The Need for Comfort over Authentic: Dad’s Mexican-Inspired Skillet Taco

Skillet Taco with Brown Rice

Everyone has a cheap, quick comfort food dish from childhood memories. Mine is Dad’s Skillet taco recipe. Perhaps, Mom occasionally made it, too. It a classic 1970s dish. It was taco seasoning mixed into ground beef scrapped to the center of the skillet. White rice surrounded the beef. Shredded iceberg lettuce layered the rice. Gooey, melted, shredded cheddar cheese topped the meat, and the dish was finished with plain chopped tomatoes. What I remember most about this dish: Always wanting more cheese.

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Mom Said to “Eat Less, Exercise More”

A forkful of pancakes

Some time ago, I noticed extra weight gain. A panicked call was made to Mom. In a harsh and sweet tone of a voice, she said, “You know how to eat healthy. Now eat less and exercise more,” she continued with the reality of my dilemma, “…if you gain weight now, it’s difficult to get it off… You’re older and the weight doesn’t come off like it use to. There’s no excuse for being fat.”

Some may view the advice as insensitive. Personally, I appreciate the seriousness of it. Why cry about it when the solution is simple: Eat less and exercise more. The following morning, I was up at 6 am for a quick two-mile run. A food diary was started to find potential problems, which revealed large portions of food and too much sugar.

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Star Anise and Orange Duck Salad: A Harmonious Lunch Bowl

Star Anise Quinoa with Oranges and Smoked Duck Salad

As a graphic designer, I want my ‘brown bag’ lunch to taste and look visually delicious. Otherwise, I’m likely to toss it in the garbage and pay for a fresher option from a restaurant. Such actions eventually add up to plenty of regret and an empty wallet. Learning to pack lunches take time and practice. When lunch containers reveal a salad of crispy lettuce and colorful, layered ingredients or a fragrant soup waiting to be heated in the microwave, my wallet stays full.

The initial inspiration for packing lunches come from bento boxes with separate containers or compartments. The separate containers help maintain the freshness of the meal (good for hot and cold recipes). Another bento-style lunch is creating a meal in one bowl, in which the ingredients harmoniously enhance each other. Read more