By Susanne Meyer-Fitzsimmons
Very often when we think about preparing healthy foods, we consider the time it takes for from-scratch cooking, and who has that kind of time? It’s far easier to hit the drive-through window, even though we know this really isn’t the healthiest choice. But what if you could put some strategies into place that would enable you to cook healthy foods fast? That’s what holistic living blogger and author Susanne Meyer-Fitzsimmons does with a few short cuts and building blocks for healthy meals:
• Beans are a great source of protein and may be added to any number of dishes. Buy them in bulk, organic if possible. Cook several pounds at a time, freeze in portion sizes, and thaw in the morning for use at night in salads, soups, chili, stews, as a vegetable side dish, or in a hummus. Compared to canned beans, fresh dried beans don’t contain salt or preservatives, nor do they become mushy when cooked. Beans are also a great meal extender and add fiber. Keep a pre-cooked stash in the freezer.
• Freeze small portions of leftovers and collect until you have enough for a whole meal. Create a fun “tapas night” with your collection of small dishes that everyone gets to sample. No need to cook!
• Keep fresh frozen vegetables (organic, if possible) on hand. Peas, corn, and spinach are great basics. They don’t even need to be thawed ahead of time to be used as quick sides. Just heat in a little water, stock or leftover chicken drippings, add salt, pepper, and some butter; creamed spinach takes about 10 minutes. Add these veggies to soup, throw them on top of pizza, or use in a quick frittata to add a healthy component.
• Freeze…cheese! Keep frozen cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, feta all freeze/thaw well) on hand for quick meal making (pizza, omelet or frittata, broiled vegetables with cheese, cheese toast, spinach pie, quiche – you name it!)
• Can homemade tomatoes from your garden to make quick and easy sauces for quick meals like pizza, pasta or soups that you may enjoy all year long. In winter, you may use canned (This is the one time I use a canned veggie).
• Eggs are great for healthy meals in a hurry. Add a soft boiled egg over a spinach salad with a dressing of your choice, make an egg frittata adding leftover vegetables, scramble eggs into leftover rice with sliced ham or leftover chicken, or with sliced scallions and some soy sauce for an Asian feel. You may also enjoy creamed spinach with sunny-side-up eggs (a lunch from my German childhood.)
• When you cook rice, pasta or any other grain make a double portion and use the left overs for quick meals.
• Korean scallion pancakes are super easy and superfast to make. Just mix whole wheat flour, two eggs, and enough water to make it a soft, but not runny, pancake batter. Mix in a cup or two of diced scallions. Fry pancakes in butter or olive oil and serve with a dipping sauce made of soy sauce, rice wine or apple cider vinegar, hot sauce if you like, some crushed garlic, a teaspoon of sesame oil, and hint of maple syrup or honey.
Susanne Meyer-Fitzsimmons is a well-known blogger on holistic living topics such as healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, mindfulness, living healthy, and taking care of our planet. You may get her blog at www.susannemeyerfitzsimmons.com. Her upcoming book is Heal Yourself to Heal the Planet.