NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH – CHRONICALLY COOKING

Living with multiple chronic illnesses can made daily tasks difficult to accomplish.  One thing that is challenging is having to cook after a long day at work.  Due to my illnesses it is best to cook from scratch because whole foods are better than processed foods since they can help decrease inflammation in the body.  Preparing whole foods can be time consuming and tiresome.  I have discovered some kitchen hacks that make cooking more manageable.

There are three factors in creating a nutritious meal:  time, effort and cost.  Cooking from scratch normally takes more time and effort since everything needs to be chopped and prepped.  On the other hand, buying pre-cut items save time and effort but cost more.  So it is a matter of what do you want to save more of, energy or money.  Usually for me it depends on how I am feeling on that particular day.  When I have more energy I enjoy taking time to prepare the meal.  On other days, I just want to get something half way healthy on the table.  Here are some strategies I use to handle the cooking task:

  1. Make a bulk meal:  I will cook a soup, stew or chili that will last a couple of days.  Add a bagged salad and some bread to complete the meal.  This is more time consuming but I don’t have to cook the next day.
  2. Make a skillet meal:  Add vegetables, meat and quinoa or rice to a skillet and cook.
  3. Wrap it in a tortilla:  Brown the meat and add your favorite veggies for tacos; spread with hummus, add cucumbers, tomato, olives and feta cheese for a wrap; or fill with tuna fish, celery, onion, and lettuce.
  4. Use the broiler:  Fish cooks quickly under a broiler.  Steam veggies in the microwave and add a packet of microwavable precooked rice (I like Seeds Of Change Quinoa with Brown Rice) to finish the meal.  Another idea is broiling portabella mushrooms and put it in a bun topped with tomato, basil and mozzarella cheese.
  5. Use the freezer:  I try to always keep some healthy freezer options on hand like salmon burgers and chopped microwavable vegetables.  Use frozen fruit to make quick smoothies.
  6. Buy part of the meal precooked:  Stop at the grocery store deli to pick up a rotisserie chicken.  Add some steamed vegetables, salad and a roll.
  7. Have breakfast: A quick meal is an English muffin with peanut butter and a banana.  Or, make an omelet filled with your favorite veggies such as spinach and mushrooms.  Have a side of roasted potatoes and a yogurt parfait for dessert.
  8. Eat salad:  Make a chef salad with hard-boiled eggs, deli turkey, cheese and tomatoes.  Another option, add shrimp or salmon instead of turkey.  Make your own dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Pair it with a bowl of low-sodium prepared soup.

There are many ways to make healthy quick dinners.  Happy cooking to you!

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