Guide to Cooking at Home Made Easier

By May 1, 2020 Cooking

Now that we’re all ‘sheltering in place’ everyone is cooking more meals at home.  Fantastic!  Today I want to share a few tips to make it easier to feed yourself and your family healthy meals.

You’ll be glad to know that studies show people who cook at home have better health and a better relationship with food.  Choosing colorful vegetables, clean protein, high quality fats and low glycemic grains and fruits makes it easier to stay in a good mood, have balanced blood sugar and good digestion.

When you cook at home you get to pick the highest quality ingredients available. In order to limit our exposure to others it’s best to shop only once a week. You can buy everything you need in one trip to the supermarket and health food store. I also like buying clean animal proteins online.  In this newsletter I’ll share some of my favorite resources.

Knowing how to quickly prepare healthy and easy meals is key for being consistent with your healthy eating habits.

I realize meal prepping can be time-consuming if you’re making a lot of new recipes each week or it can become boring if you’re eating the same thing all the time.

I’m going to walk you through my daily cooking routine for making easy healthy meals all week long.

My food philosophy is to eat whole foods from the earth with an abundance of vegetables and mostly gluten-free. You can adjust for your lifestyle and particular tastes. The same principles apply whether you’re a plant-based eater or meat-eater.

Each meal has 5 components – protein, healthy fat, starchy carbohydrates and fruit, non-starchy vegetables, and a delicious element (spices and sauces that are healing and flavorful).

I recommend half your plate be non-starchy vegetables, the other half divided evenly between, protein, starchy carbohydrates and fat. The delicious element is included in all areas. You want your food to taste good.

Breakfast

High Protein Blueberry Coconut Green SmoothieStart your day with a smoothie which only takes 5 minutes to make. Add a vegan or whey protein powder for extra protein (see resources below). Chia pudding can be made up the night before and eaten at breakfast. Porridge can be made with left over quinoa. Consider eating soup for breakfast especially when the weather is chilly. I love soup in the morning.

 

Breakfast Recipes:

Blueberry Coconut Green Smoothie

A delicious smoothie to give you energy and keep you full for hours. Gluten free, Dairy free, Vegan, Paleo

How to Make a Perfect Green Smoothie

If you want to create your own personal smoothie this will guide you.

High Protein Almond Cinnamon Chia Pudding

An easy breakfast with a rich, creamy taste that’s high in protein, healthy fat, and fiber to give you energy all morning long.

Quinoa Morning Porridge

A simple creamy porridge made with leftover quinoa.

3 Minute Spinach Egg Drop Soup

A great breakfast to fortify your body and keep your nervous system calm.
Eating it makes you happy

Lunch

Salad is one of the easiest lunches to make.

Get some pre-washed salad greens and/or arugula. The containers stay fresh for a week or more in your refrigerator.

Include one or more colorful vegetables. Shred carrots and radishes. Chop red or yellow peppers, red onions or scallions. Any vegetables you like. I often include leftover roasted vegetables from the night before.

For protein add ½ cup of canned beans (from BPA-free cans) or use a can of wild-caught salmon or sardines. You can also use leftover chicken from a roasted chicken.

For healthy fats include ½ avocado or a few nuts or seeds.

Then just drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and fresh-squeezed lemon juice or vinegar and sprinkle with coarse sea salt—celebrate the amazing meal you just made

Other lunch options: 

If you’re busy at lunchtime you can prepare a chili, stew or soup on Sunday to eat for lunch all week long.  Just put it in a pan and reheat.

Leftovers from dinner can always be eaten for lunch. Make enough for the next day.

Lunch Recipes:

Hearty Chicken or Bean Chili

This robust and flavorful chili is full of  protein and vegetables. It’s a filling, comforting, dish.

Moroccan Vegetable Tagine with Greens

This Moroccan Vegetable Tagine will satisfy your taste buds and soothe your body and soul.  It can be made with beans or chicken.

Easy Cream of Asparagus Soup

A smooth and silky creamy asparagus soup made without any dairy.

Golden Red Lentil and Kale Soup

A light bright nourishing soup that’s incredibly flavorful and satisfying.

Dinner

This is the meal where you’ll do most of your cooking.

Find a few recipes you like that are easy to make and repeat them regularly.

Use components of the food you make at dinner in breakfasts and lunches.

Batch Cook – It’s good to cook once and eat twice.  By that I mean make enough to have leftovers for dinner the next night or lunch the next day.

