Perhaps the thing I learned most about my new diet, is that I had to find what works for me and be willing to adapt. Plus, there is no substituting for the “easy factor.” The drive-thru at the fast food restaurant was a temptation because it was “easy.” So, taking a tip from Chef AJ and others, I am learning how to stock my pantry with things that make my diet a bit more convenient.
For example, let’s start with some of the basics. First of all, a good green salad is good for me. But having to get the lettuce, carrots, peppers, spinach, kale, and other salad goodies out, then wash them, chop them, and assemble them into a salad takes time. Time I think that I don’t have. So Barbara and I actually will prepare a bunch of salad at a time and store it in the refrigerator. This allows us to put the base of the salad on plate, toss on some raisins, pumpkin seeds, and maybe a few tomatoes, avocado and fresh sweet basil.
You have a salad now. How do you dress it? Most of the dressings you buy in the store contain oil. I like my vinaigrettes, and Rouxbe Cooking School gave me a quick and tasty alternative. First, take some time to make up a batch of date paste – mainly a mixture of pitted dates with water mixed into a blender until if forms a paste. You can store this past in the freezer (it doesn’t become solid). Just scoop out what you need as you need it. So you take a bit of the paste, put it in a jar with some balsamic vinegar, add a few herbs ands spices (I like garlic, some fennel, maybe a bit of diced chives). Put the lid on the jar, and shake. Viola! A vinaigrette.
Need a snack to keep you going during the day? Few things are more satisfying to me than peanut butter. So I toast a slice of sprouted bread, smear on a bit of natural peanut butter (look for the ones with only “peanuts” as the ingredient). If I want a bit of sweetness on it, I skip the jelly and sprinkle on a few raisins. Or Barbara loves avocados, so she will often spread some ripe avocado on her toast, slice on a few cherry tomatoes, maybe some onion and fresh basil.
Lately, when I need something a bit more substantial, I have started turning to a good tofu scramble. Surprisingly easy to make, there are several recipes online to show you how. I can easily vary the ingredients based what’s in the pantry and what I am in the mood for. But the basic ingredients are a block of firm tofu, a bit of turmeric for color, some liquid aminos, and some nutritional yeast. Then toss in some of your favorite scrambled egg ingredients like spinach, onion, mushroom, or tomatoes. All depending on your mood and what’s in your refrigerator. Maybe top it with some salsa and vegan cheese.
For variety, we will frequently sauté up a few chopped mushrooms, with some plant protein crumbles, onions, peppers and other vegetables. Maybe toss a few black beans into the mix. This is something that you can keep in the refrigerator and add to a many recipes. Or shove the mixture into a tortilla with some hot sauce for instant street tacos.
These are some of the recipes I use frequently, so I try to make sure that I have the ingredients on hand. Of course, it doesn’t mean that it’s all I eat, but if I ever feel rushed for time and need something quick, it keeps me from hitting the local drive-thru.