Today is Day 13 of 31 Days of Surviving Chronic Illness. You can read Day 1 here.
For the last few days we have been talking about nutrition and feeding our bodies healing foods. For some of you this is a welcome challenge or a return to the healthy lifestyle you used to have. The rest of you are having a panic attack. You can't cook, you don't know anything about nutrition, you don't have time.
Don't freak out, you can do this.
I'm not proposing that you immediately clear out your fridge and pantry of all suspicious foods, run out to Whole Foods and restock it all with seaweed chips and mushroom burgers. What you need to do is start small. Just one little lifestyle change at a time. Start reading the labels of the foods already in your pantry; if you come across an ingredient you don't recognize, look it up. Next time you run out of Cool Ranch Doritos, don't replace them. Add a fresh salad to your weekly meals.
Salad are a great way to start adding fresh vitamins and minerals into your diet, no cooking involved. Every grocery store in America now carries pre-chopped and washed lettuces. Pick up an extra veggie for your salad, something colorful like yellow bell peppers. Toss in some cherry tomatoes, add your favorite dressing or just a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice. You, my friend, are now eating your colors.
As for cooking, it can be intimidating but I assure you, there are shortcuts. Once you get a "method" under your belt, it can be the springboard to lots of quick, easy and nutritious meals. I'm going to share with you one of my all time favorite methods for cooking a pile of veggies quickly and most deliciously.
All you need to remember is this: 425 for 25
Here is the general method: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. cut up some veggies (I'll explain that further below) and drizzle them with some olive oil. Sprinkle in salt and pepper then toss it all together with you hands. Spread the veggies in one even layer and roast in the oven for approximately 25 minutes.
Now, let's apply this method to a real recipe, roasted carrots and red potatoes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Take 2 handfuls of baby carrots (the ones in the bag) and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Take about 7 small red potatoes and cut them into quarters, place them with the carrots. Drizzle the veggies with 2 tablespoon of olive oil then sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Using your hands, toss the carrots and potatoes lightly to evenly coat them all with oil then spread out in 1 layer in the pan. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are just lightly browned.
The beauty of this method is that you can use it for so many vegetables: carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, asparagus, squash, onions and more. Just adjust the cooking time as needed, up or down. I like my veggies tinged with crispiness on the edges (blackened, actually) so I usually cook them for 35-45 minutes. But feel free to cook them less if you like them more firm or only lightly toasted. I will roast 1 whole pan of vegetables on Sunday night and end up with about 3 days worth of delicious vegetables for lunch or dinner. All I have to do is warm them back up.
You can experiment with seasonings, too. Along with the salt & pepper you can add Italian seasoning, chile powder, herbs de Provence, lemon pepper, grill seasoning, etc.
Don't let "heath food" scare you, it's not rocket science. Just start exploring the delicious possibilities.