I feel like I spend half of my intros on this blog telling you all thank you! But I hope that you understand how very much your words and responses mean to me. I am so thankful for the support and response on yesterday’s post as I start to tell my story of living with Crohn’s Disease. I don’t not talk about my disease because I am ashamed of it–far from it! I think I just try to keep this blog as a place of showing, rather than telling–showing that you can live a life you didn’t think possible. But I am energized by your response, and I can’t wait to continue to tell you more!
Today, however, I want to talk about two things that have always been there for me, through thick and thin, sickness and health: the incredible, edible egg and the grocery store.
We all know that I love food. I love learning about food. I love to create/MacGyver/Suz-ify recipes. I’m not a fancy cook, but I am a creative one who loves a challenge (remember that problem solving tendency? There’s your sign!). I will get to this more as I tell my story of living with Crohn’s Disease, but to cut to the chase: while I have always loved food and grocery stores (truly, I was the master of pushing the cart, and some of my fondest memories are of times spent with my mom shopping at the A&P, then at the fancy Publix that replaced it, and cooking dinner (even if it came from a box!) and weekend breakfasts, I developed my love and passion for cooking when I started having to be more and more careful with my diet. In short: I had to learn how to create what I wanted but could no longer order!
When you start to really pay attention to what you eat, you start to notice a few things:
- quality + taste
And, in my mind, all four of these criteria must come together for an A+ shopping and dining experience. Unfortunately, as I discussed in my post on accessibility and nutrition, many people do not enjoy an A+ experience. I am lucky to live where I do, in the heart of Chicago and walking distance from one of the best grocery stores that I’ve been to: Mariano’s.
I would describe Mariano’s as a true “one stop shop”: Within one store, you have access to plentiful organic and conventional produce and grocery options at some of the best prices you will find for either. Recently, I was contacted by Mariano’s representatives to help them spread the word about a new their new initiative to be the exclusive debut store for innovative products that work to help you better your health and diet without draining your wallet. First up? The brand new Naturally Smart Eggs.
Each Naturally Smart Egg is marked with a Use By Date so the consumer knows exactly how fresh the egg is, brand identification for a safety stamp of authenticity and a Trace Code which easily enables the consumer to find the exact farm the egg was sourced from by visiting naturallysmarteggs.com. This True Grade Hen2Home Technology introduces a new standard of excellence to the fresh egg industry, providing essential information to the retailer and consumer so eggs can be purchased with confidence. And if you find that you are getting “bad eggs”–you can find out where they came from, and help to alert the producers and suppliers that something has gone awry–Pay it forward!
So the next question: how much are the eggs, and does it make a difference knowing the freshness?
The price of the eggs are $2 per dozen, and come in large and extra-large varieties. As to the second question, seriously–haven’t we all wondered how long the eggs have been sitting there? And I think we can all agree that freshness with regards to food produces a better product, unless you are talking about stinky cheese, wine, or bourbon! Or French toast, but still, within reason…
Naturally Smart Eggs give you proof of the quality–there is no hiding it. So I decided to put them to the test with a recipe that focused on the egg itself. But what to make?
Spiralizer Vegetarian Carbonara Recipe with Soft Poached Egg and Beet, Sweet Potato, and Zucchini Noodles
You all know I don’t like yolks, except in very particular applications (ie runny), but you also know that I am going to raise the bar somehow. So I thought of what is, to me, the perfect recipe to show off the power and finesse of the egg: Carbonara. Then I got inspired to make it vegetarian, all about spring, and gluten free. And there are dairy free options for you that need them. And I get to use my spiralizer 😀
Thus this “vegetarian carbonara” of spring vegetables and beet, sweet potato, and zucchini noodles with soft poached egg was born. Inspired by a few recipes that I have seen as well as a favorite recipe from my Orzo days that I saw again at A10 Hyde Park, this recipes puts spring on the menu. Packed with protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates, and fiber while bursting with freshness, flavor, and texture, this is a recipe that comes together in 15 minutes max and costs about $2 a person!
- 2 Naturally Smart Eggs, large
- 2 small beets, peeled, raw
- 1 medium zucchini, raw
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled if desired, raw
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced or minced (as preferred)
- 1/4 cup spring peas, thawed if frozen
- 1/4 cup edamame, thawed if frozen
- 1/4-1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (or Nutritional Yeast for dairy free)
- Olive Oil, as needed
- 1 lemon, juice and zest (about 1 tbsp each)
- 1 tsp each of dried herb mix: marjoram, parsley, thyme, red pepper (if fresh, use 1 TBSP
- Freshly cracked black pepper and salt
- Peel beets and clean zucchini and sweet potato (peel as well, if desired)
- Using Spiralizer, create "noodles" of zucchini, sweet potato, and beet, keeping separate.**
- Heat large skillet or saute pan (with lid) over medium heat and bring water to a light simmer in a pot or wide casserole type pan over medium heat (many also like to add a dash of vinegar to the water).
- Add 1 tsp of olive oil to saute pan and then add sweet potato noodles and about 1/2 Tbsp of water and 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice to pan (it should hiss). Cover quickly with lid.
- Grate Parmesan, if not already done, and mix with herb mix and black pepper. Set to side.
- After 2 minutes lift lid of sweet potato noodles and add beet noodles. Season all with salt, add more water, and cover with lid again.
- Let cook for about 2 minutes, upsetting the noodles every so often by moving the pan (or if necessary, lifting the lid and manually stirring -- add water as needed to keep steam.
- Add a touch of olive oil if needed and the garlic, peas, edamame, and zucchini noodles, season with salt and pepper. Stir and then cover with lid.
- Add salt to the simmering pot of water and poach eggs by cracking an egg into a cup (one at a time) and gently pouring the egg into the water. Repeat. Let cook for 2 minutes.
- Divide noodles + vegetables between 2 bowls, drizzle with olive oil if desired, and 1-2 Tbsp of the cheese and herb mixture for each bowl. Top each bowl with a poached egg and then finish with the remainder of the parm and herb mixture.
- Create the sauce by cutting into the egg and mixing the yolk and cheese into a lovely creamy sauce, without the cream!***
- *To make dairy free, try using nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan!
- ** The beet can be a bit hard to spiralize because of its fibers--you might want to nuke in the microwave 15 seconds or so to start to soften.
- ***Make sure that the "noodles" are hot when you serve with the egg--the heat will finish any cooking as you stir it around!
Still need a spiralizer of your own? I have been using mine as much as I can get away with, and plan to keep it up with the influx of spring and summer produce! Check out my review (and another great and quick recipe!) and get your own by clicking on the link below (affiliate link, btdubs).
I am already a shopper at Mariano’s, as stated above. They provided me with the eggs and the info, but the recipe and opinions are, as always, 100% Suz. Thank you to Mariano’s for giving me the chance to work with you!
I’m also sharing this as part of Tina and Deborah’s Meatless Mondays and Foodie Friday!
How important is sourcing and freshness to you when choosing your produce? Does knowing that you can track down the origins make you a more confident shopper?
What is a recipe that just screams “egg” for you, beyond the traditional scramble, omelet, burrito? I considered a souffle, but I thought that soft poaching an egg for the first time was challenge enough!