How To Stock Your Pantry – 17 Foods To Include and 7 Foods to Avoid

Life is busy. How can we eat healthy when we don’t have the time to cook from scratch? Here are a few tips on how to stock your pantry with time-saving items!

How To Stock Your Pantry
How To Stock Your Pantry

I like to cook my own foods from scratch. I’m a firm believer that cooking from scratch is really the only way to know the quality of what I’m eating. But, while we have a goal to eat healthily, we just can’t do it all.

It’s virtually impossible for us to make every single thing we want to eat. Sure we can put together a marinade for our grass-fed beef and pair it with some fresh vegetables for dinner. We can throw together a salad with homemade dressing or have a breakfast sandwich made from a fried egg atop a freshly baked biscuit.

But let’s dig a little deeper, shall we? When was the last time you brewed soy sauce because you needed a sprinkle or two in a stir-fry? Cooked up a batch of catsup so you could have a squirt to dip your french fries? Or made your own mayo because you were dying for an egg salad sandwich? Me neither.

And, let’s face it, sometimes life gets in the way. We’re busy. We get tired. Unmotivated. Did your spouse really forget to tell you that he’s invited the Smiths to dinner? Or perhaps your son shows up with half the football team and wants to know what there is to eat.

Now, if we wanted to, we could surely go ahead and plan for all these contingencies. We could cook, bake, mix and ferment then dehydrate, can, and freeze it all. The problem with that is the aforementioned life to which we must attend. That and the fact that our storage spaces and freezers are only so big.

So here are some thoughts on how to stock your pantry – with 17 foods to include and 7 foods to avoid.

What Are Processed Foods?

What Are Processed Foods?
What Are Processed Foods?

Before we tackle the problems that we face every day, I’d like to do a quick review on what, exactly, are processed foods.

Processed foods are any foods that have been modified from their original state. This means, of course, that the moment you pick a tomato off the vine, you have altered or “processed” that food. I only bring this up because I want you to realize that the simple act of food being processed is not an evil concept.

Foods have been processed since the beginning of mankind. This was usually done on a community or family level with food being hunted, raised or foraged while it’s abundant and then using various means of preserving it for use at a later date. When we cook fresh food in our own kitchen and freeze it for future use, we are also processing food.

It’s highly (or ultra) processed foods that we need to be on the lookout for. These are highly manipulated foods that contain many added ingredients and sometimes don’t contain any of the food it claims to be. Are you aware that some brands of coffee “creamers” are made from water, sugar and oil? Not a drop of dairy-related anything.

The Bad Guys: Ultra Processed Foods

Ultra Processed Foods
Ultra Processed Foods

First let’s get to the bad guys: those highly (ultra) processed foods. While the food industry works hard to convince us that fruit-flavored loopy things are good for us, one quick glance at the label tells us that it’s certainly nothing even a toucan would eat.

The secret to choosing healthier processed foods is no secret at all! A look at the label and ingredient list will tell you everything you need to know. Here are a few things to look for (and steer away from):

Low fat, low sugar and/or sugar-free. Foods naturally contain fat and/or sugar to varying degrees and this is what makes them taste good. It’s important to remember that neither fat nor sugar is a bad thing when enjoyed in moderation. As a matter of fact, a certain amount of both is necessary for your body to function properly.

When foods are manipulated to remove naturally occurring fat or sugar, these are usually replaced by the opposite thing (fat for sugar and sugar for fat) or artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame.

Artificially flavored or imitation. Translation: Chemical.

Any ingredient you don’t have in your kitchen. Or can’t pronounce. Or wouldn’t even know where to get.

Vegetarian fed chickens (or eggs). Chickens are not vegetarians and need the amino acid that are found in meat sources. Since chickens love bugs, a vegetarian chicken is surely not a free-range chicken. It’s a chicken that has been kept inside (away from bugs) and most likely fed a diet supplemented with a synthetic version of the amino acid methionine.

