them down, and rinse them with water. Then dry them thoroughly.
  2. You can cook them right away but they are still shelf stable.
  3. If it is at all looking wet or slimy throw it away.

Broccoli –

  1. If your broccoli is browning on the crown in spots, and or the stalks looking warn and old. Trim the brown spots off and remove the stems.
  2. If it is at all looking wet or slimy throw it away.

Cabbage –

  1. If your cabbage is looking old and limp. You can use it in stir fry, soup, even roasted. Hard veggies and fruits you can cut off around and under any moldy spots about 1 inch in.
  2. If it is wet and slimy throw it away.

Greens –

  1. Lettuces and greens, tend to get wet and break down fast. So throw them away if they start looking moldy, wet, slimy.
  2. Should you throw away if it looks limp? If it has just lost its vigor but does not smell bad feel slimy you can try soaking it in cold water, to see if it crisps up and then use it.

Bananas –

  1. If the banana is moldy throw it away.
  2. If the banana is brown, bruised, almost black, you can still use it in baking, smoothies, fruit soups, etc.

Berries –

  1. If your berries, or other soft fruits and veggies are moldy throw them away.
  2. If your berries are just looking a little sad, but not moldy, that is a great time to puree them into a smoothie, or bake them into baked goods.

Mushrooms –

  1. If they are moldy throw them away.
  2. If they have dark spots use them now, in roasting, soup, sauces, baking etc. Use them in anything that they don’t have to be pretty.
  3. If they get wrinkly, they are drying out, and better to just throw away.
  4. If the are odorous or stinky throw them out.

Apples –

  1. If your apple bruised and ugly it is still ok to eat. Just cut off the bruised spot. Eat raw, or you can cook them down into apple sauce. You can grate them and use them in baking.
  2. If your apple has mold throw it away.
  3. If it is in a bag with others that have mold, throw away the offending apple, and take all others out wash them and dry them really well.

Oranges –

  1. If your orange has mold on it throw it out.
  2. If one goes bad in the bag what should you do? Throw out the moldy orange. Then wash the other oranges and dry thoroughly. Those should be safe to eat.

Peppers –

  1. If your peppers are wrinkly, you can still eat them. They would be great for roasting, in casseroles, sauces, or soups.
  2. If your pepper is a little moldy cut off an inch around. However, I tend to throw it out if the mold is found inside of the pepper.

Avocado –

  1. After you cut it the avocado and it gets brown/oxydized, you cut it a day ago and it looks terrible. It is still ok to eat generally. You can cut off the ugly oxydized parts.
  2. If it is moldy throw it out.

Here is an example of the dinner I made for my family with produce that was not the freshest. I used the broccoli, and carrots pictured above.

Tilapia, mushroom medley, carrots broccoli onion saute, and rice.

The list goes on, and on, and on, but I don’t have the time to go through every fruit and vegetable here. I hope this helps.

Be careful what you eat and use your best judgment. Stopping food waste is a great thing to learn. Consequently during this time of pandemic it may just help your food budget go further.

So when you venture out to get your supplies. Don’t fear the ugly produce. Eat the ugly produce. If it is a sad looking and all you can get, you can still use it. If nothing else throw it all in a stock pot with some water, and boil it down. Make a veggie stock to use in your other cooking.

Thank you for reading. Stay safe, and lets all flatten the curve by keeping our social distance. At least we can talk online right? Subscribe and comment if you want.

Note: Sorry for so many posts. I just wanted to get these out because I thought they could be helpful for so many people.

Chimichurri Burrito Bowl Lunch Meal Prep

If you are new to my blog. I am a Chef. I have both a culinary and baking and pastry degree. I am on a fitness journey that I will be on for the rest of my life.

I like to cook, and like any chef I like to eat. Now I try to eat with the thought of fueling my body for my fitness journey. We truely are an amazing bio machine and we need good foods to fuel it.

I train Martial Arts 5 to 6 days a week for upwards of 10 hours a week total. So to support that I need to eat well. Now do I always eat well? Do I always pass up that cupcake. Heck no! But I do try to make good decisions.

Enough rambling so here is what I made. A chimichurri burrito bowl. This bowl is full of protein, gluten free, dairy free, low fat, contains lots of veggies, slow digesting carbs, and most importantly has lots of flavor.

I took a short cut and got chicken that was pre marinated at the grocery store, but I regularly make chimichurri sauce on my own and will include that in this recipe.


