A Fish, A Veg, A Starch

April 12, 2012


Dinner in our house is often an afterthought. Generally I have an idea of what I’m going to make, but I never know quite how it will come together and I often swap nights at the last minute. I’ve been meaning to write a post on my non-meal planning and will soon. I make sure I have building blocks in my kitchen, but I don’t plan out what goes with what (usually) until maybe 4-5pm. Sometimes this is bad because I don’t have enough time to roast a potato, for example, but most nights it works out and I put together dinner quickly based on what I’m craving at the moment.


Tonight’s dinner involved thawing out a fish from the freezer in advance, but that was the only given for the evening.


This is a new-to-me fish called Barramundi. I ran into my neighbor in Whole Foods and told her I was trying to get omega-3s from fish rather than a fish oil supplement. She recommended the Barramundi and said it was excellent. It was advertised as both a “sustainable sea bass” and high in omega-3s on the package. I did note, however, that it is from Indonesia. Not sure how I feel about that. Research required. Generally I trust Whole Foods to stock good options. (Have you seen recently that they’re removing all of the “red” rated category fish from stores?)


Taste-wise, it was awesome!!! I dotted it with butter, a drizzle of lemon juice, salt, pepper and some Old Baby Bay for a great seafood taste. Baked at 400* for 15 minutes, per the package, and it was perfectly done!


I popped some asparagus in the oven at the same time. (One of a few veggies to choose from in the house.) This was also roasted at 400* for 15 minutes and sprayed with olive oil (from my misto) and sprinkled with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.


Lastly, I debated what to have for starch. On our laziest nights, we usually just toast up some whole grain bread. I almost made brown rice in the rice cooker, but Matt was hungry and wanted to eat early so he could get to bed (he’s training sweets in the morning) and I didn’t have enough time. I had 3 red potatoes, but had discounted them because roasting would take 45 minutes. But then I had the idea to boil them!


15 minutes later, I had what tasted like an amazing baked potato! I seasoned them with butter, salt, pepper and dried dill and a generous blob of Oikos. Roasted potatoes are great, but boiled are really delicious too. And so fast!


Water + juice with a new IKEA straw!! I have missed straws!


This was one delicious dinner!


Sweet Pumpkin likes to hang out in our garden beds : )  [Note Matt’s tomato wires! And one more bed built that needs compost soil.]


While Pumpkin gets dirty, I’m off to get clean in a bubble bath!

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{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Caroline @ After Dinner Dance April 12, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I just ran out of those same Ikea straws today – so funny one showed up on your blog! One bag has lasted me the last 3 years!


2 KathEats April 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Haha – you can have some of mine! I have a feeling they will last me as long :)


3 The Healthy Hipster April 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm

I think you just described 90 percent of my dinner meals! And finding a quick starch is always the trick. Polenta & whole wheat cous cous are 2 other quickie staples. Looks delish!


4 Peanutbutterlover April 12, 2012 at 7:33 pm

I love quick fixes like that! I know I’m not patient enough to wait long for a meal, so normally I just grill up some lean ground Turku or chicken and pair it with a (microwaved) sweet potato.


5 lynn @ the actor's diet April 12, 2012 at 7:38 pm

mmmm potato!


6 kristen @ verbs and vignettes April 12, 2012 at 7:46 pm

i definitely dislike spending more than 13 minutes on dinner 95% of nights.

also, that asparagus. looks. perfect. nom nom.


7 Silvia @ skinny jeans food April 12, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Pumpkin probably thinks, oh, look, all these wonderful humongous litter boxes Matt built for me!

Just saying, my cat had chosen the big pile of mulch my neighbors got delivered last year for his preferred place to do his business.. Cats are smart.


8 KathEats April 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm

:mrgreen: We haven’t caught her in action yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me!!


9 Andrea April 13, 2012 at 8:40 am

Yep, as I was raking out my garden the other day, my cat decided to use it as a litterbox… twice! Good fertilizer I guess 😉


10 kathleen @ the daily crumb April 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm

my mom always watered our juice down when we were kids and i hated it!! although now i cannot drink juice straight up… too sweet. funny how our palates change!


