Healthy Cooking 101: 5 Quick and Easy Meal Prep Ideas (With Infographics!)

We know meal prep is a good idea. It helps us eat healthy food and avoid prepackaged, processed food or worse, fast food. However, if you’re like me, you procrastinate, or don’t do it at all. After all, who wants to spend a weekend day cooking? I mean I like to cook, but, weekends are my time with my better half. So, I’ve searched the internet and come up with some super easy and quick ways to meal prep. My personal favorite are the mason jar soup cups. I think this is a brilliant idea!

How to Meal Prep Smoothies

Here’s a smoothie formula along with a video highlighting 3 ways to prep smoothies.
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Mason Jar Salads

Who needs to try an make a salad each morning or even the night before. Here’s an infographic for mason jar salads and one mason jar recipe video
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The Overnight Oats Builder

Overnight oats are a great way to meal prep breakfast. Below, you’ll see an infographic for overnight oats, along with 2 videos with a total of 7 recipes.
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Burrito Bowls

Everyone likes a good burrito bowl! Here is an infographic showing how to build your own, plus a recipe to get those creative juices flowing.

DIY Instant Soup Cups

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea! I think it’s brilliant. I created the infographic below based on the recipe video at the bottom of the page.
Once the cups are made, store them in the fridge until needed. If you add protein eat it within 2-3 days.
When you eat the cups, remove them from the fridge at least 10 minutes prior to consuming. This will prevent the cold jar from breaking when the water is added. When you’re ready, fill the jar with hot water and let it set until it’s heated through. At this point, eat it from the jar, or pour it into a bowl.
I haven’t yet tried my own soup cups. However, I will absolutely try them, because my better half loves soup!

Closing thoughts

These ideas are super quick to put together. You could throw some burrito bowl ingredients in the oven. While that’s cooking, you can make a few soup cups, a couple of jars of overnight oats, and throw together some smoothie packs. Then, put the burrito bowls together when they’re cooked. I estimate this would take 1-2 hours tops. Then you have up to a week of lunches prepped.

Until next time Namaste my friends!

A Middle-Age Pathway Recipe: Lazy Pot Pie Stuffed Squash (Vegan version available)

Today I have a whole food recipe which gives you a way to use up some of your leftovers. Here is my personal recipe for leftovers, which in this case was turkey. However, this  really isn’t a recipe, as much as a process, which is very versatile. In this instance, I used Delicata squash, along with other things I had on hand: the basics, turkey, of course as well as kale, carrots, celery, onion, along with homemade bone broth, white wine, a little Himalayan salt, and some spices. The Delicata squash, pictured below, is a small, slightly sweet squash, about the size of a large sweet potato.

 This recipe was born out of a craving for pot pie. Being gluten-free, I was too lazy to attempt the almost impossible “gluten-free” pie crust. So, I made the filling for the pot pie, and put it over a baked potato. Thus the lazy pot pie was invented. In this instance, I expanded the recipe by using squash instead of a potato.

 With this recipe/procedure, you are only limited by your imagination. Are you a vegan? Use beans instead of meat. For the rest, open your fridge and see what you have on hand. How about, Sweet Potatoes, with left over steak, zucchini and tomatoes, or, Acorn squash, rotisserie chicken, broccoli, and spinach…well you get the idea. Experiment! There is a huge variety of squash, potatoes or even ancient grains, such as quinoa, amaranth or millet.

Add some fresh herbs to liven it up. This is a recipe I developed several years ago. Looking back at it today, I’d add poultry seasoning herbs, such as sage, rosemary and/or thyme. Fresh herbs add life and wonderful seasoning to this dish. With that said, it’s all about using what’s on hand. If you don’t have fresh herbs, by all means, use dried instead.

Here are a few photos of the ingredients and recipe steps. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the complete recipe.

Gather your ingredients

Prepare squash

Bake squash

Prepare filling, while squash bakes

Pour filling onto baked squash and serve

Lazy Pot Pie Stuffed Squash

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This is easy, super healthy, and completely whole food dinner.  It's also a great way to use up leftover meat/poultry.


Credit: Purple Almond Wellness

Ingredients

  • 4 Delicata Squash
  • 4 carrots-diced
  • 4 celery stalks-chopped
  • 2 cups finely chopped kale
  • 1/2 medium onion-diced
  • 2 cloves garlic-minced.
  •  olive oil
  • 2 cups turkey/chicken-chopped (use cooked beans for a vegan version
  • 1/2 cup white wine-I used Pino Grigio
  • 1/2 broth (I used my bone broth. You can use organic broth from the store. DO NOT use bullion cubes, which are filled with salt, chemicals and MSG)
  •  Mrs. Dash
  • Himalayan salt, and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375.
  2. Line a baking pan parchment paper.
  3. Cut each squash in half, and clean out the seeds
  4. Drizzle each squash with olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper on each half. Place cut side down on baking pan. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until tender.
  5. While the squash is cooking-prepare the filling.
  6. Wash and chop all vegetables. Chop them into a small dice, for quick cooking.
  7. In a large frying pan, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil, then add the carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender crisp.
  8. Add turkey, salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, and vegetables, except kale, to carrots. Cook for 5 more minutes, until turkey is heated through, and vegetables are tender.
  9. Add wine to pan. Cook for an additional 2 or 3 minutes, or until alcohol cooks out.
  10. Add Broth to pan. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
  11. Add Kale and cook until just wilted. It cooks quick. When it’s bright green, it’s done.
  12. lace a half of squash in a dish, scoop some filling into the squash, and enjoy. This serves 4 to 8, depending on your hunger level.

