Week 1 Mochi Cooks: In the Kitchen With Our Health Editor

You’d think that having Monday off for the Memorial Day holiday would help counterbalance the workload for the rest of the week. Alas, four-day work weeks are always the hardest because you’re more pressured to get things done in less time. And by getting things done, I also mean preparing speedy meals in 20 minutes or less. Since moving into the city, Trader Joe’s has been my personal food shopping mecca. The prices are cheap, the people are painfully nice, and the food is delicious. The shopping environment is friendly and open; unlike the foodie elitist vibe you sometimes get walking into Whole Foods. I spent $43.12 for more than two weeks’ worth of groceries when people can spend the same amount on one meal alone. What’s also great about Trader Joe’s is that it offers gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, fat-free, and kosher food products. So those who have allergies and health conditions or follow a certain lifestyle can find a variety of foods. With that said, here is a run-down of all the meals I prepared (barely cooked!) this week:

Day 1 Temperatures were scorching today, so I opted for lighter meals. I washed and drained the berries and added a teaspoon of honey to my yogurt to offset the sour flavor of the yogurt.

Breakfast: 1/2 cup blueberries, 3 strawberries, Chobani plain Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon honey

I never understood why some kids didn’t like eating spinach; it’s probably my favorite veggie. The spinach I bought was pre-washed so that saved me some minutes. I prepared the salmon the night before, so I could just microwave it during lunch the next day. I took a small fillet and seasoned it with basil, salt, and pepper to my liking. I placed the seasoned salmon into a baking pan and greased it with a teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Next, I preheated the oven for five minutes at 350°F and cooked the salmon for an additional 20 minutes.

Lunch: 1 plate of spinach, 1/2 cup carrots, 2 tablespoons ranch dressing, salmon seasoned with basil, salt, and pepper

These crab cakes were frozen and pre-seasoned from Trader Joe’s. I cooked two crab cake patties in a skillet greased with 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil; it took about 15 minutes to fully cook. I ate one for dinner and the other for lunch the next day.

Dinner: Crab cakes, 2 toasted whole-wheat bread slices, and 1 tablespoon fat-free mayonnaise

A college friend came to visit me in New York and she brought these spicy nuts. I was hooked instantly and bought myself a bag. I separated several servings of nuts in individual sandwich bags so I could just grab them on my way out.

Snack: Thai Lime & Chili Cashews from Trader Joe's

Day 2 It’s mango season! I love this fruit because it’s so versatile. You can enjoy it as is or in salads, salsas, sauces, and chutney. As far as almond extract, it’s a great way to naturally sweeten your meals or add some flavor. Skip Starbucks and prepare a homemade iced coffee instead. After brewing a pot of coffee, pour some into a cup of ice and let sit for awhile. Then add more ice and stir with milk, sugar, and almond or vanilla extract.

Breakfast: Fresh mango and 1 cup of coffee with 1 teaspoon almond extract, skim milk, and 1 teaspoon sugar

I packed last night’s leftovers and ate it with a bed of spinach.

Lunch: Crab cake patty and spinach salad.

Dinner: I enjoyed a frozen Lean Cuisine meal.

Day 3 I was especially in a rush today, so I quickly packed some cereal into a plastic Tupperware container and threw a couple of washed strawberries into a sandwich bag. Kashi makes great cereals. I like the honey-almond flavor; it has a variety of whole grains and slivered almonds and flaxseeds. You can easily enjoy the cereal as granola to top on your yogurt.

Breakfast: 1 bowl Kashi Go Lean Crunch!, vanilla-flavored soy milk, 4 strawberries

Peanut butter sandwiches were my favorite lunch growing up, and it was really comforting to have this for lunch to top my busy workweek.

Lunch: 2 tablespoons unblanched no-sugar-added peanut butter and 2 slices of toasted whole-wheat bread

I decided to go all out tonight and prepare a bigger meal, so I can have a week’s worth of leftovers. I left the chicken and veggies in the fridge to thaw this morning, so they would be ready when I got home. I cooked the veggies in a small saucepan and baked the chicken for about 40 minutes in the oven.

Dinner: 1 baked Cornish hen seasoned with basil and lemon and mixed vegetables.