02 May Keeping It Simple. Plus a Giveaway!
Today we are giving away a ONE YEAR membership to Engine 2 Extra! One year of support, coaching, Ebooks, 28 day challenges, live chat, interviews with the top names in plant-strong education and more. Be sure to read this post, and find out at the end how to enter!
If you are on Engine 2 Extra, you have probably had the chance to talk to one of the three coaches. We’re like the three musketeers. All of us have had tremendous success living our plant-strong lives, and we are still very much on the journey. In order to be plant-strong for the long haul (like the three of us) we have learned one thing, you’ve got to keep things simple.
The topic of recipes comes up a lot. Everyday we get a lot of e-mails from people asking for more recipes. Which is a little bit funny, because the three of us have one thing in common, we rarely (if ever) use a recipe. In fact, I honestly can’t remember the last time I did. People always seem to find this amusing, because when we post our meals or meal plans on E2X, people ask for the recipe for something we’ve posted, but more than likely, what we wrote IS the recipe.
I think that the key to being successful at this plant-strong thing is keeping it simple. Now, let me clarify, I don’t have a problem with recipes at all, I think they are great for a lot of people, especially as you start out on this journey, and they are great to get a few good things under your belt, so they become staples in the kitchen. However, sometimes the best thing you can do is know how to make a simple meal, one that requires no “recipe”. After all there are THOUSANDS of plant-strong recipes out there, on the web and in books, the problem is never a shortage of recipes. What we most often find is that people need to dig deep and find their boldness and braveness and go ahead and try new things.
A few things to help you:
Frozen Food: Make sure your kitchen is well stocked with easy-to-make meals. Long gone are the days of hot pockets and Lean Cuisine. We’ve got something better: frozen plant-strong food! What? Did you just read that right? Frozen food is a must in keeping it simple and for fast, easy meals. First, don’t worry about frozen food and nutrients, often it’s even fresher than “fresh” because it is picked right on the field, flash frozen. Sometimes what we get in the grocery store has been sitting on a truck for a min. of 7 days, who knows where before that (I’m not saying don’t buy fresh, but just know that frozen is also fantastic).
We can’t go without talking about Engine 2’s frozen grain blends of course. (sorry for the plug, we just honestly really like them). We have a breakfast grain blend, wild grain blend and then a mexican grain blend. These alone are a meal if you want them to be, of course you can always add to them.
Here are a few examples (all of these took under 10 minutes to make)
Hot Breakfast Cereal: Breakfast Grain blend with frozen mixed berries (heated up) and cinnamon. Total time to make: 4 minutes.
Wild grain tacos:
To make the taco shells, you just take plain corn tortillas, stick them in the oven, right on the rack, draping them over 2 bars in your oven. Bake for 5-7 minutes on 350. Then fill up your taco, we used the wild rice blend, added some canned (no sodium) black beans, topped it with our E2 Salsa, some dried chives and jalapeño, and it was done. Total time: 8 minutes (heat up the wild grains blend while your corn tortillas are in the oven)
We took our E2 wrap, stuck it in this magical pan and baked it in the oven for 7 minutes. Then we put some fresh spinach in the bowl, and added our mexican grain blend on top. Simple. Took 7 minutes to make.
I know what you are thinking. “I don’t live near a Whole Foods, I can’t buy your grain blends, I’m stuck, I am going to have to live off of really nasty frozen junk food.”
Lucky for you, that’s just not the case. You can find great frozen food in ANY grocery store. I traveled for 4 years, full time and lived in some very rural places in the country, not anywhere near a Whole Foods or any kind of speciality store. I have never once starved, and never once had to eat something that wasn’t plant-strong.
There are a lot of great frozen vegetables and fruits in every store (even Target!). At most stores you can get frozen brown rice, and most now have frozen beans as well. Stock up on frozen vegetables, grains and beans. They make for great, simple meals anytime.
*Tip: Remember that you do not need to cook frozen vegetables/grains/beans very long at all, you are just heating them up. You can throw them in a pan with a little water, and just “fry” them until they are cooked all the way through. I never boil my frozen vegetables/grains and beans.
For fruit you can heat it up in a few minutes, or you can take frozen fruit out and thaw it and use it on your oatmeal, on cereal, on salads or just to eat plain.
Aside from the frozen aisle, you can get lots of great stuff that is easy to prepare in any grocery store:
Oatmeal. I’ve yet to find a store that does not carry oatmeal. Oatmeal is a great, fast breakfast (lunch or dinner). Add fruit, some cinnamon and you’ve got yourself a healthy plant-strong meal. You can also make oat-crisp.
Here is my super simple “recipe” for oat crisp:
1. Get a pan.
2. Put a layer of frozen fruit down in the pan. (any fruit)
3. Next add a layer of oats, about an inch thick.
4. Next, cover oats in water (not drenching, just making sure all of the oats are wet).
5. Put in the oven at 350 for around 30 minutes, till the oats are cooked.
6. Take out of the oven, you can serve it with maple syrup if you’d like.
This lasts for at least a week, you can also freeze it and re-heat it.
