(Yeah, I should have taken a picture of the meal, but I forgot about a photo until after I finished.)
I have no plans to make this blog into the cooking channel, but ever since writing about the MaxDiet, I get a lot of comments about how hard it is to cook healthily and questions about what sorts of dishes to make. Today I did an experiment to see if I could cook a delicious, well balanced, healthy meal in just one pot.
My basic formula for a well balanced meal is this:
- A high quality complex carb grain like brown rice, quinoa, or amaranth.
- A bean like black beans, pinto beans, or lentils.
- Dark greens like kale, mustard greens, spinach
- A little bit of healthy oil like olive, coconut, flax, or hemp
- An extra vegetable or tempeh (optional)
Here's the problem: making rice, keeping it warm, then making the beans, then steaming the greens, and then washing all the pots is a huge pain. In fact, it's too much of a pain for me to deal with.
And another problem: I only have one pot. Space is sparse in the RV and I don't like to have a lot of stuff anyway.
I was struck with inspiration the other day when I was in the bulk section of Whole Foods. I bought my ingredients, went home, tried my plan, and the results were amazing. I made dinner for a couple friends and they were both blown away with the food as well. Best of all, it was easy to cook and clean.
Here's how you can make a "perfect meal" in twenty minutes from scratch.
- Go to the bulk section and buy a grain and a bean that have the same cooking time. A good option is red lentils and quinoa, both of which should be about twenty minutes. Take note of the amounts of water each one needs. Per meal per person you want enough to make one cup of each, which will probably cost less than a dollar).
- Buy some dark greens like kale or mustard greens.
- Go home.
- Add up the water requirements for your bean and grain and put that amount of water into the pot.
- Boil the water.
- Once the water is boiling, dump the grain and the bean in, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to a simmer. (For non cooking types, that means to put the stove as low as possible and still get bubbles.) Stir occasionally.
- Set a timer for the total amount of time that the beans and greens need, but SUBTRACT five minutes.
- When the timer goes off, chop or tear the leaves of the greens and place them on top of the beans and grain, which should be pretty solid at this point. Feel free to pack them in densely.
- Put the cover on the pot and cook for another five minutes or so. The steam from the boiling grain and bean mixture will steam the greens.
- Now you're done! You can pull the greens out first and put them on the side, or just dump the whole thing out and mix it together. It's delicious either way. Add a touch of olive, flax, or hemp oil, salt, and pepper. A little cayenne is pretty good, too.
If you have a bit more time and want to make an even better meal, start by sautÃ©ing some onions in coconut oil on low heat until they start to turn clear and glassy. Turn up the head to medium and add some chopped garlic and chopped vegetables or tempeh. Once they seem to be mostly cooked, add the water and continue from step five. The oily vegetables will look a little gross floating in water, but when the dish is done it will look and taste really good.
This recipe is great on its own, but you can use it as a framework to build on. If you want a curry, add some crushed tomatoes in with the onions, add curry powder and coconut milk in during the boiling, and take out half of the water or so.
Some people might be thinking, "Yeah, that's great for dinner, but what about for lunch at work?"
Don't worry about it. I have a great solution.
Buy a Zojirushi (or similar) vacuum container bento box. You can make lunch in the morning, pack it up in the Zoji, bring it to work, and it will be hot and delicious six hours later. Your coworkers will be jealous.
Eating healthy doesn't have to be expensive and it doesn't have to be difficult. Anyone can make this meal in less time than it takes to go drive through at a fast food restaurant and pay a lot less.
Try making this in the next couple days. It will be one of the easiest, healthiest, and cheapest meals you've eaten, as well as one of the healthiest and hopefully one of the most tasty.
Also, if you try different combinations or modify things, let me know about it in the comments or by e-mail.