A Food Snob's Secret to 20 Minute Meals
I’ve always been a world-class eater. As a military brat in my formative years, I literally ate my way through Europe. In the course of four years, I traveled throughout the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, the high Alps, the Spanish Riviera, Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Great Britain, and the Netherlands – eating absolutely everything with ravenous ecstasy.
During my undergraduate studies, I spent a year at the University of British Columbia relentlessly consumed with cultural anthropology – and stuffing my gob. Downtown Vancouver was my gateway to fresh sushi and Granville Island Farmers Market, the finest food market I have ever experienced. In a city with over 2 million people, with authentic micro-communities from every ethnic origin on the planet, dining out became an obsession. It was then that I became a connoisseur.
Intentional living starts with taking care of our bodies; and that requires regular exercise and eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet. Depending on who you are, where you live and the size of your budget, that takes on a pretty varied definition. In my home, my family eats mostly fresh, free-range, organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, and predominantly unprocessed ingredients.
Because I frequently work with clients on food storage, meal planning and daily food preparation, I thought I’d write a brief instructional for the novice on inexpensive, delicious, and easy-to-prepare meals for the entire family.
I like to keep things simple. Shop for the week, that’s it. Enough fresh ingredients for three meals a day plus a few yummy snacks. If you’re trying to eat healthy and keep things super easy in the kitchen, follow my Rule of 3’s for 20 Minute Meals:
1. Really good entrées start with three vegetables. Buy them local and organic as much as possible. Use three different colors, shapes, sizes and textures. The more colorful your plate the better. With an olive oil drizzle, add a pinch of salt and pepper, then season to taste with one additional flavor to give each meal a unique flare (e.g., garlic, sage, sesame, rosemary, dill, chili, curry, etc.). On medium heat, steam or sauté veggies until soft on the outside, crunchy on the inside. Most veggies cook quickly in the pan, so be prepared to stir often and remove from heat pretty quickly after putting them on. I like avocado oil for high heat or coconut oil for flavor.
2. Protein is a good supplement to every diet. Meat in our home is local, organic and free-range. Preparation varies slightly, but start with fully thawed meat. With chicken breast or fish filet in a baking pan, add an olive oil drizzle, salt and pepper, and stick in the oven on 400 degrees until cooked completely in the center, golden brown on the outside. Check every seven or eight minutes until it looks good to you. We usually keep our red meat consumption to eating out for special occasions only. Organic eggs, hemp hearts, beans, tofu, and nuts are also a great source of protein.
3. Throw in a small side of pasta, whole-grain rice, sweet potatoes, or quinoa and you’ve got yourself a well-balanced meal. I recommend making big batches for subsequent meals throughout the week. Mix and match your leftovers to create variations on the theme; flash fry in a pan to reheat. Cooking with leftovers only takes a few minutes to prepare and is a great way to plan for the week.
Maximize your caloric dollar.
In other words, for every dollar you spend, try to keep food as nutritiously supportive as possible. I don’t want to spend my hard-earned money eating something that doesn’t support my health. If you’ve got a sweet tooth like me, indulge on three small bites of something yummy – no more than once a day.
Fresh fruit and vegetables, raw coconut and smoothies make great mini-meals throughout the week. Drink about one gallon of water every day. Shop the local farmers’ markets and the outside aisles of your grocery store, and you’ll quickly discover how twenty minutes and a little creativity can make your eating a whole lot better.