Food of the Week: Fast Food (From Your Own Kitchen)

Next week is finals week for me, so not only have I had very limited time to test new recipes lately, but I also need quick and easy meals for myself. At such times it’s tempting to survive on frozen pizza or food court items, and there’s nothing wrong with occasionally eating these things. The key word is “occasionally,” though. There are plenty of meals you can make almost as easily as you can buy convenience items, and I’ve put many of these in my past columns. So forgive me for repeating recipes some of you have seen before, but just think of this as the best of my fast food offerings.

Easy Lunch Bowl

½ –¾ c. canned beans
½ –¾ c. cottage cheese
¼–1/3 c. salsa

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and enjoy.

Notes: Most varieties of bean will work. Lately I have been favoring dark red kidney beans. Make sure to rinse and drain the beans in a sieve or colander before using them. Feel free to play with the ratios of the ingredients and try different types of salsa.

Chocolate Oatmeal
¾ c. rolled oats
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 heaping spoonful unsweetened cocoa powder (about ¼ c.)
¾ c. water
Stir the dry ingredients together and then thoroughly mix in the water. Microwave for about a minute, stir, and then microwave until the desired consistency is reached, about one more minute.

Notes: Make sure to use a deep enough bowl so that the oatmeal doesn’t spill over the sides as it is microwaving. Don’t hesitate to play with the ratios. With the protein powder, obviously a scoop is not a precise measurement, so experiment.

Baked Sweet Potato

Wash sweet potato(es) (do not peel) and pierce several times with a fork. Microwave until tender, 4 to 7 minutes, depending on the size and quantity of potatoes. Enjoy plain or with butter, salt, herbs, or spices.

Crock Pot Barley

Nice with raisins and cinnamon.

1 c. hulled barley
4 ½ c. water
Dash salt (opt.)

Cook in a crock pot on low for 8 hours.

Pasta, Chicken and Peas with Peanut Sauce

This could easily be made with other vegetables, such as a stir-fry medley.

1/3 c. peanut butter
3 T. vinegar
3 T. soy sauce
1-2 c. sugar snap peas (fresh or frozen)
Leftover whole grain pasta (2-3 servings)
Leftover cooked chicken (1-2 c.)

Put the peanut butter, vinegar, and soy sauce into a large saute pan. Heat to medium, stirring as the peanut butter melts. Add the sugar snap peas. When they are nearly cooked through, add the pasta and chicken and cook until everything is heated through.

Note: For the vinegar, rice wine is probably best, but red wine, white wine, and plain white distilled all work.

Southwestern Dip

This makes enough dip to last through several chips-and-dip sessions (study, TV, poker, what have you).

2 8-oz. packages cream cheese
¼ c. walnut or vegetable oil
¼ c. lime juice
Cayenne pepper to taste (±T.)
1T. cumin
½ t. salt
1 15-oz. can corn, drained
1 c. chopped walnuts

Use an electric mixer to blend together the cream cheese, oil, lime juice, cayenne pepper, cumin and salt until smooth. Stir in the corn and walnuts.

Notes: Some nice optional add-ins are minced onion and minced roasted red pepper.

Quinoa with Dried
Fruit and Nuts

2 c. broth or water
1 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
Pinch salt
¼ c. each dried cranberries, dried apricots and finely chopped toasted pecans
2 t. dried thyme

In a medium saucepan, bring liquid to a boil. Add quinoa, fruit, pecans and salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 12-15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Stir in thyme and serve hot or cold.

Notes: You can use whatever dried fruit or nuts you like. You may also use 2 T. minced fresh thyme instead of dried.

Mediterranean Egg Salad

4 hardboiled eggs
¼ c. sundried tomatoes
Greek yogurt
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Chop eggs and sundried tomatoes. Add yogurt and mayonnaise in approximately a 2:1 ratio to desired consistency, then add seasonings to taste.

Note: If using dehydrated sundried tomatoes, as opposed to oily ones from a jar, soften them by heating them with a little water in the microwave.

Grilled Almond Butter
and Berry Sandwich

1/3 c. fresh raspberries
1 T. raspberry fruit spread or low-sugar jam
2 slices whole grain bread
2 T. almond butter

In a small bowl, mash fresh raspberries into the fruit spread. Spread almond butter over one slice of the bread, then top with berry mixture and the other slice of bread. Lightly coat outsides of bread with cooking spray, and grill over medium heat in a skillet until brown.

Oven Roasted Cauliflower

Perhaps the simplest and yet one of the best ways to eat cauliflower.

1 head cauliflower
Olive or vegetable oil, or cooking spray

Heat oven to 400° and line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Cut the cauliflower into florets. Place on the pan, and either mist generously with cooking spray or drizzle some oil over the cauliflower and spread it around until every piece is fairly well coated. Sprinkle with salt to taste (popcorn salt works particularly well) and roast until brown, about 25-35 minutes.

Chocolate Mousse

A nice protein-rich dessert to whip up in the morning and enjoy in the evening.

1 ¼ lb. silken tofu
¾ c. chocolate chips, melted

In a blender or food processer, puree tofu until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and blend thoroughly. Pour into individual dessert bowls and chill.