The Daily Beet

01 Nov Saving Time With Char

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Saving Time with Char

Several months ago, I had received a card, and it was addressed to “The Queen of Shortcuts.”  I laughed to myself, but the card’s writer said to me, “You always have a shortcut, not everyone else does.”  I’d never thought about it, but I think I do have a shortcut for most things, because something is always going to lurk around the corner.  And, I always like to be at the ready.

I’ll be frank, in the beginning of my plant-strong life , I was overwhelmed about having “everything fit” and work itself into my life.  I had always been a very successful dieter, but of the short lived variety with a two week shelf life, in most cases.  I wanted this “Engine 2 Thing” to really carve itself into my life, and I didn’t want any wrenches thrown into my path.  I kept thinking to myself, “How can I make this work?”

With time, practice, and being practical, I realized that my “need for speed” could be woven into my plant strong life, and that this preparedness would be the perfect scaffolding needed to be plant-strong.  I’ve put together five easy kitchen tips to help make your adventure less stressful.

  • Breakfast Ready in the Morning– If you do not live near a store that sells “Rip’s Big Bowl,” you know the drill for the cereal (shredded wheat, oatmeal, Uncle Sam Cereal, Ezekiel Cereal).  But, as soon as I bring RBB ingredients home from the store, I take a HUGE container and pre-make a bulk installment of the RBB.  Saves time in the morning.  Personally, I think I have to get my hands on a box of Rip’s Big Bowl, just to have him “join me” for breakfast in the morning.
  • Using Broth-  Once I’ve opened a quart of broth, I then transfer any leftovers to an ice cube tray, and store the tray in the freezer.   This way, if I need to sauté, or add flavor, all I need to do is pop out a few ice cubes of broth, and I am golden.  It also saves a lot of money, because nothing ever goes to waste.
  • I Love Rice – While there are many versions of frozen brown rice available, I like to keep it simple and make a double batch of my own.  Once cooled, I pack freezer bags filled with a cup of rice in each.  You have the perfect amount of rice to add to a soup, casserole, salad, etc.  Having measured portions of brown rice saves lots of time (and money).  I have a rice cooker, which I love.
  • Frozen Fruit – This is your new BFF.  You can use it in a dessert, salad, entrée.  Endless possibilities.  You can either make your own, or buy the ready made stuff.  When bags are almost empty, I create a “frozen fruit mélange” by saving the ends of each bag.  Next thing you know, there is a nice variety to choose from for any dessert.
  • Left Overs – I am not a huge fan of “leftovers without purpose,” but, after dinner at night, I pack my lunch for the following day using that evening’s dinner.  I am at the ready, and lunch for the next day is never an issue.  I have nothing to think about in the morning.

Clock is ticking.  And, my plant-strong scaffolding is in place, because I am Ms. Shortcut. If you can implement your own scaffolding, it will give you great confidence on this journey.  Try one of these tips, or better yet, tell us what you do to save time in the kitchen.  Power to the plants.

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Char Nolan for Engine 2
Char Nolan

Char Nolan is a blog contributor and Engine 2 Extra Coach. She's been plant-strong for almost five years. From Philadelphia, she works in the plant-based whole foods arena, and is also the "vegan features writer," for the "Town Dish." She's lost a great deal of weight from being plant-strong, practices yoga, and is always dabbling in her kitchen to create new, plant-strong recipes. Armed with a degree in public health, Char also holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from e-Cornell.

  • Toni Kulma
    Posted at 10:36h, 01 November

    My biggest short cut is my pressure cooker. It cuts cooking time in half or in quarter! 8 minutes for brown rice! 2 minutes for veggies! Cooking pre-soaked dried beans in 8 to 10 minutes! (Plus time to come to pressure which is minimal)

    • elizabeth
      Posted at 11:02h, 01 November

      I love my pressure cooker, especially useful here at high altitude, I use it all the time for soups, beans and grains.

  • elizabeth
    Posted at 11:00h, 01 November

    I do the same thing with broth and juices, like tomato, carrot, apple, lemon, freeze in silicon ice cube trays. I also have a lot of frozen herbs from my garden in the freezer.

    Another time saver in the morning is overnight oats, I’ve been making them with 1/3 c oats, 1 c almond milk, 1 T chia and stevia, in the morning add 1/2 smashed banana.

    How do you use frozen fruit in salad?

    I also love rice, what is your favorite type of brown rice to cook in your rice cooker?

    • Char Nolan
      Posted at 19:18h, 07 November

      I use brown rice from Trader Joe’s…I do make overnight oats, which I love.

  • Quinta
    Posted at 11:11h, 01 November

    Wow! Thank you! That is really useful information that we can all benefit from:) Hail to the Queen of Shortcuts!

  • Tara Fraser Kemp
    Posted at 11:15h, 01 November

    Great tips! Frozen fruit has definitely become my new BFF 🙂 I put frozen blueberries in my cereal every morning and they’re thawed within minutes!! The broth idea is completely new to me, though, and it is GENIUS!! Love it. Thanks!!

  • Elizabeth from Philly
    Posted at 12:36h, 01 November

    I really dig the broth idea. Def gonna try that.

  • Virginia
    Posted at 13:52h, 01 November

    Freezing rice–what a great idea!! Thanks!

  • Yoly
    Posted at 15:12h, 01 November

    I need some help. I have been totally vegan (using Engine 2 diet) for 3 monthes. I feel good, I’m sleeping better, and lost alittle weight. But I got my results for my cholesterol test the total was 277. I am so dissapointed. I really thought this would be the way I can get off medication completely. My family on both sides have major cholesterol problems. I’m sure my doctor will put me back on medication. What went wrong?

    • Char Nolan
      Posted at 19:15h, 07 November

      I would love to see your food journals and take a look at what you eat. A high fiber diet, rich in greens totally helps. Email me, happy to take a look. Char

  • Kirsten
    Posted at 05:55h, 02 November

    I love Char’s tips. I just recently learned about making Rip’s Big Bowl in a batch…and until I can purchase it in a store, this works great for me!
    Thanks for sharing Char!

    • Char Nolan
      Posted at 19:12h, 07 November

      Recently, I’ve started storing it in jelly jars, and then, I just add milk and…go! Glad we can lend a hand…

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