Cooking for one person – Creating Healthy Whole Foods Meals

As I mentioned before, I love to cook but cooking for one person seems like a lot of work. You have to haul out the bowls and the pans. The utensils, the cutting board, and the dishes. Not to mention the shopping and clean up! All for that one meal. But the good news is that I’ve been experimenting in my kitchen. I’ve been creating some tasty and healthy whole foods meals to share with you. I’ve also come up with some easy cooking hacks, tips and ideas to make meal preparation a little bit easier and more efficient.

What Is A Whole Foods Diet?

So what is a whole foods diet, exactly?  Well, that’s sort of a loaded question. The first thing I would like to point out is that what I’m referring to when I say “diet” is not what is commonly thought of a traditional dieting (i.e. weight loss diet plan). What I’m talking about is a healthier way of eating. (And if you do lose a little weight then all the better, right?!?) The second thing I’ll say is that there are a number of definitions out there. Many vegetarians see their choices as being the true whole foods diet, while vegans (including raw vegans, fruitarians, juicearians, sproutairians, etc) feel that THEIR choices are the correct ones. These are all great options and I have deep respect for those who desire, for whatever reason, to remove meat or animals products from their diets but what I’m referring to is a more general description. More of a goal, really, as opposed to a specific plan. I’m concentrating on avoiding processed foods in favor of using fresh foods, or foods in their natural state if you prefer.

Fresh Foods vs Processed Foods

The term fresh food means, once again, different things to different people. If we wanted to be literal about this, we would go to the hen house every morning to gather eggs. Then we would head to the barn to milk Bessy so we could churn the butter for bread made from the flour we milled after harvesting the wheat in our own back yard. I, personally, don’t want to wait that long for breakfast so I’m in favor of using a meter, of sorts, that rates food from red to green. From Very Bad (Is there anything in this that isn’t chemicals?) to Sainthood (Why, yes, I do maintain an organic, totally self-sufficient, plant based household). I simply aim for something in the green(ish) section.

In all seriousness, acquiring fresh food is easier than ever. Most of us are no longer at the mercy of growing seasons, weather or the proximity to others who are willing to barter foodstuffs. In regard to fresh foods vs processed foods, I am simply referring to foods that are in their natural state vs foods that have been modified in some way to make them ready to eat or easier to prepare. Think a fresh potato instead of boxed potato flakes. Really it’s that simple.

If you do want to take things a step further (and sometimes I do), the movement to purchase locally grown or raised products is gaining serious traction. You could google local farms (or farmers markets), check in your local newspaper or peruse the community bulletin board. I have discovered that most local merchants are happy to direct you to another one if they don’t have what you need. And think of all the cool people you’ll meet.

Is Eating Meat Healthy?

Is eating meat bad? Is eating meat healthy? The debate is never ending and certainly not one that I could possibly settle. There is one thing that I DO know…many experts agree that meat can be a part of a whole foods meal plan. Keep in mind that this not a specific eating plan but more of a guideline. Fresh and unprocessed is the key (sorry chicken nuggets). Based on that train of thought, some will even argue that fresh meat is more compatible to a whole foods diet than the processed vegan alternatives.

Shopping For Whole Foods

Now that we’ve had this chat, you’re ready to jump right in and work up a healthy eating plan, right? Unfortunately, creating healthy meals is a “no-go” if you don’t have the proper ingredients. The first thing you’re going to want to do is go shopping for whole foods. I’m not going to tell you what to buy because I think we’ve already covered that. And we all have different tastes. I love Brussels sprouts, for example, but my best friend gags at the mere sight of them. No, my advice is simple.  Shop the perimeter of the store because that’s were all the good stuff is. Close your eyes and picture taking a walk around the (inside) outer limits of your local supermarket. That’s where you’ll find fresh produce, seafood, meat and dairy.

Shopping for one person is trickier than shopping for a group so the first thing you’re going to want to do is decide what you’re going to cook in the upcoming week and use that to make a list. If you’re feeling stuck, I have posted some of my favorite recipes in the Let’s Get Cooking! tab on my home page. There are a few aisles you may want to hit but if you have a plan you won’t waste your time wandering aimlessly and (probably) buying things you didn’t intend to buy.

Ready?

