Sometimes it’s just easier to order in when time is short and there are mouths to feed. Takeout from a neighborhood Chinese restaurant seems like a safe bet health-wise, especially when ordering off the section of the menu now catering to the calorie-conscious. The fine print indicates that select dishes can be steamed instead of sautéed, with the sauce delivered on the side if you desire. So, what about that secret sauce? Typically loaded with processed oil, refined sugar and added salt, the sauce packs a knockout punch calorically. The cost to your health (not to mention your wallet) is reason to try this one at home – the fakeout take out.
Have a look in your green grocer’s freezer. Pre-cooked multi-grain medleys have arrived to kick-start a snappy stir-fry you can have on your table in minutes. Trader Joe’s Multi-Grain Blend with Vegetables is a savory combination of barley, spelt and whole grain rice paired with peas, corn, carrots and zucchini. And new to Whole Foods Market are the Engine 2 PlantstrongTM Grain Medleys, my favorite of which is the Morning Blend, a chewy mix of wheat berries, farro, black barley and golden raisins which cooks up fast at lunch and dinner too.
These whole grain blends really don’t require a recipe. You can cook them in a wok, sauté or fry pan, according to the instructions, and add your own (cooked and raw) mix-ins or toppings.
Here are some favorites:
- Raw vegetables: cucumber, bell pepper, shredded carrots or sprouts. I like to toss the hot grain dish over raw spinach. It relaxes the greens quickly and the nutrient profile remains intact.
- Sautéed onions, mushrooms and dark leafy greens (swiss chard, bok choy, kale)
- Grilled corn off-the-cob
- Beans: lentils, kidney, black, butter or cannelloni
- Nuts: raw, sprouted or toasted
- Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, chia or hemp
- Fresh herbs
- Flavored balsamic vinegars or a simple Asian-style sauce made with equal parts low sodium tamari, maple syrup and sesame seeds. A little goes a long way.
With a tiny bit of creativity in the kitchen, eating healthy and deliciously in no time can be habit forming.