Middle-age Memoirs~ Cooking edition: Teaching yourself to cook…with help

I decided to start a cooking journal, to coincide with my lifestyle and fitness journal from my main site. This journal will be a log of my adventures as I teach myself more about cooking, baking and making my own recipes. I hope you’ll join me on this new venture!

Cookbooks & DVDs

Most of what I know about cooking was self taught as well as learned through observing my mother and grandmothers cook. I also learned many healthy cooking techniques at Hawthorn University. It is my dream to one day go to school to become a Natural Food Chef. However, Until then, I will continue to learn on my own.

As you can see in the photos above, I have 2 very large cookbooks, as well as a Great Courses DVD.

  • America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook -weighing in at just over 6 pounds and 2 inches thick, this book is HUGE!
  • How to Bake Everything By: Mark Bittman- not as big, but still quite large, this book weighs in at a little over 3 pounds and about an inch thick.
  • The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the lost art of cooking. This is a DVD set through Greatest Courses. I’ve had it for awhile. My son and I started the classes together a few years ago, but never finished the course. I’ll be going back to the beginning and working my way through. The courses are taught by an instructor from the Culinary Institute of America.

Online Classes

As part of this journal, I’ll try as many of these as I can over time. Some are free and some cost money. We’ll see which ones are worth the price. I’ll also let you know if I find any more.

Closing thoughts

When I started looking for online courses, I had no idea there were so many. The ones listed here are just the main ones I found.

I absolutely LOVE cooking. Any excuse to spend more time in the kitchen works for me. Making it part of my blog and future business is just icing on the cake!

How did you learn to cook? What would you like to learn? Is there anything you’d like to see me try? Let me know in the comments below

Until next time…namaste my friends!

Tamara

Healthy Cooking 101: Baking in a Slow Cooker

Hello everyone. Earlier this week, I decided to dive into the cookbook below and try a few recipes. Something stood out in this book, the author has several recipes, such as cakes and bread, that you don’t normally think to make in a slow cooker. One in particular that stood out, “Buttery Coconut Bread”, and decided to give it a try. AND, in just 4 hours, I had a loaf of bread, made in a slow cooker.

Why use a slow cooker to make bread?

Why in the world would you make a loaf of quick bread in a slow cooker, when you can make it in the oven in a fraction of the time? There are health benefits to making foods at a low/slow temperature and pace. (1,2)

  • Retain natural oils
  • Retain moisture
  • Retains nutritional content of food – many vitamins are destroyed at high temperatures. Cooking low and slow retains the vitamin content.
  • Improves taste, texture and flavor of food
  • High temp cooking can chemically alter food, often resulting in carcinogens and toxins in the food.

Ingredients

Due to copyright, I’ll list the ingredients, but not the amounts. This article is more about technique than the actual recipe.
  • butter
  • eggs
  • coconut oil
  • vanilla extract
  • liquid stevia
  • almond flour
  • coconut flour
  • protein powder
  • baking powder

Mixing the batter

I first mixed the liquid ingredients together in a bowl. In a smaller bowl, I mixed the dry ingredients together. I added the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

I added the batter to a greased 8″ x 4″ bread pan.

The recipe indicates to “place the pan on a rack in a slow cooker.” Well, I didn’t have a rack, so I made 4 balls of aluminum foil and placed them in the bottom of my slow cooker.

I then placed the bread pan on top of the foil. You don’t want the pan setting directly on the heating element, which is the purpose of this step.

Here’s what the bread looked like prior to cooking:

I set the slow cooker temperature on “low” . The recipe indicates to cook for 3-4 hours. I checked mine after 3 hours. I left it another 30 minutes.

Here’s what it looked like after 3 1/2 hours

The results? How did I like this bread?

Well…to be honest, I didn’t really care for this coconut bread, and probably won’t make it again. In fact, I ended up throwing it away. HOWEVER, I did enjoy the slow cooking bread technique and am anxious to try other forms of quick bread to see how well this technique works. This cookbook has many other slow cooker “baking” recipes I’m anxious to try as well, such as carrot cake, lime-raspberry custard cake, brownie chocolate cake, gingerbread, delectable peanut butter cup cake, almond golden cake, and pound cake…to name a few. I’ll let you know if/when I try any of them.

Until next time, namaste my friends

Tamara

Sources

  1. http://www.superyumrecipe.com/low-heat-temperature-cooking-healthy-benefits/
  2. https://metabolichealing.com/properly-preparing-your-food-low-temperature-cooking-guidelines/