Life is much easier if I plan out the meals for the week ahead of time. Now life doesn’t always go the way I planned it, so I allow for a couple of meals where I only have 15 to 20 minutes from the time I get home until the time food is on the table. It’s all about the preparation.
When I sit down to plan, I often choose a couple of new recipes to try. Nothing too complicated because I’m usually tired by the time supper rolls around. I have several favourite web sites: whfoods.org (really easy, fast and healthy recipes), 101cookbooks.com (these are a little more challenging, but always delicious), nourishingmeals.com, domesticaffair.blogspot.ca – and several favourite cookbooks: Get it Ripe by jae steele, Enlightened Eating by Caroline Dupont and refresh by Ruth Tal are my top three at the moment.
From these recipes write out all of the ingredients – and make a list of what you need to get! The easiest way to go grocery shopping and not forget half of what you need is to create a list – checking it against what you already have in the pantry. I find if I have a list, I’m more focussed and not as easily swayed by tempting prepared foods and treats.
Coming home from the store
Unpack everything and put the dry goods away. If you buy in bulk, transfer to mason jars for ease of use. I keep all of my flours, grains, nuts and seeds right where I do my food preparation so I have them right at hand. I put most of the bread in the freezer, taking out only what we will eat in three days. That way it doesn’t get wasted.
Right away, I get my veggies ready to use for the next couple of days. That way I don’t have to chop, grate and wash every night – it’s already done! Here are some suggestions:
- Greens – wash and tear what you are going to be using for salads in the next couple of days. I usually put them in the salad spinner and spin them just once, leave the water in the container and put the whole thing in the fridge. My family uses more than a spinner full per day so I put the separate greens in a vented bag because they take up less space. If they are going to be there for more than a day, wrap them in wet towels.
- Carrots – I usually wash and chop in large coins about 4 carrots, cut some into snack-sized pieces and grate 4 carrots in the food processor. I put them in separate containers and store in the fridge.
- Sweet peppers – wash and chop half at a time into small enough pieces to throw into an omelette or salad at a moments notice. Cut the other half into snack-sized pieces for dipping.
- Celery – wash, chop into snack-sized pieces, dry and place in a container.
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, etc) – chop into serving sizes, wash, dry and store in container.
- Beets – I love beets and they are delicious grated in a salad, or throw a handful into your green smoothie. Grate some up after you’ve done your carrots and put them in a separate container.
- Squash, turnip – I put off these until the last because I find them so hard to work with but peel them, cube them and store in container. Do it now or you won’t later!
- Asparagus – wash, snap stems wherever they break and store upright in a glass of water. Somehow these always get knocked over in my fridge so push them to the back where they are out of the way but not out of mind!
- Fresh herbs – make sure they are dry before you put them away, then wash only when you are about to use them. They don’t like to be prep’d ahead of time.
- Parsley/cilantro – wash them, dry them, cut off the tips of the stems and store upright in water, lots of water.
- Garlic – press a whole bulb at a time, that way you’ve always got it ready. Store in a jar.
- Sprouts – I usually leave them in the carton they come in. They are so easy to make yourself and the kids enjoy watching them grow.
So now that you’ve got everything ready to go, adding vegetables to your meals will be easy and quick. I came across a great resource – The Periodic Table of Produce from Simple Life, Fall 2006 and here’s a link where you can print it out: http://www.slashfood.com/2006/09/22/periodic-table-of-storing-produce/. Slashfood is also a great recipe resource, just beware of the sugar content in some of the recipes!
Building a salad
|Fresh greens||Sulfur veggies||Bright colours||Herbs||Toppings|
|Start with a bed of fresh greens (about 2 cups per serving). Choose organic if possible, I like a mix of spinach, arugula, romaine, red lettuce, radicchio.||Kale, swiss chard, broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, cabbage (red and green)||Brighly coloured veggies and fruit add lots of phytonutrients to the mix. Try cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, beets, celery, fennel, fresh berries||Full of nutrients and vitamins: fresh mint, basil, parsley, chives, dill, cilantro, dandelion greens||Top off your salad with sprouts – like broccoli, mung bean, alfalfa, sunflower – and nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts)|
Don’t forget the dressing
A great way to get your daily dose of essential fatty acids (EFAs) for healthy cell membranes and immune function (among other things) is with a tasty dressing to pull all the flavours together. Here are a couple of quick and easy recipes.
House Dressing (from Get it Ripe by jae steele – this will quickly become your favourite!)
1 tbsp miso paste
1 tbsp nut butter
1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp maple syrup
3 medium cloves garlic, pressed
Freshly ground pepper
¾ cup flax seed oil (or olive oil, walnut oil – your choice)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Mix everything together in a jam jar. Stores in the fridge for up to one week.
Easy Balsamic Vinegar Dressing
6 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, pressed
Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix everything together in a jam jar, then pour on salad!
Green Vegetable Smoothie (this smoothie is like having a salad in a glass – another easy and fast way to bring greens into your daily routine)
1 handful baby spinach leaves
10 stalks parsley
6 stalks celery
1 lemon, peeled
1 cucumber, whole
Throw everything into a blender, in opposite order. You can use a sieve to remove most of the fibre, or leave some to help with digestion.