11 Amy April 12, 2012 at 7:54 pm

If I had to guess, I’d say that Pumpkin thinks that Matt just built him 3 giant litter boxes. Cats are like that! We have to be extra careful to keep our kitty and neighbor kitties our of the kids’ sandbox. Be careful around the cat poo – its dangerous for expecting mamas.


12 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats April 12, 2012 at 7:57 pm

That’s how I try and grocery shop – have a bunch of basics and then I can throw together dinner based on what I feel like!


13 Kaila @healthyhelperblog! April 12, 2012 at 8:03 pm

That fish sounds awesome! I definitely want to try it because sea bass is my favorite fish so if its anything like that I am sure I would looove it!!!!


14 Cait's Plate April 12, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Wow I didn’t realize what a nice yard you guys have!! Now I see why Pumpkin loves it so much 😉

Enjoy the bubble bath!


15 Annette @FitnessPerks April 12, 2012 at 8:23 pm

oooooh a bubble bath–that sounds AWESOME! I love fish, btw!


16 Christine @ BookishlyB April 12, 2012 at 8:24 pm

You guys have a TON of land! Definitely room for an awesome swing set.


17 Elisabeth April 12, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I LOVE boiled potatoes! My grandma always had a bunch of boiled potatoes hanging around the kitchen – ready made meal once you add toppings :)


18 Paula April 12, 2012 at 8:29 pm

I’m afraid that sweet Pumpkin is not so sweet and will be leaving you stinky messes in your beautiful gardens. My neighbor’s cats have been visiting mine and dug up or pooped on 3 cabbage plants. :( Cats should be indoors only. I have a wonderful cat. He doesn’t go outside.


19 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More April 12, 2012 at 8:35 pm

This looks almost exactly like my dinner last night but the fish was battered and the potatoes were mashed. But I imagine both equally delicious!


20 Tamra April 12, 2012 at 9:01 pm

definitely let Matt clean up any kitty poo if you find any – it can be bad news for baby!
(sorry Matt!)


21 Nicole @ Yuppie Yogini April 12, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Mr. Kitty is most likely fertilizing your soil 😉


22 Mollie April 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Looks like the straw display at the front of the Woodbridge store got ya. Got me too!!


23 AJ April 12, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Barramundi is a common gourmet fish in Australia, it is probably native to Indonesia too, so Whole Foods have made an ok choice. Glad you enjoyed it.


24 KathEats April 13, 2012 at 6:28 am

It says it’s wild caught, so hopefully fished properly!


25 Xiomara April 12, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I have the same approach to our meal plans. It drives my husband crazy sometimes, especially when I’m missing something simple like a lemon or a lime. He’ll make a joke, and say if only you worked somewhere that had lemons for sale. I’m sure you never run out of bread, right?


26 Jeri April 12, 2012 at 9:43 pm

I would love to have a piece of fish. But mini-me doesn’t like fish. but she will eat fish sticks. Yeah go figure. I should be lucky she said I could keep the kidney beans in the nachos. Give and take. Maybe I can make a filet for me and turn one into fish sticks for her. Hmmmmm…..


27 Maria April 12, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Pumpkin is so cute!

And any potato is a good potato in my book.


28 Kt April 12, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Hi Kath! I think there is a typo here – “Matt was hungry and wanted to eat early so he could get to bed (he’s training sweets in the morning) and we I have enough time” . I could be wrong.


29 KathEats April 13, 2012 at 7:36 am

Fixed, thanks


30 Caz April 12, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Be careful of Pumpkin! Not only will he definitely dig up veggies and use the beds as a litter box, but cat’s poop is potentially harmful to pregnant ladies. Which is why cleaning a litterbox isn’t recommended… I’d put chicken wire around them (I know it’s ugly) to keep him out or you won’t want to be eating any of the veggies grown in the soil due to potential bacteria since Pumpkin is an outdoor cat and obviously not yours so you don’t know his hunting habits.

I am a fierce cat lover and don’t want you to be shooing him away -but it was near impossible to keep my own cat out of my veggie garden!


31 Jen April 12, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Love red potatoes. Haven’t boiled them in a long time – thanks for the idea!


