Sunshine!

It was a beautiful day in Seattle – finally. We’ve had a bit of an extended winter, with only a handful of somewhat sunny days, which have conveniently mostly taken place on the weekends. So when I woke up this morning to the sun shining in my window, I was thrilled to be going up to Ballard for my hair appointment.

My hair looks awesome, by the way. I love my hairdresser – I’ve been going to her for a few years now and, not only does she consistently do an amazing job, but she always tells me how much she loves my hair (I’m a total sucker for compliments). And I kind of like visiting Ballard, too – it’s got a quaint feel to it. I’d been meaning to try one of the restaurants up there, so after my appointment, I went off in search of good eats.

I searched for a long time. 1) I wasn’t hungry because I’d had a late breakfast, and 2) it is very¬†difficult – though not impossible – to find a restaurant that serves reasonably sized portions that don’t leave me either uncomfortably full or with leftovers. I walked… and walked… and took a bus… and walked some more… and took another bus… and ended up at U Village. That’s four miles from my hairdresser. I probably walked about three and a half miles, and all in search of food.

Here’s where I ate:

Don’t be fooled by the name – Pasta & Co has quite a few options that don’t have anything to do with pasta, and they’re all delicious, at least the ones I’ve tried. Today, I had 4 ounces of “Gobble It Up” (a turkey/Italian chicken sausage meatloaf) and a black eyed peas and mustard greens salad.

I will admit, I felt a little ridiculous asking the server for 4 ounces of the meatloaf instead of just taking a whole slice like everyone else, but the I realized – I don’t know her. I don’t care what she thinks. I may be an American, but that doesn’t mean I have to eat like Americans are expected to eat (at least, judging by how much restaurants serve). Portion control is a concept that many of us haven’t mastered because there haven’t been good examples of it. Sure, I grew up eating my mom’s cooking, and she always seemed to have a good grasp of how much to eat, but I never really grasped the concept – so when I got to college, I just ate everything, and as much of it as I wanted. I also didn’t cook, so I’d go out to eat a lot. It’s a miracle (and a sign that I won the genetic lottery) that I wasn’t absolutely huge as a college student.

I would also like to know why it is that the cheaper the food, the more of it they give you. This is counterintuitive. You’d think if you paid for smaller portions, you’d be paying less, but that’s only the case at places where they charge based on food weight (which makes total sense, doesn’t it?). If you go to, say, a Thai restaurant and order pad kee mao and crab rangoon, you’d need at least one other person to split it with, and you still end up feeling a little overstuffed. I like the concept of eating tiny portions of many different things, like at kaiten sushi restaurants.

Which brings me to tonight’s dinner. After the delightful lunch, I ventured over to QFC to pick up a few grocery items (mostly fruit). While there, I noticed they had unagi in their seafood case. Pre-cooked, pre-flavored unagi strips, without evil white rice, staring up at me, begging me to take it home. So I did.

This was tonight’s dinner:

That’s a mixed greens salad with a few cherry tomatoes and Japanese black sesame dressing, miso soup, the rest of the noodle salad, about an ounce of unagi, and the salmon cakes and ponzu sauce from last night. I warmed up the salmon cakes in the oven because I was afraid nuking them would cause a loss of crispiness. It was a delicious and light dinner, even though it looks like a lot of food. I really like my meals bento-like.

For my bedtime snack, which has quickly morphed into dessert (go figure), I perfected my baked apple recipe. Or at least, I’m getting closer. The almond milk works really well, I’ve found – complements the apple and spices nicely. I drowned the apple pieces in it this time and I think it made all the difference.

I’m also currently working on a frozen yogurt recipe… will let you know how that one turns out tomorrow (it’s currently in the freezer).

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The cure for impending illness? Japanese food.

My throat is getting scratchy. My head is foggy. Miso soup? Yes, please!

I’ve been craving sushi all day anyway, so a Japanese dinner seemed the only possible solution. I also didn’t want to go grocery shopping again (I went yesterday for the quesadilla accoutrements), so I did something I rarely do: I used ingredients I already had. And after a day of perusing food blogs working really hard, I was ready to get creative.

The end result:

The menu:

Wild Salmon Cakes with Ponzu Sauce (I didn’t have kaffir leaves or wasabi paste; I used Splenda instead of brown sugar for the ponzu sauce, and shoyu for the soy sauce; I used a 14.5-ounce can of wild salmon instead of fresh. It still ended up being nothing short of amazing – good thing I have leftovers!)

Spinach Gomae (again, used shoyu; made half the recipe for the sauce, since I am only one person; used about half a clamshell case of spinach, which was all I had left. Also delicious, and really very easy to make.)

Japanese Sesame Noodles (with shirataki noodles instead of soba – have you tried them? They are little zero-calorie miracles! I get them at Uwajimaya, an Asian supermarket in the International District.)

Miso Soup (also from Uwajimaya)

It was a lovely meal – both pretty and tasty. It helps that all my plates have a Japanese-influenced design. I don’t know why, but I’ve always preferred Asian food. Don’t get me wrong, I will scarf down spaghetti with Italian sausage (on spaghetti squash, of course) and you know how I feel about Russian food, but there’s something about Asian flavors that really appeals to me. Except Indian. For some reason, it’s always been my least favorite.

Then there was dessert, which was not Japanese at all…

That’s a baked apple concoction, with Splenda instead of sugar, gluten-free flour instead of all-purpose and almond milk instead of whole milk. And right next to it is cottage cheese with vanilla extract, cinnamon, and Splenda. Oh, and the cinnamon almonds. Clearly there was a cinnamon theme.

And then I had a piece of 72% Godiva dark chocolate… because dark chocolate is good for you. What? It’s true!