Thursday, October 14, 2010

5-minute weeknight dinners?

One important aspect of being a nutrition consultant is having the ability to offer healthy options that are within reach, given each individuals circumstances. I completely understand that even the 20-minute dinner is not an option for everyone.

I recently received some feedback from a friend that although she found the 20-minute dinner recipes I offered in a previous blog posting titled "5 Nights of 30-minute (or less) Dinners" intriguing, even that is not an option for her family. My same friend told me that when she read the recipes and got to the word "chop", I had lost her. Both her and her partner work corporate jobs, they are lucky to be able to pick up both their kids from school and daycare by 6 pm. What do you do when you have two little ones, everyone is exhausted and needs to eat? Friend, I hear you, understand, and feel it is my duty (and pleasure) to offer some suggestions. However, if you are not willing to spend even 5-10 minutes assembling a meal, it is out of my jurisdiction. Eating real food does require some preparation and thought, but can still be fast and easy.

Disclaimer: I have sworn under oath (not really) that I will not recommend to any clients that they use a microwave oven. That being said, whenever I say "heat using your preferred method", I realize that some people will use a microwave, no matter what I say. Personally, I use a toaster oven and heat some frozen things in hot water in a pot on the stove (like frozen veggies). If you would like to know more about microwaves and what they do to your food, please email me privately.

For my uber-busy parents, people, and families, this is for you:

1. When buying frozen vegetables, make sure that they are organic and do not contain any other ingredients

2. Buy a weeks worth of meat on Sunday, put the first two days worth in the refrigerator and the rest in the freezer. The only planning ahead you will have to do is remember 1 day ahead of time to move it into the fridge. Yes, this requires a bit of planning, but it will save you tons of time during the week, I promise. However, the recipes in this posting do not require any freezing of meats, yay!

3. Canned fish is your friend! There are some really delicious and sustainable varieties of canned salmon available. Just make sure it is wild and Alaskan. Experiment with other types of small, cold water fish as well. I love wild sardines and mackerel on a hearty salad

4. Grocery shop at some point on the weekend! Do not start the week with an empty fridge

5. Make a few bulk items on the weekend, if you can. Make a big pot of brown rice, whole roasted chicken, or big pot of chili. Freeze servings of brown rice and chili for later in the week. Use chicken early in the week for salads, sandwiches, roll ups, etc...

6. Shred or slice up some raw veggies and store in the fridge. I will often send a few carrots, cucumbers, zucchinis, and some cabbage through my food processor with the shredder blade and store in individual containers to be used throughout the week. I also slice up celery and carrot sticks and store in a glass container of water in the refrigerator. When you are a working parent, these are the things that matter. Toss shredded items on salads or noodle bowls to add some crunchy, raw veggies to your meal

These meals are listed in order to minimize taking anything out of the freezer.

5 Super-fast weeknight dinners

Monday:  Tilapia fish tacos. Make these on Monday with the Tilapia you bought on Sunday, since it doesn't keep.  Heat a stack of corn tortillas in the toaster oven, drizzle tilapia with olive oil and grill in a pan about 2-3 minutes on each side until flaky. Add shredded cheese, cabbage or some argula, avocado, frozen corn, a can of organic black beans, and your favorite salsa

Tuesday: Beef bowl: my favorite new noddles are the Gluten Free Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodles by Star Anise Foods, they seriously take 3-5 minutes to cook once you get the water boiling. While waiting for the water to boil, quickly seer some skirt steak, slice up and add to bowl of noodles. Toss with sesame oil, soy sauce, sesame seeds if you have them, and add some of those shredded veggies you put in the food processor over the weekend (cucumber, carrots, cabbage)

Wednesday: Omelette: scramble three eggs and add to an egg pan with some butter, cook for 3 minutes. Add some cheese and veggies, fold in half, cook for another minute. 

Pre-cut, frozen, organic veggies work just fine. Try asparagus spears, broccoli, or bell peppers. Sprinkle with chives and cilantro

Thursday: Quick nori roll: warm up some of that already-cooked brown rice you made over the weekend. Spread it out on a sheet of nori, spread some avocado, pre-sliced carrot, cucumber, canned salmon, and a handful of sprouts or other nutritious leafy green of your choice. Roll it up and dip it in some soy sauce. A crowd-pleaser for sure!

Friday:  Lentil soup, sausage, and spinach: If you aren't able to get to your local pasture-based butcher like Marin Sun Farms, Applegate Chicken Apple Sausage is likely your next best bet. Heat up the sausage, toss it into a pot of canned Amy's Organic Lentil Soup, add some frozen organic spinach, and serve.

Protein Shopping List
Canned salmon
Chicken apple sausage
Skirt steak (make extra for a sandwich or salad topping for the next day)

I would love your feedback! Please let me know if you found this post helpful, or have any questions.

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