Recipe Rescue: Quick Meal Ideas for Time Poor People

Recipe Rescue: What’s for dinner?

Time for some recipe redemption.  You get home from work feeling tired and hungry.  You open your refrigerator to find a few wilted vegetables, stale bread, and random condiments.  You haven’t had time to do a proper grocery shop so you’re stuck trying to pull a rabbit out of the hat and do the impossible: create a meal from limited ingredients.  You feel like one of the lost boys from Peter Pan—using your imagination to eat food that doesn’t exist!

You predicted this would happen, so on the way home, you’ve stopped at a fast food joint to pick up something quick and convenient.  Junk food preys on the time poor, so it’s likely not the healthiest option for you.  If you have a family, the task of cooking seems even more daunting with multiple mouths to feed and no energy and resources to do so.

Does this sound like you?

If this sounds like the ‘story of your life’, and you’re looking to break free from this habitual routine, then you’re in luck.  The only investment I will ask you to make, besides brushing up on your time management skills, is investing in a slow cooker.  If you’re already got one, dust it off (or take it out of the box!) and get ready to prepare some quick, easy, and delicious meals.

These recipes feed 6 people, so perfect for families, but also great for the single souls living in the bustling big city—you’ll have leftovers you can freeze for up to a week.  It can’t get any quicker than that!  Even better, take the leftovers in for lunch.

Prep and time management is key!

All it takes is 15-20 minutes of prep in the morning.  You can chop and prepare the night before, and simply toss it in the slow cooker come morning (if mornings are hectic).  In the long run, your health will greatly benefit from these nutritiously dense meals, and you will be saving a few extra dollars, sparing your wallet from dishing out on over-priced, pre-made food options.

In this article, I have included one meat based dish, as well as one vegetarian/vegan dish to meet diverse dietary needs of individuals.  Keep a look out next week for two tasty, convenient and deliciously nutritious breakfast recipes.

Slow-Cooked Grass-Fed Brisket and Onions

(Recipe adapted from www.countryliving.com/food-drinks)

Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil (option to use coconut oil, ghee, or grass-fed butter)
1.5 pounds yellow or red onions (about 2 large onions), roughly sliced into half-moons
3.5 pounds beef brisket (option to use lamb; ensure organic and grass-fed; if prefer white meat, option to use appropriate cuts of turkey or chicken)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups beef broth (or any broth of your choice)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari sauce

Heat a deep sauté pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat with the olive oil. Add the onions and cook on medium-low to medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until the onions have caramelized lightly.

While the onions are cooking, take the brisket out of its packaging and pat it dry. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat and turn on your vent or fan, if you have one. Sear the brisket until a golden brown crust appears on both sides of the meat. Remove and place in a slow-cooker insert, fatty side up.

Sprinkle the minced garlic over the meat. When the onions are lightly browned, pile them on top and around the meat. Mix the broth, Worcestershire sauce, and tamari (gluten-free), and pour into the slow-cooker insert.

Cover and cook in the slow cooker on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or until the brisket is very tender. Let rest for at least 20 minutes before serving in the slow cooker set on WARM. (If your slow cooker doesn’t have a WARM setting, transfer to a baking dish and cover tightly with foil while resting).

Recipe Notes

  • Cooking time: Personally I like brisket very tender and shredded, almost like pulled beef.  Final cooking time will depend on the size and shape of the meat.
  • Oven instructions: No slow cooker? Cook in the oven instead, in a baking dish covered tightly with foil or in a Dutch oven, covered with a lid. Cook at 325°F for 3 to 4 hours or until very tender.
  • Serve up alongside freshly chopped salad, or quickly stir fried veggies.  Option to throw in large chunks of root vegetables with the slow cooked meat for a complete meal.

So what are the benefits of the main ingredients?

  • Beef and lamb are important sources of heme iron; iron is essential for red blood cell health and energy production
  • Beef, lamb, chicken, and turkey are great sources of zinc; zinc is essential for keeping your immune system functioning at its best
  • Beef and lamb are important sources of B12, an essential vitamin for methylation (detoxification) and energy levels
  • Garlic is a fantastic herb to boost immunity and decrease inflammation

Slow Cooker Lentil Chili

(Recipe adapted from: www.twopeasandtheirpod.com )

Serves 5-6

Half medium red onion, diced
1.5 cloves garlic, minced
Half jalapeño, diced, seeds removed (optional)
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 1/4 cups organic vegetable broth
1 (15 oz) can organic
1(15 oz) can organic diced tomatoes
Half (8 oz) bag organic brown lentils, rinsed
1(15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained (option to use chickpeas)
1 tablespoon chili powder, or to taste
Half tablespoon each of cumin and turmeric, or to taste
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Wash and drain the lentils.  Place all ingredients in slow cooker.  Mix thoroughly to combine.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours OR low for 6 hours.  Serve warm.  Chili freezes well.  Option to top with favourite, traditional chili toppings.

What are the benefits of the main ingredients?

  • Lentils are a great source of dietary fiber, helping to prevent constipation
  • Lentils are low in calories, high in nutrients; 26% of lentil’s calories are protein, making it a great vegetarian protein option
  • Cumin and turmeric spices are perfect anti-inflammatory additions to any dish
  • Cooked tomatoes are high in lycopene, an antioxidant that protects your cells from damage

Amanda Harasym

Naturopath, Nutritionist, Herbalist

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