Healthy or Natural. These words could mean anything. Often it means that whatever the manufacturer started out with was healthy and/or natural (which most food is…when you start out) but it doesn’t mean it stayed that way.

Kid-friendly. When was the last time your kid picked the healthiest option on the table? While there are exceptions, most kids, when left to their own devices, will pick the sugariest, most artificially brightly colored option they see. Especially if it’s being presented by a cartoon character.

Fortified or enriched. This means that something has been unnaturally added to the product. It’s a label typically plastered on ultra-processed foods to make them seem healthier.

The Better Guys: Minimally Processed Foods

Minimally Processed Foods
Minimally Processed Foods

There are some products on the grocery shelves that are less processed and can be a good addition to your pantry for when life comes a’calling. The secret is, again, the label and ingredient list. Keywords to look for might be simple, organic, grass-fed or free-range but the real test is to read the ingredient label. Make sure that whatever’s in the package are things you would add if you were making it yourself.

Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:

  • Canned beans
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables
  • Canned pineapple
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Jarred spaghetti sauce
  • Canned tuna
  • Peanut butter (or other nut/seed butter)
  • Canned pumpkin
  • Frozen seafood
  • Packaged cheese (including sliced or shredded)
  • Unflavored nuts
  • Boxed pasta
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Bread (organic or from a local bakery)
  • Crackers
  • Dark Chocolate

When You’re On The Go: Surviving Road Trips

Surviving Road Trips
Surviving Road Trips

Consider these options before you grab a hot dog from that street vendor:

Pack drinks and snacks. Even if you plan to stop somewhere for lunch, having a snack under your belt will ensure that you’re not starving when you make the decision on where to eat. Try some granola, fresh fruit and a water bottle.

Convenience store. More and more convenience stores are making an effort to accommodate those of us who want to maintain a healthy diet. Many offer single serving sizes of cheese, nuts, hard-boiled eggs and fresh fruits and salads. Remember to check the ingredient labels to make sure you’re not getting more than you bargained for!

Grocery store. When was the last time you thought to stop at the grocery store for a quick snack? There’s no shortage of healthy snacks to be found here!

Skip the chain restaurants. Look for smaller “Mom and Pop” restaurants that are more likely to make their goods from scratch. If you’re traveling to unfamiliar territory, take the time to research restaurants in the area online. There are plenty of apps that review local places and let you know the best option.

 

One Last Thought

One Last Thought
One Last Thought

We have certainly been spoiled with the accessibility of a wide variety of foods that have become available to us over the last century. We can’t go back nor would we want to.

What we can do is strive to consume foods in their natural state, as much as possible, and adjust the amounts and combinations to most suit the needs of our own body.

The most important thing is to be kind to yourself. This is a learning journey and none of us is an expert. We can only do the best that we can each day and remember that life is meant to be enjoyed.

All my best,

Cynthia
cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

 

Creamy Chicken and Peas

Creamy chicken and peas…comfort food at its finest!! It’s a fast and easy one-skillet meal that takes the work out of preparing dinner!

Creamy Chicken and Peas

Creamy Chicken and Peas

Course Main Course
Servings 3
Calories 336 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup sweet onion, chopped
  • 8 oz boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1” cubes (1 cup)
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas
  • 1 cup butternut Bechamel

Instructions
 

  • Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until onion is soft.
  • Add chicken and peas. Saute for 3-5 minutes until the chicken is no longer pink.
  • Add Bechamel sauce and heat until warm.
  • Serve over pasta or rice.
  • Hack: Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze in portion-sized containers for up to 3 months.
  • Hack: Frozen chopped onions can be used in the recipe.
Keyword chicken, easy meal, fast and easy, green peas, one pan meal, one skillet meal, quick and easy

Handle chicken with care!  Click here for some tips to avoid foodborne illnesses that can be associated with raw poultry..

Dehydrated vegetables can be used in this recipe.

