Last night I feasted--a belated birthday dinner for me, at my house with my "creative group" of longtime women friends. I was in charge of the main course & veggies (by my choice), & the rest was supplied by my friends. I had planned to grill outdoors, but an unexpected thunderstorm nixed that (the rain was MUCH needed), so I switched to my oven's broiler. I thought I should share the menu, because it was a very simple meal that felt luxurious & included treats but did not stuff us.
MAIN COURSE: (cage-free humanely raised) chicken thighs, skinned/boned, larger bits of fat removed, brushed with Trader Joe's barbecue sauce, grilled under the broiler for 5 minutes on one side, 3-4 on the other.
VEGGIES: cherry tomatoes, sliced green/yellow/red sweet peppers, two small skinny eggplants peeled & sliced, tossed with a little extra virgin olive oil + dried thyme & oregano leaves + diced fresh chives, arranged on two cookie sheets with raised edges, set in the oven on a shelf below the chicken for about 8 minutes, then broiled for a few minutes, stirred in the middle of that time.
SALAD: leaf lettuce, sliced tomatoes, diced fresh parsley, a few sliced almonds, eaten with balsamic-citric dressing.
BEVERAGES: my friend brought champagne for my birthday, & we drank the bottle among four of us, so that was one treat--but we also drank cold water steeped with a few crushed sprigs of mint, stevia, & lemon verbena, all of which I have growing on my back porch; my friends just LOVED it, declared it the Best Water Ever!
DESSERT: amazing handmade chocolate mousse-raspberry concoctions brought by another friend--so you see, we actually had something quite decadent!
For me the chicken was a treat, as my housemate & I eat mostly legumes & nonfat cottage cheese & yogurt & occasional eggs for protein. And since we eat so frugally overall, an occasional splurge on deboned/humanely raised chicken can fit easily into our budget.
Roasted/broiled/grilled veggies with the EVOO & thyme/oregano (from last year's porch plantings!) tastes like a splurge but isn't. I actually picked out some of the sweet peppers from my neighborhood grocer's mark-down rack. Herbs are just a little touch that makes the veggies truly special.
Notice that we didn't have any high-carb food (potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, etc.) on the menu. Those foods are important to include in one's diet day to day, but omitting them from this meal left room for the rich dessert. And no one felt deprived.
And it's just so lovely to drink cold water with crushed mint/stevia/lemon verbena! I recommend that you grow your own herbs so you can have little luxuries like this often--0 calories!