I wanted to kick off this week with a recipe that almost anyone can feel good about – these Greek-Style Pork Tenderloin and Honey-Baked Feta Bowls. It’s a well-rounded one, this recipe: healthy, incredibly flavorful, and very satisfying – greater than the sum of its parts. If, however, you prefer to eat less meat, you can simply replace the pork with roasted tofu, seitan, or tempeh and it will prove equally as satisfying. The same goes for the rice, actually, If you have another simple grain on hand, feel free to sub that in. Bowl recipes such as this are more like roadmaps – guidelines – for what the meal can be, as opposed to what is has to be. You can call the shots.
While these bowls have a lot of components going on, several moving parts, I’ve written the recipe to make it as streamlined and efficient as possible. The squash, tomatoes and feta all go into the oven together and roast away, their flavors developing and intensifying with every second. Roasting is cool that way. I also happen to think this is just about the the best way to enjoy a fresh tomato in the dead of winter. Cherry and grape tomatoes transform into little sweet jewels (I call them dirt candy) in the oven, and taste wonderful with the honey-sweetened feta and the briny olives. I was going to make some sort of creamy sauce to accompany this bowl, but I found that a simple drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar (you could also use lemon) works beautifully here.
When it comes to using olive oil, I typically cook with regular olive oil – not extra virgin – as it has a higher smoke point and is more reliable for the actual cooking itself. Extra virgin is typically more expensive and works better for dressing, drizzling, and for finishing dishes – applications in which it is not really exposed to much heat. In sum, save your extra virgin for the special things!
I’ve spent some time over the past week (the year’s first) thinking about resolutions and new year’s intention and goal setting, and it’s inevitable that thoughts of this nature will make their way to the dietary realm at some point. They always do. I see a lot of people jumping on the Whole 30 train and I have to admit I’m not sure that’s something I could ever do. Any diet that so severely restricts what you can and namely, what you cannot eat, seems troubling to me. It hits me as restrictive, negative, and rife with opportunities for failure and disappointment. What do I know, though? Maybe I shouldn’t knock it until I’ve tried it. Have any of you tried it? If so, did you have a positive experience? I’d love to know …
For what it’s worth, however, I have always found much deeper satisfaction when I approach food and eating from a positive, “yes” perspective. I like to concentrate on all of the good things that I’m adding to my diet, to my life – not what I’m taking away. The deprivation mindset is less joyful and satisfying than one of positivity and gain. I’m someone who has a past history of being not so kind to myself when it comes to food choices, allowing deprivation and restriction to rule my life.
Nowadays, I take a totally different approach to food and cooking – to how I feed myself and my family. It logically follows that the more goodness with which you fill your plates, your glasses – your time even – the more the not so good things will just naturally fall away. The more hearty, wholesome bowls I make for example, the less processed and not-so-good things I eat. By incorporating a calming chamomile latte into my evening routine, I’ve found that I drink quite a bit less wine, and actually have seen an improvement in my skin and energy levels as a result (I suffer from very dry skin this time of year, and wine doesn’t help). This is all because I chose to add something good to my night, not because I chose to deprive myself of the wine. It’s all about the mindset … the positive additions, not the negative restrictions. It’s a realistic and appealing approach to take, for me at least. Positivity is much more sustainable than negativity, just by design.
So, that being said, what ways do you try to incorporate more positivity into your lives? What tricks, steps or practices do you employ? I’d love to know . . .