General Tso’s Chicken

A fresh take on General Tso’s Chicken, one of my favorite dishes. It’s quick and easy to put together which makes it perfect for a busy workday evening!

General Tso’s Chicken

General Tso’s Chicken

Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 2
Calories 300 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp cayenne (red) pepper
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 dried Thai chili peppers
  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)
  • 8 oz skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 cup cooked rice, hot

Instructions
 

  • Mix broth, cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Heat vegetable broth over medium heat in a saute pan or wok.  Add dried peppers,  green pepper and onion. Cook on medium heat until soft and onion is golden, about 5 minutes.
  • Add sauce and chicken to pan and heat until chicken is cooked through, 5 - 7 minutes. Serve over hot rice.
  • Hack: Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Keyword Asian cuisine, Asian food, chicken, Chinese cuisine, Chinese food, easy, fast and easy, General Tso, one skillet meal, quick and easy

Did you know?  The origins of General Tso’s chicken are murky but it most likely did not originate in China.  Several prominent chefs claim that they were the first ones to serve the dish.

This sesame chicken is another dish that (also) isn’t Chinese but it sure is delicious!

Croque Monsieur / Croque Madame

I fell in love with Croque Monsieur / Croque Madame while in Paris, just as pictured…with a cup of Cafe au Lait.  Fortunately,  I can make it right at home!

Croque Monsieur / Croque Madame

Croque Monsieur / Croque Madame

Course Main Course, Sandwiches
Cuisine French
Servings 2
Calories 661 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • ¾ cup milk
  • tsp salt
  • Dash of black pepper
  • ¾ cup grated Gruyere cheese, divided
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • tsp nutmeg
  • 4 slices sturdy white bread
  • 4 thin slices cooked ham
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400℉.
  • To make Bechamel sauce, melt butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour, stir until the mixture bubbles. Whisk milk, salt and pepper into the flour mixture and simmer, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened.
  • Remove from heat and stir in 2 tbsp Gruyere cheese, 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese and nutmeg. Stir until cheeses melt.
  • To assemble sandwiches, spread ½ of the Bechamel sauce on two slices of bread. Top each slice with 2 slices of ham and sprinkle half of the remaining Gruyere over ham. Spread Dijon mustard on the remaining two slices of bread and place, mustard side down, on top of ham and cheese.
  • Put sandwiches on a baking sheet coated with non-stick cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Cover with remaining Bechamel sauce and Gruyere cheese.
  • Bake for 5-7 minutes until cheese melts and the sandwich is heated through. Place under broiler for a few moments, if desired, to brown top of the sandwich.
  • For a Croque Madame: Top with a fried or poached egg.
  • Hack: Bechamel sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Cover surface with plastic wrap to avoid forming a skin.
Keyword Croque Madame, Croque Monsieur, French cuisine, French food, lunch, sandwich, toasted

Did you know? Croque Monsieur is the French equivalent of our grilled cheese.  And just like grilled cheese, the Croque Madame is one of many variations!

If you love Bechamel sauce, give this healthy vegetable lasagna!

I Can’t Cook: Help For The Cooking Impared

“I can’t cook” means different things to different people. Whatever that might mean to you…help is on the way! Here are just a few ways to get your cook on!

Help! I Can't Cook!
Help! I Can’t Cook!

It’s a fact. Some people can’t cook. Of course, “I can’t cook” means different things to different people.

Some people can’t cook because they don’t have the means to cook. Maybe they rent a room that doesn’t have kitchen privileges. Maybe they live out of hotel rooms because they travel a lot. Maybe their stove is on the fritz. Or maybe their house did, in fact, come without a kitchen.

Some people can’t cook because, well, they just can’t cook. Maybe they just don’t have the patience, the time or the confidence.

Then there are the people who simply don’t cook. Nope. Not doin’ it.

What shall we do with all these non-cookers who still want to eat a healthy diet? As it turns out, I have a few ideas.

