Happy Spring! I have been woefully absent in blogging, but this time of quarantine, has, of all the good things, given me some time to catch up on things I’ve neglected. The thing is I love writing. It’s just hard to find the quiet time to sit down and concentrate, and now this seems like a very appropriate time to do so.
I don’t think I need to remind you of what is going on in our country and world right now. We are in state of partial seclusion and isolation. Our favorite restaurants and recreation facilities are not available. We are strongly encouraged to stay home as much as possible. These are important warnings to heed, and my family is trying to do our part.
With that, many of the clients I’ve talked to in the last week are cooking at home a whole lot more. This is a great thing! For some this is an easy and rewarding task. For example, while I write my husband is cutting apart a chicken for some sort of soup or something. I don’t even know how to take apart a chicken! But I do reap the benefits of his knowledge.
For others, cooking is extremely stressful. I feel your pain! While I am a nutrition expert, that doesn’t mean I’m a great cook. I love easy, simple, healthy. When I cook, it’s basic.
Several of my clients have expressed a desire for more simple recipes in this time of social distancing. Sure, grocery stores still have frozen meals and other prepared items, but many are wanting to actually cook more at home from scratch, which I applaud. So, I thought I’d link a bunch of easy recipes for you to try. I hope some of these help you through these weeks ahead as we try to hunker down a bit so to speak and spend more time at home….learning new skills!
That being said, a few other notes real quick. Do support your local restaurants via take-out. I can’t believe I am encouraging take out! The things a global pandemic will do. The truth is we need to support our local small businesses as much as we can. Order healthy, order from local small businesses, and keep it limited.
Also, none of us have access to our normal gyms or exercise facilities right now. Do not use this as an excuse to to cease activity. There are a host of free online workout ideas, as well as the free ability to get outside and move your body. I even saw our local running store was putting out a “new runner” workout schedule for those who are now thinking of taking up running and want to do it slowly and safely. I’ll try and link that to my Facebook page. What an excellent idea!
Ok, back to recipes! Most of these use just a handful of ingredients and nothing especially fancy. If by chance you aren’t sure what something is or where to find it, do a quick Google search. If that fails, email me!
If you want to beef up your basic cooking skills, also check out online tutorials on YouTube. You can find things such as improving knife skills, how to cut certain foods (look up how to cut onions and bell peppers, for example), and other things such as how to saute, steam or braise.
Easy Weeknight Cooking Recipes
*Please note these are links to other websites, not my own recipes! I am not that talented…..
5 Ingredient Chili
Ok, my family LOVES this one. I can’t believe how much flavor this dish has with relatively little effort. Make a big batch to eat for several nights or freeze for later. Also great as a dish to bring to get-togethers (when those are allowed again!). My only addition is that I throw in minced garlic. How can you even mention chili without garlic? Blasphemy.
I love curries, but sometimes they have a ton of ingredients. These ones keep it simple and are a great way to venture into the world of curry type dishes. You can even add more spices, like turmeric or a curry powder, if you like, to really enhance the flavor. These are both great meatless dishes that are easy on the wallet, but you can also throw in some chicken for a boost of protein.
Quick stove-top beef fajitas
When you want some comfort food, this is an easy hit. Pan fry some beef, add some peppers and onions, and put in a tortilla. Pair with a salad or other vegetable to balance out the meal.
Speaking of comfort food, how about a homemade pizza night with the kids? Read through this easy tutorial on how to put together all the fixings for a great pizza and have fun while doing it! Full disclosure, I would be buying the crust, but try making your own if that sounds like an interesting project.
Ok, don’t freak out on this one. It looks like there are a lot of ingredients here. For one, most of them are various veggies, so that’s easy (or buy a mixed bag at the grocery store), and two, you can always buy a stir-fry sauce instead of making the one they list here. In any case, stir fries are a fantastic way to get in a ton of vegetables and fill up on high fiber plant foods. Just make sure not to overdo it on the rice. Alternatively put this stir fry over quinoa or brown rice for even more fiber goodness.
Cajun Cabbage Skillet
Do you like spicy sausage? I know I do. This recipe is a good combo of andouille sausage (one to look up if you aren’t sure what it is, but easy to find at most stores) along with cabbage and spices. Also a great low carb option, but feel free to throw in some diced potato either in the dish itself or on the side.
Easy pan-fried salmon
Have you been afraid of cooking salmon? Be afraid no more. Salmon is one of the easiest things to prepare and all you really need is the fish, a little oil, maybe some salt, and a fry pan. Disregard those other recipes that make this sound all fancy. Follow these easy steps and you will be making this weekly. Throw some rice, a mixed salad, or even some potato on the side to round out the meal. My favorite is pan fried salmon over coconut rice with roasted broccoli on the side.
Last recipe, and the only one here that is mine! This is one is a dinner I make for my kids almost weekly because they love it so much. And it is SO easy! So easy it’s almost embarrassing making a “recipe” out of it, but I have to give you the instructions somehow. =) I can make this in about 20 minutes and is perfect for those evenings when we aren’t home until 6pm and everyone is starving. The ingredients are easy to acquire, so I include them on our weekly shopping list just so I’m always prepared.
Feeds my family of four, sometimes with leftovers
1 lb ground beef (preferably grass fed)
1 -2 tbsp chili powder or taco seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 can refried beans
Toppings (pick as desired):
- Place the beef in a non-stick pan and sautee until browned. Then add 1-2 tsp of chili, the salt, and mix well.
- Heat the refried beans.
- Lightly heat the tortillas so they are more soft and pliable.
- Have the the toppings out and ready to go.
- With the tortilla on your plate, spread on some refried beans. Then top with meat and toppings of choice. Fold, roll or eat open face (like my oldest son does!). Done!
Ok, last but not least. Do you want to learn to bake? I just ran across this handy guide from the Washington Post. I can’t say these recipes are technically “healthy,” but they are fun, easy, and will get you familiar with the basics of baking. May be a fun activity while we are stuck home a tad more than normal, and great to do with kids.
Please tell me how you are working on your health during “quarantine!” Comment on my Facebook page and help give others more ideas. Find me at Food/Sense Nutrition! Also, feel free to check out my Pinterest page for some of my personal favorite recipes: www.pinterest.com/venhuizen.
Stay healthy and safe everyone!