November 22, 2010

Simple, Quick, Real-Food, Light Meals and Snacks

As I've mentioned before, we make nearly everything from scratch. I'm not going to lie... cooking from scratch takes more time and makes a bigger mess (often) than heating up a frozen dinner or compiling a casserole by emptying a can of condensed soup, some instant rice, and pre-measured spices into a dish.

It seems that time is the number one reason people eat processed foods. Much of the conversation around the lunch table at work was a discussion which frozen dinner or "short cut" packaged foods was the least disgusting. Not which they liked best, but which they hated least. Obviously, the choice of convenience food over slow food and whole food is not made based on taste. (Whether or not people actually "don't have time" to cook good food is a discussion for another time.)

Whether you're someone who feels short on time or someone who takes the long slow route to food, we can all use some simple and fast real food dishes.

For those times when you're too hungry to wait on a slow simmering stew but want something more than a handful of nuts or some crackers here are some suggestions.

The Small Snacks

Apples and Cheese - Enough said.

Granola and Yogurt - I make granola 3 quarts at a time (using whatever combo of nuts, grains, and fruit we have around, but always a good amount of salt and olive oil) so we almost always have some available.

Cheese and Yogurt Dip - One day I came home from work and had a craving for both blue cheese and broccoli. So I mixed plain yogurt with blue cheese, minced garlic, ground pepper, and crushed red pepper.  Holy moley. So good. I scoop this up with raw broccoli or sometimes carrots (especially if they're straight from the garden). It's also good with feta instead of blue.

Feta and Olive Oil with Whole Wheat Toasts - Mix feta and olive oil with minced garlic and cracked pepper. Scoop up with whole wheat toast, whole wheat crackers, or (as I discovered last night) red bell pepper slices. Sometimes a squeeze of lemon is nice. 

Guacamole - Everyone knows how nutritious avocados are. Squish one up with salt, pepper, lime juice, and minced garlic and you've got basic Guac.

Deviled Eggs - Mash the yolks of several boiled eggs with a little mustard, mayo, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Scoop back into the whites and dust with paprika. 

Light Meals, Large Snacks

Potato, Garlic, and Feta -  Put a nice glop of butter and/or olive oil (normally and) in a skillet, add some chopped garlic, and fry till toasty. Layer some thinly sliced potatoes in the oil and garlic. Cover and cook till crispy on the bottom and cooked through. Then top with feta. Sometimes I top with feta and cook it under the broiler. Sometimes I add thinly sliced red peppers from the garden. Use more or less of everything depending on how hungry you are or how many people are snacking.

Silly Rabbit - This is our name for Welsh Rarebit and it's devolved into whole wheat cheese toast. My favorite is cream cheese, shredded cheddar, and chopped jalapenos... reminds me of our family's famous stuffed jalapenos. Sometimes we have Silly Rabbit with tomato paste and onion which is basically a small pizza. Either way, it's super fast.

Salsa -What is good, homemade salsa really but a Tex-Mex gazpacho? There are times when a big bowl of salsa and organic tortillas chips is dinner. It's definitely like eating soup with chips.

Omelet - The omelet is so easy to forget but such a good, quick, nourishing meal. I bet it doesn't take me more than 5 minutes from start to finish to whip one up. I've been eating them recently with feta and fresh greens from the garden.

Beans and Cheese - If you have cooked beans on hand (we always have cooked pintos, black, or some other bean in the freezer) homemade refried beans and cheese with chips or tortillas are divine. There are lots of ways to make refried beans. We put a little lard in the skillet (or bacon grease), briefly saute some minced white onions, add the beans and a little of their associated juice, salt, pepper, and maybe a touch of chili-powder. Fry, squish, and consume. 

Obviously we like dairy. I think full fat, organic, grass fed dairy is good for you. Not just less bad, but in fact supportive of health. We also liberally use pastured butter, olive oil, and pastured lard. All our scratch made bread and crackers are 100% whole grain (normally wheat).

I'm wondering... What do you eat when you need some whole food fast? What is your biggest stumbling block to eating real food all the time?


  1. Hi, I just popped over from a comment you made on Chiot's Run. I look forward to reading your past posts. Sincerely,Emily

  2. Thanks Emily! I'm glad you've enjoyed my posts so far. I'm having fun producing them :-)