Easy No-Cook Meals And Snacks

Chicken salad — grab some pre-cooked organic chicken and mix with mayonnaise. Jazz things up a bit by adding your favorite mustard, some grapes, walnuts or whatever tickles your fancy!

Peanut butter and strawberry sandwich
Peanut butter and strawberry sandwich

Peanut butter and strawberry sandwich — pick up a fresh-baked loaf of bread from your local bakery. Slather on some chunky peanut butter and sliced strawberries. Or smooth peanut butter and apple slices. How about cashew butter and fresh raspberries? There are no rules.

Overnight oats — There are only about a million flavor combinations and it keeps for up to 5 days in your fridge. Win-win!

Tomato, mozzarella and basil — This is exactly what it sounds like it is. Slice up a fresh tomato and top it with slices of fresh mozzarella and some fresh basil. Pair this up with the cooked shrimp you picked up in the frozen food aisle and you’ve got a meal!

Garden salad
Garden salad

Garden salad — It all starts with some bagged lettuce and fresh veggies (get the pre-cut ones to save time!). Toss it up with some mushrooms, nuts, seeds, avocados and/or hard-boiled eggs then top it off with homemade ranch, thousand island or Caesar dressing. Because there’s no such thing as “just a salad”.

Corn Salad — Saw fresh corn off the cob, put it in a bowl with some thinly sliced red onion and radishes then toss it with lemon poppy dressing.

Coleslaw
Coleslaw

Coleslaw — Simply mix shredded cabbage, green and/or red, and grated carrots. Make the dressing with 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2-3 tsp sugar and ¼ tsp salt. Ask the produce clerk to cut a head of cabbage so you can buy just a half or a quarter of it.

Fruit salad — A pile of your favorite fruits and berries topped with plain yogurt (mix in a bit of honey and a drop of vanilla, if desired). Use what’s left of the yogurt to make dill dip, which is great for dipping fresh veggies!

The Art Of Instant Pot Cooking

Instant Pot
Instant Pot

Let’s talk for a minute about how handy these are. Not only can this multi-function puppy pressure-cook food in no time flat, but it can also slow cook, steam, sterilize, make yogurt, saute, cook rice, cook eggs and even air fry. It even comes in a mini (3-quart) size so you don’t have to cook for an army.

You can cook just about anything in an Instant Pot. Throw it in there, turn it on and walk away. In case you’re feeling insecure, Instant Pot comes with access to an app that has cooking tips and recipes.

A more cost-effective option in this category is a slow cooker. It doesn’t have as many uses but it will still cook dinner for you. No, it doesn’t come with an app but I can recommend this cookbook!

Sandwich maker

Sandwich Maker
Sandwich Maker

For around $20, you can own a compact and oh-so-awesome multipurpose cooking tool! It’s easy to use, easy to clean, easy to store and its uses are only limited to your imagination!

Its compact size also makes it ideal for traveling. The non-stick surfaces require very little, if any, oil for cooking, making it a healthier option than some other cooking methods.

Of course, you can grill your sandwiches (the combinations are limitless enough already) but it’s also great for pancakes, french toast, cinnamon rolls, mini pies, cake and omelets.

Microwave

Microwave
Microwave

This magical device was invented in the 1940s and we’ve never looked back. The first home models, introduced in the 1960s, carried a price tag of around $4,000 when adjusted for inflation. Luckily for us, things have changed and we can pick up a decent model these days for right around $100.

Microwaves are not just for reheating last nights’ dinner. You can toast nuts or roast garlic. You can bake a potato or cook it cubed up for potato salad. Pasta, steamed vegetables, winter squash, sweet treats. Yes, you can even cook meat, although you’ll want to do a little research on cooking methods before you attempt that big, beautiful steak.

There are plenty of gadgets available (if you’re a gadget kind of person) but most of the time, you can use whatever microwave-safe dishes you have on hand to achieve the desired effect. Sometimes, all you need is a mug.

