I was so fortunate to have been able to hear Rip Esselstyn speak very early into my plant-based eating journey. If you ever get a chance to go hear him, please do yourself a favor and attend. He is inspirational, funny, (easy on the eyes....ok, I'm only human), and just a neat guy.
One of the keys to success that he put out there for us, was to have several 'go-to' meals. These are your tried-and-true recipes and ones that you can count on to be there for you like an old food friend. You know, the days when you just don't even have time to think about what to eat and find yourself circling in the kitchen like a tired dog looking for a comfy place to nap??? Yep, those days, it is imperative to have your 'go-to' meals already in place....no thinking required.
I thought I would keep a list of mine here, (mostly to keep track of), and in case you could use a little go-to list.
- Stir fry. Easy, quick, painless.
I pick a grain, usually brown rice, but sometimes quinoa. Get that cooking on the stove. I do about 1 to 3 parts water to grain, bring to a boil, cover and either let sit on the heat that I have now turned off, or in the case of wild rice that requires a bit more cooking time, let simmer a bit before turning off burner.
- While grain finishes cooking, put a big frying pan on low-medium heat and add a bit of water. Start chopping whatever veggies you want. I usually put onion/garlic in first and let that cook while I am chopping whatever else I want to add. My favorites are broccoli, cauliflower, edamame (I just toss in from the freezer), corn, peas, etc.
- Serve veggies over rice and add a splash of tamari. You are done.
-Salad. As in gynormous.
Start with a leafy green, spinach makes a nice change from romaine or other lettuces, and just go to town. Chopping, shredding whatever is in the veggie crisper drawer. My favorites are cucumbers, peppers, cauliflower, carrots. I like to sprinkle on raw sunflower seeds and raisins for some crunch and sweetness. Dried cranberries and pecans are also nice for a twist.
-Mac 'not Cheese (ala Rip Esselstyn) or Mac 'n Cheeze (ala Christy Morgan)
This recipe goes together really quickly and while it is baking (only about 20 mins), it is easy to throw another side dish together. I like to toss together frozen corn (Trader Joe's roasted corn is yummilicious) with some peas and add black beans. I will top with a sprinkle of Nutritional Yeast.
-Soup. While this isn't something I can whip up in a big hurry, with a little forethought, it isn't too bad to throw together. I'm trying to stock up on my two favorites (Very-Veggie and Corn Bisque) and have some frozen on hand for the frigid winter days and in the (rare these days) case of illness.
Soup makes a great meal all on its own, but I can whip up Lindsay Nixon's whole wheat drop biscuits quickly to go with, or just have a dish of fruit for dessert.
-Lentil Loaf and Smashed Potatoes with Mushroom Gravy- My husband and I both really love these dishes. There is time involved in preparing them, but I then have meals for the next two days without cooking, so, it is still time efficient.
-"Everything" Casserole A free for all. I put a pasta or a grain in the bottom of a casserole dish (I cook first), then load it up with a layer of beans and top with chopped veggies. I will sometimes make a 'cream of whatever' sauce to go on top (veggie stock with thickener---either cornstarch or whole wheat flour whisked into the stock---add a bit of Bragg's aminos and seasoning---for extra creaminess can add coconut milk but I try to do that only occasionally). Heat in oven and serve with small salad or biscuits.
-Pasta A quick meal can be made out of some cooked pasta, and then top with a few veggies, sliced mushrooms for my husband, sliced peppers for me and onions on both. I like to keep tomato sauce in the freezer...defrost and heat up with some seasonings. Serve over pasta and top with cashews ground in a coffee grinder that I use solely for seeds and nuts. Can serve with small salad or sometimes I will just slice up some avocado and olives for my husband and for me, some cucumber slices.
-Sweet Potato This is a bit of a desperation meal but has served me well on countless occasions. I just nuke a sweet potato (or bake ahead in the oven if time permits), and top with black beans, a dollop of salsa and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast. This also packs well and you can throw this together in a hotel microwave. Filling and nutritionally good. You can also top with some corn, peas, etc.