Tips For Cleaner, Tastier Meals Using Yummly.com

Making It Easy, Making It With Yummly

Those who have eaten with me know that I rarely follow a recipe, but I lean heavily on them for inspiration. The biggest source of that inspiration these days is from what’s in our fridge and what’s on Yummly.com.

If you haven’t been to the site, you must visit, if only to make clean eating – a style that I’ve embraced nearly 100% – so much easier. I simply enter in my core ingredient, hit enter and the system pulls up hundreds and hundreds of recipes from well-known culinary sources (e.g. Martha Stewart). Then, you type in additional ingredients to narrow down your options further.

It’s a great way to use what you have, avoid the trip to the store and save time (this meal took one hour total for all three dishes). For those who don’t know, I’m also gluten-free and Yummly. com has become even more of a best friend by also allowing me to  further drill down to dietary restrictions, ethnic cuisines, and a host of others.

A romanesco cauliflower
A romanesco cauliflower
Romanesco salad
Romanesco salad

1) Search the Site Using Your Core Ingredient

You can use the recipe on Yummly.com as is or you can do what I did and improvise using what you have. Tonight, I wanted to sort of lean toward vegan. A friend of mine introduced me to The Happy Herbivore the other day, so I started perusing the site, looking for what vegan really means in terms of day-to-day cooking. I was pleased to find common threads with clean eating.

I turned then to yummly.com. I wanted to use these three core ingredients simply because they were either a) fresh or b) needed to be used up fast!

The three core ingredients were:

1) green dahl (mung) beans
2) polenta
3) romanesco cauliflower (that freakish but beautiful looking plant-like thing to the left) that was delivered in my organic box from Nature’s Garden Express, my heroes!

I searched for each main ingredient on the yummly site, one at time and then filtered each search based on a second ingredient, sometimes a third.

2) Filter Using Other Ingredients You Already Have

I chose second and third ingredients based on what I had in stock that I thought would go well together, keep to my clean meal theme and would compliment the other dishes I wanted to create.

For example, the dahl being high protein beans and containing a lot of spices would need something light and lemony. So, instead of opting for a garlic-roasted version of the romanesco cauliflower which is a more common way to prepare this vegetable, I decided to go light and make it the main ingredient of a salad. I found the salad recipe and then modified it further using what I had in the fridge and my own sense of … well… intuition.  The peppery-lemony-vinegary taste of the salad complimented the main dish very well.

3) Start With Filters First, Substitutions Second, Improvisation Third

When you first perform a search on Yummly.com you’ll get a wide array of dishes if you leave the search unfiltered. Once you filter, you may find that you’re now sifting through recipes with the right ingredients, but wrong direction for you or containing ingredients you really don’t want to use.

For example, I’ve posted a recipe here for lentils previously, but I wanted this dish to feature a green mung bean instead (what I had in the pantry). The term “mung bean” did not give any results on the site and when I pulled up “dahl”, I got thousands of hits including a number of fat or gluten-heavy dishes. If you select “gluten-free” as a filter, then you’ll get a very small number of hits. I wanted something without animal fat or heavy creams. I also wanted to use coconut milk, which I had leftover in the fridge, so I filtered the search using that term. That’s when you I had to go back to my previous search results and begin to substitute. 

For this dish, I substituted many things. For example, instead of ghee, I used olive oil, which was less intense and … I simply don’t use ghee and don’t have it laying around. Instead of cardamon, I went with its lighter cousin, cinnamon. I also had a little leftover tomato paste to thicken the stew and give it less of an Eastern flavor and more of a familiar punch. Instead of chicken, I opted for another, complimentary protein – lentils…. you get the drift. Behold the stew:

Dahl and Lentils in Coconut Milk and Tomato Base with Basmati Rice
Dahl and Lentils in Coconut Milk and Tomato Base with Basmati Rice

Fresh Kale Ready To Roast
Fresh Kale Ready To Roast
Kale and Mushrooms Ready To Roast
Kale and Mushrooms Ready To Roast

Last But Not Least, Don’t Reinvent The Wheel But Do Improvise

The last dish I made was one I had already prepared before. I knew I had polenta. I knew I had made polenta before and it was a hit.

Last time, I pan-fried the polenta with garlic, parmesan cheese and topped with sautéed spinach, shitake mushrooms and capers.

This time, I didn’t have spinach, but I did have kale. I didn’t have shitake mushrooms, but I did have baby portobellos. And instead of sauteeing the greens and the ‘shrooms, I decided to give it a bigger boost of flavor, so I roasted the kale and mushrooms in oil, sea salt and balsamic vinegar with a few red pepper flakes (not too many to not overwhelm the polenta) until crisp.

The end result was a lovely, warm polenta cake with a just a hint of shaved garlic, lots of pepper, and a strong lead from the roasted flavor of the kale and mushrooms.  The meal overall tasted good, felt clean!

Warm polenta cakes with kale, baby bellas and parmesan cheese and capers
Warm polenta cakes with kale, baby bellas and parmesan cheese and capers

 

Warm polenta cakes with kale, baby bellas and parmesan cheese and capers
Warm polenta cakes with kale, baby bellas and parmesan cheese and capers