Tonight was one of those evenings when I just didn't know what to cook for dinner.
I took boneless, skinless, chicken breasts out of the freezer this morning but wasn't sure what to do with them.
What I knew for certain was I didn't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when I got home from work because the weather was just beautiful - providing me the perfect opportunity for a 45 minute power walk with the dog before dinner.
Because of that, I decided the oven was the way to go - and then remembered I had an un-opened box of orecchiette pasta kicking around.
From there I took a forage in the fridge and pantry:
Broccoli, mushrooms, onion, black olives, tinned tomatoes, and garlic.
The perfect fixings for a healthy Mediterranean style meal.
And my 45 minute walk meant I could also afford to have a nice heart healthy glass of red wine.
Does it get any better than that after a long day?
Not sure how it would all turn out, I took a risk - first by spraying a small casserole dish with PAM, then adding the broccoli, five sliced mushrooms, one thinly sliced onion, the black olives, and the chicken breasts.
I then sprinkled the chicken with 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp basil, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, and 1/4 tsp no sodium lemon pepper.
A small tin of tomatoes was poured over top and the entire affair baked in a 350 oven for 90 minutes.
When it came out of the oven I shredded the chicken and mixed it all up with the veggies and sauce. The sauce was almost like soup so I decided to add my pasta, which was cooked just to al dente, right to the pot so that it could absorb some of the juice.
The final touch was a quarter cup of shredded asiago cheese.
I served it rustic style in big bowls with the broth included and have to say, despite the absence of salt and added fat, this dish was really nice.
I realized that even though this wasn't the same as a meal made with salt, loads of cheese, excessive amounts of olive oil, or a buttery sauce - I really could eat this way for the long term.
And then I had another ah ha moment!
I didn't have to give up my glorious Crispy Turkey Cutlets in Mushroom Gravy, or Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese forever.
I could have food like that - every now and then - as opposed to every night of the week.
Yes, people, I am really that slow on the uptake.
And so it goes.
A diet epiphany - and on fat Tuesday no less.
In the meantime, I plan to keep on keepin on.
Stay tuned tomorrow for something funny ;)