(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Meal prep services that send you a box of ingredients and cooking instructions of course can improve your skills and expand your recipe repertoire. However, I was surprised recently to note just how much a less time-consuming option did the same.
Full-fledged finished meal delivery is the easy way out. Often bought by the week as part of a weight loss plan or eating style, like veganism, the chef-created dishes require you to do no more than heat and eat (or freeze and later eat if you want them to last for more than a few days).
However, if the ingredients are on the packages, arrive in a list with the meals (as ours did) or you print it off the internet, while you're happily feasting, you may be effortlessly expanding your culinary horizons as well. If you compare and bargain hunt, because of recent growth and competition, this may all come for less of a price (and certainly a time savings) than had you done it all yourself through your local supermarket.
I didn't expect to learn anything. However, as I ate and determined which dishes I preferred (having picked a menu to begin with that was stacked with choices that appealed to me), I kept referring back to the ingredient list.
The kale salad I liked not only included pecans, dried cranberries, and cabbage, but slivers of fennel and cooked wheat berries. Split-second lesson 1: I would definitely include mild, slightly sweet fennel in dishes, which was a great sponge for the maple vinaigrette. This, too, was an ingredient combination I would quickly emulate for my own homemade meals, perhaps simply by stirring some pure maple syrup into a light store-bought vinaigrette.
I liked the nutty flavor of soft cooked wheat berries and immediately clicked some search engines to research it. This is whole grains at its best: a whole wheat kernel, still including the bran, germ and endosperm, that is easy to cook on the stovetop. I was thrilled to learn that a 1 cup serving of cooked wheat berries has about 200 calories and, impressively, 7 grams of protein and 9 grams of dietary fiber.
Following are some of my ideas that were springboards from my sabbatical. All ingredients are to taste.
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!
Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since these are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations. They can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
- WHEAT BERRY WHOLE FOODS SOUP
Prepare a vegetable broth soup with added chunks of carrots, celery, yams, zucchini and spinach and freshly ground black pepper. Add cooked wheat berries just before serving.
- FUN WITH FENNEL
Wash fennel bulb, cut off tops and discard or save for another use. Shave fennel bulb extremely thin and marinate in a mixture of very small amounts of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and curry powder. Use as a topping on a salad of arugula, cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions.
- PARSNIP MASQUERADING AS FRENCH FRY
Cut parsnips into french fry shapes. Gently mix with small amounts of olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder and chopped rosemary. Roast in a 450 F preheated oven for 10 minutes, carefully turning over with a spatula and roasting for about 10 minutes longer, until tender and slightly browned, being careful not to overcook.
- PRESENTING PISTACHIO PASTA
Gently mix cooked hot linguine with finely chopped shelled pistachios, pesto, cooked shredded spinach, chives, crushed garlic, olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.
- MAPLE VINAIGRETTE WITH MASS APPEAL
To homemade or store-bought vinaigrette, stir in a small amount of pure maple syrup, mix with canned albacore tuna, minced black olives, and minced carrots. Serve as a sandwich filling on rosemary-olive sourdough bread or plain sourdough bread that's been lined with fresh spinach.
Did you picture praised moderator Chris Wallace
sipping soup during the third and final presidential debate or asking the sparring candidates what their favorite soup is? His wife, Lorraine Wallace, might have gotten a chuckle from pondering that topic. Because Chris loved her hearty soups so much, Lorraine wrote "Mr. Sunday's Soups
", which became a bestselling cookbook in 2010, for which "Fox News Sunday
" host Chris wrote the foreword and appears on the cover with Lorraine. The distinctive collection also spawned 2012's 'Mr. Sunday's Saturday Night Chicken
' and 2015's 'Mr. and Mrs. Sunday's Suppers
'. The couple has been married since 1997, each family member had a favorite soup, including her late father-in-law, "60 Minutes
" star Mike Wallace
, and Chris featured Lorraine on his Sunday show cooking soup as a "Power Player of the Week
." Lisa Messinger
at Creators Syndicate is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes
(Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet
(Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.