#MenuMonday: Simple Staple Meals

My Four Simple Staple Meals

Keeping life simple can be a challenge with everything on our plates, but that doesn’t mean what’s literally on our plates must suffer! I am always trying to find healthy meal options that I can prepare at home, take on the go, and can serve as multiple meals throughout the week. I have played and experimented with many recipes (I will share a few) but have found that I have 4 go-to simple staple meals.

 

Before I share those spectacular meals, there are four things I like to keep in mind while preparing any healthy meal:

1. Balance: It must have a proper balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats so my body is healthy and can function optimally.

2. Nutritional Value: It must have nutritional value with food choices like vegetables, fruits, grains, lean protein, and dairy.

3. Variety: It must have different or optional ingredients to ensure I get a varied amount of minerals and vitamins.

4. Enjoyable: It must be good! The meal must have flavors that I enjoy as well as my family and friends.

 

My 4 Spectacular Simple Staple Meals!

Soup and Salad

 

 

1. SOUP

This is by far my personal cold weather go-to. You can pack it full of flavor by using herbs and spices without adding excessive calories, and it is hard to ruin a soup recipe. You can make the base of the soup with lentils or bean, vegetables, rice, or even lean meat. Soups can be stored in the fridge and eaten for a few days, and some can even be canned and stored for long periods of time. Soup’s ability to hit you in the soft spot during winter can almost eliminate its title as a “staple meal” during the warm months.  However, no matter the season, soup adapts just fine. Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is one of my favorite twists of the traditional Chicken Noodle Soup. It is light, refreshing, and full of that lemon zest that gives your taste-buds a nice little punch. BUT my all time favorite is a little family recipe my grandmother used to make – Chilled Peach Soup. Grandma would get some fresh, local peaches, slice and let them soak overnight in honey, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, coconut flakes, and dried apricots. The next day, she would get out the blender and puree the mixture to a creamy thickness. I remember her throwing a handful of blueberries and blue cheese on top to give it a nice presentation. Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face!

 

2. SALADS

With the sun shining through the clouds, salads are a great addition to this staple meal list. With warm weather comes new, fresh produce perfect for this quick and easy meal option. Much like soups, salads can be very difficult to mess up, except with perhaps the wrong dressing. Salads are great for those in a time crunch and can lend a nutrient dense meal option for lunch or dinner. This meal option can be fun to play with and an easy way to use up any expiring produce you have on your shelf at home. I personally enjoy finding in-season fruits and vegetables to change up my salads so that I never get bored eating them. One of my favorite salad recipes for the spring is the antioxidant rich, Honey Pecan Grilled Chicken and Berry Salad.

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 cooked, boneless chicken breast halves diced
  • 3 cups mixed spring greens and chopped kale
  • 1 cup freshly cut strawberries
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ cup raspberries
  • ½ cup diced cucumbers
  • ⅓  cup chopped pecans
  • ⅓  cup raw, local honey
  • 1 lime

 

Instructions:

Place cooked chicken, mixed greens, kale, and pecans in a large bowl. Slowly stir in honey until even throughout the mixture. Add strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and cucumbers to mixture and gently toss. Applying light pressure to the lime, roll until tender, and slice in half. Squeeze desired amount of lime juice onto the salad mixture. Can be kept in the fridge for about 48-72 hours.

 

3. SMOOTHIES OR SHAKES

These are always my on-the-go breakfast option. These often nutritious drinks can be blended with other ingredients like vegetables, fruits, dairy, flax, chia seeds, protein powders, and nuts to differ texture and nutrition content. To keep it low in calories, I use ice and water rather than juices to give it the right thickness. Smoothies take an average of 10 minutes or less to make and can constitute 10 or more servings of fruits and vegetables alone. With a smoothie for breakfast, I am getting my day started with a nutritious BANG! But on those days that even 10 minutes can be hard to come by, I have a little cheat: I have found organic fruit and vegetable juices that are rather tasty at my local supermarket. I simply grab my shaker bottle, pour in the juice, add a scoop of organic protein powder, and I am out the door! My theory is, it’s better for me than going through the drive through on the way to work!

 

4. SPAGHETTI

This is this gal’s favorite family pleaser. There are rare moments in life that you can please everyone, but for those rare moments, there is spaghetti. My eldest brother has down’s syndrome and he loves to eat. Admittedly,when he comes to stay, he will eat just about anything I fix for him, but his all time favorite comes straight from our Italian roots. Though it is nice to know that everyone will be pleased with the spaghetti, I still have some criteria I like to meet. For my noodle alternative, I like to use spaghetti squash. In about a cup of cooked spaghetti squash, there is only 31 calories in addition to some Potassium, Vitamins A, C, and B-6, calcium, magnesium, iron, and protein.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cooked organic beef
  • 1 can (25.5 oz) organic tomato spaghetti sauce
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 table spoon olive oil.
  • 1 table spoon ground black pepper

 

Instructions:

 Pre-heat oven to 375-425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut spaghetti squash in equal halves (to make it easier, place squash in microwave for about 5 minutes or until soften). Scoop out seeds and excess fibers. Brush olive oil evenly onto flesh of squash and sprinkle with black pepper. Turn squash face down on baking pan (skin side up) and place in oven. Mix cooked ground beef and spaghetti sauce in skillet on medium heat. Once your sauce and meat have reached your desired temperature, simply turn down the heat to very low. Cook squash for about 30-45 minutes. Carefully roll over squash. Using a fork, scrape the flesh of the squash until neatly shredded into noodles. Let squash cool for about 10-15 minutes. Slowly pour meat sauce on top of squash noodles and lightly sprinkle parmesan cheese. This should serve 4-8 people.

 

 

I hope you enjoy my four staple meals!

 

 

– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC