Summer is here, and we like to spend a lot of time outside the house, so my priority is to make meals with maximum nutrition but a minimum of fuss! My meals are also all “BBQ and microwave free”, since I don’t own either one! Convenient, prepared food is also kept to a minimum since it usually contains too many additives I don’t want in our diet.
It can be such a temptation to grab “fast food” after a long day, so here are some of the ideas from my kitchen which keep us well fed. I have most of these foods in stock, but I do vary this list a bit from week to week depending on budget and what is available. It is also very helpful that I shop only once a week but get an organic fruit and veg bin delivery mid-way through the week.
I love cold dishes for meals when it is hot outside, so many of the following are variations on salads.They are also lean toward paleo which means they are light on grains, and light on dairy. I do use some legumes, however. As well these meals and snacks are very low in added sweeteners and contain no refined sugars. A bottle of maple syrup or honey lasts us a very long time as I have found that a tiny bit of either will go a long way!
Here are the sorts of food I stock and pick up with most grocery orders in the summer:
Cupboard – cans of Pacific pink or red salmon, cans of light tuna, cans of chick peas, black beans, kidney beans (or use frozen previously cooked beans), brown rice pasta, bacon crumbles with no preservatives. olive oil, healthy mayo, coconut oil, potatoes, low sugar cereal or granola or seed type cereal, semi-sweet chocolate chips, raisins, cocoa, banana , pasta sauce, honey or maple syrup, herbal tea bags, spices, dried herbs
Fridge – mini carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, broccoli, red peppers, avocado, strawberries, melon, other seasonal fruit, eggs, plain yogurt, milk or a milk alternative, pecans, almonds, walnuts, fresh seasonal herbs, sauerkraut or other fermented veggies.
Freezer – blueberries, frozen organic corn, broccoli, mixed veg, grass fed beef and chicken burgers, pastured small sausages.
Sunday night or a night before a stretch of really busy days the following prep will take you about 45 minutes :
Wash and put a bunch of potatoes in to boil. (Perhaps 1/2 5 lb bag for two people, the whole 5lbs for 4) . Use organic potatoes if you can. I don’t peel them, since a lot of the nutrition is in the skin. Also, I will refrigerate these potatoes after which creates resistant starch with a lower glycemic index. A trick for cooking them is to boil them for about 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and let them sit in water until cooked.
At the same time, place 6 eggs (for 2 people), 8 or 12 eggs (for four) in cold water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, covered, boil for 5 minutes then just let sit until water is cool.
While the potatoes and eggs are cooking on top of the stove, peel and wash several large beets, or butternut squash. Put in a roasting pan or casserole dish with water and a little olive oil – perhaps some rosemary sprinkled on top -and bake for 1/2 hr at 350 then turn the oven off and let cool.
Get out your book and glass of wine and relax while the foods are cooking themselves! When they have cooled to about room temperature, refrigerate promptly.
Now you have lots of fast, healthy foods to throw together in different combinations! Here are some ideas:
-eggs with hash browns and seasonal fruit
-yogurt with berries
-cereal with yogurt or milk alternative
-eggs and sausages and fruit
-omelette with chopped red pepper, crumbled bacon pieces
Lunch or Dinner:
– Chop egg mix with cooked beets and potato add mayo for a healthy salad
– chickpeas in food processor with olive oil and seasonings to make hummus – use as a dip for raw veg.
– boil rice pasta, drain, cool, add thawed frozen corn, black beans, red pepper diced , avocado and seasonings for a southwest type salad
– guacamole with raw vegetables
– black beans, olive oil, fresh cilantro for a black bean dip to have with veggies
– salmon or tuna in food processor with mayo and seasonings – process and serve on top of romaine lettuce with cherry tomatoes
– beef burger cooked in frying pan or on grill with sauteed broccoli and red peppers
– pasta sauce with leftover beef burger broken up, kidney beans and seasonings for “chili”
– chicken burgers with reheated roasted beets or butternut squash, green salad
Desserts and snacks:
– yogurt with berries or other fruit
– nut, raisin and chocolate chip mixes
– plain piece of melon or other seasonal fruit
– chocolate banana or fruit smoothie using milk or milk alternative, banana and cocoa powder in blender, add fresh mint for a “green smoothie” mint chocolate taste!
– I will often drop one or two herbal tea bags into a glass pitcher or large glass jar , fill with water and refrigerate for a few hours for a refreshing “iced tea” – no sweetener needed – this can also be poured into Popsicle molds.
– freeze bananas or other fruit, let thaw for a few minutes then make a “ice cream” in the food processor – this can be “chocolate” flavoured with the addition of cocoa
Many of these foods can also be grabbed for a spur-of-the moment picnic as well. If you do eat grains, consider adding some whole grain crackers to your cupboard list, and if dairy is a good fit, some high quality goat or cow’s milk cheese can also be used. Have fun this summer, and enjoy the wonderful food and activities this time of year offers!