Looking back at recent posts, I realized I’ve been featuring a lot of sweets–cookies, ice cream, pie, marshmallow fluff. Even my most recent savory post highlighted a recipe that included butter and was fried. And while they’re all fun foods, it’s worth noting that good-for-you foods are also high on my list. And as primary cook for my family (including two young girls), I try to keep mealtime as healthy as possible. (Though “healthy” is a relative term. Good health also means enjoying what we eat, so desserts will always be served here.) Tonight we talk “good for you” food. How about whole grains and veggies?
With short ribs braising in the oven (ok, short ribs not so healthy), I needed a side and veggie to accompany. A glance in my cupboard had me thinking bulgur, so I toasted a cup of this fiber-rich cracked wheat in a saucepan, then added 2 cups water and a pinch of salt. It quickly came to a boil, after which I covered it and removed it from the heat. Five minutes later, my side dish was complete.
The veggies didn’t take much more effort. One lone zucchini sitting in my produce drawer was quickly sliced into sticks, then spritzed with olive oil and tossed in a mixture of bread crumbs and coarse salt. (The bread crumbs would have been better homemade, but I used packaged to move things along more quickly.) Spread on a baking sheet, the zuke strips roasted at 425°F for about 10 minutes. And that was that.
The entire side dish prep took no more than 15 minutes from concept to reality, which is less time than it would have taken to unwrap and bake a frozen pizza or head out for and order fast food. Granted, without the bulgur in the pantry and zucchini in the fridge, I couldn’t have pulled it together so quickly. Keeping (healthy) foods on hand that you and your family enjoy is key for getting meals on the table with little effort.
One more thought on whole grains: Leftovers are always welcome. Reheated in the a.m., drizzled with maple syrup, and sprinkled with cinnamon, they make a tasty porridge-like breakfast. A handful of chopped toasted nuts and dried fruit and glug or two of milk turn it into a one-bowl meal. This goes for brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, barley, spelt, and millet just as it does for oatmeal, the more traditional breakfast whole grain. Good for you? Yes. Tasty and fun? Your call, but it absolutely has potential.