Sunday, August 7, 2011

Handy Dandy Kitchen Tips

Here are some tips I’ve found handy lately. Being veg takes some mindfulness but it doesn’t have to be a time-consuming hassle. Each one of these tips takes a couple of minutes or less. Far less time than it takes to disinfect your hands, counter surfaces and utensils after handling meat :) Run through the list on a Sunday night and your week is set for success!

Let a package (or two) of frozen spinach defrost in your fridge. I can’t stand to use the microwave unless absolutely necessary so letting the block defrost is a good maneuver. Just wring out a handful and toss it into (almost) anything you’re cooking. Spinach is made of 45% protein and packs a decent hit of calcium. Time spent – less than 30 seconds.

Drain, rinse and press a block (or two) of tofu next time you toss in a load of laundry. When the washer is done, so is the tofu. Lately I’ve been slicing the block into thirds before I wrap it in a dishtowel and slap a book on it. Creating the extra surface space of three pieces pulls the water out faster. Wrap it up in a paper towel and pop it in a Ziploc for the fridge. Tofu is ready for your frying pan all week long… Time spent – 2 minutes total.

Drain and rinse a large can of chickpeas and two cans of black beans. After a good rinse, store them in separate containers in the fridge. You can toss a handful into just about anything (see spinach above!) and it couldn’t be handier. You need the protein of the beans so having them prepped and in your face is a good thing. Time spent – 3 minutes – maybe less.

*Note: I’m becoming a dried bean junkie. Something is soaking in my fridge at all times and my slow cooker has been on continuously for months. Canned beans, if rinsed very well, are an OK choice but if you can take the time to soak dried beans over night, (which consists of a whole 30 seconds to toss a bag of dried beans into a container of water and place in your fridge) and then dump them in the slow cooker before you leave for work the next morning (2 minutes) I bet you’ll love them! Tastes great, no can to recycle and easier on the wallet. Win.Win.Win.

Clean and slice every conceivable piece of fruit in your fridge – even apples. Get honest. How much fruit do you throw away each week? In Barbados, much of our fruit starts with the disadvantage of traveling thousands of miles to get to the market. We need to eat fruit quickly or it’s suddenly sporting a grey mohair sweater. This tip is now non-negotiable in my house. I clean/slice everything when I get home from the store and then store in Ziploc bags with the air pressed out. I use fresh lemon juice on my apple slices to keep them from browning but better yet… I EAT the apple slices in a timely manner instead of letting them rot in the crisper. Maybe 5-10 minutes depending on quantity.

A note about vegetables – I rinse/chop/Ziploc all of the lettuce and other veggies that don’t have a protective coating like broccoli, cauliflower. I leave veggies with a protective coating alone like cucumber, squash, zucchini, breadfruit. Peppers tend to dry out so those bend the rule.

Slam a Post-It on your Almond/Soy/Rice milk that notes the day you opened it. I had two open Almond Milk containers in my fridge BOTH with an expiration date in the next millennium. All well and good but once they’re opened, they must be treated like milk. I had no idea which one was fresher and couldn’t decide if either one was good. Both got tossed at $4/box. Time I could've spent to save the Almond Milk via Post-It- Approximately 15 seconds.

Finally, make an entire package of Quinoa at one time. No other pseudo grain rocks straight out of the fridge like Quinoa. Yes, it’s the Sun-Dried Tomato of the moment but that doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious! If you prep the other ingredients above, you’ve got a killer Quinoa salad full of protein at your fingertips 24/7. Wave bye-bye to crappy food decisions!

This is a two-way street friends... If you have helpful tips to make this beautiful life easier, please send them along. I need them!

And no… I am NOT a paid Ziploc representative.

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