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The Whole Foods Kosher kitchen

Your Quick and Healthy Cooking-Without-Cooking Survival Guide

Posted on 16th of February, 2011 by Lévana

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The Instant Dorm Feast, as I call it

We all find ourselves, occasionally and sometimes not so occasionally, in situations that bring us apart from the comfort of our kitchens and the amenities that surround us daily: a vacation week, a business convention, a year away in college, even a week under the weather. All too often, a quick look at the room we end up in makes us think our meals will consist of very meager pickings for the next few days or weeks (or months: Yikes!)

Not surprisingly, I am constantly asked the obvious question: what made me choose cooking as a profession? At the risk of sounding sentimental, I would answer without hesitation that it was the relentless tinkering that took place in my college room that did it, and here’s why: I didn’t know it then, but I was getting the most valuable training, when still a teenager and a few lean years beyond: I was an accidental artisan training in a rarefied environment, with none other than myself as the young but exacting improbable master, equipped with a set of tools that seemed designed more to tie your hands behind your back than to help you hone any skills: an almost unimaginably low budget; the scantest and most rudimentary utensils (one leaky gas range, 1 battered skillet, one warped pot, one overheating toaster, one cracked blender, and very little else if anything); a room so cramped that if your toast went a shade beyond dark, the dorm security crew would be pounding at your door; no knowledge of food and cooking other than the inescapable memories of modest but fabulous home meals prepared daily by my mother (the  original and enduring master!)

I trust you get the picture. There’s only one missing link in the chain I have described, and it’s the link that provides the answer: No matter how much of a pauper I was, never having ever eaten any junk food, I knew that food had to be nutritious no matter what, and that nutritious food needed not be expensive. To this day, when we are away and even when I am feeling lazy or harried,  or when I get surprise guests, I go for broke and pretend I have only a handful of ingredients and utensils to cook with. I don’t premeditate any part of these meals, and go shopping with a blank slate in mind, preferring to see what zero-maintenance produce and groceries I will find first. And believe it or not,  the results are a real feast. No chopping, no frying, no prepping whatsoever. What will strike you is certainly not that the  cook was working on a shoestring budget, but how the integrity of the flavors comes through and how satisfying they are.

As I am sharing the following my quick and healthy cooking “creations” with you, I am also sharing the fond memories of  what made me a cook: they are among my favorites to this day. When going shopping, only the freshest, and unprocessed or very minimally processed (short ingredient list means less or no junk). No recipes to speak of, more like all aboard and ready in no time. Since my college friends used to clamor for these offerings, they all come ample enough to serve 8 to 10 guests.

I have just given a cooking demo on just this subject, to a nice group of happy campers, and here is the whole dinner:

Smoothies

Play with these suggestions, and gt a delicious smoothie in seconds each time. Here is a green smoothie, a red smoothie and a yellow smoothie. Whip in a blender until smooth (green): an apple or a pear, some green grapes, 2 kiwis, some apple juice, some yogurt or tofu, OR (red): Some berries, some cranberry juice, some tofu or vanilla yogurt, OR (yellow): a banana, some unsweetened canned crushed pineapple, melon or mango, some tofu or vanilla yogurt.

Hot cereal

In a medium sauce pan on a medium flame, cook 1 cup steel-cut oats (or any other medium-ground whole grain: bulghur, coarse cornmeal, buckwheat etc…), 3 cups water, 2 cups milk, rice milk or soy milk, 1/2 cup maple syrup, 1/2 cup golden raisins, 1 diced green apple if you’d like, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, a handful flax meal, good pinch salt. Stir occasionally and cook about 10 minutes. Stir in a little more water or milk if you like it thinner.

Bean Soup

Throw in a pot, placed on a high flame: 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) water, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 15 oz  can drained chick peas, 1 15 oz can drained red beans, 1 15 oz can drained lentils, 2 10 oz boxes frozen puree butternut or other red squash (or 1 large can 100% pumpkin), 1 quart jar marinara sauce, not too much salt, a little pepper, a little oregano, a little turmeric. Bring to a boil, then cook another 20 minutes.

Frittata

Whip in a mixing bowl: 8 eggs, 1 cup soy or rice milk, 1 lb bag frozen chopped kale or spinach, 1 cup diced natural smoked turkey, salt and pepper. Pour into a greased large skillet over medium heat, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until the center is set. Cut into wedges. Delicious hot or at room temperature.

