I used to have a thing against leftovers. It’s not the same thing that I hear a lot of other people have: that weird, illogical belief that some phenomena causes all foods to become “icky” after twenty-four hours in the refrigerator. I’m well aware that leftovers, when stored properly for a reasonable amount of time, are not destroyed by some evil incarnate dwelling in my refrigerator. Yet I still had a slew of reasons for making sure all of my dinner recipes were sized precisely for two average human adults, without a bite to be leftover.

1) If I made more than enough for two servings, I wouldn’t be able to resist going back for seconds – even if my first helping filled me up. (In other words, I grew up in a home where it was normal to reach for second servings before even swallowing the last bite of your first. My intuition for feeling full has been broken since I was about four years old. So when I began cooking for Ben and me, I didn’t trust myself around “extra” food left in the kitchen.)


2) I was eating about 1200 calories a day, and probably half of them at dinner. Therefore, leftovers were no good for lunch since they were always a lot more calories than I typically allowed myself for that meal.

3) I was a newbie food blogger. I’d surely be voted off the island if I didn’t post something brand new every.single.day.

Thankfully, I’ve gotten over this thing now that I’m a little older, healthier, and (I think) more skilled in the kitchen. Here’s my current stance on each of the above:

1) I found my inner self-control. Sure, she requires me to pack up each individual serving at the same time I plate our meals, ensuring that the food is evenly divided among each dinner plate and plastic container. But it saves me a trip back to the stove later on.

2) I eat more now. Thank goodness, I’m no longer a miserable biatch 99% of the time. I’m down to about 89%. And my caloric intake is a little more balanced: dinners are a little smaller than they used to be, and lunches can be a little bigger.

3) As much as I know you love me, I know you’d probably get sick of me popping up in your reader/newsfeed/inbox every twenty-four hours. Nowadays, I’m striving for quality over quantity and would rather provide you with less recipes, as long as they are well thought-out, perfectly balanced, and nicely documented.

Once I put all that into place, I discovered a few other things about leftovers that I’m sure you already know: sometimes it’s nice not to have to cook dinner every night. And, some things are shockingly better the next day. This gingery, coconut-y, eggplant and edamame stew is one of those things. We had it for dinner on a chilly winter night, and the silky eggplant bathed in warm spices like ginger, turmeric and cinnamon were deliciously comforting. But when I pulled it out for lunch the next day, after everything had a chance to mingle in the refrigerator, that I truly came to appreciate the flavors in this vegan comfort. I may have been sitting rather quietly at my desk, but my tastebuds were doing their little happy dance as those super spices and sweet coconut shimmied on by. My tummy was pleased too, as it was filled up with plenty of fiber and protein to power me through the afternoon. And you might even say that my whole being was taken to a happy place, where tropical aromas float waft through the air, killing bacteria and pumping up the immune system.

What? Oh, that’s just the coconut oil talking. I used it to saute the vegetables in this dish because it’s another one of those really good-for-you fats you like to hear about, and because its high abundance of medium-chain fatty acids make to very resistant to any sort of structural changes caused by heat. In other words, all of those good-for-you properties stay in tact. Finally, coconut oil happens to be the featured ingredient for this month’s SOS (Sweet or Savory) Kitchen Challenge hosted by Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs and Kim of Affairs of Living. Each month, these ladies select an interesting ingredient and invite their readers to create a wholesome, all-natural, preferably vegan recipe to showcase in their roundup at the end of the month. So whether you’re brand new to coconut oil or and old pro stumped for new ideas, January’s SOS recipe roundup is a great place to find inspiration on how to incorporate coconut oil in your cooking – or just to find some tempting new recipes.

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Gingery Eggplant Edamame Stew

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 16oz package (3 cups) shelled edamame
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 large scallions, thinly sliced (light green and white parts)
1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons turmeric
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2" cubes (about 1lb diced eggplant)
1 1/2 cups light coconut milk
juice from 1/2 of a lemon
1 oz chopped pistachios or cashews
chopped fresh cilantro
cooked bulgur, couscous, or another grain for serving (optional)

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the edamame. When the water returns to a boil, cook the edamame for five minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet or dutch oven. Saute the scallions until softened; about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and seasonings (through salt.) Cook one minute more, stirring. Add eggplant, stir to combine thoroughly with sauteed spice mixture, and gently cook for a few more minutes, until eggplant is lightly browned (reduce heat if the mixture is burning on the bottom.)

Pour in the coconut milk and cooked edamame. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until eggplant is tender.

Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice.

Garnish each plate with some of the chopped nuts and cilantro.

Nutrition Facts:

Nutritional Info (excludes optional grain)
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 352.2
Total Fat: 18.8 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 21.8 mg
Total Carbs: 25.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 13.6 g
Protein: 21.7 g