I’m going to break dinner down by the components I mentioned earlier.

Protein

Dinner is usually focused around protein, even though it’s not the biggest part of the meal. It’s the identifier. You can choose plant-based proteins or clean animal protein.

Plant based proteins include tempeh, beans, lentils or tofu.

Keep a few cans of beans in your pantry; black beans, white beans or chickpeas. These can be added to sautéed vegetables and grains. I recommend dried red lentils and French lentils since they cook quickly and don’t need to be soaked.

Tempeh will keep in your refrigerator for weeks.

Animal proteins are an important part of the diet for many people, they are for me.

They can be kept in your freezer for months. Take out what you’re planning to cook in the morning. Put it in a bowl of cold water in the refrigerator and it will be defrosted by dinner.

Please be conscious of the source, how the animal was raised, treated, and the quality of the protein.

Most supermarkets and health food stores sell free range chicken.  I always look for the Certified Humane label showing the animals are treated with kinder more responsible farm practices.

I buy other animal proteins from US Wellness Meats. They provide high quality grass-fed and pasture-raised meats and other products. My favorites are ground lamb, ground turkey, ground pork, shrimp, bacon and duck breasts.

Vegan Recipes

Easy Sautéed Tempeh

This is a super simple recipe you can serve with vegetables or grains or add to salads. You can make 2 packages at the same time and use it throughout the week.

Sri Lankan Coconut Dhal Curry

A flavorful high protein dish made with red lentils. It’s easy to make a double batch, it will keep for a week.  You can also freeze it.

Provencal White Beans

This recipe is so versatile — it can be served hot or cold, on top of a salad or
Buddha bowl or as a side dish.

Black Bean Zucchini Burgers

Simple, vegan, gluten-free, grain free, black bean burgers with only 6 ingredients.  Tender hearty and flavorful, they will keep, cooked or uncooked for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. You can also freeze leftover patties after they have been cooked.

 Paleo Recipes

 3 Ingredient Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs

This takes less than 5 minutes to prepare and then right into the oven to bake! Super simple! Taste’s great for up to 5 days. Easy to make a double batch.

Easy Roast Chicken in a Cast Iron Pan

This dish is super simple and comes out perfect every time. Use left over chicken in salads for lunch throughout the week.  Use the bones to make bone broth.

Moroccan Lamb Sliders

In this recipe we give a simple protein a few spices to enhance the flavor and there’s no extra prep! You can make it with any ground meat or chicken.

Lemon Garlic Shrimp with Broccoli and Zucchini Noodles

A classic dish with lots of vegetables.  You can even buy the zucchini noodles already spiralized in many stores. And to make it even easier leave out the broccoli.

Sheet Pan Miso Maple Salmon with String Beans

Miso Maple Salmon is an earthy, sweet, salty one pan supper made in
30 minutes or less and is full of protein and vegetables.

Non-Starchy Vegetables

Vegetables are the most important part of your meal. Make an abundance of them. You can eat as many non-starchy vegetables as you like. They include cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, red bell peppers, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli rabe, arugula, cabbage, tomatoes, celery and carrots.

Cauliflower, cabbage and carrots stay fresh in your refrigerator for 2 weeks.  I buy 2-3 heads of cauliflower every week, since there are many ways to cook it.

I recommend making 2 types of vegetables for dinner.  When you have a variety of vegetables you eat more.  I like to make one leafy green vegetable and another roasted, steamed, grilled or sautéed.

Easy Sautéed Spinach 

Once a week I buy 2 large containers of baby spinach.  It’s washed and ready to eat. It stays fresh the whole week. This is the easiest vegetable dish you can make and super healthy.

  • Heat a little olive oil on medium-low, add sliced or chopped garlic. Sauté 1 minute.
  • Add spinach, sauté on medium high, while tossing with tongs, until wilted, about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with Celtic sea salt.
  • Note: If you don’t want to chop garlic sprinkle spinach with garlic powder to taste.

Pre-washed baby kale can also be made this way but needs to cook 3 or 4 minutes. I always get a container of kale if it’s available, but it only stays fresh a few days.

Here are a few ways you can prepare vegetables at home.

Vegetable Recipes

Sautéed Spinach and Radicchio

If you want to make your sautéed spinach a little different, add radicchio. It’s easy and has a nice taste. Radicchio says fresh for 2 weeks.

