WOW it has been a long time since my last post!
Cooking has been a struggle lately. I’ve been hinting at some apartment issues on my Instagram and Facebook, but for those of you who don’t know, I’ve barely had access to a kitchen in the last two months. In late February, a representative from the Department of Housing of NYC came knocking on my door to inform us that my landlord did not have the right paperwork on file to be renting out our apartment. The previous tenant’s misbehavior (throwing huge parties via AirBnB) had elicited a vacate order on the unit and the landlord did not go through the proper steps to lift it before listing it for rent again. It was an extremely confusing time with several different parties telling us different stories and all trying to protect their own interests, but all that mattered was that SAME DAY, my roommates and I were forced to leave the apartment. We were allowed inside during the day to grab clothes or toiletries and start to pack our belongings, but we could be fined or arrested if we were found “inhabiting” the space, i.e. showering, sleeping, or (most tragically) cooking.
Going from having a comfortable home in the morning to being thrown out onto the street later that afternoon and told to figure it out was one of the most stressful things I have ever encountered in NYC. I don’t wish it upon anybody. We hadn’t done anything illegal… why are we being punished for this?! Fast forward a few weeks and I’ve crashed with friends for a couple nights, found a temporary sublet for a couple weeks, and finally a beautiful new apartment that is directly across the street from the cycling studio where I teach 8-10 classes per week. I could not have imagined this awful situation turning out any better! While some days it was really difficult to remember that everything was going to be okay, I am grateful for my new and improved (and legal!) apartment, as well as the feeling of absolute resilience that came with working through that nightmare. I am still following up on paperwork from the old apartment, but soon enough I will be able to put it behind me for good.
During the weeks where I was skipping around between apartments, cooking was next to impossible. Luckily, there are plenty of options in NYC for delicious paleo(ish) meals! Some of my favorites are Whole Foods (their breakfast hot bar for bacon, potatoes, and greens), Sweetgreen, Dig Inn, Dos Toros, Oaxaca, BRGR, Juice Press, Pressed Juicery, Mighty Quinn’s, and Glaze. I’m grateful there are so many convenient gluten-free options these days, and it made those couple weeks much easier. However, my wallet was looking a little sparse and once I got settled into my new kitchen I knew I had to break my habit of eating out.
My favorite to-go meal by far is the Sweetgreen Harvest Bowl. It’s the perfect combination of healthy and hearty, and gives me the nutrient-dense fuel I need at lunch to keep me going all afternoon. Recreating these at home could not have been easier! Each component by itself is very straightforward. The only part about the actual Sweetgreen Harvest Bowl I really missed was how they chop everything up all together so quickly. But it’s worth saving this much money! Ingredients for 4 servings of this bowl ran me only $10-$15. And as an added bonus, after eating my homemade Harvest Bowls for 4 days in a row, I’m not as addicted to them anymore! Haha!
Sweetgreen Inspired Harvest Bowls
Packed with clean protein, complex carbohydrates, and colorful produce, this easy to make ahead salad will make sure you are looking forward to lunch all week long.
1 cup uncooked rice (I’ve been using brown basmati lately and love it)
2 cups cooking liquid (broth if you have it, water if you don’t)
1 tablespoon butter
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 chicken thighs, diced
½ cup olive oil, plus more for cooking
¼ cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning to taste
¼ teaspoon pepper, plus more for seasoning to taste
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
8 cups baby spinach leaves or other dark greens, chopped into smaller pieces if desired
2 apples, diced
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup dried cranberries (optional)
For the rice: Place rice, cooking liquid, butter, and a little salt in a large stockpot. Cook on the stove at high heat until the liquid just starts to boil. Turn the heat down all the way to simmer, cover with a lid, and let cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
For the sweet potatoes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss diced sweet potatoes with some olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until bottoms edges are crispy and brown and the largest cube of sweet potato pierces easily with a fork.
For the chicken: In a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, cook chicken pieces in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Make sure to season with salt and pepper. This works better if you only stir 2-3 times, and it should take 5-7 minutes to get everybody cooked all the way through. Cut the largest piece in half to test for doneness and make sure the center is solid white (no pink, nothing sheer or shiny).
For the dressing: Whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, dijon mustard, and honey together in a bowl.
To assemble: Get out 4 large containers (mason jars, tupperware, whatever). I personally like to layer the heaviest ingredients on the bottom, and finish with the spinach leaves on top, as it keeps the spinach fresher for longer. You can even keep the dressing in the same container this way. I’m gonna start by splitting my dressing between the four containers on the bottom, followed by chicken, then sweet potatoes, then rice, apples, goat cheese, dried cranberries, almonds, and finally spinach. When you’re ready to eat, grab an already prepared salad container and dump the contents into a large mixing bowl (that’s how I eat my salads… easier to toss). Because the lettuce was on top, it will now be on the bottom, and vice versa. Toss that baby as desired and enjoy THOROUGHLY!