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Friday, March 9,2018

Quick & Easy Plant-Based Food Prep

By Karen Ellis-Ritter  

 

One of the common complaints I hear from people is that there isn’t enough time to prepare home cooked meals. One of the best ways to save time is using a food processor or chopper. In addition, here are some strategies to keep within your busy time constraints - and what you do to keep your produce fresh in the process!

1. Bulk prep your grains  like rice, oats, quinoa, farrow, bulgur, barley, millet, amaranth, and farrow. If you prepare a large portion, it will keep (refrigerated) in an air-tight container for 4-5 days. Ex: 2 cups of dry rice to 3 cups water makes enough grain for about 8 servings. Reheat by putting a little oil or veggie broth on a pan and sauté.

2. Pre-soaking. You can soak quinoa for 8-12 hours and it will actually sprout (which enhances the nutritional value)! Soaked quinoa only needs to be cooked for 5 minutes.

Drain out the soaking water and add a little filtered water back in to boil. You can also soak steel-cut oats overnight for a quick cook at breakfast. Dried beans like chick peas and kidney beans need at least an over-night soak prior to cooking.

3. Pre-dicing/chopping/slicing. You can dice or process onions, scallions, garlic, bell peppers and herbs in bulk and keep a mixture in an air-tight container for 2-3 days to use with each meal. You can also get pre-chopped garlic. Add a sheet of paper towel in the container to absorb excess moisture.

4. Snack on Crudités. Wash, clean and precut carrots, celery and peppers and store in an air-tight container with a sheet of paper towel. The carrots and celery will stay fresh for at least week, peppers for 2-3 days. An alternative option is to immerse carrots and celery in a jar of water in the fridge to crisp.

5. Cut fruit into large wedges. Pre-cut melons, pineapple, and other seasonal fruits in large wedges (to cut down to smaller pieces later) in an air-tight container to access over 3-4 days.

6. Prepare large, multi-portion dishes that can be reheated later.Lasagne, homemade pizza, casseroles, baked squashes, and roasted potatoes are examples of dishes that last for 3-5 days and can easily be reheated. You can even make more and freeze it.

7. Prepare large soups with beans and veggies. This is also a great way to use up veggies before they go bad. If you have a decent blender, you can make a puree for the base. Make sure to save your air-lock mason jars (from pasta sauce, salsa, etc)! They really come in handy when you are storing soups - and can prolong their expiration by about a week in the refrigerator.

8. Bulk-prep baked goods. There are lots of great recipes online to make energy bars, banana bread, muffins and other items that can be made accessed as a quick snack or meal replacement. To extend their freshness, either refrigerate or freeze.

Bon Appétit!

 

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