Easy Roasted Cauliflower with Healing Spices or Curry Powder

Spices like cumin, coriander and fennel makes plain cauliflower taste amazing.  It’s also delicious with curry powder, instead of the spices.  Simple to make. You can cook a lot at once with a sheet pan. It reheats very well and is great cold in salad.

Sautéed Kale with Carrots

This is one of the easiest and most nutritious vegetable dishes you can eat. The bitterness of the kale mellows as you sauté it with garlic and sweet carrots.

Roasted Broccoli

Roasting turns broccoli into a side dish or snack that can be prepared quickly.  It tastes best right out of the oven.

Easy Sautéed Mixed Vegetables

Choose any vegetables you like. This recipe also works with frozen vegetables, just rinse them under hot water before adding to the pan.

5 Minute Zucchini Noodles with Garlic and Basil

This is a really easy dish that’s incredibly delicious with lots of garlic and fresh basil and it only takes 5 minutes to prepare. If you don’t have basil use parsley or just the garlic.  Zucchini noodles are good with tomato sauce too!

Roasted Asparagus with Mushrooms

Roasted asparagus and mushrooms make the perfect combination
for a fresh, healthy spring dish. So simple. So beautiful! And SO delicious!

Cauliflower Rice

It’s not hard to make and a great way to squeeze more servings of vegetables into your diet. Some stores sell already ‘riced cauliflower’.

Starchy Carbohydrates and Fruits

This includes grains, sweet potatoes, winter squash, white potatoes, gluten free pasta, rice noodles, buckwheat noodles and gluten free bread. It also includes fruits like, berries, apples and pear which are low glycemic.  Also, bananas, pineapple, mango and other tropical fruits which have a higher sugar content, so don’t eat too much.

 

To save time you can prep 1 or 2 starchy carbs for the week.

Simple Grains – quinoa, millet, brown rice, wild rice.

Cook a pot of grains plain and add different flavors throughout the week.  Grains can be added to salads and sautéed vegetables.

Recipes

Quinoa with Mushrooms

 An easy, healthy side dish that you can eat all week long.

 Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are filling, satisfying and nutritious. Cook up a large batch and reheat as needed. Or just cut them up and store in an airtight container to cook throughout the week. The same recipe can be used for butternut squash.

Morning Glory Bread {gluten free, paleo}

This bread is packed full of carrots, fruits and nuts and has a sweet, moist, dense flavor.  Enjoy it for breakfast or anytime you want a delicious treat.

Golden Paleo Gluten Free Bread

This is a plain sandwich type of bread great for avocado toast.

Fats

Healthy fats to include in your meals include things like nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, ghee, oil-based salad dressings, and tahini.

Keep them on hand for cooking and to toss onto your meal.

Most sauces fall into this category.

Sauces & Spices

Having 2-3 sauces on hand is a great way to enhance the flavor of your food. These are the ones I use regularly.

Recipes

Tahini Dressing

This sauce can be used as a salad dressing, as a sauce or dip for steamed or roasted vegetables, on grains or noodles or anything you like.

5 Minute Avocado Herb Sauce

This is a quick and easy sauce that’s so delicious you’ll want to put it on everything. I think of it like a green ketchup. Use it as a dip for sweet potato fries, on burgers, as a salad dressing, as a dip for steamed vegetables or anything else.

Easy Vinaigrette

This is another easy dressing for your salads.

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil
¼ – ½ tsp Celtic sea salt

      • Mix the vinegar and salt together in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the salt.
      • Slowly pour in the olive oil, using a fork to whisk while you pour. The dressing will emulsify.
Paul Prudhomme Magic Seasoning Blend

This is a delicious spice mix I use on salmon and chicken thighs.  It will work on any of your proteins including tempeh or tofu. Just sprinkle it on and cook.

Miso Maple Sauce

This sauce is perfect glaze for cooking any of your proteins.

I hope this information makes cooking at home easier and more fun for you.

Make any dish you like 3 times to build your confidence.  Each time it will take less time and taste better. 

In Conclusion: What you think about what you eat affects your metabolism. Whatever you eat, enjoy it. Notice the delicious tastes, textures, smells and beauty of your food.  Appreciate all the people involved in getting that food on your table, including yourself.

Resources: (Clickable links)
Protein Powders (choose the one you like best)

Paul Prudhomme Magic Seasoning Blend

US Wellness Meats

Spices I keep on hand:

  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Fennel
  • Turmeric
  • Curry Powder
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Cinnamon, Ceylon

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