You can also find microwaves in many places when you’re on the road. Convenience stores, supermarkets, truck stops and travel centers usually have them for public use. (Remember to be polite and buy a bottle of water or cup of coffee while you’re cooking your lunch!) Microwaves are a standard issue in hotel and motel rooms. There’s also one in the break room at work, although its cleanliness is always in question.

Egg cooker

Egg cooker
Egg cooker

I’m not normally a fan of gadgets that do just one thing but this is my exception because…eggs, man. You can eat them hard-boiled or soft-boiled. You can serve them over toast or tucked in a sandwich.

Garden salads love them. Speaking of salads, so do pasta and potato salads. And what would egg salad be without eggs?

Pickle ‘em, devil ‘em, pair them up with some carbs like rice or spaghetti. Marry hard-boiled eggs and avocado for a super easy low-carb meal that’s loaded with protein, healthy fat and fiber.

Eggs are stuffed full of nutrition and their low price makes them an incomparable value.

Blender

Blender
Blender

Ah, the blender. Underrated, underappreciated, underused. It cries out for your attention. It can do so much more than making Margaritas.

It’s great for all kinds of drinks such as smoothies, milkshakes and frappes, real fruit slushies and frozen coffee.

Make a dessert mousse by blending one avocado, 2 tbsp cocoa, 1½ honey and 1 few drops of vanilla. Then use the blender to make whipped cream to go on top.

Dress up any meal by blending a gazpacho or cucumber soup. Whip up some hollandaise, salsa, hummus or pesto.

Heck, you can even use it to make baby food.

Feeling adventurous? How about some homemade beauty treatments? Why spend money buying an oatmeal mask when you can make your own? How about making some nut butter or almond milk?

Oh, and since you’ve got the blender out, I will take a margarita!

Rice Cooker

I received a rice cooker as an (unsolicited) gift from a family member. I had never wanted one and I wasn’t sure I would ever even use it. Once again, I’m not a gadget person. I still use the cooking pans I got second-hand from my parents after I got married, which they had received as a present when they got married, over 60 years ago. I just didn’t see the need to cook rice in a rice cooker when my elderly but reliable saucepan works just fine.

Rice Cooker
Rice Cooker

Except…

…that it’s awesome. And it’s not just for rice. That’s right. I said it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were all sorts of one-pot meals I could make in this thing. It times itself, I didn’t have to remember to stir it AND it keeps it warm until I’m ready to eat.

Now, I am a fan of rice so I usually mix in some raw protein and veggies right in with the uncooked rice and water and let it do its thing. Easy-peasy. Here’s the thing, though. It also has a steaming tray that suspends above the rice so I can just as easily cook the meat and veggies separately.

It makes oatmeal, mac and cheese, soups, chili and stewed fruit. You can even use it to bake bread and cakes.

It’s compact, easy to use and easy to clean. It’s versatile like the Instant Pot and slow cooker but with a few differences. It has fewer options than the Instant Pot and cooks faster than the slow cooker. The price range is broad but a basic rice cooker is usually less than $40, similar to that of a basic slow cooker.

That About Sums It Up

Eating Healthy
Eating Healthy

OK, so that doesn’t really sum it up. There are a lot of different options out there for the cooking challenged and, if you search hard enough, you can learn how to use a curling iron to cook bacon or a clothing iron to make grilled cheese sandwiches. While it seems like either of these options could (technically) work, I’d like to think I’ve put forth the most reasonable choices for people who can’t (or don’t) cook.

What about you? What cooking hacks have worked for you? Let me know in the comments below!

All my best,

Cynthia
Cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

 

Shrimp Scampi With Linguine

This shrimp scampi with linguine is an elegant dish for one that pulls together in less than 15 minutes. It’s a perfect solution to a busy weeknight meal!

