Our next Healthy & Whole series post comes to you from Laura of The First Mess. She is one supremely talented lady, whose Instagram feed features gorgeous piles of delicious-ness we find ourselves salivating over. Her photography is stunning, and her writing just as beautiful. We’re honored to have Laura share with us today how to eat healthy when you’re busy. She prepares grains, vegetables, and sauces early in the week, and then works the components into meals from there – a healthy “bowl” full of goodness. Many thanks to Laura — make sure to check out her blog if you don’t know it already.
Like most people my age (and most people in general), I have some pretty far out and big dreams. Ones that will see me on a beach in Rio next winter, moving into a heritage home with my love, starting a cooking studio/education centre project, writing a book, climbing all the mountains, learning how to ride a motorcycle, training for a marathon, having a bunch of littles running around a huge garden (that one’s far off)… you get the idea. Big, beautiful, sun-in-your-eyes coloured aspirations shifting and moving through my mind constantly.
There are everyday kind of goals that fill up my life moments as well. Like trying to catch up with email replies, or remembering to rehydrate with a giant glass of water in the morning, making it to work on time, sorting some recycling, maybe thinking about finally getting my hair cut, fully parsing out some directions on Google Maps… Things you cross off the list of day-to-day stuff, everything that makes our existence full and varied.
All of these everyday bits and huge dreams, they require our full attention, some thought process, an able body and the buzz of energy to make the forces rush forward into fruition.
There is so much to do. But first, we must eat.
I am a busy lady, and I know that a lot of people who check in with my site are at it with the greatness of life too because I get plenty of warm and lovely emails asking me if I have any advice on healthy and easy eats throughout the week. This is a subject I could go on about for a while, but today I will offer one, perhaps too simple, method that we are all capable of adopting: make a bunch of tasty components for the week, put them in a bowl and eat.
This kind of bowl-eating is taken right out of my real deal, everyday living. An ideal fridge situation at the beginning of the week for me would include some or all of the following: cooked beans (chickpeas are my fave) or marinated tofu/tempeh, one or two batches of cooked whole grains, washed and chopped greens (or baby greens/sprouts of some sort), a batch of roasted seasonal vegetables, plenty of raw veg too for munching or grilling if weather permits and some sort of tasty dressing or sauce that I can put on everything. Additionally, I like to have some seeds and nuts and leafy herbs around for garnishing.
I’ve got some basic recipes here to get you on your way to tasty bowls as soon as possible, including my favourite quinoa cooking method (no more overcooked lumpiness-yay!), a dressing that I never ever get tired of, a simple (but possibly life-changing) method for roasting spring veggies and some notes on optimal bean cooking. Let’s get busy.
Don’t forget to visit Laura’s blog, the First Mess, for more beautiful recipes!
- 1 cup of quinoa, rinsed
- 1¾ cups filtered water
- Fat pinch of sea salt
- Little glug of any oil you like (olive, grapeseed, coconut...)
- Combine the rinsed quinoa, water, salt and oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the quinoa to a boil. Cover and simmer until all of the water is absorbed, about 12 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and place a paper towel on top of the pot, ensuring that the edges of the towel cover the entire rim of the pot. Place the lid on top of the paper towel snugly and let it sit for 5 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork and serve.
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup filtered water
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- Salt + pepper
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled + roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce (optional)
- 1 tablespoon raw honey, agave nectar OR maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 cup grapeseed or other neutral-tasting oil
- Combine all of the ingredients in a blender pitcher or food processor and blend/process on high for about 30 seconds or until the garlic is pureed throughout and the dressing appears creamy and emulsified. Check it for seasoning, adjust if necessary and store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Whatever amount of dry beans you want, soaked overnight
- Water to cover by 1 inch
- A good amount of sea salt (the water shouldn't be pasta water-salty, but almost there)
- Optional: thyme sprigs, a bay leaf, a celery stalk, rough cut carrots + onions, peeled garlic cloves or any other aromatics you like
- Drain the soaked beans and rinse them. Place the beans in a large soup pot and cover them with water to about an inch above their level. Add the salt.
- Bring the pot to a boil and then lower the heat so that the beans are lightly simmering. The beans should just be flitting about right under the surface of the water very lazily, almost as if they were bathing.
- Skim any foam off the top of the water as the beans cook.
- I find most beans take about 1½ hours to get to the point where I like them. Tamar Adler has a fantastic tip to gauge the done-ness of them: after you've taste tested 5 perfectly tender beans, the pot is done. Drain the beans, reserving the stock if you like. At this point you can pack the beans in containers, fill them with water (or cooled bean stock) and keep them in the fridge or freezer.
- 1 bunch of kale, stems removed + leaves ripped into 2 inch pieces
- 1 bunch of asparagus, woody stems removed and sliced into 1-2 inch lengths
- 10-12 radishes, cut into quarters
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
- Salt + pepper
- Spices or herbs that you like (I used 1 tbsp za'atar total)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Toss the ripped kale pieces into a large bowl. Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil on top and half of whatever spice/herbs you're using. Season with salt + pepper. massage the oil and seasoning into the kale. When all leaves are coated, place them onto the prepared sheet pan, trying to keep the mound of leaves in a contained oval shape.
- In the same bowl, add the asparagus pieces and radishes. Add the remaining oil, spices, salt + pepper. Toss to coat and arrange on top of the kale, trying to cover most of the kale's surface area.
- Roast the veggies in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until radishes and asparagus have little brown edges and the kale is wilted and starting to crisp up on the very edges. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
- Cooked quinoa
- 1-2 tablespoons of the house dressing
- Cooked beans
- Roasted spring veggies
- Plus (optional):
- Ripe, diced avocado
- Chopped nuts + seeds
- Chopped leafy herbs (cilantro, basil, parsley, chives)
- Diced raw vegetables
- Place some of the quinoa in a bowl that you like and drizzle it with a small bit of the house dressing.