32 j3nn April 12, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Boiled potatoes are one of my favorites! So filling. Good to hear that barramundi is tasty; vie never had and was curious when I saw it last week. I’ll try it next time I come across it.

PS. Is your blog having problems? I’m on DH too and mine hasn’t been loading. I noticed yours was having trouble loading, too.


33 KathEats April 13, 2012 at 6:26 am

Yes… Dream host is having internet connection problems : (


34 Laura @ She Eats Well April 12, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Definitely going to look out for that fish next time I am at Whole Foods. I’m always trying to incorporate more into my diet and it’s so easy when it’s in the freezer. It looks delicious!


35 Karen April 12, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Pregnant women do not clean litter boxes … even big ones…remember ? The two shall never meet !


36 jojo April 12, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Great start of a garden! My mother has something similar in her backyard, she gets so many vegetables in the summer, I want to have a backyard with garden bed sometime in the future.. :)

I rarely plan for my meals either (unless I’m going to be at school all day, need some planning! I like to take food with me rather than buying.. :) ). Sometimes I end up not knowing how empty the fridge is until dinner time.. That’s when my husband and I get creative! lol


37 Jessica April 12, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Do you have any tips on fish for a person who doesnt really like it? I live in a landlocked state and have never really eaten any seafood. So far Ive tried shrimp, salmon, walleye, tuna, and tilapia and hate all of it. The texture throws me and the smell just seals the deal.


38 KathEats April 13, 2012 at 8:27 am

When I was learning to like foods, it was always in restaurants. Zucchini in pasta, mushrooms on pizza. Although I don’t know if that is the wisest recommendation because you don’t want to waste an entree! But at buffets or events where you can try fish, put a little on your plate and taste it prepared different ways. Since you’ve tried so many at home, I wouldn’t keep trying since it usually tastes better in a restaurant. I don’t know what to say about the texture – except that fish is very nutritious!


39 Alicia April 13, 2012 at 8:52 am

Jessica, I would ask what types of meats you do like to eat, and how you like them prepared? That would give a better idea what types of fish you should be trying and in what preparation. Seafood textures can go very wonky when they are overcooked, and overcooking also lends itself to the stinky seafood phenomena. When you had tuna how was it prepared? One of my best friends thought she hated seafood til she had it properly prepared and accessorized at my house, and now she will eat any seafood as long as I make it. 😉


40 Lynda April 13, 2012 at 12:15 am

Barramundi is one of the fish with the highest mercury content, so it probably isn’t advisable to eat a lot of it while pregnant.


41 KathEats April 13, 2012 at 6:24 am

Oh dear, really? I’ve never seen it on a list of mercury fish. Where did you read this? My neighbor said it was low!


42 Katharina April 13, 2012 at 9:06 am

Looks like it depends on where it comes from. It can be raised on a plant based diet (no mercury).

Or wild and high in mercury.


43 Lynda April 13, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Katharina, seems to have some good links listed, and, I see from the thread below, that the confusion resulting from farmed versus wild has been sorted out.

Health Canada (I’m Canadian) has published some helpful guidelines on fish consumption for the general population, kids of various ages and pregnant (“specified” women). Wild barra would presumably fall into the same category as shark etc. Health Canada suggests no more than 150 g (5.2 oz) per month of fish containing high mercury for pregnant women:


Please don’t worry about the fact you had some barra, I just wanted you to know about the potential risk of eating too much of it. You’re doing a good job of eating the right things for your baby.


44 KathEats April 14, 2012 at 6:03 am

Thanks… Glad a little was OK!


45 Molly @ RDexposed April 13, 2012 at 6:30 am

I think that it should be ok. The bigger the fish (as a whole), the more mecury. Isn’t most tuna bigger than barramundi?


46 KathEats April 13, 2012 at 7:33 am

I’m finding mixed things!!

This site says mercury free: http://www.thenutritionexperts.com/2011/01/nutritionists-review-of-australis-barramundi/

And this one says it’s high: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/mercury_in_fish?open

I wonder if the source (farmed vs. wild) is the big difference here


47 KathEats April 13, 2012 at 7:34 am

Thumbs down to Indonesia :( Whole Foods should know better!



