Single Servings: Celery Vs. French Fries - Single Servings Blog at - 95193

Single Servings

Single Servings: Celery vs. French Fries 
May 12, 2009 11:51 am 
Updated: Aug. 18, 2009 12:48 pm
I try really hard to eat healthy, I really do. And I do it by choice so I have no one to blame but myself, but sometimes I get really irritated having to eat healthy (again, I realize that requirement is self-imposed) because it seems like I give up a certain amount of “yummy” factor with food—and that doesn’t seem fair. After all, I’m doing the right thing by eating well and I thought good behavior was something to be rewarded. So why, for instance, does celery taste like grassy, crunchy water? That feels more like punishment. And, I know, being in good health is its own reward, blah, blah, blah, but if the world was fair and just, stalks of celery would taste like French fries.

Actually, if the world were fair and just, I simply wouldn’t crave the likes of French fries. And French toast. Mmm, French bread…actually, anything from a French bakery will do just fine.

And while sometimes I do eat French fries (and other assorted foods preceded by the word “French”), this month’s recipes have worked towards restoring my faith in the existence of truly delicious, healthy food. (The world might be fair and just after all.)

Choosing (and eating) recipes this month made me remember the combination of various foods together is what creates great flavor. And while my recipe-following skills are nothing short of awesome (I’m pretty good at it—reading words, measuring stuff, recognizing numbers and what not), I’m not good at coming up with those winning food combinations on my own. So, I am easily frustrated if I don’t use my resources—i.e. recipes. (Note to self: when frustrated, go directly to the recipes. Away from the French fries, towards the recipes.)

So, here they are—healthy recipes (at least by my standards, as I am not a certified healthmatician—yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s a thing) that act celery-like, but give you more of that French fry-like satisfaction (at least by my standards) that you crave.

Definitely no absence of the “yummy” factor here.

Happy cooking!

(Again, sorry this is a little late!)

Prep and Freeze
Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers: No reason to buy those frozen veggie burgers from the store—you can make your own! Prepare raw black bean mixture recipe as directed, then wrap each patty (uncooked) tightly in plastic wrap and store all in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer. Defrost overnight to cook or defrost in microwave right before cooking.
(The recipes says to grill, but I cooked in a pan on the stovetop—medium heat for about 3-5 minutes on each side.)
Serve on a bun with your favorite burger trimmings.
NOTE: Change this recipe to eight servings.
Cook Once, Eat Twice
Oaxacan Tacos: When you read this recipe, you’ll probably think the same thing I did—seems a little too simple to be so good. But then I thought about my favorite Mexican food restaurant and their Oaxacan tacos are just as simple—and they’re amazing! (I think it’s the cilantro—it’s the magically delicious herb.)
Make it healthier: Microwave tortillas instead of frying them (I used the whole wheat variety).
NOTE: Change number of servings to two.
Two Easy Meals—No Leftovers!
California Grilled Veggie Sandwich: This was awesome—a little feta really makes a tasty statement.
I added some chicken for some protein and cheated by cooking the vegetables in a pan on the stovetop—a teaspoon of olive oil on medium heat for five minutes should do it. I had this two days in a row, and the first day I found it a little difficult to eat because the veggies were a little slippery. So, the second day I made it as a bread salad: I toasted the bread and cut it into small squares, then tossed it with the veggies and feta. I gobbled it up—‘nuff said.
NOTE: Change number of servings to one.
Spicy Indian Chicken and Mango Curry: For some extra veggies, add some sliced red bell peppers or snow peas to the sauce after the chicken is cooked (when you are pouring in the mango puree so they can simmer a bit). Serve over some Basmati rice. I added a little extra curry paste and it was great.
Make it healthier: Use light coconut milk.
Bonus Item! Two Light Lunches
So, I said I’d make up my tardiness to you and this is my attempt—I’m throwing in two light lunches that are both as healthy as they are delicious—truly. If you want to make it a little heartier of a meal, wrap in a tortilla, or scoop with tortilla chips.
Calabacitas: For the shopping list, I reduced the number of servings to three.
Quinoa and Black Beans: For the shopping list, I reduced the number of servings to two.
Get Shopping List for these recipes now!
And For Dessert…
I gathered a few options for you that all make use of your leftover coconut milk:
Kheer (Rice Pudding)
Strawberry Orange Coconut Smoothie

Strawberry Orange Coconut Smoothie
Pina Colada Sorbet

Sunday Prep
This prep will take you about two hours (the two Light Lunch options will take about a half hour each to prepare).
  • Prepare Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burger patties as directed above.
  • Slice onions and jalapeno for Oaxacan Tacos—refrigerate in resealable plastic bag.
  • Slice steak into strips—store in resealable plastic bag in fridge or freezer depending on when you plan to cook it (meat is fine in fridge for 2-3 days—any longer, store in freezer).
  • Prepare mango coconut puree (step one in Spicy Indian Chicken and Mango Curry directions) and refrigerate.
  • Cut chicken into cubes for Spicy Indian Chicken and Mango Curry—store in resealable bag, then refrigerate or freeze.
  • Make Basmati rice for Spicy Indian Chicken and Mango Curry—refrigerate in covered container.
Additional prep for Light Lunch options:
  • I say go ahead and prepare the Quinoa and Black Beans completely—it’ll be good in the fridge for a few days (if it lasts you that long—it’s so good!).
  • Chop zucchini and pablono pepper for Calabacitas (and I added a red bell pepper too)—refrigerate in resealable plastic bag. Prepare the rest of this the night before you plan to eat it.
A Couple Things to Keep in Mind
With the exception of the Prep and Freeze recipe, I intend for you to eat all the meals in one week, which is why prep is done on a Sunday night. If you don't plan to eat them all within seven days, adjust your prep accordingly. (Veggies might go bad if cut and stored for too long.)

