Healthy cooking for busy people. How to avoid the anxiety around your evening meals.
You must be thinking …WOW, that is a lot to deliver! Well… trust me! Optimal nutrition is the first lifestyle choice that you can make for the prevention of any health problem and it is something we all can achieve without stressing and obsessing over it!
I aim at delivering simple and quick solutions as very few of us are lucky enough to be able to spend much time in the kitchen creating sophisticated and delicious meals… BTW, if you are one of those lucky ones… great for you! Cooking is one of the most enjoyable and creative experiences that you can engage in….
At the moment my time is shared in many directions that I have decided that my cooking repertoire calls for nutrition (of course) … deliciousness (a must) AND speed and simplicity (true necessities). I bet you will love them so much that they will become part of your “off the sleeve” repertoire …
First, let’s reframe healthy eating a little…or rather, a lot!
Many of my clients, who are working full time, tell me how challenging is to come home after a full day of work and having to prepare a meal which makes everyone happy and, is nutritious and, ticks all the boxes …and, is colour coordinated with the dinner service …no, that was a joke …really … however, I am not joking when I say that these expectations contribute to sooooo much anxiety around food… so let me tell you something which I hope will help you to deal with this issue:
FORGET ABOUT IT!
Yes, you read it correct! Forget about cooking “perfect” meals …you cannot please everybody all the time ( and this is true about so many other aspects of our life), you cannot be chef extraordinaire every day … you cannot produce a three-course ( or even two!) dinner after a full day at work and it’s absolutely OK actually, it’s absolutely more than OK to make your cooking as functional and simple as possible!
The only 3 things that must rule in your kitchen are:
1 – Quality ingredients
2 – Few simple tools
3 – Your favourite music
Oh yes! Welcome to my intro course to Healthy Eating 101!
(BTW, that pretty young and super smooth lady in the picture it’s not me and certainly, that is not my kitchen, nor do I want you to think that my kitchen and yours should be looking like that, super shining and ridiculously tidy…or maybe your is …and if so … and so I take my hat off to you!) …ooops … I got side-tracked!
Healthy eating does not have to be complicated and certainly doesn’t have to take all of your (already, I am sure, little) precious free time!
To make it super simple I suggest that you invest in some basic equipment …nothing too fancy to start with a …a steamer? Even one of those super cute old exotic bamboo ones that you find at your local Thai supermarket … BTW… did you know that we have a Thai supermarket even in Windsor??? How wonderful is that?
Sorry …side-tracked again! … back to planning …
A steamer, multi-layered
A super quick blender…the “nutribullet” sort
A good stainless-steel pan (avoid non-stick – they are toxic)
And Alexa or any music producing device you are familiar with!
How to do it and have fun at it
You see, all you need to do is becoming a steam master …layer it all in and leave it to stem whilst you blitz away your dressing… but first, ask Alexa for your favourite music and make sure that is blasting away …I typically ask for Jovanotti or Zucchero ( check them out: they are fantastic !).
So, whilst you sing away, you can steam different types of vegs at the same time…place the ones which take longer to cook at the bottom and then work your way up to the top …as they become ready, simply remove that tray and put it aside whilst the rest keep on cooking and you keep on singing.
Obviously, keep an eye on it as no one likes mushy vegs …or maybe that is your thing …I don’t know but, I can tell you that, from a nutritional point of view you should keep your vegs brightly coloured and al dente!
Whilst you steam and after you blitz your super delicious dressings and sing your soul away …you place the pan on the fire, add a little coconut oil, your favourite spices (if you wish) and when hot add your favourite bit of protein…
Is it a chicken breast? Turkey? Veal? Grass-fed beef? A lovely filet of fish or maybe some firm tofu?
Whatever you might fancy… cook it until it is safe to be eaten …oh yes that is as complicated as it goes …transfer on your plate…alongside your lovely trio of vegs and now for the magic touch that makes all the difference:
Your dressing, vinaigrette, condimento, salsa …whatever you may want to call that very special thing that makes it all taste delicious and transform the most basic of plates into an explosion of flavours and happiness …and no …I am not exaggerating!
BTW…There are many other simple way to cook a nourishing meal on a time budget and we will be exploring them in my next blogs (slow cooking, wok-ing, prepping) but for now …this should get you started J
Sit down, enjoy your food and appreciate your efforts
By the time that you will sit down at the table (this is imperative! I don’t budge on this… no dinners on trays in front of the TV, please ) to have your meal you would have listened, sang and danced to at least 8 of your favourite songs, your moods will be uplifted and you will be feeling proud of yourself ( and so you should ) that even tonight … after that crappy day at work, or that awful train commuting, or that terrible meeting , or that argument with your husband …or whatever may hit you in your day … despite all of that …you still have taken another step in the right direction and NOT in the takeaway direction …acknowledge your effort!
You have chosen to nourish yourself with fresh nutritious foods which taste delicious and had a little workout whilst at it! Come on! Let’s confess it, who could resist to a little Beyoncé or, if you are a bloke perhaps, to some Dire Straits whilst sautéing away????
Stop obsessing about healthy cooking…stop making it complicated…stop looking for perfection and start thinking about nourishing that wonderful body of yours! Full stop!
Wishing you the best health and vitality
Ideas for your magic potions:
They are all gluten-free. Only a couple use dairy but it is avoidable!
Creamy coriander sauce
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (soaked overnight possibly, but not indispensable )
¼ cup of macadamia or cashew nuts
¼ cup of water
2-3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup of coriander
¼ teaspoon of salt
1 pinch of cayenne (optional)
Blend all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Thin to desired consistency by adding a little more water if necessary.
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp. of dill
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 garlic clove
Blend all the ingredients until smooth and creamy.
1 large bunch mixed soft fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, basil, and mint
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons capers, drained
2-3 anchovy fillets, finely sliced
1 heaped tablespoon French mustard
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
All in the blender, until smooth or not so smooth …depending on the texture you prefer. Typically, this is a hand-chopped job as the texture should be quite rough…but it is up to you!
2 packed cups fresh basil leaves;
1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil;
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (optional);
1/3 cup pine nuts (cashews and walnuts also make a nice pesto);
3 garlic cloves, minced;
Salt and pepper to taste.
Put the basil, garlic, and nuts in a food processor and pulse until everything is chopped. Add the olive oil and Parmesan, if using, and pulse again until smooth.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cesar Style Dressing
1 medium organic free-range egg yolk
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic glove
2 tablespoons lemon juice
100 ml olive oil
30g grated Parmesan Cheese
Combine the egg yolk, mustard, garlic, lemon juice, anchovies in a food processor.
Add the oil gradually until you achieve a smooth and creamy consistency.
French Salad Dressing
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic cloves, squashed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
150ml extra virgin olive oil
1 handful of basil leaves
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients (except the salt and pepper) in a blender until the mixture is well combined.
Honey Mustard Dressing
1 teaspoon grain mustard
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
Seas salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of parsley (optional to garnish)
Shake all the ingredients together and pour on the salad, garnish with parsley leaves.
Lemon Tahini sauce
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp tahini paste
juice 1 lemons, plus extra to taste
pinch of paprika
1 tbsp olive oil
Everything in the blender, mix it and if too thick, loosen slightly with a few tsp. of warm water. If you prefer it tangier, add in more lemon juice.
If you like the look of these wonderful cooking ideas, head over to Monica’s site everydaynutrition.co.uk