One of the questions that almost all my health coaching clients ask me about is how to satisfy everyone’s likes/dislikes when cooking a meal. If you’re cooking for a family, it’s difficult to start eating healthy when your family is used to eating a certain way. When you add a healthy fat, like olive oil, or a healthy spice, like turmeric, your kids might scrunch their faces. What do you do?
What I often tell my clients is to create a condiment tray. Fill it with all the condiments you can think of.
It can include the usual choices, like ketchup, mustard, butter, sea salt and pepper.
Then add a whole bunch of spices, from sweet cinnamon and ginger, to spicy cayenne pepper, to bitter turmeric, to basil and oregano, to ground seaweed.
Then add healthy fats, like olive oil, coconut oil, unsweetened coconut flakes, sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts, sesame oil or sesame seeds.
Then add vinegars, like apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, or a favorite of mine, ume boshi vinegar.
When you do this, it allows you to cook a very simple meal of protein and vegetables, which saves you time, money and stress. Then, you place the meal on the table with condiments and allow each person in the family to personalize their plate or bowl.
When people ask me what I make for dinner, it’s often the same thing, with different condiments. Whether it’s a salad or cooked vegetables, it almost always includes lots of veggies, a healthy protein and healthy fat. But I’m constantly switching up what I use, and I’m always using different condiments.
To give you an example, the other day I steamed a variety of vegetables (that I bought from my local farmers market, of course). Then I heated up some cooked black beans and mixed those in. Then I drizzled half a tablespoon of extra-virgin sesame oil on top, then sprinkled it with my salty ume boshi vinegar, then added pinches of black pepper and turmeric. I finished up by sprinkling a handful of sunflower seeds on top. This was my lunch.
(If you’re interested in naturally fermented ume boshi vinegar, which contains tons of minerals that we are often lacking in our diet, you can find it in the international aisle at Whole Foods!)
A couple days later, I made a veggie bowl for breakfast. This time, I sautéed a variety of fresh veggies in extra-virgin coconut oil. Then I sprinkled unsweetened coconut flakes on top and slightly drizzled it with balsamic vinegar. This bowl was much sweeter than the first, which satisfied my desire for sweet flavors at breakfast time. (So yes, you can eat vegetables for breakfast.)
Both bowls included vegetables, protein and healthy fats, but they tasted entirely different. Both bowls took no more than 10 minutes to put together. Try it. You don’t have to use extravagant recipes when cooking. And you don’t have to use what I used in these recipes. Use what you have. Keep it simple!
BONUS: If you love coconut, you won’t want to miss next week’s blog post!
Lunchtime Veggie Bowl
2 cups veggies (I used kale, carrots, garlic, heirloom tomatoes and sweet banana peppers)
1/4 cup cooked black beans
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin sesame oil
1 Tablespoon ume boshi vinegar
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Steam veggies until cooked, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add cooked black beans to the pot and cover for 1 minute.
Scoop veggies and beans into a bowl and sprinkle sunflower seeds on top.
Add oil, vinegar and spices to the top and mix together.
Breakfast Veggie Bowl
2 cups veggies (I used kale, eggplant, red onion, sweet banana peppers, heirloom tomatoes and plantain)
1-2 Tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil
1/2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
2 Tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
Over medium heat, sauté veggies in 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil. Move veggies around every so often until cooked.
Pour veggies into bowl and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Mix in with veggies.
Sprinkle veggies with shredded coconut.