4 Items to Always Have in the Kitchen

Putting together a meal can be a struggle when you’re caught in the fast pace of our busy lives. To be sure I’m never without the the basics for a healthy meal no matter the time of day, here are four essentials I always have on hand:

oatmeal to the rescue

oatmeal to the rescue

1. Oatmeal: Instant or old-fashioned oats are perfect for breakfast, or even lunch and dinner when you’re really in a pinch. Oats are ideal for busy mornings because all you need to cook them in is water. You can dress up your oatmeal with whatever you have on hand; berries, dried fruits, nuts, or seeds. Full of protein and fiber, oatmeal is your best bet when you’ve got just a minute to get out the door.
2. Frozen vegetables: Some days you come home and all you see in your vegetable compartment is a wilting bunch of green onions. Keep a bag of frozen spinach, broccoli or mixed vegetables in your freezer so that you always have a vegetable on hand.
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3. Beans: Beans combined with a frozen vegetable from above come together to create a healthy, filling meal when dinner is the last thing on your mind. I like to have both canned and dry on hand, but canned beans are especially nice to have when all you can think about is satisfying your growling tummy after 10 hours in the office.
4. Grains: My favorite grain is quinoa because it’s filling and tastes yummy all on its own. White or brown rice is an excellent substitute if you prefer. Grains are a blank slate to serve up with some spices, a can of soup, or a side of sweet potatoes.
A final bonus is that you can stock up on each of these items when they’re on sale.
There you have my four essentials for plant-based living. Which items are you sure to have in your kitchen each day?

Tuesday 2Go: Product Review

Desperate for a quick on-the-go dinner, I ran to Safeway with hopes they had something healthy and cheap that would hold me over for my evening class. I first spotted the cooler by the prepared foods but had no luck there. Every single prepared salad bowl was made with either chicken, turkey, or fish. Disappointed but not yet defeated, I scurried over to the produce section thinking I could grab a few veggies and make my own salad when something caught my eye.

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Earthbound Farm Organics Powermeals! I noticed three different varieties—and each was suitable for veg*ns. I had heard about these but never found one in store until my run to Safeway. It was as if Earthbound had heard my pleas for help.

The three available options were: Asian Noodle, Southwest, and Spinach Quinoa. They each came with a $0.55 off coupon. As veg*ns we are hardly privy to choices and it took me a while to decide which one to try first. I ended up getting the Spinach Quinoa bowl to satisfy a spinach craving I had earlier.

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My immediate concern with these bowls was that each only contains around 200 calories. While perfect for a quick in-between meal or snack, I knew that I needed a few more calories to keep me going and so I grabbed a can of garbanzo beans to toss in with the bowl.

The contents of the salad were packaged well—each item was individually wrapped to presumably allow us to mix in toppings to our liking. I also read on the package that the dressing contained cheese and was high in sodium, so I decided to toss it aside. If you don’t eat dairy and are watching sodium, you probably know to read labels, but just wanted to make it a point.

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The quinoa was stuck together in clumps when it came out of the package, but after tossing it around with the spinach and the other toppings of sunflower seeds and dried blueberries, it broke up a little more. I mixed in a serving of garbanzo beans at the end for some extra protein (not pictured).

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I really enjoyed the flavors of this salad and am grateful Earthbound had the idea to create these bowls. They are perfect for on-the-go eating and you can’t beat the price for an organic, ready to eat salad. My only suggestion is that perhaps Earthbound could include a larger serving of protein for those of us who intend to eat these salads as a main meal. It’s easy to supplement though, with a can of your favorite beans. I’m looking forward to trying the other two bowls and sharing my thoughts with you.

I purchased this product on my own and did not receive any compensation from Earthbound for this review. All opinions are always my own.

Lazy Weekend Quinoa

Some weekends you just need to laze around. Perhaps catch up on your Netflix queue or spend a rainy Saturday re-reading your favorite Harry Potter book. On those days, the last thing you want to do is think about what to eat and then spend time cooking and cleaning.

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My favorite quinoa combo with a quick side salad

For that kind of weekend, I love having a batch of quinoa ready to customize with whatever suits my fancy at the moment. Quinoa is one of my favorite grains because it’s high in protein, filling and comes in different varieties—including red and rainbow.

All you need to do is cook your quinoa of preference according to the directions on the package. A quarter cup dry is usually one serving. To cook, add two parts water for every one part quinoa (i.e. a half cup of water for a quarter cup dry quinoa). Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Let cook until water is absorbed, or about 15-20 minutes.

Now comes the fun part. Stir in your favorite veggies, beans, nuts and/or spices. After you’ve cooked your quinoa, what you mix into it is all up to you! My favorite combination includes chopped green onions, green peas, corn, chickpeas, salt and pepper.

I like to keep at least a cup of plain, cooked quinoa in the fridge at all times. It lasts for a week and is perfect for those moments when you’re starving but don’t have the brainpower to think of what to make. Quinoa goes very well with that bag of frozen broccoli you don’t know what to do with, or that can of red beans chillin’ in your pantry. The possibilities are truly endless!

How do you like to eat your quinoa?