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quick, healthy cooking tips

On a mission to reduce the number of takeaway boxes/bags

     
3:56 am on Jun 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Please share any Breakfast/dinner quick, healthy cooking recipes/tips?

On a mission to reduce the number of takeaway/delivery boxes/bags at home.

7:06 am on June 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Pasta! All you need is a jar of pasta sauce, some pasta and some meat or even vegetables like mushrooms.

I use cooked meatballs and keep them in the fridge or freezer. Chop an onion and some other vegetables of your choice, fry in a saucepan for a minute add the pasta sauce and the meatballs and simmer while boiling the pasta. You can add some pesto to the cooked pasta if you like this and serve.

(And it's reasonably healthy.)

For breakfast I have fresh fruit salad and yoghurt every day along with a bit of toast and jam. I use lots of different fruits when available, strawberries, apples, oranges, melon, mango, grapes and kiwi fruit.

I make enough fruit salad to last me about five days at a time and keep it in a large bowl in the fridge along with a couple of of cartons of natural yoghurt.

For lunch I have a couple of slices of bread with cold meat or perhaps a tin of mackerel or sardines, all delicious but quite healthy and very quick.

8:03 am on June 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Prep time is the killer. So it makes sense to buy chicken at a place where they'll remove the skin and even chop a whole chicken into pieces. You can even have them separate the breast pieces from the rest of the chicken so you can have two dinners from one chicken neatly separated. You can feed two adults and one child twice from a large enough chicken.

Or you can take the whole chicken and have leftovers. Here's a tasty recipe that doesn't take much time but tastes great. It's been simplified from a more complicated recipe to cut prep time, reduce pans used, and total cooking time.

1. Brown all chicken parts in a little olive oil then set aside.

2. A. While chicken is browning cut an onion in half, then slice thick (oninon ring size) ribbons from each half.

B. Chop up chunks of sweet peppers, or red/yellow/green peppers. One Bell Peppers worth is plenty. Reserve a third to a half pound of peeled baby carrots (they should come that way in the bag).

C. Optional: dice four or five garlic cloves, and chop up a zucchini or squash, whatever you fancy and is in season. If you have a dozen small capers you can throw that in later with the tomatoes.

3. In remaining oil sautee an onion and rest of vegetables, reserving garlic toward the last few minutes, throwing them in before the veggies have thoroughly wilted. You don't want to fry them, you just want to soften everything up.

4. Add a cup of white wine, a cup of chicken broth, and the contents of a 14 oz can of whole or diced tomatoes (smash the tomatoes if they're whole) and a tablespoon of flour (make sure to spread it around so it doesn't settle in clumps). Bring to a boil and let it boil for around ten minutes. The idea is to reduce it by around a third. You want the liquid to be able to just cover the chicken when the time comes to reintroduce it.

5. Once reduced, turn down the heat to low and add:
A. Tablespoon of dried parsley, Tbs dried marjoram, tbs of Thyme, Tbs of Oregano. Then reintroduce the chicken once it all stops boiling.

6. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer at a low heat for around twenty to thirty minutes. The ideal is to have low rolling simmer going.

Once done the chicken should be somewhat falling off the bone. The lower the heat and longer the cooking time the better. But you can do it at a higher heat as above for a shorter time period- it still tastes great.

Serve with rice and a side of steamed brocolli (brocolli takes 7 - 9 minutes to steam while chicken is on final stretch. I use organic microwavable rice from Trader Joes, takes just 3.5 minutes in the micro. ;) (Hey, you said to save time, right?)

If there are leftovers, save the sauce and meat. What you can do is pick the meat off the bones the next day and heat it up with the sauce in a pan. Then ladle a little sauce on toasted hamburger buns and put plenty of chicken on it. Kind of like a pulled pork sandwhich, but with chicken. There ya' go, you're enjoying a second meal that is even simpler and faster than the first one.

;)

12:55 pm on June 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Martini has good ideas here, but maybe a little too much work for you.

You need a grocery list:
Chicken
Rice
Potatoes
Frozen veggies
Bread

But chicken and rice is easy. Use a popular brand of rice and follow the directions. Or, bake some potatoes.

