(Photo by Todd Quackenbush on Unsplash)

Alright, you foodies, let’s start where your heart is with this week’s meal plan:

Back by popular demand from Charlie, we have more green salad combos this week than usual. Cuz – listen to the cravings when they come!

Last week’s  “Taco” Salad with Mashed Garlic Beans, Fresh Salsa & Cilantro on Greens / Plated & Pic by Charlie

Meal Plan – Week #7

Meals: Tuna Salad (with Cucumbers, Celery, & Dill) on Greens / “Taco” Salad with Smoked Paprika Black Beans & Salsa / “Taco” Salad with Shredded Pulled-Pork & Onions & Salsa / Thai Chicken & Veg Green Curry / Lemon Tyme Chicken, with Roasted Asparagus & Mashed Cauliflower

Snacks: Chopped Veggies (for dipping) + Yellow Squash Chips / Salsa / Balsamic Herb Dipping Sauce / Egg Whites / Berries / Naked Popcorn with Faux BBQ Spice Shake Seasoning & Faux Ranch Spice Shake Seasonings* (*seasonings are spice and herb mix creations)

In the middle of an extra-fun, super stressful work week, Charlie launched a text to our team about the comfort she found in a bowl of Thai Curry. This is a huge win because Charlie has never been a Curry eater. Actually, for a foodie, there is sort of a shocking list of things she never invested in, eats-wise.

Every week we have Charlie over for dinner, where we also swap out her clean containers with the next week’s collection of meals. This dinner is where Jamie does some of her most epic play-time — testing out sauces and experimenting with seasonings and combos. The idea is to get some feedback from Charlie before she’s stuck with multiple meal kits of something she might hate, and it’s also a chance for Jamie to talk out some more ideas and play with versions live in the moment.

…This has become the expansion experiment meal…the time when Jamie takes things that Charlie either hasn’t tasted or previously disliked to try and grow her experience. And her options.

Charlie’s tastes come from a time and place I’d describe as Americana farm, and European pub food, by way of Mexico and Italy. She was raised in a small town with little food variety, born into a family of Irish transplants to the south, before landing in California. As a result, she had little to no experience with Mediterranian, Indian, African, Central American, or Asian foods in general.

These wildly different spices and flavors, at first, were the last things she wanted to experiment with when so many of her usual comfort foods had been stripped away. But slowly, Jamie has been exploring and introducing these options to bring more variety and warmth to Charlie’s eating options, which have massively grown in the past two months.

…Two weeks ago was a Curry night.

Jamie built versions of red, green, yellow, and English Currys in ramekin dipping bowls with veg and riced cauliflower, trying to find a version to tempt Charlie’s palate between spice, texture, and food pairing. And lo – green became a winner, was rolled into the menu of rotation options, and in the end, gave a warm food-hug of security on a crappy day.

…Because food has that much power.

Another win for the Accidental Nutritionist team, and sudden excitement to explore the epic London Curry scene next time we make it over!

Next: This week, we have Jamie tapping in on kitchen tools she uses for meal prep, planning, and cooking. She’s been working on the list and specifics here and there for two days. (And how using things like a chopper for meal planning kind of hurts her soul, but the saved time, wrist, and arm pain, it’s almost worth it.)

…List-making is yet another thing she’s really good at.

…Which she’s also flipped into a gifting blog… for things like what to get writers in your life, or your urban gardeners, and things to get your favorite home chef. You know…with all that extra time she has laying around between full-time client gigs, side nutritionist meal-planning, and writing other things.

She probably doesn’t sleep much, is my guess.

On with the list —

Tools For Meal Planning (Curated by Jamie, with occasional commentary)

1 8″ Yoshihiro Gyuto Chef and 1 5.3″ Yoshihiro petty knives, with wooden sleeves (to prevent dulling through rubbing against other knives in the drawer.)

Wusthof knife set with Chef, paring, and bread knife as well as four steak knives (that I used as petty knives. I couldn’t find the exact set to link to, but pretty close.)

Ironwood cutting boards, (one large and one small.)

1 small bamboo cutting board.

1 classic zester Microplane

1 Flat grater (similar to this one). 

Many Wooden spoons and spatulas—some from StaubSur la Table, and Designs by Baerreis/Gallery26.

1 Potato Masher 

2 Silicone Tongs

Lodge Cast Iron, a full set, with a dutch oven, 10.25″ frying pan, 8″ frying pan, and a 10.5″ griddle. (good for affordability, durability, and nothing beats their sear on a good piece of meat.)

1 Staub 4qt cocotte

1 unbranded 10″ ceramic pan (ceramic coating over cast iron gives a lot of even-heating benefits while protecting the cast iron core from corrosion from acidic foods. I like to use mine for cooking tomato sauces. Drew snagged this one from the World Market clearance section.)

1 Greenpan nonstick set, soup pot, 2 sauce pots, 2 pans, (used during food prep, due to its quick clean up.)

1 Ninja air fry oven (I think there’s untapped potential here for Charlie’s diet, I just haven’t quite found it yet.)

1 Hamilton Beach 6qt slow cooker. (I could use more space on food prep days, but it still fits a surprising amount.)

1 Zassenhaus pepper mill. (Fresh ground pepper forever! But actually, I almost never use this on food prep days since pepper is too spicy for Charlie. That’s not a joke.)

1 Sawyer Ceramics salt cellar

1 olive oil mister—(not in love with the one I have, more of a thin stream than a mist, but it does reduce the amount of oil used.)

1 whisk (gonna need a second one eventually, but for now, one is okay).

1 “salad dresser” bowl by RachaelPots (I make homemade salad dressings for Charlie that she also uses as dips for her chopped veggies. This little guy includes a sharp “rose” in the center of the base that allows me to grate fresh garlic right inside.)

1 Preyda knife sharpening kit

1 Clark’s wood oil and wax kit

1 Mealthy 5-blade spiralizer (for veggie noodles.)

1 Vidaira Food Chop Wizard. (I would never dream of using this for my daily cooking, but gotta say, when it’s food prep day for Charlie, it saves time like no one’s business.)

1 sheet pan

1 Citrus Juicer by Chef’n

1 Cuisinart Food Processor (I talk more about this here.)

1 Cuisinart Microwave Popcorn bowl. (I love this thing beyond measure. Charlie has her own.)

1 molcajete from MexGrocer (It’s not as efficient as a food processor, but nothing beats fresh salsa ground by hand in a molcajete. Like a cast-iron brings out flavor in a steak, a molcajete builds up flavors and infuses your salsa with it over time.)

1 LavaTools Javelin Pro Duo thermometer

2 Pyrex Prepware measuring cups (4 cups and 2 cups) (for prep. I, uh, don’t actually use it to measure anything…)

8 Pyrex 6oz custard cups (for mise en place.)

Happy Eating, friends!