I have a love affair with potatoes. As a former, out of control T2 diabetic I was always told I could not have potatoes. Silly doctors, potatoes are a great food for diabetics. Of course not the ones that are topped with junk food or fried in oil, but just good old potatoes. Dr. McDougall and Jeff Novick are responsible for me not fearing the mighty potato, loaded with nutrients, low in calorie density, great for filling you up and helping with weight loss, it’s time that the potato get back in your kitchen.
I make about 20 potatoes at a time. I put them on a lined cookie sheet, cover the cookie sheet and then bake them at 410 for about 45 minutes (you have to check on them, I really just cook them until I can poke them with a knife and they feel done)
We always have potatoes, cooked, ready to go in our house, sweet potatoes and white potatoes.
From there you can do all sorts of things:
Potato scramble: Chop up your cooked potatoes, add them to a pan, throw some canned (low sodium) beans in, salsa, frozen spinach (or whatever else you happen to like), top with salsa.
Pizza Potato: Plant-strong pizza sauce (or Pomi crushed tomatoes), frozen brocoli (cooked), white beans, a little nutritional yeast and Italian seasoning.
Mexican Potato: Salsa, beans, corn, greens, salsa.
Potato hotdog: If you are on E2X, you have heard me talk about this, and you know I’m weird. For everyone else, welcome to my favorite meal. I used to LOVE veggie hotdogs. Unfortunately they are loaded with junk. However, one day I realized something, I didn’t really like the hot dog, I liked the toppings. So I took a potato one day, and added some sauerkraut (low sodium), mustard, onions and beans. Trust me, if you like potato toppings, you’ll love the potato hot dog.
We LOVE Pomi tomatoes. They are great to make a quick chili, soup, sauce or salsa. Throw a couple of boxes of Pomi crushed tomatoes into a pot, add frozen greens, some frozen mixed vegetables and a can of beans, and you’ve got a delicious meal. Jeff Novick introduced me to Pomi tomatoes in his Fast Food cooking DVD (which I highly recommend getting if you have ever said the following: 1. This is too hard 2. This is too expensive 3. I don’t cook).
If you haven’t had quinoa, you are missing out! It only takes 10 minutes to cook and is super delicious! You can do just about anything with quinoa. Add vegetables and greens or you can add fruit and have it as a sweet treat/breakfast!
Of course, the fastest, fast food? Fresh produce! I’ve been known to just eat a cucumber, by itself, just because. Fruit is always a great option for fast and easy. My favorite is a banana, it’s pre-packaged, you don’t even have to worry about washing it, and makes a great quick snack.
Other great combinations to throw together:
On E2X we have a simple meals chart for people to use. Some of our favorites are:
- Sweet potato, kale, white beans, brown rice.
- White potato, black beans, tomatoes, corn, spinach.
- Quinoa, mixed greens, red beans, cauliflower
- Brown rice, chickpeas, peas, zucchini, curry powder, turmeric
- White beans, fingerling potatoes, brussel sprouts, garlic, kale.
- Whole grain pasta, zucchini, brocoli, peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes
- Lentils, collard greens, brown rice, artichoke
- Potatoes, portobello mushrooms, green beans, spinach, black beans
- Whole grain pasta, lentils, strained tomatoes (or tomato puree), garlic, brocoli
- Whole grain bread with portobello mushrooms, grilled zucchini and oil free hummus.
- Wild rice, onion, red lentils, greens
- Brown rice, salsa, frozen southwestern veggie mix, black beans
- Sweet potato, topped with black beans
- Brown rice, black pepper, asian style veggie mix.
- Cauliflower soup – cook cauliflower, blend add chickpeas and your favorite spice.
- Whole grain pasta cooked and chilled, cucumber, tomato, beans, balsamic vinegar
- Mashed chickpeas, onion, garlic, chopped celery, cucumber served on whole grain bread
- Lentils, chopped tomato, lettuce, spinach, salsa, served on lettuce or served in corn tortillas
- Roasted vegetable mix & quinoa
- Beans & brown rice
- Spinach salad: strawberries, raisins, balsamic
- Chop salad: chopped cucumber, celery, carrots, zucchini, tossed with quinoa.
- Big salad: Whatever fresh vegetables you have on top of greens. (the whatever salad!)
- *Salad is always a good option if you have fresh vegetables/greens laying around. You can use balsamic vinegar for a dressing, salsa or even just lemon.
- Huge plate of steamed vegetables with spices.
- Breakfast: oatmeal or quinoa with fruit and ground flaxseed
- Looking for an easy dressing? We use low sodium salsa, oil free hummus or balsamic vinegar.
Bottom line? Keep it simple. Find great combinations of food to throw together, that require little prep time, but have lots of tasty flavor.
To enter to win our big giveaway, leave a comment and tell us what your favorite simple “requires no recipe” meal is!