I’ll be adding a few recipes each week under the Let’s Get Cooking! tab on my homepage. I’ll do my best to categorize them but my idea of evening food might be different from yours (breakfast for supper, anyone?) so feel free to look around to see what’s there.

I’ll also be including those aforementioned cooking hacks, tips and ideas. Any that pertain to a particular recipe will be included in that post but I will also be writing posts about some ideas I’ve come up with. Please come back often to see what’s new!

This is a journey and I hope you’ll join me. I look forward to seeing your ideas and recipes, either in the comment section below or by email.

So, are we ready?

Let’s Get Cooking!

Cynthia

cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

Scrambled Egg with Spinach, Tomato and Onion

Scrambled Egg with Spinach, Tomato and Onion

 

½ sweet onion, chopped

¾ cups vegetable broth

8 ounces frozen spinach

1 tomato, chopped

Balsamic Vinegar to taste

Salt to taste

2 eggs

Splash of milk

Cooking spray

Place onion in saute pan with ¼ cup broth. Cook over medium low heat until onions are soft and golden. Add vegetable broth as needed, ¼ cup at a time. Add spinach and tomato. Turn up heat to medium and simmer until most of the liquid is gone. Add balsamic vinegar and salt to taste. Remove to plate.

Add eggs and milk to small bowl and scramble with fork. Spray saute pan with cooking spray. Add eggs and cook to desired doneness. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove to plate with spinach mixture and enjoy!

One serving, 297 calories

 

 

Egg Salad

Egg Salad

 

5 eggs

⅓ cup Dill Greek Yogurt Dip

2 tablespoons chopped onion

2 tablespoons sweet or dill relish

Salt and pepper to taste

Put eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Cover pan and bring water to boil. Remove from heat and let the pan sit, still covered, for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, drain hot water from the pan and fill with cold water and ice to cool eggs. Peel eggs.

Chop eggs and combine with yogurt, onion and relish.

Two servings. 275 calories per serving

Hack: This can be served on bread or, if you’re looking to cut back on your carbs, you can serve it with salad greens.  Try mixing in some chopped tomatoes and cucumbers!

Hack: Hard boiled eggs keep in the refrigerator for one week so consider making a few extra while you’ve got the water boiling! They make a great snack alone, pickled or deviled eggs.

Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts

 

16 oz frozen baby Brussels sprouts

1 onion, chopped

1 slice bacon, cut into small pieces

¼ cup vegetable broth

Combine Brussels sprouts, onion and bacon in baking pan. Add ¼ cup vegetable broth. Bake in 350 oven to desired tenderness (45-60 minutes), turning ingredients every 15 minutes. If ingredients seem too dry, add more vegetable broth, ¼ cup at a time. Times may vary if using fresh (or larger) Brussels sprouts.

3 Servings. Calories per serving: 130

Hack: Freeze leftovers in sealable freezer bag or container for future use.

Hack #2: Separate any remaining uncooked bacon slices and roll into individual pinwheels. Place on cookie sheet in freezer to freeze bacon slices. Place in sealable freezer bag or container. The frozen slices can then be used in the portions desired.

 

 

Greek Yogurt Marinated Chicken

Greek Yogurt Marinated Chicken

 

8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast

¼ cup Dill Greek Yogurt Dip

1 tablespoon minced garlic

½ cup italian bread crumbs

Slice chicken breast into 4 strips. Combine with yogurt dip and minced garlic. Marinate overnight.

Place chicken and yogurt into baking dish. Cover with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

Two servings. Calories per serving: 340

 

 

Dill Greek Yogurt Dip

Dill Greek Yogurt Dip

 

⅓ cup full fat plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons dried dill weed

Black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. Allow to rest for one hour to meld the flavors.

One Serving. Calories: 125

Hack: This recipe can be used in many ways. It’s full flavored and powerful so a little goes a long way! It can be used as a dip, a dressing or to marinade meats. At a ¼ the calories and ⅓ the fat, it makes a healthy substitute for mayonnaise when making potato/pasta salads and sandwich salads such as egg or tuna.

Hack #2: I use full fat yogurt because I like the mouthfeel, taste and thicker texture as opposed to low or nonfat. If you prefer your dip even thicker still, drain the yogurt in the fridge overnight by using a cheesecloth lined mesh colander. Place the colander in a bowl to catch the excess liquid.

