To kick off the new year and a new semester of college, I decided to challenge myself to complete The Feel Good Food Plan by Bon Appétit’s new platform Healthyish. The plan included 10 dinner recipes, lunch prep recipes and breakfast ideas; all produce-forward for a healthy take on meals. The site included a handy PDF of the recipes with grocery lists for each of the two weeks, which you can find here.
The first step was grocery shopping for week one. I was really concerned it was going to be extraordinarily expensive, but luckily I already had many of the spices and oils required, (AKA the most expensive part), and I was splitting the bill with my roommate, It was still a bit tricky to find some of the ingredients — harissa paste I could only locate at Trader Joe’s, miso paste at an international food store, and the tahini is sometimes hidden in the standard grocery store. Aside from those specialty items, some of the produce was pretty specific — like Globe or Japanese eggplants, Napa cabbage, Persian cucumbers… Most of which can be easily substituted for their more common counterparts.
After the initial shopping, I needed to prep all of my lunch materials. This took much longer than I anticipated. Between roasting a whole chicken, vegetables, cooking grains, marinating beans, massaging kale and preparing dressings… It took up most of my Sunday. The way the Feel Good Food Plan addresses lunches is that you make up a bunch of components so that you can assemble lunch bowls that taste different throughout the week. For week two I tried to mix up my veggies and the like for more variety.
Day 1: Ponzu Roasted Salmon
This dish was surprisingly simple — most of the prep work just went into the sauce. Otherwise, it’s all about slicing and roasting. The salmon and sweet potato are roasted in the oven and placed over sliced celery and pears, then topped with sesame seeds. This makes for a really clean-feeling dish, with a little sweet and sour glazing the salmon.
For this dish, you’ll need an oven-safe pan so that you can properly sear the chicken and transfer it into the oven. The beauty of it is you save the “schmaltz,” which is chicken fat, to make the harissa sauce. With a pairing of cooked fennel and potatoes it’s nice and hardy, but a bit spicy for the faint of heart.
If curries intimidate you, give this one a shot. It takes far less time and fewer ingredients than many curry recipes you’ll fine. Plus if you like things milder, this one has hardly any spice. The turmeric lends this dish a bright yellow coloring, and if you choose purple cabbage it lends a nice contrast on the plate. The cabbage also provides an element of crunch to really bring this dinner to life. You can choose to use ground chicken, pork or turkey for this one.
When I made this recipe, I cheated a little and used the tahini sauce that I had already made up in the lunch prep section because they were fairly similar, and I couldn’t manage to find all of the seeds etc. that this recipe called for. It felt like a sort of roasted salad, and the tofu get these nice crispy edges because it’s torn rather than cubed prior to roasting. This definitely had the heartiest serving of greens of the meals.
Day 5: Eggplant Dinner Fritatta
This is the one recipe from the entire plan that I wouldn’t recommend. There was something off-putting about the cooked eggplant and soy sauce blended in with the eggs that made me and my roommate feel… Odd. At first it tasted alright, but it seems to be one of those dishes where the more you eat it, the less you like it. The raw cucumbers, cabbage and pepper added some much-needed texture, but weren’t quite enough to save this one.
Overall, the first week went really well. There was only one recipe that I wouldn’t make again, but otherwise, I was very satisfied with the large, veg-heavy portions of the meals. I definitely have a new-found appreciation for fennel. I will admit, there was a lot more prep work with slicing and dicing than I’m used to, so get ready to hone your knife skills!