Shrimp Scampi With Linguine

Shrimp Scampi With Linguine

Course Main Course
Servings 1
Calories 510 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 oz linguine
  • 1 tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • ½ shallot, finely diced
  • ½ clove garlic, minced (½ tsp)
  • Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
  • 6 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp dry white wine
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp parsley leaves
  • 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions
 

  • Put a pot of water on the stove and bring to boil.
  • Add a sprinkle of salt and the linguine. When the water returns to a boil, cook until the pasta is al dente, 6-8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat ½ tbsp butter and ½ tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Saute the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes until the shallots are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; add to the pan and cook until they have turned pink, 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove the shrimp from the skillet; set aside and keep warm.
  • Add wine and lemon juice to the skillet, bring to a simmer. Add ½ tbsp butter and ½ tbsp oil.
  • When the butter has melted, return the shrimp to the pan along with the parsley and cooked pasta. Season with salt and pepper and toss to mix. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle Parmesan cheese over top and serve immediately.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle Parmesan cheese over top and serve immediately.
Keyword dinner for one, easy dinner, fast and easy, linguine, meal for one, pasta, quick and easy, quick dinner, scampi, shellfish, shrimp

Did you know?  Traditional “white” pasta has gotten a bad rap lately but there are plenty of healthier alternatives out there, either with carbs and without!

Suggestion:  Looking for more super quick and easy “meals for one” options?  Try this spinach feta pizza for one!

Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies

Cookies for breakfast? Yes, please! These oatmeal raisin breakfast cookies are wholesome, filling and gluten-free! Make a bit batch and freeze some for later!

Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies

Course Breakfast
Servings 12
Calories 285 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled or quick oats
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • ¼ cup honey (or maple syrup)
  • cup unsweetened applesauce (or any other fruit butter or sauce)
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • ½ cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
  • ½ cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
  • ½ cup dry roasted peanuts, unsalted (or other nut/seed)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 325℉. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) until well combined. The dough will be thick and heavy.
  • Scoop by ¼ cup measurements onto cookie sheets. Shape into rounds and flatten slightly. Cookies will not spread while baking.
  • Bake for 16-18 minutes until edges are brown. Cool for 10 minutes on a cookie sheet and transfer to a cooling rack.
  • Store at room temperature for 5 days or in the refrigerator for 10 days.
  • Hack: This recipe is very versatile so use your imagination and whatever ingredients you have on hand!
  • Hack: Freeze for up to 3 months in a sealable freezer bag or container. Thaw overnight and serve at room temperature or warm for a few seconds in the microwave.
Keyword breakfast, breakfast cookie, gluten-free, healthy oatmeal cookies, oatmeal, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, vegan, vegetarian

Did you know?   Oats are a great way to start your day.  They’re packed with nutrition that combats heart disease and diabetes while helping control your weight and digestive health.  Check out the facts here!

Read my review of the KitchenAid Artisan Series 5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer here.

Healthy Hummus Veggie Wrap

This hummus veggie wrap is fast, fresh and delicious! For those looking for a healthy vegetarian meal, this is sure to hit the spot. Eat it as a meal or snack!

Hummus Veggie Wrap

Hummus Veggie Wrap

Course Sandwiches
Servings 2
Calories 275 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 large whole wheat sandwich wrap
  • 3 tbsp hummus
  • 3 tbsp tabouli
  • 3 tbsp feta cheese
  • Baby spinach
  • Red onion, thinly sliced

Instructions
 

  • Spread Hummus on a sandwich wrap, going all the way to the edges.
  • Sprinkle tabouli and feta cheese over hummus.
  • Top with a handful of spinach and a few red onion slices. Roll and cut in half.
  • Hack:  Shop the salad bar if you just need a small amount of an item that you don’t think you’ll use again before it “goes over”.
  • Hack: Place waxed paper or parchment paper between unused wraps, seal in a freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Keyword feta cheese, healthy, hummus, low calorie, lunch, meatless, sandwich, tabouli, vegetarian, whole wheat wrap, wrap, wrap sandwich

 

Wondering how to roll a wrap sandwich so it doesn’t fall apart?  Check out these easy instructions!

