Quick And Healthy At The Ready
After becoming more aware of the dangers of meat ingestion on the body and on the planet, I’ve been raising our family to be more predominantly plant-based. I say ‘mostly’ because while I’m vegetarian, my husband is still an omnivore, and so he still sneaks in questionable fast food and processed food into our home and I don’t want to make such contraband more appealing to our limit-testing children.
Batch cooking versions of family favorites has been my go-to strategy for ensuring healthy food is readily available. This makes the temptation to order take-out or delivery less attractive. If you’re ever in the market for new ideas on how to make a plant-based diet more palatable for the family, here are some of the fool-proof recipes I whip up for quick and healthy meals:
Prepare overnight oats with your own take on mix-ins such as berries, nut butters, or chocolate!
On a weekend, fire up the waffle iron or griddle and cook a huge batch of pancakes or waffles using whole wheat flour, oatmeal, plant-based milk, and your choice of either bananas, applesauce, or aquafaba — which is just the liquid from a can of chickpeas. Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!
Best served with a green smoothie of your choice. I personally enjoy blending up a green smoothie the night before and chugging it in the morning. Makes for a great quick breakfast during the workweek too.
For the piece de resistance, spread whole wheat bread with nut butter and fruit jam. Voila! The breakfast of healthy champions in no less than 5 minutes!
Fill whole wheat wraps with your own mix of a smear of (vegan) cheese spread or (vegan) chipotle mayo, then stuff with scrambled eggs, black beans, stir-fried sweet potato, bell peppers, brown rice pilaf with vegan mock meat (your friendly neighborhood vegan grocer should have these by the bulk), or hummus and quinoa. Individually pack in cling wrap and freeze in a Ziploc (you can reuse the cling wrap and Ziploc bags, just make sure you store them in the freezer). Microwave to reheat; wake it up with some hot sauce to really get the party started.
Eliminate food and energy wastage by cooking brown rice in your cooker’s maximum setting. Store what’s left in silicone cube trays or reusable containers and freeze. These guys are good as gold until one month. Reheat portions in the microwave — you can add a little water to fluff it back up.
Veggies at the ready:
Pre-cut carrots, celery and onions and freeze for easy add-ons to soups, stir-fries, rice or sides.
Wash, trim and blanch broccoli and cauliflower and freeze for easy sides to main dishes or to health-up veggie rice with seasonings.
Pre-wash greens like lettuce, arugula, spinach and kale. Spin-dry and store in the ref in labelled Ziplocs or produce bags lined with a tea towel or paper towels. Store cut-up carrot sticks, corn, fruit (apples, pomelo, mangoes, pineapple, etc.), beans, nuts and salad dressing. This makes it easy to assemble your own lunch.
Cook a big batch of hearty vegetable soup and freeze into individual portions/containers for easy reheating/packing. Add a filling portion of whole wheat bread to round out your meal.
Make your fruit bowl decorative and functional by always stocking it up with fruits in season. Grabbing a banana, orange or apple becomes normalized if it’s what we see instead of canisters of cookies or bags of junk food.
Buy fruit whole, wash or cut it up and store in glass containers in the ref to make it easier to satisfy growling tummies that demand instant gratification.
Pre-pack reusable containers with your own mix of nuts, dark chocolate chips and dried fruit and always have them in your purse, child’s bag or in the car cooler.
Always have a reusable, insulated bottle with you and fill with water for all-day hydration. Add some lemon slices and/or fill with ice if you like.
To make the transition to a healthy lifestyle successful, it has to be sustainable; that means “out of sight, out of mind.” You, too, can retrain your palate to enjoy a whole-food plant-based way of life.
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