Convenience is likely the #1 reason why many of my clients will try a new food, but eventually gravitate back to less healthy options. To get in front of this boomerang, I'm talking about food prep in part 5 of my 7-part series on playing with food, so you don't have to create a meal from scratch on a daily basis. (For prior posts, scroll down the blog.) Bulk meal prep and smart shopping can help; you've heard it before: don’t go grocery shopping while hungry! These hacks can aid in throwing together a quick, healthy meal in a pinch.
- Just like Thanksgiving, cook once, eat many times, every time – Leftovers are king. Make more than you need, repurpose leftovers or eat as is. Most food is safe in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (unless you have histamine intolerance). For favorite meals, make extra and freeze to forego food prep on future, busy days.
- Ready-to-go proteins – Frozen fish filets, meatballs, and chicken sausages. Roasted prepared whole chicken from the grocery store. Canned salmon and sardines. Canned beans and chickpeas (always rinse very thoroughly!). Choose organic, clean varieties. These choices provide a quick protein around which to build a meal.
- Ready-to-go grains – frozen organic brown rice, quinoa, and wild rice can be used as a quick side dish or base for a grain salad. Don’t microwave in the bag – dump into a glass dish and cover with a paper towel instead.
- Sauces, dressings, and marinades – Always have some on hand. Choose options that are “dump and go,” ie, no need to add anything, if you need more convenience up front in order to explore and lock in new healthy habits. Yes, over time, of course you can indeed make your own.
- The night before prep – Lay out the first meal “kit” before bed – e.g, clean blender or fry pan, measure and prep dry ingredients, clean and cut veggies/fruit and pre-assemble a smoothie to just stick into a blender in the morning. Having things ready in sight will also help discourage any impetus to drop a healthy intention and just grab a bagel or a donut on the way in to work.
This is such an easy recipe. The chicken filling and the rice can be made in advance. If you are only serving one or two people, keep leftovers in the fridge for lunch or dinner the next day. Black rice has the highest antioxidant activity of all rice and has more fiber than brown rice.
2 c black "Forbidden Rice"
1/2 t salt
4 yellow peppers
2 T olive oil
2 lbs ground chicken
1 t dried coriander
1 t dried cumin
1 t dried oregano
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper, freshly ground pepper
1/4-1/2 t red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 scallions, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
Sriracha or other favorite spicy sauce, optional
Rinse and drain rice. Combine with 4 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a pot. Bring to boil. Turn down to low heat and simmer for 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice tops of yellow peppers off leaving most of the pepper intact. Pull out seeds and white membranes from center of peppers. Using 1 T of the olive oil, pour a bit onto a sheet pan and spread it where peppers will sit; pour a bit on your hands and coat the exterior of the peppers. Place peppers and pepper lids face down onto olive oil-covered area on pan. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until beginning to soften.
Pour 1 T of olive oil into a large 11" sauté pan. Turn heat to medium high. Add chicken, spices, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Sauté, stirring often and breaking up pieces, until chicken is cooked through. Add garlic and scallions for the last 20-30 seconds and stir well.
To assemble, place rice on plate or bowl. Nestle a yellow pepper right side up onto the rice. Fill with chicken filling. Top with avocado pieces and Sriracha if using. Cover with yellow pepper lids. Enjoy!