In our last post, we prepared a bunch of food for making delicious home-cooked meals during the week. We cooked a chicken, black beans, brown rice, and sweet potatoes and prepared some fresh broccoli and salad greens. For some of you, this might just be too much food to use in a week – especially if you are not feeding a family – so adjust what and how much you make for your household. Just remember that taking a few hours to prepare food for the week can help someone living alone as much as someone cooking for a family to eat healthy, tasty, homemade meals more often.
The number and types of meals we could make from the ingredients we prepared are probably endless, but here again are some ideas and a place to start.
Potential Meals for the Week:
- Baked Chicken with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Broccoli
- Smashed Black Bean Tostadas with Roasted Broccoli, Cilantro, and Jicama
- Broccoli Tacos
- Black Bean and Rice Bowl
- Yamadillas (Sweet Potato Quesadillas)
- Green Salad with Chicken
- Quick Chicken Soup with Rice
- Healthy Fried Rice with Loads of Vegetables
Let’s start with our lovely baked chicken. Those of you who know me also know that I have followed a mostly plant-based diet most of my life, and therefore, haven’t baked many chickens. This, in fact, is my third, and it turns out to be really easy! There are probably a hundred or more different ways to bake a chicken, so once you learn the basics, there’s a whole world of recipes out there!
So if you eat chicken, why would you want to roast a whole bird? First of all, it is much more economical to cook a whole chicken than buy and use chicken parts. This organic, whole chicken cost $1.79 a pound. The last time I looked, chicken legs cost twice that amount and boneless chicken breasts even more, at up to $7 a pound. Even when you consider the waste from cooking a whole bird, it really doesn’t add up to much money. I weighed the bones on a 4½-pound chicken I cooked at home – they weighed 8 ounces, and cost about 90 cents. And you can use the bones to make chicken soup – so they are not wasted after all!
Second, roasting a whole chicken can result in better tasting and moister meat. The skin helps to protect the meat from the hot oven temperatures and keeps it from drying out.
So, on the day you roast your bird, you could serve it with whole sweet potatoes, or try them mashed, with the cloves of garlic you cooked with your chicken. You could also spice your mashed sweet potatoes up with some ground cumin, coriander and chili.
After you take the chicken out of the oven, you’ll want to let it rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing into it. Resting meat after cooking it allows the muscle fibers to relax and hold onto more of their juices.
While the chicken is resting, let’s roast some broccoli. Ok, in spite of bearing the brunt of more than a few ‘bad vegetable’ jokes, broccoli really is a lovely, versatile vegetable which can be delicious. It is usually inexpensive and lasts a long while in the refrigerator. It is also one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, protecting us from different types of cancer and heart disease. If you are interested, check out some of the research on the benefits of broccoli at nutritionfacts.org. http://nutritionfacts.org/?s=broccoli
Roasted broccoli is great hot out of the oven and tossed with some lemon zest and black pepper. For a healthy take on broccoli with cheese sauce, throw in some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. One taste and you’ll never go back to Velveeta!
We can also get really creative and use our roasted broccoli for broccoli tostadas. To make these, we’ll smash some of our black beans with onion and garlic powders and some grounded dried chili. I’ve used that nice smoked chili that I cooked my beans with here to make some fresh chili powder.
My broccoli tostada recipe was inspired by a broccoli taco recipe in this wonderful little book, Broccoli, by Tyler Cord, a chef in Brooklyn, NY. His recipe is available for you, just click on the link below. Check it out – it takes a bit more preparation than many of the other recipes in Your Healthy Kitchen, but it is worth the effort!
Another one of my favorite ways to eat black beans is to serve them with rice in a bowl with a variety of vegetables, like tomatoes, avocado, onions or bell peppers, and a warmed corn or whole-wheat tortilla. This is simple, healthy food that is so easy to prepare in just a few minutes if your rice and beans are cooked and ready to go.
Black beans also go really well with sweet potatoes. Try them in a burrito with chopped sweet potatoes, and some roasted chillies and salsa!
Remember, all of these recipes are available here by clicking the links below. In our next post, we’ll prepare a few more delicious meals with our lovely ingredients. Until then, eat your broccoli, and we’ll see you soon!