Chimichurri Burrito Bowl

Yield: 5 servings for lunch

Ingredients:

  1. 3 bell peppers that I charred on the gas stove, and placing them in a bowl with plastic wrap to steam
  2. 1 jalapeno that I charred on the gas, and placing them in a bowl with plastic wrap to steam
  3. 1 onion that I charred on the gas stove, and placing them in a bowl with plastic wrap to steam
  4. 1.5 lbs of chicken marinated in chimichurri
  5. 3.75 cups of brown rice cooked
  6. 10 tablespoons of black beans
  7. 5 tablespoons of salsa – Optional
  8. 5 pinches of cilantro – Optional
  9. salt and pepper to taste
  10. granulated garlic to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook brown rice to directions on package
  2. Char your veggies over a BBQ or on a gas stove. Place them in a bowl with plastic wrap to steam them.
  3. Cook your chicken marinated in chimichurri
  4. Chop up veggies, and lightly sautee them in a pan, adding pepper, salt, and granulated garlic to taste
  5. Heat up canned black beans, drained
  6. Add 3/4 cup/ 112g of brown rice to bowl, add 1 cup/130 g of chicken to each bowl, add 1 cup/148 g of veggies to bowl, add 2 tablespoons/52g of black beans, add 1 tablespoons/32 g of salsa.

Chimichurri sauce

Ingredients:

  1. 1/2 cup olive oil
  2. 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  3. 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  4. 3-4 cloves garlic , finely chopped or minced
  5. 2 small red chilies , or 1 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon finely chopped chili)
  6. 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  7. 1 level teaspoon coarse salt
  8. pepper , to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together. Let sit for at least a few minutes. Letting it sit for 2 hours before use is much better. Marinate meat over night, reserve some for topping.

Nutritional Stats:
Calories 555, Fat 8.7 g, Fiber 11.7 g, Carbs 65.1 g, Sodium 1553.5 mg,
Protein 45.8 g


I hope you get a chance to try this recipe. You can reduce the sodium if you are concerned by omitting the salsa, and taking some of the salt out of the chimichurri sauce.

It was/is delicious and easy to make. It took about 40 minutes to prep for a whole week of lunches.

Try it out. Thank you for reading, if you liked this please let me know and feel free to share.

Egg Whites Scramble with Veggie Sausages

This is a simple breakfast. Its something that I do often. I waffled over if I should post it because it is so simple. But it is delicious vegetarian, full of protein, nutrients, and vegetarian. Which my body seems to run better on anyway. =)

It took about 15 minutes all in all to make.

So simple as it is here you go:

Ingredients:

  1. 4 egg whites
  2. 1 cup of portabella mushrooms sliced.
  3. 1 cup of sweet peppers sliced
  4. 1 green onion sliced
  5. 2 Morning Star Farms veggie sausages
  6. 1 tsp of olive oil

Directions:

  1. Follow the package details on sausages.
  2. Saute lower half of green onion, and mushrooms, add the sweet peppers.
  3. Move the veggies to the side, add egg whites and scramble.
  4. Serve up warm and enjoy.

Stats:
Calories 244, Fat 8.4 g, Fiber 6.7 g, Carbs 18 g, Sodium 527.7 mg,
Protein 27.2 g

I hope you get a chance to try this delicious and healthy breakfast. I added a plain bagel to get some carbs in. Let me know what you think.

Healthy Simple Vegetarian Lunch… Veggies and Za’atar Yogurt Dip,and a Rest Day

Today I made a quick easy lunch because I had to work in the morning, and have to work again tonight. So quick, healthy, and easy is the name of the game for today’s food.

I just got done with a two day Muay Thai seminar. I am giving my body a rest day. Normally I would do my run and weight lifting workout today.

So today’s lunch was cut up veggies (radishes, sweet peppers), boiled eggs, dates and a 1/2 cup of yogurt with Za’atar mixed in.

Za’atar Yogurt Dip

Ingredients:

  1. 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  2. 1 tsp of Za’atar seasoning/herbs
  3. Salt to taste

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Stats for Yogurt Dip

Calories 75, Fat 4 g, Fiber 0 g, Carbs 5.7 g, Sodium 56.3 mg, Protein 4.3g

Stats total meal

Calories 328, Fat 14.7 g, Fiber 4 g, Carbs 32.5 g, Sodium 180.8 mg,
Protein 18.4 g

Over all I am feeling great. I have not had a D.O.M.s hit at all. I am a little tired. I can feel the fatigue in my muscles but not a lot of pain.

I am thinking this is great. I loved the seminar, and learned so much.