For chicken, google "oven chicken." You put it into the oven, leave for an hour, come back and, ta da! dinner. Frozen veggies are good and easy. Keep bread on hand.

Ground beef is very good, too, but you usually have to grill it or work with it on the stove top. However, meat loaf does go in the oven, but it's work to do right.

Grilling outdoors is fun. Pork as well as beef.

And if you want to try something that produces a lot of great and useful leftovers--bake a ham. It's really easy, it just takes a bit of pre-planning because it bakes over several hours. It's worth it because afterwards you have all of this great ready-to-eat meat you can do things with, hot or cold. Many hams have the directions on them.

As for breakfast--now you know why Kellogg's has done so well.

1:26 pm on June 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If I want to 'cheat', I'll make a large pan of 'generic' sauce (tomatoes/peppers/onions/chicken or beef) but without any herbs or spices. You can use jars of sauce if you're lazy. It's easy enough to make this kind of sauce quickly and without too much messing about: brown the meat, add onions, add your vegetables of choice, add tins of tomatoes. It doesn't matter a great deal how long you cook things as long as you don't burn them or undercook the meat. Simmer gently for as long as you like.

Then, I can fool myself into thinking I'm not eating the same thing the next day using different spices/accompaniments. Add basil and oregano and then serve with pasta, or coriander/cumin/garlic for a curry, and serve with rice.

A bit dull if I do it too much, but once you've made a batch you have a meal in 10 minutes or less: just heat it up in a saucepan and you're done. Quick cook rice and fresh pasta just needs putting in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes.

As for avoiding take-aways and the like, this is really a question of commitment as much as anything. I find it helps to know what you're buying and roughly when you plan on eating it when you do a food shop.

2:35 pm on June 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Tuna & Prawn Stir fry with Pasta

Take a small tin of tuna in sunflower or olive oil.

Drain the oil into a fry pan.

Using the oil Stir-Fry one large onion - thinly sliced and with the rings pushed out, 1 medium red pepper thinly sliced, and some chopped garlic to taste.

Boil up the pasta in a separate pan. Dried pasta should take about 12-15 minutes, fresh will be around 4 minutes.

When the onions are just turning golden,add the tinned tuna to the stir-fry, reduce the heat slightly and cook for about 1 minute, Then add a handful of cooked and thawed frozen prawns (shrimps). Stir quickly to warm through and cook for approx 1 minute.

Now drain the pasta well and then throw it in to the stir-fry pan, reduce the heat to low and stir the mixture until the pasta is well coated with the stir-fry.

Serve with chunks of unbuttered french bread (preferably wholemeal because it tastes so much better than the white stuff) torn off chunks are nicer than neatly cut ones. Accompanied by a good dry white wine, Riesling is excellent, or alternatively a good very dry cider.

A great healthy meal that is cheap, quick and easy to make.

3:59 pm on June 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I absolutely LOVE this thread, it's my favorite in ages!

Totally unbiased product tip that's a time and energy saver:

Buy yourself a little Nesco roaster at the lowest price you can find. Stuff doesn't "brown," but you can cook anything that needs stove-top or oven cooking without heating up the house (nice when it's 100+ degrees) - and also, slow/crockpot cooking.

My only problem is how to cook stuff that's both healthy and *fattening* at the same time, since I need to gain a lot of weight (about 20 lbs.) without an arterial disaster.

Added, my recipe addition:

For tasty baked chicken that needs no salt:

Just sprinkle all sides with garlic powder and paprika (not the dark colored, expensive kind which is too strong and not "sweet" - the canned variety from Hungary - Szego - or the cheap reddish stuff from a place like Smart & Final in So. Calif.).

Cook covered in a 425-450 degree oven about 3/4 hour at high temp to cook through moistly, then uncover and reduce temp to 350 degrees for a while so it can brown. You can turn once in a while for even browning - optional. It's really easier than it sounds.

OR - slap it into a Nesco roaster, seasoned on all sides, set a timer and don't worry about browning, and either go outside and play with the kids or read WebmasterWorld.

[edited by: Marcia at 4:32 pm (utc) on June 21, 2008]

5:18 pm on June 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Loving the responses already, I am going to try the ones I am really comfortable with at first, but will eventually try all.
5:31 pm on June 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Marcia, here's one that utlizes paprika. It's a recipe I created inspired by a meal I had at a Spanish restaurant.

