One of the first things I discuss with my clients is figuring out what their staple foods are. These are easy-to-prepare foods that you enjoy that are (hopefully) healthy, too. My staple foods are: Brown rice, sweet potatoes, baby spinach, Greek yogurt, cherry tomatoes, EGGS, bananas, almond butter, hummus, baby carrots, Trader Joe’s salmon burgers, whole grain bread, broccoli, apples, strawberries + blueberries, whole wheat pasta and oatmeal. I can pick up these things at the store on autopilot—absolutely zero thinking or planning is required. I also know that if I have just a handful of these ingredients in my kitchen at any given time that I can whip up a meal or snack. While you should definitely enjoy what you put into your mouth, remember that every single meal doesn’t need to make you want to do a little dance. Sure, food can be exciting (and it is!), but taking away the pressure of making it a big event every time is really helpful. Stick to your staples and jazz them up when necessary.
Having set foods in the house takes a lot of stress and guesswork out of cooking. If I happen to want to make something that is not on my staple foods list, like squash or salmon, I can just run to the store for those few ingredients because I know that I already have other things on hand that can round out the meal (rice, greens, etc). Oh, and lately I have been keeping all the ingredients for these arugula-hummus tortillas in my fridge—they are just so good and easy to make! I made three for dinner on Monday night, plus a batch for lunch the next day AND used arugula and corn tortillas for Luke’s dinner—I made him tostadas using up his leftover Thai chicken.
After watching this Tara Stiles quinoa-steamed spinach cooking video yesterday, I was inspired to make a similar, simple meal for dinner. I really like those individual low-sodium vegetable broth containers—you can use it for one batch of grains without worrying about using it up before it goes bad. I started munching on the snap peas while I got the water boiling, and they just tasted off, so I threw them out. If something doesn’t taste good to you: STOP EATING IT. I don’t care if it’s an apple or a slice of pizza. Got it?
It took me quite a few tries to get brown rice just right, but I finally figured it out. (Patience is important in the kitchen!) Here’s my method: Use 2 parts liquid and 1 part grain. In this case, that’s 1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup broth (1 cup) + 1/2 cup brown rice. Get it boiling on high for a minute or two, give it a good stir and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. This usually takes 30 minutes. If the grains soak up the water before they are totally cooked (you can taste them to make sure—they should be a little soft), then add a little more water. Towards the end, I add pepper + any other seasonings I have and stir in a handful of spinach.
In an effort to make my life easier, I usually always aim to make two meals out of one. This is two servings of rice + veggies that I will have for lunch the next two days + a hard boiled egg and most likely an apple, too. I had intended this to be dinner last night; however, my stomach had other plans.
I had a big handful of tortilla chips + hummus before I started cooking (rookie mistake—I wasn’t even hungry!) and by the time I was done, I still didn’t feel quite ready to eat. So, I decided on a plate of sweet potato fries and called it dinner. They were good! Here’s how I make ‘em:
-Stab holes in the potato and cut in half length-wise
-Boil potato halves for 10-15 minutes until soft depending on how big it is
-Take out and let cool for a few minutes, then cut the halves length-wise until you get a fry shape
-Put a healthy drizzle of olive oil in a pan
-Add fries + sea salt + pepper
-Cook for about 5 minutes or longer, depending on how done you like them
So these meals might not seem as easy as I’m claiming them to be, but trust me, if you use your time wisely, they are. While the grains and potato were boiling, I unloaded and then reloaded the dishwasher, responded to a few emails and called my mom. And let’s not forget that I now have lunch ready for the next two days! That’s the thing about living a healthy lifestyle: If you are willing to make a little bit of effort initially, you will see the pay off later, ESPECIALLY if you are consistent. So switch your thinking to “I don’t have time!” to “How can I make time for this?” You can do it.
Tell me: What staple foods do you like to keep in your home?
**Need help with your health and lifestyle goals? Want to lose weight without obsessing about every bite you put into your mouth? Contact me for a free consultation and let’s get started!