Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"But doesn't it take a lot of time to make a healthy meal?"

This is another thing that I am hearing a lot of lately.  That there needs to be a lot of time dedicated to making a healthy meal.  Well, no, actually you don't.  You could just pull out a bunch of raw vegetable from your refrigerator and start chowing down and you'd have a healthy meal right there.  What I have learned is that making a meal can be whatever you want it to be.  If you want to put in the time for a fancy meal do it, if not, it doesn't need to take a ton of time.  

I don't have a lot of time to dedicate to making meals.  By the time we get to the late afternoon part of our day my kids are tired and hungry, I'm tired and hungry, and I know my husband will be coming home tired and hungry.  If I don't throw something together quickly a chaos of the most extraordinary kind breaks out in my home.  My kids turn into wild animals and I turn into the kind of mom that would eat her offspring just for some peace and quiet.  (Please tell me you've all felt this way at one point or another?)  So here are a few short cuts I have learned along the way:

Dice more veggies then you need.  Chances are you'll be using some of these very same veggies in the next few days, so dice a few extra to store in your fridge for another day.   I always have bags of sliced or diced veggies hanging out in my fridge either for meals or for quick grab and go bags when we're heading out to the park or for a good adventure for the day. 

Cook more rice then you will need and freeze it for later.  My kids love rice so we always have lots of it around in all the varieties.  Short grain, long grain, brown and white.  We love it all and freeze it all.

Use a food processor to do your chopping for you.  I love mine and use it often.

Use a blender.  It doesn't need to be a good one.  We still use a cheap no name brand and it's served us just fine for the last year.  And I use it almost everyday.  

Embrace RAW food meals.  Every raw food meal I've made comes together faster then anything else I cook.  

Here are a few really incredibly quick meals to put together.  We had something very similar to this tonight:

Super yummy and a favorite in our home.  We added beans to ours and did it as a taco salad with salsa as our dressing and tortilla chips as our base.  Took me maybe 30 minutes tops from the time I walked into the kitchen to the time we sat down at the table to eat.  

Another favorite that I really can't seem to get enough of is sushi!  I used to hate sushi and wouldn't go anywhere near it.  Now I just can't get enough of it.  I have a neighbor from Japan who introduced me to making it vegan and taught me all about making it how you like it.  I'll throw carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, green peppers, avocado, and green onions into the middle (the variation is different every time).  And I don't add any vinegar, I can't stand the taste of it.  So mine is just nori sheets, rice, and veggies that we dip in soy sauce.  Yum!  This is a youtube video I watched to teach me how to do it.  It's a bit long so you can scrub through it to the good parts.  This will often take me about 30 minutes as well.  I start the rice a little earlier in the day so it has some time to cool before I get to it, then just julienne your veggies and off you go.  

Mine often comes out looking like this:

One more quick and yummy option that we love is making pasta but with sliced zucchini for your noodles.  And no it doesn't take much time at all.  As long as the kids are not running circles around my legs while I'm chopping the zucchini it will only take me 5-10 minutes.  I don't cook them, we just eat them raw with whatever we throw on top or mix throughout.  I've done a lot of different "sauces" with this and it comes out great every time.  A real hit.  Here is a great site for the how-to on cutting the "noodles" and a yummy recipe I love. 

And there you have it.  It does NOT need to take a lot of time to prepare a healthy whole food meal.  Just be creative and I'm sure you can find ways to cut corners to save time.  

Tomorrow I'll share another favorite of mine, green smoothies!!  We have one at least everyday.  It's a great way to not only get your veggies in, but get your kids to have their veggies too.