48 vegtastic April 13, 2012 at 10:33 am

Monterey Bay Seafood Watch is a great resource. You can even download their app to your phone, so that you can check out your fish in the store BEFORE you buy – love it!


49 KathEats April 13, 2012 at 10:47 am

I have the app – love it!


50 KathEats April 13, 2012 at 7:35 am

And one more thing!! The brand I had was “Australis”…suggesting an Aussie source, which was not so!


51 Khushboo Thadani April 13, 2012 at 12:45 am

I love boiled potatoes but roasted always wins!


52 Averie @ Averie Cooks April 13, 2012 at 12:55 am

I made Chilean Sea Bass and blogged about it last week. It is hands down, the fanciest at-home meal I’ve ever blogged about. I made it with a champagne vinaigrette orange-dill relish and it photographed beautifully and I was glad because it could be another 3 yrs before I blog about it again. Lol

Your fish looks wonderful. Love that you tried this new to you fish!


53 Emma April 13, 2012 at 8:03 am

Careful! “Chilean Sea Bass” is actually Patagonian Toothfish, a very at-risk species at the moment.


54 janet April 13, 2012 at 1:10 am

I am a little confused about the fish choice. I see that is is a “sustainable sea-bass” which I thought is all that really matters?
What is your concern with Indonesia? A politic stance? Or fear that there is no regulation on what they can say on the packaging?
I find the seafood debate/s to be so confusing? It’s easy if you live on a coast, otherwise…

Thanks for your input!


55 KathEats April 13, 2012 at 6:22 am

Both unknown practices and the footprint of getting it here. I didn’t know it was from there when I bought it (it want clearly labeled) however, it’s convenient and really tasty so I might ask the wf seafood department for more info when I go in


56 mary @ minutespermile April 13, 2012 at 5:05 am

why do straws make everything better? all you need are those mini-umbrellas and it will be JUST like a real, bar-made cocktail!


57 Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) April 13, 2012 at 5:47 am

I ate grilled salmon yesterday for the first time in a LONG time since being pregnant. It was actually good! I was so proud of myself since I know it contains important nutrients (it has just sounded so gross this entire pregnancy).

Your yard looks so so nice by the way!


58 Amy @ Amy loves food April 13, 2012 at 5:55 am

That fish looks delicious but i’m not sure i could get hold of that in the UK.

If that’s one major thing i fail on, its knowing what to cook for dinner, i find it a bit of a chore!

It would be great if you did a post to give me some insight on how to plan better!


59 Nine April 13, 2012 at 6:07 am

Just some more information to add to the comments about Pumpkin’s new litter trays! Only about 10% of foetal Toxoplasmosis cases come from direct maternal contact with cat faeces. The rest are from contaminated veggies, and undercooked meat. Make sure anything you eat from the garden is thoroughly washed/peeled/cooked. Unless of course you have already had a positive Toxoplasma titre test – if you were exposed pre-pregnancy, there is no risk to BERF. The risk is actually pretty low – even with my “high risk” assessment (a vet for over ten years – AND I only ever ate my steaks rare), I still tested negative for exposure before I had my kiddo.


60 Simply Life April 13, 2012 at 6:08 am

So interesting about the fish- thanks for the info! I’m off to check out that article!


61 Hillary April 13, 2012 at 6:09 am

I like to do a similar “non-plan” for the week, although it’s a bit harder when I’m cooking for one. I don’t want to buy too many perishables that will go bad, but frozen veggies/proteins work great!


62 Susan H. @ The Food Allergy Chronicles April 13, 2012 at 6:42 am

Fish looks very tasty…have never seen it before.


63 Jodi @ Jodi, Fat or Not April 13, 2012 at 7:04 am

My dinners usually come together the same way – I make sure I have a nice variety of protein/veg sources and then cook it however I feel like that night.


64 Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin April 13, 2012 at 7:04 am

I’m such a non-meal-planner too. I’m always amazed by people who are able to have their whole week of dinners planned out – I don’t think I could ever do that. I change my mind too much! 😛


65 Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count April 13, 2012 at 7:24 am

Love roasted asparagus!


