Simple Meals

This time of year I prefer to be outdoors taking walks or working in the garden. I don’t want to be in the house cooking a complicated, time consuming meal. I want something easy to make & easy to clean up! The key to this is to prepare produce ahead of time, & to cook staples such as grains & beans to have on hand in the refrigerator.

Because my husband grows vegetables, we came to an agreement that he harvests our salad greens & any ripe fruits & veggies twice a week. This way, I can I spin dry the salad greens before I store them in a salad keeper for use when needed. Produce such as potatoes, tomatoes, beets & mushrooms I clean when I am ready to use them. Veggies like carrots, celery, & cucumbers, I clean & cut into bite size pieces. They can be stored for use in a quick meal or a grab & go snack.

I usually cook a pot of brown rice, or other grain; & a pot of beans or lentils, at the beginning of the week & store them in the frig to be used in salads or by themselves. I also bake potatoes & root vegetables all at the same time if I know I will be using them in a recipe during the week. 

Real Simple: How to Store Fruits and Vegetables  By Elizabeth Passarella, Keep your produce as fresh as possible with these guidelines* for storing fruits and vegetables. Excellent guide.

***Before you ask, I rinse everything with cold water. I don’t use vinegar or any commercial rinse product. 

The latest newsletter from Oldways has some wonderful ideas for One-Dish MealsKeep things simple in the kitchen this summer with healthy one-dish Mediterranean meals. There are plenty of traditional examples of these kinds of dishes. It’s no wonder the Mediterranean diet topped U.S. News’ list of the easiest diets to follow! Fewer dishes mean more time to relax while you’re cooking and enjoy your meal at the table. You might even have some extra time to take advantage of the sunny summer weather. Keep reading for our favorite one-dish Mediterranean meal ideas.

Here are two ideas from the newsletter:

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ¼ cup dried apricots, cut into quarters
  • 3 to 4 cups cooked chicken or turkey, chopped
  • 1 red apple, unpeeled and chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • ½ head green leaf lettuce
  1. If the chicken’s not already cooked, poach it gently in a little water while you chop and mix everything else. When it’s cooked through, chop it. (Poaching a chicken breast takes about 10-12 minutes, depending on thickness.)
  2. Finely grate the peel of a fresh lemon into a large bowl, then juice the lemon into the same bowl (remember to grate the peel first!)
  3. Add poppy seeds, mustard, honey, oil and apricots to the bowl, then let apricots soften for at least 15 minutes in this dressing (less time if they are very fresh).
  4. Add the lumpy ingredients and chicken, and mix well. Serve on a bed of greens.

Tips and Variations

  • Use 2 tablepsoons honey-mustard instead of honey and mustard.
  • Dip your measuring spoon in the oil before measuring the honey, so the honey will slide right off. Or just estimate the honey, pouring it right into your salad bowl. No need to be exact!
  • Make enough for tomorrow’s lunch and feel free to add other ingredients you have lying around: fresh corn, Italian chicken sausage, chopped lettuce etc. The dressing’s the key, then anything else goes.
  • Always roll a lemon before juicing it—it breaks down the fruit inside and makes it jucier!
  • Make everything ahead and add the lettuce just when serving.
  • Instead of doubling everything, you can add extra veggies to stretch this.

Big Salads
If you need dinner on the table fast, keep it simple with a big, seasonal salad. Seasonal vegetables taste incredible during the summer months, so always keep a few options on hand in case an impromptu salad is needed. Try a classic fattoush (Middle Eastern pita salad) made with torn whole wheat pita, romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, and mint. Summer fruits add nice flavor to salads too. Try tossing berries and sliced peaches with summer greens and farro, for example. To make your salads more substantial, add:

  • Beans, chickpeas, or lentils
  • Canned tuna
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Shaved or crumbled cheese
  • Nuts or seeds
  • Leftover roasted chicken or fish

I make a big salad of our mixed greens, add some beans & rice I made at the beginning of the week, olives, sliced red peppers, carrots, cucumber & celery to it. You can add fish, poultry or tofu rather than beans. Be creative! 

One of my favorite dishes to make ahead & serve all week 🙂 is a quiche. I have links to quiche recipes on our Recipe Page. When I don’t have time for that, I simply saute whatever veggies I have on hand, or use the leftover roasted vegetables & then add beaten eggs to the mix. Allow the eggs to cook slowly, turn & serve. Easy, healthy & fast! You can serve it with a simple salad or a side of sliced tomatoes, avocado, & salsa. Corn tortillas, sprouted bread or a flat bread go well with it too.

