I have a dream.
In this dream, I am spending my Sunday evenings basking in the possibility of a new week by creating a master grocery list to construct beautiful, nightly meals for my mini family. Evan and I breeze through our door after a fulfilling day at work, change into breathable yet well-fitting dinner clothes, pour a glass of pinot, choose from one of our many aprons, and spend the early evening making a beautiful meal in between flirtatious tickle fights. Then we share that meal on our roomy kitchen table over warm lighting and stimulating conversation. Ahhh….
In my waking life, I am unemployed and when Evan comes home we put on our sweatpants, hold the fridge open for five, energy-wasting minutes before we pull out whatever concoction we can throw together with a few minutes and microwave. We walk right past the magazine and mail holder that was once the kitchen table and eat dinner on the couch while leaning over an end-table. At least there is warm lighting, but it’s coming from the glow of Hulu off our laptops. Oh, and we finished off the last of the pinot while watching WWII documentaries last night. *sigh*
I’m an idealist, and I will hold on tight to that dream..but in the meantime, if the latter situation sounds more like you’re style, might as well accommodate reality and have some quick things cooked up and ready to be eaten. Meal planning is a bit of a science, balancing what is in season with your likes while remaining cognisant of money and balanced nutrition. We have found the best technique is to go to the grocery store with only one special meal in mind (don’t let the idealism die!), but then just purchase a healthy amount of whatever is in season, which is usually also less expensive. Then you can build your meal plans using a recipe-builder tool like the one on Allrecipes. Just type in the ingredients you purchased and it brings up recipes that include your fare.
Finally, we have staples that we cook every week – usually lentils, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and a marinated protein like tofu or tempeh. Your best bet is to cook when you have time and when you’re feeling happy, we believe that how you feel manifests in how well your food turns out…so step one is always GET HAPPY! This week was clean-out-the-fridge-of-dying-vegetables week, so enjoy these peasant inspired ideas!
“CALORIE FREE” CABBAGE SOUP *gluten-free
This soup comes with consequences...eat it only around friends.
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups chopped cabbage
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
- 1/2 cup green beans, fresh is best!
- 1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
- 1/2 tsp basil
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp rosemary (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to tast
Spray pot with non stick cooking spray saute onions carrots and garlic for 5 minutes. Add broth, Tomato paste, cabbage, green beans, basil, oregano and Salt & Pepper to taste.
Simmer for a about 5-10 minutes until all vegetables are tender then add the zuccini and simmer for another 5 or so minutes. Makes 7-8 cups, serving = 1 cup.
CABBAGE SOUP NUTRITION: 28 calories – 0 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 55 mg sodium– 6 g carbs – 2 g fiber – 3 g sugar – 1 g protein- 0-1 WW points
MOM’S VEGAN GOULASH
Use spelt or other GF pasta to make the celiac's happy!
- 1 box elbow macaroni (I used Vitaspelt elbows)
- 1 cup yves or boca soy crumbles (check for vegan-ness)
- 1 can diced tomatos
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 3-5 tsp bouillon, to taste (I used 4.5 tsp Better than Bouillon vegetable base…a vegan kitchen staple)
Cook macaroni al dente, drain and rinse with cool water to stop cooking.
Combine garlic and onion and saute for 3-5 minutes until onion began to look translucent. Add the remainder of ingredients, except pasta, and cook for 5 minutes until warm and combined. Add in pasta and simmer on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Makes 7-8 cups – serving = 1 cup.
VEGAN GOULASH NUTRITION : 157 calories – 8 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 559 mg sodium– 30 g carbs – 5 g fiber – 6 g sugar – 10 g protein- 3 WW points
(LATS sandwich..lemon, avocado, tomato, spinach)
LATS = YUMM
- 1 slice multigrain bread, toasted (diggin’ on Dave’s Killer Bread 21 grain)
- 1/2 avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced (make it look easy, like this dude)
- Tomato, 2 thin slices
- Spinach, fresh, to taste
- Olive Oil
- Lemon Juice
- Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, to taste
Lay spinach on toasted bread, cover with tomato, and fan avocado thinly on top. Drizzle with light olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper.
AVOCADO SANDWICH NUTRITION : 256 calories – 14 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 208 mg sodium– 31 g carbs – 11 g fiber – 6 g sugar – 9 g protein- 5 WW points
*The key is using whatever veggies you love and/or whatever you have in the fridge. These are just a baseline of how they are made, and the only calories I count are the ones in the olive oil!
- 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1/2 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
- 1 cup of carrots, chopped
- 1/8 – 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss vegetables with olive oil and seasoning.
Spread veggies in one layer onto a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Roast for 30-45 minutes, rotating every 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning once removed.
*TIP: Try adding tofu or tempeh to vegetables, then sprinkle with Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids. Bragg’s is a great source of protein and includes 16 amino acids, while also having a great flavor to enhance the roasted veggies.