Thanks for reading, and I will be back to my regularly scheduled program soon. Keep being awesome, and keep working to be the best you that you can be.

Healthy Lunch…Hummole… Guammus…Guac Hummus? I don’t know what to call it…but tasty

As I have said before eat the rainbow. It is a great way to get your vitamins and nutrients in.

I thought about whether to show this, as it is not exactly “instagram pretty”. Its a cross between a hummus and a guacamole. You can add any spices you want to it to season to taste. Some of the things I have done with this is, lemon juice, onions, cayenne, garlic, and jalapenos.

Today what I made was canned garbanzo beans, avocado, tomato, pickle juice in absence of lemon, and chopped dill pickles. I stuffed that into a pita and added fresh veggies, and it was oh so good.

Tastey Guammus Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole pita
  • 1/2 avocado smashed
  • 1/2 or euro 4 oz cup of garbanzo beans canned smashed
  • 6 cherry tomatoes sliced
  • 1 1/2 tbs or euro 30 mls of pickle juice or more to taste
  • 8 slices of dill pickles chopped up or sweet and spicy pickles would be good too
  • Veggies of your choice sliced up to stuff in pita ( I did cucumber, and bell pepper, cause that is what I had)
  • seasoning to taste

Directions:

  • cut the pita in half
  • prepare the guammus, in a bowl smash the garbanzo beans and avocado together. I did not have lemon juice so I substituted pickle juice for the acid component.
  • Chop up the pickles, and tomatoes adding them to the guammus mixture.
  • stuff guammus into the pita, and add veggies
  • sit in a sunny area and enjoy your tasty guammus sandwich.

Calories 417, Fat 15.9 g, Fiber 17.9 g, Carbs 60.1 g, Sodium 742 mg, Protein 14.3 g

Just think the colors in your veggies are the sun trapped and transformed to make a nutrient dense lunch for you. =)

Thank you for reading again. I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it. Let me know what you think.

Healthy Lunch Recipe… Fried Egg on an Avocado and Tomato Cucumber Salad.

I prepped only three lunches this week for myself, because I knew I would have time to make food for myself at lunch time on Tuesday and Thursday. I wanted to make one of my favorite meals.

It has 10.9 grams of protein in it and is so flavorful. It is made of whole foods except the soy sauce. That can be left out if you wish, and substituted with just a pinch of salt. Not only is this super tasty but is so pretty to look at.

This is quick and healthy fast food. =) You don’t need a culinary degree to make this, just a pan, and a few minutes.

One of the rules in culinary school you learn is that you eat with your eyes first, then your nose, and you mouth. What that means is if the meal looks appealing to you, you will enjoy it much more. Just take a look at those garish colored foods. They do not automatically make you think mmm I want to tuck into that.

Anyway, here is what I made, the recipe and the stats for food:

Fried Egg on an Avocado half, and tomato cucumber salad

Recipe:

Yield: 1 serving (to scale up just multiply by the amount of people you have)

  • 201 g heirloom cherry tomatoes sliced in half ( I used approximately 10 tomatoes
  • 155 g cucumber, chopped into bite size pieces ( I used approximately half of an English cucumber.)
  • 9 g of green onion chopped (I used one whole green onion, green and white parts)
  • 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp soy sauce (alternately you can use a pinch of salt)
  • 1/4 tsp of Olive oil (I used an EVVO that had garlic in it as well)
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice
  • Lemon Zest to taste
  • I large egg fried
  • 1/2 tsp veggie oil

Directions:

  • Cut avocado in half, and score avocado, and sprinkle with sea salt if you wish
  • Cook egg, with a 1/2 tsp of vegetable oil
  • Cut heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion, add to a bowl.
  • In another bowl assemble, the balsamic vinegar, soy, olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
  • Pour dressing over salad and toss
  • Plate and then enjoy

Caloric Stats for this meal:

306 calories, 21.7g fat, 10g fiber, 19.6g carbs, 213.7mg sodium, 10.9g protien

I hope you get a chance to enjoy this recipe. I have also alternately just made the salad and had a boiled egg with it or, eaten two avocado halves with two fried eggs on it. Change it and make it yours. Enjoy and keep eating well. Let me know what you think.

Tips:

  1. Acidulate the other half of the avocado, and put it in a ziplock bag. You can use it the next day or later for a snack and the acid will keep it from turning brown.
  2. Score your avocado before placing egg on it. This will make it easier to eat if it is just under ripe.
  3. This meal was only 300 calories and it did not meet my protein requirements for this meal so I added another egg. As with any recipe alter it as you need for your body.