Suggestion:  Try making this wrap using roasted red beet hummus!

Sometimes You Just Want A Book

While it’s great to be able to look up a recipe online, sometimes you just want a book. These books look so good I can almost smell the food cooking.

Sometimes You Just Want A Book
Sometimes You Just Want A Book
This post contains affiliate links that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read the full privacy policy here.

I am very grateful to all my friends, both new and established (Please note that I did not use the word “old”!) who take the time to visit this site, read my ramblings and try my recipes. I appreciate the thoughts, encouragement, ideas and recipes that you have shared and I hope we can continue this beautiful back and forth for a long, long time. But I also know, for sure, there’s another truth out there for many of us.

Sometimes you just want a book.

Cookbooks have the feel that many readers love. You can hold it, turn the pages, and feel the paper. It looks great on your bookshelf. As time goes on it gets well broken in, with frayed edges and splattered stains on the pages. (Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m a sloppy cook.)

If this sounds like you, I’ve put together a selection of books you might enjoy, either in digital form or hard copy.

Books! Glorious Books!

 

The Pleasures of Cooking for One
The Pleasures of Cooking for One

The Pleasures of Cooking for One – Judith Jones

$11.99 Kindle / $14.89 hardcover

$11.99 eBook

After the death of Judith Jones’s husband in 1996, she took on the task of cooking for one and decided to write a book about it. This is a great book that includes kitchen tips, easy-to-understand French-inspired recipes and “makeovers” for leftovers.

If you like gourmet food (or just want to Feel Fancy!), this is the book for you! Check out a preview here.

Judith Jones (1924-2011) was an American writer and editor. She was best known for her campaigns to publish The Diary of Anne Frank and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, both of which she rescued from the reject pile. Her friendship with Julia Child is featured in the 2009 movie “Julie and Julia”.

Vegan Cooking for One
Vegan Cooking for One

Vegan Cooking for One – Leah Leneman

$7.99 Kindle / $19.36 Paperback

$7.99 eBook

Vegan Cooking for One is an updated version of Leah Lenemans’ 1989 book The Single Vegan, which sold over 600,000 copies. This cookbook offers over 200 diverse and seasonal recipes that tempt the taste buds, are easy to follow as well as being very simple and straightforward,

It offers weekly menus, which include shopping lists to make sure you have the ingredients you need for the week. In addition, you can take advantage of the seasonally based collections to make the best use of fresh, local produce.

Check out the preview here.

Leah Leneman (1944-1999) was an American actor and author born and raised in California. She eventually moved to Scotland and, after receiving a history degree at the University of Edinburgh, pursued an academic career built around independent research and writing geared towards the depiction of the women’s suffrage movement in Scotland. After becoming vegan in her twenties, she also authored a number of vegan cookbooks.

Mug Meals for One
Mug Meals for One

Mug Meals – Leslie Bilderback

$12.99 Kindle / $17.10 Paperback

$12.99 eBook

Mugs aren’t just for coffee anymore!! This amazing book has over 100 recipes to make right in your microwave, with a wild variety of options for any meal, snack or dessert. Chili Con Carne? Beef Stroganoff? Poached Salmon? Yes, please! Brownie-in-a-mug? Of course, it’s there.

This book is a must-have for those with limited cooking facilities, new cooks or those of us who are just plain busy! Check out a preview here.

Leslie Bilderback is a Certified Master Baker and has been a chef for nearly 20 years. She is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy and was one of the first instructors at the California School of Culinary Arts. She went on to become the Executive Chef and helped guide the school as it partnered with Le Cordon Bleu. In 2002, she was a finalist on Team USA at the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie, an international, invitational artisan baking competition held in Paris, France.