Buy raw/peeled shrimp, larger size but not the colossal. Marinate them for a few minutes in a mixture of olive oil, paprika, Tbs of thyme, a couple cloves of chopped garlic (best but if you don't like garlic then it's optional) and juice of half a lemon or a splash of white wine. (The lemon and wine assist the marination process. If marinating for a longer period then I don't use lemon, I use white wine or neither at all).

Heat up a lightly oiled pan so it's medium high. Toss in the shrimpys and stir them all around, and if you like, a little bit of salt and pepper can be added at this point.

Camarones ala Plancha, ole!

[edited by: martinibuster at 5:47 pm (utc) on June 21, 2008]

5:47 pm on June 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Another thing that has helped me wean myself off ready-meals and the like is to grow herbs instead of using the dried ones. I'm no gardener, so I just bought pots from the supermarket (they've lasted pretty well). It's much more fun plucking leaves than shaking jars :)

I even have my two year old son shouting stuff at me now when I cooking. "Dad, it needs more coriander! And parsley!".

It tastes a whole lot different too. I think getting the best quality (not necessarily the most expensive!) ingredients you can is important too. Let's face it, a lot of take-away/instant food really isn't all that great, and it's easier to be motivated to cook something if it's going to taste nicer.

I still succumb to instant food, but every now and then I find myself looking quizzically at the end of my fork: "what *is* this I'm eating?" :o

10:14 pm on June 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Marinate skinless, boneless chicken breasts in balsamic vinagrette for hours if you have the time, 5 minutes if you don't. Place on broiler pan, sprinkle with basil and black pepper. Broil for 10 minutes, turn over, sprinkle again and broil for anther 10.
11:26 pm on June 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Quick Jerk Chicken with Rice & Peas

Use 1 boneless chicken breast per person.

Wash the chicken breasts and with a sharp knife trim off any bits of white fat and discard. Use paper towels to pat the breasts dry, smear the breasts with olive oil and coat generously with jerk seasoning.

Dry fry the breasts in a fry pan without using any fat or oil for about 6 minutes on each side. The Jerk seasoning will go black.

To prepare the rice and peas peel and chop 1 small onion and fry in the saucepan that you will later cook the rice in until golden then remove from heat and scoop the onions into a bowl.

Boil the water in the saucepan and then add the long grain rice, cover and simmer for about 8 minutes. Add a good handful of frozen peas (petit pois are much nicer than the big ones) bring back to the boil and simmer for another three or four minutes or until the rice is cooked.

Strain the rice and peas and leave to drain in the colander for about 30 seconds, while this is draining add the onions back into the fry pan and stir fry until warmed through. Add the rice and peas mixture back into the pan and stir the onion into the mixture.

Place the chicken breast on the plate with a couple of spoonfuls of rice and peas.

This is best served with beer rather than wine. Wadworths 6X is my own preference.

If you like garlic then try a couple of chopped cloves added to the onion.

[edited by: Old_Honky at 11:28 pm (utc) on June 21, 2008]

1:51 am on June 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Bachelor Quesadillas are good, quick, and variable. Start with your choice of tortillas and grated cheese bought in bulk. Warm the tortillas a little if they tend to break when folding. You can warm them in a pan or the microwave. In the micro, you can nest several at a time on a plate.

Start by folding tortillas on plate with an even layer of cheese. To taste, add chopped green onions, tomato, mushrooms, beans, precooked chicken or beef. Warm till all cheese is melted. After cooking open to add lettuce, jalapenos, cilantro, salsa, sour cream to taste.

Another goodie: Melted Cheese Tomato Things
Slice french bread thickly. Spread pesto sauce or dijon mustard to taste. Top with tomato slice and thick slice of mozzarella cheese. Heat in 400F oven till well melted.

Bon Appetit

Automan

3:29 am on June 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Here's a quick tasty fish recipe.

Mix olive oil, itailian style bread crumbs and prepared horseradish, fresh ground not creamy, into a paste. Then spread it over a cod filet and broil until the fish is flaky, @ 10 minutes.