Quick and Easy Meals Part II: Cheat-Cooking; Plus a Giveaway!

by Shannon Wintheiser

This week I'm continuing my two-part series on quick and easy meal prep! In case you missed it, last week I covered how to set-up your kitchen (fridge and pantry), and staples to shop for every time you go to the store to simplify your food routine.  If you haven't had a chance to check it out, go back and take a look! I'm also giving away my two absolute favorite health and wellness books to celebrate the launch of the new RBN website! It's a good week :).

Ok so now we're on to everyone's (least) favorite part of health eating: the cooking. Wahhhhhh. I know. Sometimes I feel that way, too. In fact, yesterday even the thought of making my lunch was a little too much for me so I ran out to my favorite tea shop and picked up some buckwheat veggie crepes. But the fact of the matter is, if you want to be healthy long term, you're going to have to spend some time prepping meals at home (unless of course you can afford a live-in chef). Assuming that is not the case for most of you, in this post I'm going to give you a glimpse into my world of "cheat-cooking".  

The Golden Rules of Cheat-Cooking

  1. Stock Your Pantry and Fridge
    Cheat-cooking will only work if you have an adequately stocked fridge and pantry with enough of the right staples. To get your kitchen in tip-top shape for cheat-cooking, see my previous blog post!
     
  2. Use What You Have
    By this I mean you will have to adapt. Cheat-cooking does not usually involve following a recipe to a "T". If you wanted to make a sweet-potato hash, but you only have butternut squash, well, you will be making a butternut-squash hash. They are good substitutes. Wanted to make a burrito bowl with brown rice but only have quinoa? Again, adapt. This just takes a little practice of knowing and recognizing good substitute ingredients when you see them. And of course, a little creativity never hurts.
     
  3. Perfection is Your Enemy
    Don't let great stand in the way of good-enough.  So you're missing a spice. Add some extra himalayan sea salt and nobody (including your taste buds) will complain. So you don't have time to bake the potatoes. Throw them in the microwave for 4 minutes, dice them and put them in the broiler for 5-10 to crisp them up a bit. Done. Or, you forgot to defrost the chicken for the stir-fry and it's 6:30pm. Instead, add cashews and maybe a fried egg to the top of the veggies for some good protein. Taking the attitude of "good enough" most days will prevent you from throwing in the towel at 7 o'clock and running out to get pizza. 

My Favorite Cheat-Cooking Meals

What I make around here on a regular basis varies greatly with the seasons (I'll have to write a post on that later!), but I want to share at least a few of my go-tos to give you an idea of the kinds of meals you can make with a well-stocked pantry and fridge and little-to-no planning (I'm German and can be quite the planner, and I still get sick of planning meals. So cheat-cooking is an absolute must in my house!).

And notice I call the below "meals", not "recipes" because in actuality they aren't recipes. I will try to provide as much detail as possible for those of you who like detailed instructions and aren't comfortable winging it yet, but most of the time these meals are just "a little bit of this" and "a lotta bit of that".  Also, I don't go into breakfast below because you can hardly call grabbing a banana and GoMacro Bar cooking (even cheat-cooking would be a stretch). So we'll just cover lunch and dinner today. If you would like some simple and healthy breakfast ideas, leave a comment below and I'll help you out!

Lunch

carrots, jicama, "guac", rice crackers and roasted red pepper hummus

carrots, jicama, "guac", rice crackers and roasted red pepper hummus

Crudités and Hummus/Guacamole
For this, I chop up any raw veggies, and get out my favorite gluten free crackers and dips (store-bought hummus, and a mashed avocado to which I add sea salt and lime as my "guac"). I supplement this meal with fresh green juice, or a big piece of fruit.

Eggs on Rice Cakes
Such a creative name, I know. I always have Lundberg brand organic rice cakes on hand, and I use them as a gluten-free bread alternative. Just sauté spinach or other dark leafy green, mushrooms, and two eggs (I do over-hard but take your pic). Spread hummus on 2 rice cakes, then top with veggies and egg. I add a dash of Sriracha for some spice. You can supplement the meal with green juice, fruit, or a handful of nuts.

Dinner

sweetpotatohash_rbn.jpg

Sweet Potato Veggie Hash
This is really a free-for-all. You can add any veggies you want, and it's your choice whether you roast them for 20-30 minutes in the oven at 375F along with the sweet potatoes (which will take 30-40 minutes if diced small), sauté them, or keep them raw. Add beans (I love roasted chickpeas which take about 20-30 in the oven as well). Trick here is to monitor the roasting ingredients, and stir them partway through. Throw all these goodies in a bowl and top with good fats like pecans, cashews, hemp seeds, or avocado. Seasoning is also up for grabs and can be changed depending upon your mood. Use salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon squeeze, and fresh parsley. Or go for a big dollop of hummus with a squeeze of lemon.  You could even use a balsamic/oil based salad dressing on this vegan bowl. YUM!

Mediterranean Brown Rice Bowl
The longest part of this meal is cooking the brown rice, which takes about 40 minutes. You can prep a bunch of rice (or any grain) on Sunday, refrigerate, and use throughout the week to shortcut this meal!  To the rice I add sun-dried tomatoes (from a pack), spinach and mushrooms sautéed in olive oil and garlic, and pine nuts. I top with squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper to taste, and fresh parsley. This is a great dish to add meat too. It works best with chicken or white fish like mahi mahi or cod. This meal is not complicated, and if you do the rice beforehand, should only take about 20-30 minutes to make (if you are sautéing the chicken or fish).

Enter to Win My Two Favorite Health and Wellness Books!

[CONTEST CLOSED] 

Ok so those are just a few ideas to get you started on the cheat-cooking road! But now on to the good stuff. I am obsessed with these two books: Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carr and Wheat Belly by William Davis, and I encourage all of my one-on-one coaching clients to read them (I even give them a copy of Crazy, Sexy Diet as a bonus when they sign-up!)  So, to celebrate the launch of the new Radiant By Nature website I am giving away both of these books to one lucky reader and social media sharer!  To enter, simply share this post to FB (you can share by going to the "Share" button below, or by directly sharing the post I have put up linking to this blog on the Radiant By Nature FB page. That's it! You will then be entered to win.  

We have a winner!

Thanks so much to all who participated this week and shared the post on social media, and commented below! It was so neat to get your feedback and hear about your "go-to" simple meals! 

Congrats to Lisa Buoni, winner of two of my favorite health and wellness books! RBN will contact you shortly!