Do you tend to eat the same foods over and over again? I’m usually a glutton for variety but since Tim’s been in New Zealand, I’m less inclined to spend hours in the kitchen trying new recipes. Let’s face it – cooking is not as fun if there’s no one to share it with. Ok, it’s still fun, but perhaps in smaller doses.
To save time on cooking, I’ve been tapping the freezer and revisiting a a variety of the same foods: black beans, veggie chile, shephard’s pie, cornbread and quick sandwiches.
For example, this weekend’s menu looks a bit monotonous. On both Saturday and Sunday I had the same lunch and dinner: black bean and sweet potato tostadas for lunch and a smoked tofu sandwich for dinner. But I’ve discovered that it’s very possible to eat the same foods regularly without getting bored. In fact, repeating the same foods has some great benefits. You get really good at working with staple cupboard ingredients, and for people trying to lose weight or gain muscle, eating the same foods makes it easier to track your diet.
Of course, the point isn’t to eat the same foods over and over again – variety is the spice of life and the key to optimum nutrition. The point is to use regular ingredients as the basis for a healthy diet, and then round those ingredients out with a variety of other delicious foods like fruits, veggies and whole grains.
Here’s how I’ve been mixing things up lately:
- Use stores of basic foods as the basis for a variety of meals. For example, I make a big batch of yummy simmered black beans, freeze them in individual portions, then use them for black bean tacos, tostadas, or black beans and greens with cornbread.
- Mix it up on the side. I’ve been using side dishes to add variation to my monotonous meals. For example, on Saturday I had cole slaw with my tofu sandwich. On Sunday I had a green salad. Exciting!
- Keep a variety of monotonous foods on hand. it’s tempting to make a big batch of chile or lasagne and then live off of that for a week. Instead, I try to keep a few options around.
- Embrace easy starches. Starches are easy, but to keep it interesting, I try to cycle a variety of easy-to-cook starchy foods: baked potatoes, rice, quinoa, polenta, baked pumpkin and fresh bread.
Food Diary | Saturday, November 28, 2009
Apples and oatmeal with banana and toasted nuts
The oatmeal is cooked with cinnamon, grated apple and a pinch of salt. Then I topped with banana and toasted almonds and hazelnuts. Pretty nice with a drizzle of honey and a splash of soy milk.
Pumpkin pudding, or something like that…
A semi-successful experiment that will be worth tweaking: pumpkin mixed with soymilk, a little cornstarch, pumpkin pie spices, salt and pepper. It’s sort of like a savory pumpkin pie without the crust. There’s something good going on here…
…and a piece of toast
I like that every part of this snack – the bread, the almond butter, and the sloe and apple jelly – were made from scratch.
Recipe: Sloe and crab apple hedgerow jelly
Pumpkin and black bean tostada
This invention was rather successful! I had extra pumpkin leftover from the pumpkin pudding creation, so I mixed it up with some sauteed onion, cumin seed, mustard seed, ground cumin, fresh cilantro, and a little pickled jalapeno. Then smeared it on a corn tortilla, topped it with black beans, lettuce, avocado and a squeeze of lime juice. It was awesome! Served with some sauteed cauliflower.
Smoked tofu and cabbage sandwich
Sounds weird, but this is one of my favorite sandwich creations. Reuben-inspired. I saute the cabbage with onions and caraway seeds until its really soft and delicious, then add a splash of vinegar (balsamic is good here). Then I heat up the tofu and toast some rye sourdough bread. Sandwich consisits of
(in this order): bread, avocado, salt, pepper, tomato, smoked tofu, pickles, jalapeno, cabbage. Sounds weird. Tastes awesome.
Served with a really tasty coleslaw.
Recipe: Dazzling Winter Slaw with Red Cabbage, Apples and Pecans
Food Diary | Sunday, November 29, 2009