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Paying it forward with your food


Paying it forward with your food

Val MacDonald

Many of my clients struggle with meal preparation.  Often, they think it is too complicated and time consuming.  I want to show you how simple and fast it can be, when you have a few left-overs and made-ahead items in your fridge.

Step 1  Collect left overs.  This is as simple as it sounds.  When you cook, make more food than you need, and put the remaining food in your fridge, in a container of some sort.  I like the glass containers with the tight-fitting lids.  The best thing about left overs is that you don't have to reinvent the wheel, so to speak.  You have already cooked this food the night before. You are simply paying it forward to today's lunch or dinner.

Step 2  Have some basics on hand.  I always have my vinaigrette dressing made ahead of time. I make big batches of it, especially in the summer, when we eat a lot of salads.  I also like to make home made turkey stock or chicken stock, freeze it in ice cube trays, and then place the cubes into ziplock bags.  Then, when I want to add stock to stir fries, or to make a quick bowl of soup, it's there.  I also usually have some beet salad made, which is boiled beets, cooled and covered in my vinaigrette dressing.  Other basics on hand could be sauces such as pesto, or hummus, or it could be cooked rice or quinoa.  I also like to always have goat's feta and miso paste in my fridge, to add taste and texture to my meals.

Step 3 Put the left overs together with the basics.  Look into your fridge.  Find the protein source that you have left over from your dinner, perhaps some chicken, beef, or fish.  Then decide if you want a hot meal or a cold one.  Salads are probably the easiest thing to make, but in winter months it's always preferable to warm up the body with some hot food.  Stir fries are the easiest hot meal to make, but I wanted to introduce you to a way to make a quick bowl of soup.

In my photo, there is a beet salad that I gently warmed up, because it was a cold day when I put this meal together, and I wanted and needed to be warmed up, myself.  Then I added some sliced avocado and goat's feta cheese.  For the soup, I took several cubes of turkey stock that I had frozen with the ice cube tray method, added some chopped leeks, salt and pepper, and some left over chicken, and heated it in a pot on the stove. I then added some miso paste and stirred it all together.  It had great taste, and was super warming.

How this makes sense.  Preparing your own meals saves you money and ensures that the food you eat is wholesome, because you know exactly what's in it.  You can also better digest your meal, because you are making it from foods you know your body loves.  This contributes to your overall health and energy levels, which has a spillover effect on your mood and your overall outlook on life.  Wow, all that from a bowl of soup!

Val’s Vinaigrette

 ½ cup lemon juice

⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp Dijon mustard

3 Tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp dried basil

½ tsp salt, pepper to taste

Place all in a jar and shake thoroughly.  May be used as either a salad dressing or as a marinade for chicken, beef or fish.