Last week Little E wanted to try my orange and was shocked to find that she couldn't bite right into the skin as if it were an apple. Big E told me that she'd like to become a "meatatarian." Clearly a re-dedication to healthy eating was in order.
If only I knew what that meant.
As a kid, I thought anything on a salad bar was healthy. Lettuce, tomatoes, baby corn on the cob, baco-bits, shredded cheese, Ranch dressing: I considered them equally nutritious by virtue of their home under the sneeze guard.
By the time I was in high school, I had learned to fear fat. A "healthy" lunch might include jelly beans and oyster crackers. Also diet pills.
In college I realized that sugar was just as unhealthy as fat. As such, I came to live on Snackwells devil's food cookies, which I now realize are probably just as lacking in nutritional value as their flavor-profile doppelganger, corrugated cardboard infused with chemicals.
After Big E was born I decided to "get healthy" (i.e. back in my jeans) on South Beach. I bought the book and was a zealous convert until the morning I woke up shaking and dry heaving, barely able to lift Big E to nurse. I weepily called my father, who had briefly joined me in my low-carb exploits. "Put the baby in the carseat," he told me calmly, "get in the car and go to the Dunkin Donuts drive-through." I scarfed down a bagel and a blueberry muffin right there in the parking lot and never looked back.
After Little E was born I counted Weight Watchers points online and found that I could achieve "healthy" weight loss on a diet of Wendy's hamburgers and Snicker's-flavored Kudos bars.
My plan this time around is simpler (and yet so much harder). Once a week we'll eat a meal heavy on a variety of vegetables and whole grains and light on meat, eggs, dairy and pre-packaged foods. With any luck, some of the dishes I prepare on this night will make it into our regular rotation and before long we'll be eating healthy full-time.
One of my early attempts was this burrito, which my husband and I loved for its unexpected, yet totally complementary flavor pairing. And which the girls greeted with the same shudder of horror I might have expected if I'd served them a plate of dog vomit.
It's a process. Right?
Black Bean and Squash Burritos with Cilantro-Lime Yogurt Sauce
for the burritos:
2-3 cups of cooked brown rice (more or less depending on how much you like in your burrito)
4 large whole wheat tortillas
1 25 oz. can of black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1 poblano pepper (you may want more here, but the kids don't like spicy)
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
3 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. of olive oil
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. coriander
for the sauce:
8 oz. fat free Greek yogurt
juice of two limes
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 450.
Make the sauce by whisking the yogurt, lime juice, cilantro and salt until smooth.
Toss the squash with one tablespoon of oil in a shallow baking dish and roast it for 20-25 minutes or until fork tender.
While the squash is cooking, fire-roast the poblano. I did this on the stovetop by rinsing the pepper but not drying it, putting it on a metal skewer and holding it over the flame until its skin was evenly darkened and thoroughly blistered on all sides --kind of like roasting a marshmallow. You could probably do the same under the broiler or on the grill. Once it's roasted, let it sit until it's cool enough to handle. At this point you can remove the skin by using a paper towel to gently rub it off. Be sure to wash your hands when you're done.
While the pepper is cooling, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet and saute the onions until they're softened. Then, add the beans, water, cumin, coriander and allow the mixture to simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally.
Cut open the (now skinless) poblano, remove all of its seeds and then dice it.
Heat up the rice, if necessary, prepare the tortillas as directed on the package, and wilt the spinach with 30 seconds in the microwave.
Fill each tortilla with rice, beans, squash, spinach, diced poblano and a sprinkling of cilantro (in whatever proportion pleases you), fold and serve with sauce.