So, Warriors. Let’s talk about one of my favorite topics: food. Love to eat it, sometimes love to cook it, don’t always have the time to prep and prepare it. But, since my work is local and I do a lot of it from home, I have the luxury of being in my kitchen for most meals. Even on days when I’m running around like crazy, I try to feed myself something healthy…so that I don’t end up at the bottom of a bag of Trader Joe’s peanut butter pretzels at 2:30 pm (always a possibility – I love those things!).
Over the last 2 years, I’ve perfected my go-to healthy meal which I eat at least once, if not twice, every day! Yes, for real. You may wonder, isn’t that so boring?? Well, kinda. I will admit to being a creature of habit – when I find something that works, I stick to it and make a little ritual out of it. That being said, the reason I don’t get bored with my go-to meal is that there are endless variations on this simple theme.
So, without further ado, I will share with you my recipe! Are you ready?? Don’t blink or you’ll miss it!
- grains (cooked or toasted multi-grain bread)
- leafy greens (raw or lightly sauteed)
- additional chopped veggies (raw or cooked)
- protein (usually an egg, usually fried)
This is my everyday breakfast, and sometimes lunch. And it’s quick, I swear! Especially when I employ some time-saving tricks. So let’s break it down by bullet point, starting w/ the most time consuming element:
GRAINS: I’m a HUGE fan of cooked whole grains, especially quinoa and brown rice. Spelt, barley and wheat berries have also been known to make cameo appearances in my kitchen. All are prepared with some amount of water and simmered on the stove – which takes time (and some of those heartier grains take a LOT of time). So I generally try to cook a big pot of something once a week and save it in tupperware in the fridge for these meals. Sometimes, though, that whole cooking-on-the-stove thing just doesn’t happen, in which case I use these TIME SAVING TIPS: Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice (pre-cooked, 3 mins in microwave, delish) or a slice or two of good, hearty multigrain bread (toasted).
LEAFY GREENS: Honestly, greens don’t take very much time to prepare, especially when I buy a box of pre-washed baby spinach leaves and eat them raw or sauteed for about 30 seconds. Kale is my other fave, which requires washing and sauteeing – still not a big deal. You can also buy bags of pre-washed, pre-chopped kale, but I find them to be full of stems. So I take a bunch of kale, rip the leaves away from the stems and into smaller pieces, discard stems, wash leaves and shake dry, then sautee them with a little oil & red pepper flakes. Done.
ADDITIONAL CHOPPED VEGGIES: Here, I use anything that I may have prepared the night before: roasted broccoli, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, cauliflower – whatever’s already in the fridge. If I have NOTHING else, 9 times out of 10, I have avocado & tomatoes on hand that I can quickly chop while my egg is frying. Which brings me to…
PROTEIN: Oh, how I love eggs. I eat a lot of them. Great source of protein. I fry mine in a small pan that has been lightly misted with olive oil. (I also love my Misto - non-aerosol refillable sprayer.) I also eat them hard-boiled, poached and scrambled. In the mornings, though, I love a warm egg and frying is the quickest and easiest for me. For lunches, I will often mix up my protein source and eat left-over chicken, fish, turkey burger or canned tuna in place of the egg. And don’t forget that egg whites are a great option if you’re watching your cholesterol.
ASSEMBLY: I hearby call to order this meeting of the aforementioned ingredients! Assembling this meal is where I get creative. It’s all about layering. Sometimes the base is the grain, sometimes it’s the leafy greens. Sometimes the whole thing gets topped with a drizzle of balsamic, sometimes I mix in a little pesto. Sometimes I smush avo on toast and eat the leafy greens in a big salad on the side. Sometimes I roll the whole kit and kaboodle up in a whole wheat wrap! Always, cracked pepper plays a big role. Here are some examples:
Just drop your left ear toward your left shoulder….a little more…feel the stretch on the right side of the neck…that’s good. See? That picture is sideways for a reason!
Anyway – you’ll notice here an absence of grain. This was my breakfast on a warm spring day last week when I was craving something light and fresh. Thus, the salad with the egg on top. The drizzle of balsamic mixes nicely with the runny yolk to make a sort of warm dressing for the spinach – at least, I think it’s yummy. Doesn’t sound so appetizing when I put it in print! In any case, this is Variation 1. Total time to throw together: 5 min.
Here, in Variation 2, I’ve sauteed some kale w/ red pepper flakes, adding some pecan pieces to the pan at the end so they get all toasty and maintain their crunch. I didn’t have any cooked grain on hand, so I grabbed a bag of that Trader Joe’s brown rice out the freezer and zapped it…while I cooked my egg in the same pan that I just used for the kale. Total time (from washing kale to styling my plate for photos): 13 min. Not bad for an at-home lunch! I didn’t top this one with any extra flavor since I made the kale all spicy with the red pepper flakes. Yum!
Variation 3 looks suspiciously similar to Variation 2…it was probably eaten the next day. Leftover kale makes another appearance. This time, even though you can’t really see it, the base of this one-bowl dish is brown rice mixed with a yummy Fairway pesto – SO GOOD. Then, kale & tomatoes are layered over, and sunnyside up egg is winking at me from the top. Oh, and cracked pepper. Always cracked pepper. Total time (due to leftovers): 5 min.
Now – these 3 variation aren’t all that different from each other. Clearly, I was running out of veggie options in the fridge. But I used what I had on hand, got a good serving of vegetables, protein and whole grain – all very healthy and good for the bod. Not pictured are variations using bread or wraps in place of cooked grains. Really, the possibilities are endless!
What about you? Do you have a go-to quick-and-healthy meal that you find yourself eating regularly? If so, we’d love to hear about it!