At lunch the other day, I was having a discussion with Jacques and his coworker about eating vegan and eating healthy.
As he put down his fork, the coworker said very eagerly “if I could eat like this at home all the time, it would be so much easier to maintain a healthy vegan diet.” We were eating at Native Foods and he had just finished his Bangkok Curry bowl – “Seared tofu steak atop steamed veggies, kale, brown rice, with lemongrass-ginger-infused coconut milk curry. Topped with toasted sesame seeds and cilantro.”
Of course, I jumped immediately into educator mode and assured him “you can eat like this all the time! It’s really easy. All that bowl is when you break it down is steamed vegetables, brown rice and sauce.”
He thought for a second, then admitted that, yes, this was true, but he and his wife are terrible about actually taking the time to pre-plan their meals, or cook in bulk for the week.
Does this sound familiar?
While I am a big fan of recommending that people batch cook, I acknowledge that in reality this may not be possible for most people. If you don’t LOOOOOVE cooking, the idea of hanging in the kitchen for half a day so that you don’t have to do it every night of the week, may not sound very appealing. Even if you do love cooking, trying to set aside an entire afternoon to do it, often just isn’t going to happen when the rest of life gets in the way. Something tells me not everyone is as focused as I am on what they are going to eat at their next meal immediately after they just finished their last one.
In an effort to help you discover ways to easily prepare healthy meals at home, I’m beginning a series of posts entitled “Easy Weeknight Meals” where I’ll feature different simple recipes you can throw together in a matter of minutes.
How will you prepare delicious, easy and healthy meals in a matter of minutes you ask?
The answer is to take advantage of all the prep work that has already been done for you. One of the best resources for prepped veggies is Trader Joe’s, especially since their produce section is ever expanding to offer a wider variety of vegetables, and more organic options as well. The broccoli and cauliflower are already in florets, the kale is already chopped, the onions are diced, and the carrots are wee babies. Nothing needs to be washed, de-stemmed or peeled. They even have pre-cooked rice and quinoa, and rice that has been parboiled to cut down cooking time. All the time consuming prep work has already been taken care of so all you have to do is steam and choose a sauce.
I use Trader Joe’s as an example, but just about every grocery store, including Costco, have recognized our growing desire to eat fewer pre-packaged meals and more freshly prepared ones, with the same convenience factor, and are now offering pre-cut vegetables. You can also find some great “done for you” sauces, or whip up a favorite on your own.
Lately, I have been on a curry making kick, which is probably why I got so excited about coworker enjoying his Bangkok Bowl. While I do take extra steps when I make my curries, you can just as easily recreate a simple version in 15 minutes on a busy work night. I present to you the first recipe in the Easy Weeknight Meals series.
Quick and Easy Weeknight Curry Bowl
What you Need:
Pre-made curry sauce, or curry paste, soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, and a can of coconut milk (do not shake!)
Pre-chopped vegetables of choice (I recommend broccoli, carrots, zucchini, kale and cauliflower)
Brown rice or quinoa (this can be a frozen package, or something you pre-cooked)
Marinated tofu or seitan, optional
Sesame seeds and cilantro, optional for garnish
What you Do:
Fill a pot with a couple of inches of water. Place your vegetables in a steamer basket and put steamer basket in the pot, making sure the vegetables are not submerged in water. If they are, dump out some of the water. Turn on heat to medium, cover and steam for 5-8 minutes until vegetables have reached your desired tenderness.
Cook or re-heat rice or quinoa according to package directions.
Heat or make your sauce. If you are using curry paste, add a couple tablespoons to a small pot over medium heat and cook for a minute or two, until it is very fragrant. (I like to sauté a little garlic, ginger and onion with my curry paste, but we’re keeping it simple right now. Save that for a night when you have more time to cook.) Scoop out just the white part of the coconut milk and whisk into the pot, along with a teaspoon of soy sauce/Bragg’s/tamari. Simmer over low heat until it is warm. Taste and adjust for seasoning, adding more curry paste or soy sauce as needed.
Get out a big bowl. Scoop half cup to a cup of rice/quinoa into the bowl, top with a cup or two of steamed vegetables, pour about a quarter cup of sauce over everything, top with seitan or tofu, if using. Devour! Save the leftovers for lunch or dinner tomorrow.