66 The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh April 13, 2012 at 7:45 am

I’m going to try that fish. I need some more fish in my repertoire other than salmon and mahi and they overfished orange roughy, I need other not super fishy smelling options! Thanks for that!


67 Joanne April 13, 2012 at 7:55 am

That’s my kind of meal. So good! I’m hoping we can get that fish around here. Good to know about the boycott of red fish.

Re your post about the Cowboy umbrellas – just got mine yesterday. Can’t WAIT to start using it for better lighting. It’ll be picture playtime after Boston on Monday. YAY!


68 KathEats April 13, 2012 at 7:57 am

Awesome! I’m thankful for evening sunshine – haven’t used mine in a while. But for those nights when you have to eat late…


69 marnie April 13, 2012 at 7:59 am

with your potato next time try this…boil them, then smash them…and then broil them…SO good! they get crunchy, yet stay smooth!


70 Andrea April 13, 2012 at 8:55 am

I’m not sure if you follow the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s sustainable seafood guide, but it says the best choice for barramundi is US farmed. I’ve never seen this kind of fish before, but I LOVE fish so I’d love to find & try it.


71 Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning April 13, 2012 at 8:58 am

Good idea to boil potatoes in a pinch- my hubby loves baked potatoes, but we have to remember to put them in the oven at least an hour before we’d want to eat (which is a pain!)
I love (and am jealous) that you can always just throw a dinner together in no time.


72 ~Christy @ wonderofallthings April 13, 2012 at 9:36 am

I am the quintessential non-planner when it comes to dinner. I love it this way. Yes to having the building blocks available. I like to eat what I’m in the mood for and not just what is on the schedule…


73 Maria Carolina April 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Hi Kath,
I was really curious about your garden beds. Do you have a post on it? What do you mean by compost soil? I recommended making a garden bed to my parents (since we normally just dig a whole in the grass, mix it with a couple kilos of soil and then plant). Is it expensive to make a garden bed?


74 KathEats April 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I am hoping Matt will do a post on this. He built the beds and then we had a landscaper bring in what he called “high quality compost” – it’s a mix of compost and nutrient-dense soil (I believe). He said anything will grow in it. We shall see!


75 lisa April 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Where did you get those mason jar glasses with the little dog? I’ve seen those before and I need them! He looks like my pup :)


76 KathEats April 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm

They are by Lagunitas Brewing in CA and we got them at the brewery


77 susan April 13, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I’ve told you before, but I’ll tell you again I really enjoy your blog. It’s informative and quick to the point. I love the ideas and to know that for the most part, you promote good quality items, organic, and good advise. I also like that you can put a decent meal together in a short amount of time (not using lots of fats and bad things). Seems like there is never enough time for everything and your meals are an incentive (better than fast food) – which I was wondering… do you plan to do a cookbook of some sort that would consist of your quick food ideas for meals? I know you were in one recently, but I truly mean one all by yourself! I’d love it – although, I know you have a lot on your to-do list right now, but I would bet it would be a big hit! Enjoy your weekend!


78 KathEats April 13, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Thanks so much Susan :) first comes bakery, then comes baby… Then cookbook?! it’s something id like to do, but also don’t want to take over my life. Books are so much work. I’ve talked to several agents and I just don’t think the timing has been ideal for me thus far. Maybe when my kid is in elementary school?!


79 susan April 14, 2012 at 8:15 am

I understand – I love to spend hours of cooking and baking when I can, but I also love your quick, healthy meals! It’s great to have some of these ideas when one does not want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen and it’s wonderful to have you share the products etc…Thank you!


80 Angel7 April 14, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I need to eat more fish, but am not a big fish fan. I will eat fish it if it is fried–I know that that is not the best way to eat fish, though.

A bubble bath sounds great right now!



81 Zoe @ loseweightandgainhealth April 15, 2012 at 4:55 pm

That meal looks delicious and I would make it all except I would use a locally caught fish rather than something imported from so far away. Those veggie beds are looking great – good idea for the tomato wires. I am still looking for something suitable – yours look sturdy and strong.


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