In order to live healthy and in harmony with our bodies we need to fuel our marvelous machines with “high-grade fuel;” the kind of fuel that powers a Ferrari, not a go-kart. That said, few of us come equipped with a Jetson’s-style kitchen that produces exactly what we need at the touch of a button. What are we to do when life gets too busy to cook? The following tips are designed to help us fuel up our engines with delicious food and get us out of the kitchen and back into life with a minimum of fuss.
1) Cook in bulk. Instead of making just enough for today, prepare multiple pieces of cooked vegetables, fish, tofu (yes, tofu tastes great cooked with seasoning) or chicken at one time. Bag up extra servings in individual airtight bags or containers. Freeze or refrigerate.
To prepare: Season with your favorite spice mixtures, and sear in a little butter and olive oil in a frying pan. When brown, transfer the same pan to a 350-degree preheated oven to finish cooking. This method ensures moist, juicy results. Make extra brown rice, brothy soups, scrambled egg, and other healthy cooked items. A mound of brown rice on a salad, with slices of sautéed chicken, tomato, and avocado makes a super quick healthy meal. Top with a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil for heart-healthy and tasty salad dressing.
2) Prep in advance. Wash and spin-dry greens as soon after bringing them home from the market as you possibly can. Prep enough for the week if you can. They keep for about 5 days in an air-tight bag. Wash, peel, and chop carrot, celery, radishes, cucumbers, and other firm vegetables to throw in a salad or stir-fry. Try to include seasonal vegetables—asparagus in spring, green beans in summer, zucchini in fall, and root vegetables in winter. Grab a handful of veggies on your way out the door or when the urge to snack hits you. Wash large baskets of berries or fruit to keep out on the counter throughout the week.
3) Keep tasty dip and salad dressing at the ready. They encourage us to think about including raw vegetables in our diet. A big plop of buttermilk-sour-cream dressing does not negate the high fuel value of the vegetables. Try the recipe below from my book: Miracle Pill 10 Truths to Healthy, Thin, & Sexy . It features three variations of creamy dressing on the same base (Blue Cheese, Ranch, & Green Goddess).
4) Incorporate whole grain bread as your standard bread. Life presents lots of instances outside of our control where our meals contain white rolls, white-flour crackers, sandwiches on white bread, and white tortillas. You can keep your primary intake coming from whole grain by purchasing only bread with the words: 100% whole grain, on the label. Remember, 100% wheat flour is still white flour. The inclusion of the word “whole” confirms your bread contains the bran and germ of the grain. Whole grain is the foundation of a healthy diet and is powerful fuel.
5) When in doubt, go for brothy soups and sauces. Avoid fried food. A creamy corn chowder just cannot compare to the lean fuel of minestrone or chicken noodle. Any dish with a “cream sauce” will generally contain less plant product and have more processed fats (think hydrogenated fat out of a foil packet). Order the shrimp with tomato salsa instead of Fettucine Alfredo. Go for the chicken-broccoli stir-fry with soy sauce and ginger instead of the deep-fried egg rolls.
Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing
with Green Goddess and Ranch Dressing Variations
Makes 2 ½ cups
Use equal parts sour cream and buttermilk as a base for a myriad of creamy salad dressings. Be creative.
Blue Cheese Dressing
1 cup sour cream
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup cottage cheese
6 ounces good quality bleu cheese (like Maytag, Stilton, or gorgonzola), crumbled
2 tablespoons onion, very finely minced
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients together. Adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper if desired. Thin with milk if too thick. Chill for at least four hours. Can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Tres Hatch is the author of: Miracle Pill 10 Truths to Healthy, Thin, & Sexy.