The Art of Quick & Easy Healthy Cooking

by Vitalah Simon

Whole Foods Cooking Teacher Vitalah Simon

How much time are you willing to spend in the kitchen? Whether you have 10, 30 or 60 minutes, there are many wonderful and creative foods to prepare for you, your family and your friends. Home-prepared foods are the healthiest, most nutritious and tastiest meals. Cooking at home allows you to choose quality organic, GMO-free ingredients and filtered water, which are great ways to invest in your health.

Make cooking more enjoyable by creating a kitchen in which you enjoy spending time. Keep it orderly and easy to navigate. Let the sink be clear of dishes and the counters empty for laying out the ingredients. Then, prepare to create with a variety of colors, textures and aromas. When starting a meal, figure out what takes the longest to cook and prepare those items first, so that everything will be finished around the same time.

The creative use of leftovers is essential for quick, economical meals. Set aside one to two hours a week to make a big pot of grains and a pot of beans. It takes about five minutes to wash and sort the beans. Then, soak them for about eight hours. Cooking beans and grains requires no special attention. Just be around to turn them on, skim foam off the beans as the pot comes to a boil, and later turn them off.  Having these cooked staples on hand throughout the week greatly reduces meal preparation time.

Raw or cooked vegetables can be prepared more quickly and have the most nutritive value when freshly cut (this reduces oxidation). If time is limited, vegetables can be prepped in advance, but they are best when used within 24 hours.  Some people choose to use cut frozen vegetables as a time saver. Canned sardines or salmon are ready instantly and a great addition to many meals.

For a quick 10-minute meal, make a salad with lots of veggies, add some of your cooked grains and beans or fish, and flavor it with a high-quality bottled dressing.

Soup can be made in 30 minutes, perhaps using some of the beans. Add large cut veggies, pressure cook, and puree. Or, mash the beans and grains together, making a croquette to pan-fry. Meanwhile, steam some greens and make a simple miso-tahini dressing, served with a side of toasted nori strips.

If you have an hour, create a diverse, balanced meal with these four dishes: red lentils with roots, quinoa with corn, arame with onions, and steamed broccoli and cauliflower tossed with olive oil, lemon and basil.

Home cooking is a wonderful way to enrich your health and your relationships while providing yourself and others with the pleasure of fantastic food.  Let your playful Inner Cook come out, improvise boldly and delight in your senses!

Vitalah Simon has been a Whole Foods Cooking Teacher for 20 years. Contact or 914.769.8745.

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