Where we get fit and spin (wool)

Posts tagged ‘easy cooking’

Basic Eating- Beans and Rice

I am not a foodie, and never claimed to be. However, I have been told that my ability to throw stuff together is not universal, and several people have asked me what I eat. I thought I would give you my basic “go to” dish, beans, rice and whatever.

First, either soak and cook dried beans according to directions, or get out a can of beans, any kind, including baked, although they have a lot of sugar. I don’t use canned often, and if I do, I don’t rinse, since I like a lot of sauce in my food. Rinse and drain if you are worried about your salt intake. If you want to use lentils instead, cook them with the rice. Second,cook 1-2 cups of rice, according to directions. I have  a rice cooker, and never bother to measure any more. If you are using dried vegetables, or ones you want to have cooked, add them to the rice. Once these two ingredients are cooked, add any kind of tomato product; canned, fresh, dried. In a pinch I’ve used tomato soup or ketchup. Add vegetables, in any form. I like fresh onions and green pepper for the crunch. You can go southwest by adding cayenne pepper, chili powder, taco seasoning, or salsa. You can go asian by adding fish or oyster sauce, curry powder, soy sauce or whatever. This time I made rice and lentils with chili paste, dried tomatoes, dried red pepper, dried celery, and tomato soup. I’m going to add canned salmon and frozen broccoli to some of it. Or maybe all of it. You can add hamburger, tuna, chicken, whatever. You don’t need to add the meat, unless you are concerned about your protein intake.

Beans and rice can be the base for just about anything you’d like to add. I can’t think of too many things that don’t go well. Eggs are tasty in it too. Use your imagination, or use up your leftovers. You can cook up a big batch of beans and rice on the weekend, add different things to it each day and have lunch for the whole week. Don’t be afraid, if you think it’s really weird, take a half cup of the beans and rice out, add the odd ingredient and taste. If you like all the individual ingredients, you’ll probably like them together. When people complain about the cost or effort in healthy eating, I through this at them. You can’t get much cheaper than beans and rice, and since you can add any leftovers to it, you aren’t wasting any food.

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Making Healthy Cooking Easier and Cheaper

Eating as healthy as possible, as cheaply as possible does require more effort on your part. Here are some of my top thoughts on making it easier. There is a phrase I hear a horse trainer using that applies here:”Make it easy to do the right thing, and hard to do the wrong.” If we make doing some of these things too hard, we won’t do them. The other thing to keep in mind is the “80/20” rule – make 80% of your diet as “clean” as possible, so you can afford the other 20%. So if tonight you have a whole wheat pizza with black bean and salsa topping, it will won’t be so bad that you get your potatoes from a box the next night.

  1. Prepare beans overnight, double batch, freeze half
  2. Cook double portion of brown rice, freeze half
  3. freeze produce, including large amounts from auction or market
  4. Do some of the prep work for tomorrow’s dinner while cleaning up tonight’s
  5. Soup usually makes huge batches, freeze half.
  6. Use tools- food processor, blender, whatever, to make it easier.
  7. Use the microwave as often as possible

I think you can see a trend here. I rely heavily on my freezer, especially since there are only two of us. With the worries about BpA’s in canned food, I’m reluctant to use too many, especially tomatoes, since their acid is more likely to leach the BpA’s out of can’s lining. I have canned my own, and will do so again, but I also dry and freeze a lot.

Of course, all this work fits into my philosophy that it is too much sitting and easy food that led us to where we are now, so reversing that by actually participating in our own food preparation is a good thing. If you have any ideas, tips, favorite recipes or any other tidbits, send them along.

I’m Not a Food Blogger

So, I’m never going to be a food blogger, but I have been thinking a lot about how to get people to understand that eating well doesn’t have to be expensive or terribly time consuming. I think it is clear that cooking your own food is the best way to avoid the bad things in our diets. However, it requires more time and thought to do so, and we all get busy, tired or lazy at times.  I’ve come up with ways to make it easier.  I will just give you this entry as a series of ideas, and if more come to me, I’ll make it a regular feature.

First, make friends with your microwave:

  1.  Not only is it fast, it lets vegetable keep much of their nutritional value. I take a regular cereal bowl, dump some fresh or frozen veggies in, put a plate on top and pop it in. 2-3 minutes for fresh, 4-5 for frozen. If your husband talked you into pizza, cut a slice in half, microwave some broccoli, onion and green pepper, drop it on the pizza. Half the calories, twice the nutrition and yummy.
  2. Bake a sweet potato in the microwave. More fiber and vitamins than a white potato, one can usually feed 2-3 people, takes only 5 minutes and retains more moisture.
  3. Eggs take only 25-30 seconds in the microwave. You have to watch them. Coat a bowl with spray oil, crack an egg in and cook on high.
  4. You can cook corn meal, which is what Polenta is, easily in the microwave. I cook a cup of water on high for a minute, add 1/4 c. of corn meal, a dash of salt, microwave on high one minute, stir, cook and stir like that until it is the consistency you like.  Put the aforementioned egg on top, salsa and/ or cheese and you have a 5 minute lunch.
  5. You want a really sweet treat, that’s healthier? Peel a banana, cut in half length wise. Put in a bowl or plate, cut side up. Arrange chocolate chips and mini marshmallows down each side. Microwave just till the chips melt and the ‘mallows puff up. It makes the banana sooo much sweeter, it’s almost too much.
  6. Make your own yogurt. I got a yogurt maker for Christmas, and it says to bring the milk to a boil for thicker yogurt. It is so much easier to do so in the microwave. No scorching, and as long as you keep an eye on it, no boiling over. About 10 minutes for a quart of milk.

These are just my microwave thoughts. Next I’ll do an article on some super quick dinner ideas. After that, some ways to make the healthiest choices easier.

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