There have been no shortage of highlights since starting Cook Smarts at the beginning of this year. If I had to pick just one though, it’d have to be getting to meet so many wonderful moms and getting a real sneak peek into their lives in the kitchen. While everyone is at their own individual cooking level, they are united by one common theme – every single one is trying the best they can in the kitchen. Every mom wants what’s best for their kids, and this becomes so incredibly clear to me when I work with my clients.
Last week I got a chance to sit down with Heather one of my mom clients during her kids’ nap time to chat more about her kitchen needs. She told me pre-kids, she and her husband would have been more than happy to just eat cereal for dinner, but that bar has definitely changed post-kids. Like all of my clients, she’s looking for meals that check her health requirements and that don’t take all day so she can maximize time with her kids and get to all the other domestic demands that pile up. She’s done the recipe search and bookmark routine via websites, magazines, and books, but found that a lot of recipes still didn’t work for her. She wanted less dairy, mostly vegetarian (lots of green and orange vegetables with fish or chicken being OK once to twice a week), and predominantly gluten-free meals that would take less than 30 minutes to make. She found that recipes that said they would only take 30 minutes would often take a lot longer. I hear that complaint from a lot of my clients. After all recipes are written by professionals and most home cooks have not “professionalized” their kitchen time.
So that’s where Cook Smarts came in – we gave Heather a lesson back in May and then customized three weeks worth of meal plans for her family based on her dietary requirements, cooking goals, and family size. When we met up last week, she was giving me some great feedback on our meal plan recipes. She was excited about how doable all of them were, and how they were really tailored for a mom’s lifestyle and needs. But then she requested something that we had not thought about – shortcut meals. She explained that usually at some point during the week, she needed a meal that would take <15 minutes to prepare. Maybe she’d just be tired of cooking or there would be nights where they’d get home at 5:45 from swim practice and still wanted dinner at their regular time of 6. Those nights required those cheat meals. Luckily these days, there are so many great pre-prepped / cooked ingredients (e.g., pre-diced onions, frozen brown rice, vacuum-packed lentils) that there are plenty of shortcuts at your disposal. And if these shortcuts are the difference between cooking at home vs. opting for take-out / eating out / completely frozen meal, take the shortcut.
As a result, I’ve put together a whole week’s worth of potential shortcut / cheat meals that are mostly vegetarian, low-carb, low in dairy, and take <15 minutes. The menu is below, and you can download the entire meal plan in Excel format here. Pick just one or two a week or try them all in one week. We’d be curious to hear what your favorite shortcut meal is whether it’s one of ours or not, so please do share. Thanks Heather for the inspiration!
A Week of Shortcut Cheat Meals – June 25th, 2012
BBQ Baked Salmon with Almond Green Beans
Rotisserie Chicken Tacos with Cabbage
Vegan Sausage and Kale “Chili”
Carrot Couscous Bowl
Egg Fried Rice
See how simple it is with our “BBQ Baked Salmon and Almond Green Beans” recipe below
BBQ Baked Salmon and Almond Green Beans
- Salmon – 1.5 lbs.
- BBQ Sauce – 2 tbs.
- Green beans, pre-trimmed – 1 lb.
- Butter – 1/2 tbs.
- Slivered almonds – 1/4 cup
- Kosher salt
- Preheat oven (toasted oven if you have one – it’ll be faster) to 400 degrees
- Place salmon on foil / parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush salmon with your favorite BBQ sauce
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. While salmon is baking, continue to next steps
- Place green beans in a microwave safe container with 2 tbs. of water. Cover but leave a small vent. Microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes
- When green beans are done microwaving, add butter, almonds, and kosher salt to container. Re-cover and shake to melt butter and season
Serve / Substitute / Supplements
- Don’t care for BBQ sauce? Make a simple vinaigrette. One of our favorite combos on salmon is dijon mustard + maple syrup + balsamic vinegar + olive oil
- Not satisfied unless there’s a grain with your meal? While the salmon is cooking and green beans are microwaving, feel free to whip up a couscous, the quickest carb there is!