Monday, January 10, 2011

Three Ingredient Fix

I was out to dinner with a couple of good friends on Thursday.  We were joking about staying on top of everything: work, kids, food, exercise, sometimes doing a better job than others. My friend Meg shared a story, her son woke up that morning and requested “something not bread for breakfast.” Meg looked and they were out of eggs,  yogurt and all other typical non-bread breakfast items as she was due for a food shop. She looked in the pantry and spotted something. “Do you want to have soup for breakfast?” Her son loved the idea and perhaps a new tradition was born.  We all know those times when it’s slim pickings in the house, your supply of staple items exhausted and, like Meg, you have to be creative or at least flexible.  Meg’s story  reminded me of a post I read on Cannelle  et Vanille. A reader asked her the 3 items she always has handy. Her answer was “lentils, eggs and some sort of green”.

 The 3 items I have on hand and use regularly are avocados, jarred tuna and greens.
Avocados go so far beyond guacamole for me. I often bring them to the office for breakfast. I slice them down the middle, remove the pit and sprinkle them with sea salt or black pepper and agave. I eat them “straight” with a spoon. I also use avocados in smoothies and this time of year in my “Breakfast Pudding.” I mix ½ avocado with cocoa and chocolate hemp powder and a dash of cayenne. I blend these ingredients until they are smooth but thick. At lunchtime I use ½ avocado as a bowl for tuna or other salad. And at dinner I often cube avocado into  tomato  or black bean soup or slice one into fish tacos.  And let’s not forget guacamole. I am the proud owner of a new mocaljate that is already seasoned and well used.

My second item, the jarred tuna, is my go-to protein source. I have written about 2 of my favorites Zoe and Tonnino. I suggested Zoe for the “Let’s do Lunch Challenge” and the jalapeno Tonnino was one of my “4 Current Obsessions”. This tuna is great over greens or on Mary’s Gone Crackers. For an easy dinner I chop up any veggie I have into the tuna, add a squeeze of lemon or lime and viola!

Finally, I guess Aran and I overlap in that greens are definitely a necessity for me. Lately, I’ve been purchasing greens from a company called Olivia’s Organics.  My new favorite is their “50/50 Blend” which includes: Spinach, Tango, Lolla Rossa, Red & Green Romaine, Red and Green Oak, Red and Green Chard, Mizuna, Radicchio, Frisee, Beet Greens, Arugula, Tat-Soi and Red Mustard (most of which my spell check doesn't recognize). Olivia’s also makes single, to-go containers of greens. I use greens in omelets and juices. I wilt greens with garlic a lot for an easy side dish and use larger greens, such as kale leaves, for a wrap. I am partial to the clamshell (think shoe box size) containers as I find they stay fresh the longest.  And of course I love combining my top three tastes, avocado, jarred tuna and greens in a salad with lemon vinaigrette and a dash of hot sauce.
What 3 items do always have handy? What’s your equivalent of the “soup for breakfast” moment? Any other avocado uses I omitted?


  1. mmm. Yogurt. Eggs. Spicy black beans.

  2. Frozen shrimp, brown rice, and dark chocolate!

  3. Lauren, this is great thought exercise that I must admit I failed at. I just can eliminate down to 3 items, but your avocado and greens definitely make my top 20 list :)

  4. Have you tried making deviled eggs with avocado? Heard that recently and thought it sounded divine!

  5. Jennifer, you have "spicy" black beans on hand always, do they come spicy? Marie- brown rice is a good one, do you have it cooked and ready? And do you combine your 3 (shrimp, rice, chocolate) sounds very mole'. Dr Ayala, would love to hear your top 20. And Beth, just heard about guacamole using eggs, that would give my lovely avocados a protein boost.

  6. I get frozen brown rice...the only ingredient is brown rice. I always have 2 or three bags in the freezer, and it cooks in 3 minutes. I haven't done shrimp mole, only w/ chicken and turkey. I'll try shrimp mole and report back.

  7. I love avocados too! Three items I always have on hand would be mushrooms (including dried if I'm out of fresh), onions or shallots, and greens (I'm with you on that), arugula lately. Beth's deviled eggs with avocados sounds good.. never thought about that. Thanks for sharing great ideas :-)

  8. Thank you for the yummy ideas. Love the idea of having three go-to items always on hand. Definite food for thought :)

  9. This insanely expensive Balsamic condiment, Argula and avocados. If you included some really good, really dark chocolate I could never leave my apartment....General consensus seems that Avocados maybe the perfect food. I hear they make great hair and face masks, but I would be to tempted to lick my face!

  10. I just checked my pantry, and I seem to always have eggs, brown rice, and frozen broccoli florets. Thanks for all the ideas!

  11. Trish, mushrooms- good one. Melanie, I too like this Balsamic ($$$) from Doral International, is that the one you like? Pearl- how are you, nice to "hear" from you.
    Guys, one of the girls on the Bachelor asked him what he always has in his fridge! Horrified but his answer eggs, turkey and water.

  12. Beyond the aforementioned soup, I always have peanut butter and almond butter in the cupboard. LJ and John love peanut butter, I love almond because it's got the same satisfaction factor as peanut butter but it's more uniquely flavored. My favorite is Justin's maple almond butter. Goood!

    I also always have several kinds of olive oil in the kitchen: one for cooking and two (or more) finer ones for drizzling.

    Lastly, you can always come my way if you need a cup of quinoa. As Lauren pointed out to me months ago, it's a great alternative to rice and pasta (everyone in our house loves it). It's delicious with dinner and makes a great leftover for breakfast. I don't like oatmeal but I love reheated quinoa. My favorite way to prepare it is with some roasted butternut squash, mushrooms and onions. Come to think of it, that will be great tonight and again tomorrow AM for Snowmageddon 2 we're expecting here in NYC!

  13. Meg, I would love your recipe of quinoa w/ the squash. Can you post it here?

  14. Hi Marie,

    I have to admit my quinoa "recipe" isn't very exact. Here's what I do, fiddle with it until you like it your way!

    Cooked quinoa (about 3 cups)
    1 package pre-cut butternut squash (I'm afraid to cut my fingers off so I spend the extra $ to buy it this way)
    1 package or 1 lb mushrooms
    1 large sweet onion

    Preheat the oven to 350
    Cut up the squash into little cubes, the smaller they are the faster they cook.
    Slice mushrooms.
    Dice onion into size similar to squash but don't make yourself nuts over it.
    Mix all veggies with 2T olive oil, a sprinkling of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Spread on a large cookie sheet and bake for about 40 minutes or until everything looks nicely browned. Check on the veggies every 15 minutes or so and give them a stir, the mushrooms will release a lot of moisture and you may even want to dump some out of the tray midway.
    Mix the veggies with the quinoa and season with a little more salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes I make a vinegarette and sprinkle that in too but I think it's good without it.


  15. Meg, this sounds great! I'll be sure to try. Thank you!
    (Sorry to hijack your blog, Lauren. Perhaps your faithful readers could have a recipe swap?)

  16. That would be fun! I'm in if you're up for it, Lauren.

  17. You had me at avocado! I'll mash mine up, sprinkle with sea salt, and eat it on a piece of whole grain bread or a wasa crips. (I've also been known to add a little total 0% yogurt in there; makes it really creamy and smooth...)

  18. Avocados, quinoa, and apples. I'll eat avocado on almost anything. Never thought of tuna though. Lunch tomorrow!