If you missed part one of Cathy’s guest post, you can catch it here.
Today Cathy finishes up her thoughts on making the plant-strong life more simple. What are some of the ways you make your plant-strong life more simple? Leave a comment and you will be entered to win a copy of “Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue”!
Create and follow a plan: Plan? Hmpf. If the thought of creating an eating plan or menu doesn’t excite you, know that transitioning to a plant-based diet can be made much easier by doing so. One of my favorite nutrition books, The Pleasure Trap, states the importance of planning very well: “Hunger causes urgency, and urgency demands short-term solutions that compromise long-term values. Plan for success and you will succeed more often.” Basically, you don’t want to be caught not knowing what you’ll be eating at your next meal. Try keeping a notebook in your kitchen with ideas for your favorite meals and recipes, or create a couple weeks’ worth of menus that you can rotate. You can even eat the same thing on the same day each week to make it really easy. Look through your favorite veg cookbooks and blogs for new meal ideas.
Stock your favorite staples: I always keep things like canned beans and tomatoes, non-dairy milk, whole grains, pasta, and frozen foods on hand to reach for when time is tight. For example, when it’s late and I don’t want to do a lot of preparation, I might just heat up a can of cooked lentils or beans with some onion and garlic and any veggies I have on hand. When my favorite staples are on sale, I stock up, and always try to find the no-salt, no-sugar, no-oil options
Make one-pot or one-dish meals: Preparing everything in just one bowl, pot or skillet makes life so much easier, whether it’s a soup, salad, stew or stir-fry. Jeff Novick, RD, has created some very quick, easy and inexpensive plant-based one-pot meals; check out his recipes here (http://www.drmcdougall.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7168). I have a favorite one-skillet meal using just mushrooms, kale, yams and a sprig of rosemary here (http://www.straightupfood.com/blog/2012/03/07/rosemary-mushrooms-kale/). I put everything in the pan and 15 minutes later it’s ready. Using slow-cookers to cook beans, grains and stews is also a great one-pot route. For more ideas, Google “vegan one-pot meals” and you will have a plethora of ideas in front of you.
Invest in a few good kitchen tools: Using the right tools, in any effort, can make all the difference in the final product as well as your enjoyment in creating it. My three most-used kitchen tools are: my 8-inch chef’s knife, my stainless steel soup pot, and my little high-speed blender. These items don’t need to be costly, but they should be of good quality. My chef’s knife was under $30, my large 8-qt. soup pot was $50, and my blender $75. I use these three things on a daily basis. Three smaller tools that I’ve found to be very useful are: a good can opener—an old can opener that is difficult to turn is the worst! $10 will get you a dreamy, easy-to-use opener. I also love my small rubber garlic peeler that takes the garlic’s papery outside off with a simple roll, and it’s only $4. And last, my “Y” vegetable peeler, which works wonders on potatoes as well as butternut squash. (All of my most commonly used kitchen tools are listed on my website here http://www.straightupfood.com/blog/my-store/)
Have your favorite dried herbs and spices handy: A simple soup of potatoes and cabbage becomes a lot more interesting with the addition of a little curry powder. Salt-free herb blends (such as an Italian blend of oregano, basil, thyme, etc.) are great to add to soups, salads and veggie burgers. And I always have plenty of my basics on hand, like garlic powder, toasted onion powder, and cumin. If you’ve never visited a spice shop before, treat yourself; you can smell everything before you buy it—big fun! Or at the least, pick up a new blend at your grocery store and give it a test drive. If you love it, keep it in permanent rotation; if you don’t, try something new next time.
I hope a couple of these ideas have resonated with you, and will help make your time in the kitchen even more enjoyable. Please share one of your own favorite “easy” meal preparation tips below.
Cathy Fisher teaches cooking classes at True North Health Center and the McDougall Program in Santa Rosa, California. Visit StraightUpFood.com to view more of Cathy’s healthful plant-based recipes.