So you’re living alone and you’re hungry. Nobody’s around asking you what you want for dinner. Poor you. Sure, you know your diet is ridiculous and not especially healthy. Maybe you’ve tried cooking for yourself but it’s just you, so why bother? And I know all about you single vegetarians. The cheese sandwich solution, the nachos…Poor you. Poor you.
Hey, wait a minute. Lucky you! Cooking for one is cheaper than eating in a restaurant. You’re saving money. You can afford to buy small portions of the most expensive food. You can even go organic. So set the table and cook your dinner.
You don’t have to go out and buy fancy cooking equipment (except a salad spinner, if you don’t have one). I also know that to get you started, the recipe has to be easy. So what’s easier than a one-dish meal?
But first you need to set the mood. You deserve to be pampered, and if you live alone it’s up to you to do the pampering most of the time. Put on some music and light some candles. Are you feeling frazzled? There’s nothing like Ella Fitzgerald for jangled nerves. She can sing “Why Was I Born?” and leave you feeling uplifted.
When I first got my CD player, just about every CD I had was Ella Fitzgerald. I’ve been gradually expanding my collection and most of it is jazz. Another delightful jazz performer is James Moody, who sure plays a sweet saxophone. He was recently at the Blue Note in Manhattan with the Dizzy Gillespie “all stars.” Of course, you should put on the music you like—whatever makes you happy and feel good. A lot of single folks tend to eat their dinner standing up the kitchen. If I’m talking to you, get over it. That is definitely not treating yourself nicely.
I usually work at home and I tend to cover every flat surface with papers. I’ve found a great way to clear off my dining table—the box top from my 10 reams of paper. I pile everything in it and put it away for the night. That way I have a nice neat table to sit down and enjoy my dinner.
Now break out the nice dishes, cutlery and stemware. Oh go ahead – you deserve it. And there will only be one place setting to wash up, so it’s no huge bother. But using the good stuff will make a huge difference in your mood. It’s so elegant.
If you’re not eating broccoli, you ought to give it a try. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are anti-carcinogenic (translation: protects you from the Big C). This recipe can be made vegetarian or with meat. I eat meat, but not as much as I used to. I’ve found that going even partly vegetarian makes me feel better, and meatless usually means lower in calories. Now that I’ve lost the weight I gained on a meat-and-potatoes diet, I don’t want to gain it back.
Enjoy your dinner and remember – you’re worth it.
Sweet Potato, Broccoli and Fill-in-the-Blank Hash
4 ounces chicken, pork or baked tofu
1 sweet potato – if you have a big appetite get a big one.
Broccoli from 1 stalk (or more if you love broccoli)
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon juice from ½ (one-half) lemon for the meat or 2 tablespoons of soy sauce for the tofu
Put some water in a pan with the steamer and turn the heat on. Peel the sweet potato. Chop it into big slices or chunks. Steam, covered, for about 4 minutes. Cut whatever you like of your broccoli into chunks and throw it on top of the potatoes for another 4 minutes (a minute or two longer if you don’t like crispy broccoli). In a large skillet, sauté chicken approximately 3 minutes per side. (You want to be able to cut into the thickest part and see only white, no pink.) Squeeze lemon juice over the chicken. (I heat my tofu in the microwave for a minute, but if you don’t have a microwave, you can throw the tofu into the steamer a minute before the broccoli is done.) Cut the chicken, pork, or tofu into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add the potatoes and broccoli. This is also the time to cut the potatoes and broccoli into smaller pieces, but don’t use metal in a nonstick skillet. Put it all into a big bowl and spread a tablespoon or two of sour cream on top. I really prefer Tofutti’s “Better Than Sour Cream” to the real thing and soy is so good for us—not just gals either. Soy is thought to prevent prostate cancer.