How to Eat Real Food Without Spending Hours in the Kitchen

bfsAre you eating real, whole food as much as you’d like?
Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, went from being an overweight junk food eater to a lean, plant-food-loving machine. One key element of optimal health is to eat real, whole food as much as possible, preferably prepared at home. The good news is, it doesn’t need to take as much time as you’d think.
Here are 7 tips for eating real food without spending hours in the kitchen.
START SMALL.
When learning how to meditate, one of the biggest lessons is to set small, achievable goals. Make it as easy as possible for you to take the first step. The same applies to cooking. Start with one night a week and build from there. Starting small assures you will less likely end up with a fridge full of vegetables, you will feel guilty about when they go bad and you throw them out.
LEARN QUICK AND EASY RECIPES.
Start with a small collection of easy recipes that focus on quick cooking techniques. Avoid recipes that have an ingredient list as long as your arm, or instruct you to simmer for 30 minutes. It is best to save those for weekend cooking when you have more time. Look for simple stir fry’s, hearty salads or one pot meals.
EXPERIMENT WITH DIFFERENT INGREDIENTS
Avoid getting stuck in food ruts by simply swapping different ingredients into your favorite meals. For example, if you normally make a stir fry with tofu and kale, try it with bok choy or broccoli. Same goes for flavorings. If you normally use garlic, try ginger or a new spice.
SKIP THE PEELING.
If possible, avoid peeling vegetables. It takes time and you often lose the nutrients close to the skin. Instead rinse or scrub and move on to the next step. For example, try leaving the skin on carrots or sweet potatoes. If using butternut squash or beets, try roasting with the skins on. It’s easy to slip the cooked skins off but try them with the skin on because they are often delicious.
TRY IT RAW.
Try to include some raw vegetables in your diet every day. Not only is this beneficial for getting extra enzymes and heat-sensitive vitamins, it’s also much quicker than cooking. For example, it takes a fraction of the time to finely slice a bunch of broccoli and toss in a dressing than it takes to steam it [recipe below]. Consider finely slicing or grating a vegetable and serving it raw. Try serving shaved raw broccoli or grated cauliflower in place of steamed rice with curries or in stir fry’s. Tyr shaved fennel or cabbage in salads and finely sliced kale or raw bok choy – which has a surprisingly crunchy texture.
USE CONVENIENT INGREDIENTS.
If you feel overwhelmed or short on time, consider using packages prepared vegetables when it makes sense for you. Yes, they may cost more, but it might be the “right” thing to splurge on. Pre-washed salad leaves and vegetables are available in a variety of styles. Be creative and try to alternate flavor profiles of your meals. Pick up a flavor highlight or sauce. Consider premade hummus, pesto, salsa, soy sauce, curry pastes or olive tapenade.
DONT FORGET ABOUT FROZEN VEGETABLES.
Many nutritional studies indicate freezing may be the next best way to preserving vegetables without losing much of the nutrition. Frozen vegetables picked at their peak, will often have more nutrients than older, fresh vegetables that are past their prime. They also save you loads of prep time. Compare sitting down to shell a giant bowl of peas with the time it takes to open the packet and pour them into a pot. Frozen peas, spinach, collard greens, green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower, are great for a quick stir fry.
Raw Broccoli & Feta Salad
Raw broccoli salads are popular and delicious. Try eating raw broccoli once a week to start. If you do prefer cooked broccoli, this salad is just as delicious with steamed broccoli.
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon seeded mustard, 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 head broccoli, 3 1/2 oz. feta, handful pine nuts (walnuts or pecans work well too).
Combine mustard, vinegar and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a medium bowl. Season to your taste.
Finely slice the broccoli stems and chop the floret’s into tiny bite sized trees. Toss in the dressing.
Crumble feta and sprinkle over the salad with the pine nuts.
Variations: vegan / dairy-free – replace the feta with an avocado, flesh scooped into chunks.
Nut-free – replace the pine nuts with sesame seeds or finely diced red bell pepper or red onion. Sun dried tomatoes work well too.
Herbs – serve sprinkled with fresh herbs such as coriander, cilantro, parsley, mint or basil.
More substantial – increase the amount of feta or toss in a drained can of chickpeas or white beans.

~By Leo Babauta and Jules Clancy

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One Response to “How to Eat Real Food Without Spending Hours in the Kitchen”

  1. Mitra says:

    Thank you for then raw food idea. One of my favorites is to use a variety of peppers that are sweet and mild combined with chili peppers lime and orange juice for a tangy spice. It is colorful and provides heat.

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