Making It Special – Upgrading Dinner

Upgrading dinner is in the details. It’s in the presentation. It’s in the sauce, the relish, the garnishes. It’s about treating yourself and those you love. In the weeks before the winter holidays, budgets are tight and free time is tighter. How do we stay on track nutritionally and not resort to last minute take-out gastronomic bombs? The solution is upgrading dinner in modest, simple, easy ways.

This week, we enjoyed a simple flank steak, served on arugula, cut on the diagonal and across the grain, to insure its tenderness. The upgrade? Goat cheese, mixed with a tablespoon of honey, a handful of chives, and some roasted garlic. This simple weeknight meal was elevated with that small dollop of sweet & savory amazingness. Last weekend, we purchased three bulbs of elephant garlic, separated the cloves, and roasted them in a covered cast iron dish with a splash of olive oil for 1 hour at 300º. Then mashed them with a fork and spooned the garlic into ice cube trays for the freezer. That simple task took 15 minutes (outside of roasting time,) and set us up for success in future meals. On Tuesday, we thawed one cube, added it to the goat cheese, stirred in the honey, and BOOM! Upgrade!

On Wednesday night, grouper tacos were elevated by topping them with pomegranate-mango-cilantro salsa and non-fat, plain yogurt. Our pomegranate arils were a weekend project last weekend as well.

Score pomegranate skin with a knife at it’s “equator.” Pull the fruit apart into two halves. Submerge the fruit in a large bowl of lukewarm water, and pull apart. The arils will sink; the connecting fiber will float. Collect arils, freeze in a single layer, and collect into single portion bags. Thaw, for a dinner upgrade, in 10 minutes! BOOM!

We made a simple chutney on Monday night to upgrade broiled Opah. We sautéed onions, added 1C homemade vegetable broth, blueberries, mango and a heavy Tbsp of red pepper flakes. Ten minutes of simmering later, we smashed the soft fruit and topped our fish with the warm chutney.

Take a chance on something new!

A while back, we took a chance and roasted some red grapes for a delicious tweak on pork tenderloin. We did nothing to the grapes except put them in the pan next to the marinated pork and roasted everything at 400º for 35 minutes. BOOM! Dinner upgrade.

None of this is rocket science. Some of it came from inspiration from a photo, and some of it was concocted just by staring into the refrigerator and wondering what we could do to make dinner more interesting. We’ve been on this journey for 11 months and 15 days now. Down 65 pounds, and feeling healthier than ever. Still haven’t had a cookie, chocolate or anything “off plan” in all that time. How? We change it up. Take a chance. Keep it interesting. Upgrade dinner. Log in at least 10K steps each day.

Dry December

We’re also doing “Dry December,” and omitting alcohol this month, to kick start more weight loss after staying relatively stagnant on the scale for the last two months. We ran across this slideshow on WebMD about the 12 benefits of giving up drinking. The health benefits seem substantial. Not saying we’ll do this forever, but for now, it’s working! We sleep straight through the night (WOW!) and wake refreshed and ready to go. That alone is worth the sacrifice.

K2.0, making a change, upgrading dinner, taking a chance, and mixing it up.

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