I don’t know about you, but my schedule can fill up pretty easily. So where does cooking a healthy meal fit into the schedule?
Let me digress a little bit. As I reached adulthood, I found that I was not particularly excited about cooking. My reasoning – too much effort for something that was gone too fast. I also now would suggest that it was due to eating a lot of things smothered with cream of mushroom (and other types of heavy soups and sauces) instead of meals focused on fresh produce and well-seasoned meats.
Fortunately, my taste buds were awakened when I lived in Austin, TX for a long period of time. I hung out with a number of friends who were self-described “foodies” who used all sorts of methods and ingredients to coax wonderful flavors from foods. Eventually after moving to a smaller city, I took on the cause and wanted to attain their culinary skill since most restaurants at that time focused on barbecue, Mexican food and chicken-fried steak. I’m pleased to now say that I actually enjoy what I cook.
However, my schedule at times has become even more compact. I am in graduate school as well as work and volunteer in the community. And I now often am creating dinners to feed my father. So how do you make great food in a short amount of time?
The answer came while hanging out in a hotel room at Thanksgiving. I happened to be flipping through the channels to find something to occupy my time while waiting for my father when I came upon a Public Broadcasting Station airing “Everyday Food”. The show, created by the kitchens of “Martha Stewart Living,” gives examples of fresh food created in a timely manner. Eventually, upon returning home, I started checking my local PBS station and – sure enough – the show was aired where I lived.
I decided to test the show’s offerings by creating their recipe for mustard-crusted turkey breast and roasted broccoli and carrots. Total prep time was 20 minutes; the entire meal was ready to eat in 1-1/2 hours. And everyone loved it.
With that success (and also the ease that the show’s cooks prepare food), I decided to pick up the two books that Martha Stewart Living has produced – “Fresh Flavor Fast” and “Great Food Fast”. Each book has 250 recipes which span breakfast, lunch, and dinner and focus on wholesome food. “In creating Everyday Food, we wanted to help people return to this more healthful, enjoyable way of cooking and eating – and to do so without spending hours in the kitchen,” Martha Stewart wrote in the forward. “When you see a recipe that says ‘prep time 25 minutes,’ you can be assured that you won’t spend longer than that getting the dish ready. Our recipe developers and testers work hard to give time estimates that are manageable for every cook, regardless of skill or expertise. They also create recipes using supermarket ingredients – not specialty items.”
Since my purchase of these books, both have gone into steady rotation in my menu-planning. Last night I made salmon with braised napa cabbage. Very tasty! Earlier in the week it was meatballs with rosemary in tomato sauce (to which I added whole wheat spaghetti). Dad couldn’t stop eating that one. When my neighbor’s husband was out of town recently, I decided to prepare dinner for her and had great success with the rum-glazed shrimp and mango. I’ve also tried the lemon-parsley pork chops, which were moist and very tasty. Like all cookbooks, there have been a few recipes that haven’t turned out as well as I would have liked; in this case, it was a pizza made on whole-wheat sandwich, wraps and brownies (which were good, but not moist and fudgy enough for my taste).
Another feature of these books is the nutritional information located in the back of the book. Each recipe is broken down by calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates, and fiber per serving. The main addition that I would have requested was the addition of sodium levels for each serving, although it also would have been nice to see the major nutrients listed as well for each dish.
I truly have appreciated both of these cookbooks and hope you’ll take a few moments to explore each of them when you’re at the bookstore. And also, be sure to check out the PBS show and its website for other easy meals created by the Everyday Food staff. These recipes can make your life easier and your food exceptionally tasty!
Published On: June 16, 2010