Incredible Egg: FRITTATA MUFFIN RECIPE This is a great idea. You can have them handy when you need a pick-me-up or a small meal.

Another favorite of mine is a simple vegan potato salad. Here is my basic recipe.

  • Steamed, cut up red, purple or golden potatoes. I vary how large I cut the cubes of potato, just to be different.
  • Celery, chopped.
  • Carrot; I grate these because it adds color & a different texture to the salad.
  • Scallions, chopped. I prefer the scallions because they add a lighter onion taste than regular onions.
  • Garlic cloves, chopped.
  • Bell peppers sliced or chopped.
  • Pickle relish.
  • Lemon pepper.
  • Vegenaise…I use Follow Your Heart Vegenaise 

Adjust the amounts you use according to your taste & the quantity needed. If you use salt, go lightly because the vegenaise has a subtle salty taste.

Cookie+Kate: Herbed Red Potato Salad (no mayo!)  I enjoy going through this site. She has a new cookbook, as of May 17, 2017, that looks wonderful: Love Real Food: More Than 100 Feel-Good Vegetarian Favorites to Delight the Senses and Nourish the Body 

Tacos or burritos are easy, fast meals. This is another meal that you can be creative with. There are no rules for tortillas in my kitchen. Sprouted tortillas are our choice & fillings can be any leftovers!

Simple Breakfast Burrito ideas of mine. Using a sprouted tortilla or one of your choice, fill with:

  • Left over vegetables. Add tomatoes, avocado & salsa.
  • Egg salad. I add beans & rice.
  • Beans, rice, scrambled eggs, peppers, grated cheese.
  • Beans, potatoes, scrambled eggs, peppers, grated cheese.
  • Scrambled tofu~ Mash the tofu, and add it to sauteed onions, garlic & turmeric. I  add spinach when sauteing the onions. Add beans, rice & cheese to the filling. 

Just because they are called Breakfast Burritos doesn’t mean you can’t serve them for lunch or dinner 🙂

For more recipes take a look at Cooking Light: Healthy Burrito Recipes

If you are in the mood for pizza, here is my grandsons favorite recipe of mine. 

French Bread Pizza

  • Choose any bread for the base. For special occasions I use an organic sourdough or French bread loaf. Cut it in half lengthwise.
  • Use your favorite pasta sauce & “paint” it onto the top of each loaf half.
  • This is the fun part…add anything in the refrigerator that you would like on your pizza. Leftovers, beans, fish, poultry, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, olives, peppers; anything that takes your fancy.
  • Top with cheese or not! 
  • Bake it in oven at 400 for approximately 30 minutes depending on the toppings. 
  • Serve with arugula & spinach on top.

When I make this for a group of kids, I use a flat bread such as pita or chapala as the base. I cut up & grate all the toppings I think they would like & place them in bowls; including the sauce. I then let the kids build their own pizza. Lots of fun & you are guaranteed to have nothing leftover!

Flatout Flat Bread: 26 of the Best Flatbread Pizza Recipes I like the Quick Fix Margherita Pizza Could not be more simple & tasty. Look at the list on the left for different recipes.

Keep it healthy & simple!

Our favorite breakfast, lunch or dinner is simply sprouted bread toasted with a smear of Vegenaise, slices of avocado, peppers & tomato on top.

My second favorite is sprouted bread toasted with almond butter & slices of banana on top 🙂

My husbands idea of a fast, healthy, meal is a dip with whole grain crackers or pita chips. I like celery or carrot sticks.

Those beans I made at the beginning of the week can now be put in a blender or food processor with or without some salsa & blended until you are happy with the consistency for a dip; creamy or with bits of beans.

Hummus is a very good dip to have on hand. 1 tablespoon has 2.1 gms of fiber & 1.2 gms of protein. 

I haven’t even mentioned fruits or Greek yogurt! So many “fast foods” to have on hand. I think you have the idea.

Bon Appetite: 10 Things to Do With Hummus Note that one idea is Hummus Flatbread Pizza.

Explore the additional recipes below. Enjoy! Until next week…Mary 🙂

P.S. My daughter text me that they are selling jackfruit at Smart & Final in Encinitas. Even sent me this photo!

Jennifer Moore

More Ideas!