Keep all meats frozen in individual servings until one or two days before you plan to cook them. And don't scrimp on the resealable bags--get the good ones--the generic variety isn’t as good at keeping things fresh.
Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers -- photo by baskerville_gal
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Oaxacan Tacos -- photo bybhague
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California Grilled Veggie Sandwich -- photo by Allrecipes
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Spicy Indian Chicken and Mango Curry -- photo by LynnInHK
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May 12, 2009 4:30 pm
Thanks for the column, Mackenzie! I boxed two of the recipes...Quinoa & Black Beans and the Spicy Indian Chicken & Mango Curry. I'll modify the chicken/mango dish to vegetarian using pressed tofu in place of the chicken. Plus you reminded me about two recipes I boxed last fall, but haven't gotten around to using. You've given me the incentive to pull them out NOW...Black Bean Veggie Burgers & California Grilled Veggie Sandwich (I think portobella mushrooms & eggplant would be good additions). We work on making healthful food choices each day...some days are better than others. I'm discovering that after a year of making big changes, our taste for food has changed. We prefer the healthier just tastes better. It's become how we eat. But I really hear you about the french fries. Potatoes, in general, have been a comfort food for a long time. I've discovered that potato wedges lightly spritzed with olive oil or butter spray, sprinkled with a generous amount of smoked paprika & garlic powder + a bit of salt, then baked, really hit the spot when I find ourselves wanting french fries. Yes they're different...but good different. (smoked paprika is a current favorite spice!) I do have a comment about coconut milk. We love using this in recipes. But after taking a hard look at the fat content, I use the light version and save it for our most favorite recipes and spread them out over a longer period of time...maybe one dish in a couple of months. I wish I felt we could use coconut milk more frequently, but can't justify it. (It does make us savor the dishes when we do eat them!) Thanks again, Mackenzie for your writing!! Pam
May 13, 2009 4:33 am
The California Grilled Veggie Sandwich is excellent! I made this recipe exactly as is but I think chicken could be a nice addition. I have saved the Quinoa with Black Beans long time ago, I really want to try this recipe. Thanks for the tips!
Aug. 18, 2009 12:48 pm
fyi... the printable shopping list takes you to the april'09 list. wrong recipes and ingredients. can you fix, please???
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About Me
I am a 32-year old woman (I still stumble over the word "woman," but I don't think I can get away with "girl" anymore) living in Seattle, WA, writing for the very website you are browsing right now! I am originally from Bellingham (about 80 miles north of Seattle), where I went to Western Washington University, and then just kinda hung out for several more years until I moved south in September of 2006. I've always loved cooking and even had my own little spiral recipe notebook when I was in middle school to collect my star dishes in. (Apple pizza and scones were always a hit with the family—thanks Home Ec.!) I seriously considered going to culinary school when I was twenty, but then decided I didn't want to cook for a living. I’m definitely more of an entertaining cook, as opposed to a professional cook.
My favorite things to cook
I prefer cooking over baking, but I've been branching out more in the past couple years--I made a pie from scratch for the very first time for Thanksgiving 2006 and it was delicious. But, I made a cake from scratch for the first time recently, and it did not go as well. It looked great, but I would not use the word "great" to describe how it tasted. I've resolved to go back to boxed cake mix, and put my efforts into the decoration where I can actually do some good.
My favorite family cooking traditions
People are always surprised when I say that my dad does most of the cooking for holiday meals. "Does your mom get stressed out for Thanksgiving?" people will ask. Are you kidding me? No way! She, my sister, and I are all watching movies while my dad is basting the turkey and making mashed potatoes and gravy. Thanksgiving is probably the most relaxing day of the year for my mom!
My cooking triumphs
Ah, I remember it well ... I was twelve years old; I believe it was a Thursday and there was a chill in the air that night ... I pulled that seafood pasta bake out of the oven oh-so-carefully, and when we sat down to enjoy it ... so cheesy, creamy and seafoody (and I mean that in the very best way)... so very, very, delicious ... though I lost track of the recipe, each bite will live on in my memory forever ... ;)
My cooking tragedies
On my 30th birthday, I set fire to a cookie sheet full of French bread that I had only intended to toast. I had just finished cooking something else when I turned the oven to broil and underestimated how hot the top element already was. Chatting away with a friend, I was completely confused when I saw smoke coming through the burners and it wasn't until my friend yelled, "It's on fire!" pointing to the partially open oven door, that I realized what was happening. I swiftly yanked the baking sheet from the oven, dropped it into the sink, and cranked the faucet. Disaster averted. Moral of the story? Let other people cook for you on your birthday.
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