Getting creative with meals
Monday, January 07, 2013
Something that many people struggle with when eating healthy is making meals interesting. I know, I get it. I love rich sauces, too. And cheese. But there are so many other options out there!
Words of advice: don't be afraid! What is the absolute worst thing that can happen if you experiment with dinner? It sucks and you eat a salad, right? I mean seriously, if a meal is lousy it's not the end of the world. So get creative! try things that sound good. Taste and alter as you go along. Read cooking blogs and change the recipes there up to be healthier.
Here are some examples from the past week that have worked for me:
Chicken. Boring stuff on its own. And sometimes I just coat it in Italian seasoning and blacken it, which is fine. But I really wanted a sauce. So what to do?
Take a bag of frozen dark cherries (nothing added in the ingredients!) and toss them in a pan over medium heat. Add a couple tablespoons of maple syrup (the real stuff, not that Mrs. Butterworths or whatever the heck it is), juice of 1 lemon, and a bit of balsamic vinegar. Cook it over medium-low heat until the cherries are soft and mash them with the back of a spoon. This should create a sort of puree type thing. Taste it and add whatever seasonings you think would work (I added a bit of Brady Street from Penzeys). Then use this as your marinade for the chicken! Delish!
Beef: I had a pot roast I bought on sale. So I put that in the crock pot, surrounded by chunks of pumpkin I had frozen after Halloween. Added some balsamic, some apple juice, some seasoning, and let it cook for 6 hours on low. Then (this is the fun part), take the beef out and set it aside. Pour everything else from the crock pot into a bowl and blend it with an immersion blender until it's smooth. I added some water and a bit of salt/pepper to get the taste and consistency I wanted. Voila! The perfect pumpkin sauce for the roast!
I have also done a similar thing with cranberries cooked down into a mash, seasoned, and mixed with sauteed brussel sprouts.
My point is, sauces full of taste and texture don't have to be unhealthy! Fruit is a wonderful base to work with, there are tons of amazing spices out there, etc.
Don't relegate yourself to grilled chicken and lettuce! Eating should be fun! Eating healthy is even better! It's fun, AND you feel great afterward!