Fish

If you have very little on hand: place in a large skillet: a little olive oil, tilapia or other thick-fish fillets fillets, fresh or frozen straight out of the freezer, a little water a few drops lemon juice, salt and pepper. cover and cook about 10 minutes. Or, a little more elaborate but almost as quick, add to the above: thinly sliced plum tomatoes, thinly sliced zucchini, frozen or fresh sliced shiitaki, cover and cook 10 minutes.

Couscous

Place in a stainless steel or glass bowl: One cup couscous, or bulghur, or barley couscous, or brown rice couscous (if you are on a gluten-free diet), one cup boiling water, a little salt and pepper, and mix. Cover tightly with foil and let the mixture rest and swell 10 minutes, then fluff it with 2 forks. Eat as a side dish, or use in salads.

Salad

Prewashed salad greens, and any quick additions of your choice: couscous, chick peas, chopped nuts, toasted seeds, sliced olives, diced tomatoes or tiny grape tomatoes. Dress the salad with a mixture of olive oil, cider vinegar, salt and pepper.

Dessert: Chocolate Oats Pots de Creme

Bring to boil in a sauce pan: 1 cup old fashioned or steel-cut oats, 1 cup coconut milk, 4 cups water, 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, good pinch salt. Lower the flame and cook 10 more minutes. let the mixture cool, and serve it at room temperature

Snack or side dish: Sweet potatoes

Place a few unpeeled medium size sweet potatoes in a plastic bag, tie the bag and microwave 12 minutes, or a little longer if needed.

 

Image via kitchentreaty.com

Filed under: Chocolate Recipes, Dessert Recipes, Fish Recipes, Gluten Free Recipes, Hot Cereal Recipes, Kosher Fish Recipes, Kosher Food, Kosher Natural Foods, Kosher Recipes, Kosher Whole Foods Recipes, Natural Foods Recipes, Pareve Recipes, Quick Cooking Recipes, Smoothie Recipes, Soup Recipes, Stories, Survival Skills, Vegetarian Recipes

8 Responses

  1. Gitta, on Said:

    Wow, awesome ideas! I LOVE simple, healthy and quick stuff to whip up!! The soup, in particular, seems so hearty and so easy to make….

    And the food on Sunday, at Laura’s house, was so goooooooooood!!! I LOVED the matbucha. And, last but not least, it was very lovely meeting you :)

    Reply
    • Lévana, on Said:

      Same here: it was wonderful meeting Larisa and Gene’s friends and celebrating the dream come true!
      Nothing beats good matbucha! Hope you join us at some demo!

  2. Jan (Fenster), on Said:

    Mon nite was, as always, delightful. Major differences: class location & the aspect of “speed cooking” the usual delicious, nutritious meal. TODAH RABAH, Levana, you’re the best !!!
    Q: Coud one use OJ in the pots de creme? What amount? 2 cups water, 2 cups OJ? Does it go with rice milk or should it just be substituted for the rice milk & keep the 4 cups water?

    Reply
    • Lévana, on Said:

      Jan, you don’t even realize how happy I am in my “new” surroundings! I wouldn’t do OJ, as it would add an unwelcome layer of flavor. The way I recommended sees to it that the short list of ingredients goes together beautifully. Now there are many wonderful ways to match chocolate and orange, only not here. See you soon (Latin feast, I hope?) xoxo

  3. Leah, on Said:

    It’s been a long time since I’ve lived in a dorm, but a couple of weeks ago I had the equivalent experience of my mom coming with homemade food to cheer me up. My kids and I were sick and Levana showed up with a bag of groceries. In less than 20 minutes we had a gorgeous and healthy frittata, a fresh salad with dressing, baked sweet potatoes, a chocolaty dessert and enough hearty bean soup to last the week – at least! Healthy, filling and fast…just what the doctor ordered. THANK YOU LEVANA!!

    Reply
    • Lévana, on Said:

      You are most welcome dearest Leah: Unlike with the doctor, children do want the treatment, I even saw them licking their chops, and there’s no charge for the consultation! When are we doing it again? xoxoxo

  4. Lori, on Said:

    I made the steel cut oats chocolate pots de creme with coconut almond milk blend and water and instead of maple syrup, I used honey. Tastes so good when cold. I had to cover and cook for 20 minutes though to get it to start to thicken up. It’s a great treat! Next time will try the gluten free rolled oats instead of the gluten free steel cut oats.

    Reply
    • Lévana, on Said:

      Lori Isn’t it delicious? Just FYI: ALL oats are gluten-free by nature. It is only because some (dumb, forgive me) manufacturers sometimes process oats on wheat equipment, defeating the whole purpose, that they might not be GF. Otherwise, they are 1 million percent GF!

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