Hack #3:  Use this dip to make Greek Yogurt Marinaded Chicken or Egg Salad!

 

 

Thai Peanut Shrimp Rice Bowl

Thai Peanut Shrimp Rice Bowl

 

1 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)

½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger

½ cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped sweet potato

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup tomato juice

½ cup smooth peanut butter

1 ½ teaspoon sugar

1 lb frozen cooked shrimp

3 cups cooked jasmine rice, hot

Saute onions in soup pot until translucent.  Stir in the cayenne and fresh ginger. Add carrots and saute for 5 more minutes.  Add sweet potatoes and stock, bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Using a blender or food processor, puree vegetables with the cooking liquid and tomato juice.  Return puree to soup pot. Stir in peanut butter until smooth. Add sugar, if desired. Stir in shrimp and heat gently to avoid scorching.  Serve over hot rice.

6 servings, 320 calories per serving

Hack:  Freeze cooled puree in serving size portions using sealable sandwich bags or freezer containers.  Freeze warm (to retain moisture) rice in similar manner. To serve, simply thaw and combine puree, rice and shrimp.  Heat gently.

Hack #2:  Do you know that you can freeze fresh ginger root?  Grating it in it’s frozen state is easier than grating it fresh and, if you choose organic ginger, you don’t have to peel it!

Lemon Herbed Chicken Burgers

Lemon Herbed Chicken Burgers

 

1 lb ground chicken breast

1 tsp onion powder

¼ tsp minced garlic

1 ½ tbls dried parsley

½ tsp dried thyme

2 tbls lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

4 tbls thousand island salad dressing (recipe here)

4 thin slices Swiss cheese

4 slices tomato

4 leaves romaine lettuce

4 whole wheat hamburger buns

Mix first 7 ingredients (chicken through salt/pepper) in bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Shape into 4 patties. Cook in pan preheated to medium for 5-7 minutes on each side until the internal temperature reaches 165℉. Top each patty with 1 slice of Swiss cheese, 1 tablespoon thousand island, tomato and lettuce. Serve on whole wheat bun.

4 servings, 395 calories per serving

Hack: Place uncooked burgers on a cookie sheet and place in freezer until frozen. Put individually into sealable sandwich bags and then into a sealable freezer bag or freezer container. The rolls can also be frozen in the same manner.

Hack #2: To keep lettuce romaine lettuce fresh longer, separate leave and wash. Dry in salad spinner or with paper towels. Place lettuce leaves in sealable plastic bag or container with paper towels between each layer to absorb moisture. Replace paper towels if they become soggy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Thousand Island Salad Dressing

Homemade Thousand Island Salad Dressing

 

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons ketchup

2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

2 teaspoons finely diced onion

1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic (about half of a small clove)

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce (optional)

Add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix well. Taste and add additional salt if desired. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld. Serve.

Lemon Herb Chicken Burgers

 

 

 

 

Lemon Herb Chicken Burgers

 

1 lb ground chicken breast

1 tsp onion powder

¼ tsp minced garlic

1 ½ tbls dried parsley

½ tsp dried thyme

2 tbls lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tbls thousand island dressing (recipe here)

4 slices Sargento Ultra Thin sliced swiss cheese

4 slices tomato

4 leaves romaine lettuce

4  whole wheat hamburger buns

 

Mix first 7 ingredients (chicken through salt/pepper) in bowl until thoroughly incorporated.  Shape into 4 patties. Cook in pan preheated pan 5-7 minutes on each side until the internal temperature reaches 165℉.  Top each patty with 1 slice of swiss cheese, 1 tablespoon Thousand Island, tomato and lettuce. Serve on whole wheat bun.

 

4 servings, 395 calories per serving

Hack:  Place burgers on a cookie sheet and place in freezer until frozen.  Put individually into sealable sandwich bags and then into a sealable freezer bag or freezer container.  The rolls can also be frozen in the same manner.

Hack #2:  To extend the shelf life of romaine, separate leave and wash.  Dry in salad spinner or with paper towels.  Place lettuce leaves in sealable plastic bag or container with paper towels between each layer to absorb moisture.  Replace paper towels if they become soggy.