Cook & Freeze
Cook & Freeze

Cook & Freeze – Dana Jacobi

$12.99 Kindle / $8.71 Paperback

$12.99 eBook

Dana Jacobi tuned into freezing serving-sized meals when she became a caregiver to her parents. She wanted to serve them healthy, nutritious meals but soon found that cooking and delivering meals every day was an impossible task. Luckily for us, this cookbook fits nicely into what we’ve been talking about here on this site. She covers the basics of freezer storage, organization and reheating as well as 150 delicious recipes.

See the preview here!

In addition to writing cookbooks, Dana Jacobi writes the nationally syndicated column “Something Different,” and has been featured in a number of national publications including Cooking Light, Eating Well and The New York Times. Her healthy approach to cooking has been endorsed by American Institute for Cancer Research and her work was published in Diabetic Gourmet Magazine, Vegetarian Times and Prevention.

 

Slow Cooking for Two
Slow Cooking for Two

Slow Cooking for Two – Cynthia Graubart

$10.99 Kindle / $8.16 Hardcover / $18.99 Paperback

Here’s what we’ve all been looking for! Slow cooker recipes of all types! It’s great for those with limited cooking facilities or abilities, hot weather or if your only wish is to have dinner cook itself.

The ingredients are basic while still being whole foods and it even has entries that will make two different recipes in the same pot at the same time! Click here to see a preview.

Cynthia Graubart is an author, Southern Living Magazine columnist, food writer, cooking teacher and former television producer based in Atlanta, GA.

In 2004, she garnered national attention with the publication of her book “The One-Armed Cook”, aimed at the challenges of young families in creating healthy meals. She went on to create a weekly food e-newsletter for Nickelodeon’s online parenting portal, ParentsConnect. In 2014, she won the James Beard Best Cookbook Award for her 2012 publication “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking”. She was named a Georgia Grown Executive Chef in 2017 and has recently released her 8th cookbook

What are you waiting for?

eReader Cookbook
eReader Cookbook

These books look so good I can almost smell the food cooking. Which one will you choose? Let me know in the comments below! And don’t forget to come back to let me know which one has your (new) favorite recipe.

What are you waiting for?

All my best,

Cynthia
cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

 

 

Super Easy Au Gratin Potatoes

These creamy and easy au gratin potatoes are one of my favorite go-to comfort foods. It’s just as good with or without cheese!

Easy Au Gratin Potatoes

Easy Au Gratin Potatoes

Course Side Dish
Servings 6
Calories 225 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (4 oz)*
  • 3 medium potatoes, thinly sliced (5 cups loosely packed)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350℉.
  • Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle flour and bring to a simmer.
  • Slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Add salt, pepper and thyme. Bring to simmer, stirring constantly.
  • Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese until melted.
  • Use cooking spray to coat 6”x8” oven-proof baking pan or 6 cup casserole.
  • Lay down of potatoes and cover with  ⅓ of the sauce. Continue layering until all potatoes and sauce are used, leaving enough sauce to completely cover the top of the potatoes.
  • Bake, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 60-70 minutes.
  • * Any well-melting, hard cheese can be substituted for cheddar so feel to use whatever you have on hand. Alternately, cheese can be eliminated entirely to make scalloped potatoes. In this case, increase the milk by ½ cup.
  • Hack: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen in serving-sized portions for up to 3 months.
  • Hack: This recipe is happy to share the oven with other baked items such as a roast or meal loaf. Adjust the cooking time of the potatoes to account for any change in oven temperature.
Keyword au gratin potatoes, baked potatoes, baked side dish, casserole side dish, cheesy potatoes, potato casserole, potato side dish, scalloped potatoes, vegetarian, vegetarian side dish

 

Did you know?  Potatoes are not generally thought of as a nutritious powerhouse but they are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals!

Suggestion:  These potatoes will pair nicely with a classic meatloaf…and you can cook them together in the same oven!

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