(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:
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.
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.
Refined flours and sugars are out. Meat is out. When people hear this, they often say, "wow... what's left?"
It's a sad statement on our current food system when that question is asked, because it shows how far from eating healthy we've gone. The two least healthy things a human can readily digest have become our bread and butter, so to speak.
What happened to beans, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, and fruits?
In my last blogpost, I ended by writing: “When people ask me which diet or recipe book I recommend, I tell them that I have no idea, because I don’t know what kinds of food they eat. I could tell you which diet to follow or which foods to eat, but if you don’t like them, or they don’t fall within your religious or ethical constraints, or if you’re allergic or intolerant to them, then it doesn’t do you any good. When it comes to diet, the principles of weight loss are simple: Increase consumption of nutrient dense foods, decrease consumption of calorie dense foods, control portions sizes and don’t drink your calories.”
Following that formula then, you can turn nearly any recipe or meal into a higher-nutrient, lower-calorie one that falls in line with your weight loss goals. Here’s how:
1. Start with fresh produce – lots of it! It doesn’t matter whether you don’t like most vegetables. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like /any/ vegetables. So choose two or three of your favorites and make them the base of your recipe. (If it’s breakfast you’re cooking, then maybe fruit is a more appropriate choice.) The key here is the word /fresh./ Out of season, it’s fine to use frozen fruits or vegetables, but make darned sure there isn’t any added sugar, salt or other stuff you don’t want. Canned fruits and vegetables are a last resort, but there are some decent varieties out there – read the labels!
2. Reduce fat and processed carbs. You can usually cut between 50 and 200 calories from a meal simply by reducing or eliminating the amount of oil you cook with and/or by substituting more vegetables, fruits or whole grains for processed carbs. I always reduce the amount of oil any recipe calls for by half the first time I make it, and often times, I find that I can get by with even less. Where carbs are concerned, try using a lettuce leaf instead of a tortilla; substitute crisp apple wedges for potato chips; or dip carrot or cucumber coins into your salsa instead of corn chips.
3. Add a lean protein. If you eat animal products, your best options are lean poultry or fish, egg whites and some plain yogurts (Greek style generally has the most protein). You’re aiming for more calories from protein than fat – not more grams! A gram of protein has 4 calories, and a gram of fat has 9 calories, so your protein choice needs to have more than twice as many grams of protein as fat. If you eat a plant-based diet, then you’re already ahead of the game, since lightly processed plant proteins are usually very low in fat. Lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh, seitan and quinoa are all great plant sources of protein.