THE TRICK TO ONE POT WONDERS
A life of constant go-go-go doesn’t lend itself to enough time to prepare a healthy, balanced meal. Luckily, there is a cooking strategy here to save the day: the one pot wonder. From stir fries in the skillet to themed crockpot dinners, one pot meals have been saving the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners of busy people for decades. Remember Mom’s one pot pasta dish or her Asian-inspired stir fry with soy sauce? With excessive carbohydrates and an overload on sodium, Mom’s one pot meals aren’t exactly screaming healthy! No worries! These typically quick, low maintenance meals can be modified with healthy ingredients. The one pot wonder may just be the key to help you get a healthy meal prepared in no time.
Here’s the key to making your recipe for very own one pot wonder.
Source: Maya Kitchenette
KNOW WHAT HEALTHY FOODS YOU LIKE
Keep an open mind with your cooking, but do not try to make something that you would never touch just because you have in your mind that it is healthy. There are endless healthy food options so in the beginning, choose the ones you know you like. I do not like the taste of raw bell peppers, but if they are cooked with other vegetables, I actually really enjoy them. You will most certainly enjoy your one pot meal more if the ingredients are something you already enjoy.
HAVE YOUR INGREDIENTS READY
There’s nothing more frustrating in the cooking world than realizing you have forgotten to pick up something at the grocery store, didn’t thaw out one of the main ingredients of your dish, or even that one of your appliances is broken. So go grocery shopping with a list of ingredients you wish to throw together. Once you have it all in your fridge and cupboards, go ahead and prep it. Make sure you have the meat thawed, slice and dice your veggies, steam your rice, set out the spices, and put on your chef’s hat.
BALANCE YOUR MACRONUTRIENTS
Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats all play a significant role in supplying our bodies with energy to function properly which is even more a reason to ensure you are get enough of each. The USDA recommends the average adult get 45-65% of their total daily caloric intake from carbohydrates, 20-35% from fat, and 10-35% from protein. Say on average I consume 2,000 calories a day. To balance my macronutrient intake, I would aim to get about 50% or 1000 calories from carbs, 25% or 500 calories from fat, and 25% or 500 calories from protein.
ADD SOME VARIETY
Not only do you want to ensure your one pot meal has the right balance of macronutrients for your body and lifestyle, but you also want to make sure you are getting the right variety. Think about myplate when you are planning your one pot meal. You want a variety of grains, lean protein, vegetables, fruit, and dairy with your meal. With your vegetables, think about the rainbow, and choose foods from your desired food group that taste good together. I love putting chicken with rice, so I would choose vegetables with different colors that would pair nicely like broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, and corn.
I cannot encourage balance and variety enough, but one way to help ensure you are getting the right amounts of each is to measure it. I always encourage one pot meals with enough protein, a variety of fresh vegetables, and some grains, but it can be tricky to know how much is the right amount. For example, if I am cooking for a family of four and want everyone to eat about 25 grams or 5 ounces of lean protein, I may choose to use an entire pound of chicken. Also, you may think you want to get your fruit in, but it isn’t exactly suitable for the ingredients you are throwing in the pot. That’s ok; try fruit parfait or berries with cinnamon for dessert. Use the table below as a general guide for proper measuring.
Now that you have in mind the basics to making healthy one pot meal, try to make your own recipe or try one of my favorite slow-cooker meals.
MOROCCAN SPICED SALMON
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 12-oz salmon fillets
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- Put the marinade ingredients in a large ziplock bag, then place the fish in the bag, making sure that the marinade coats both sides of the fish. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
- Add 2 tbsp water to the slow cooker. Cover and cook 2 hours on low. When done, let the fish sit, uncovered, for 5 minutes before serving.
- Use a spatula to remove the fish from the slow cooker and transfer to a plate. Gently remove any bones from the fish.
- To serve, divide the fish between plates, serve it on top of couscous or rice, and garnish each portion with cilantro.
- Calories 412
- Total Fat28 g
- Saturated Fat5 g
- Total Carbs0 g
- Protein38 g
- Fiber0 g
- Cholesterol107 mg
- Sodium540 mg
*Amount per serving, Serving Size Makes 4 Servings
Adapted with permission from Everyday Gluten-Free Slow Cooking by Kimberly Mayone and Kitty Broihier, M.S., R.D. (Sterling, 2012)
– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC