Photo: Jules, Stone Soup
Fast food, the healthy way
A rice cooker and steamer basket
BY MAGAZINE COO MARGO MAIER-MOUL
This week in the New York Times there was an article Told to Eat Its Vegetables, America Orders Fries. The reasons given for not eating more vegetables are not surprising. We want convenience. Poorly cooked vegetables taste lousy. They’re too much work. They’re not filling enough.
It does in fact take time to prepare and cook food at home, but it takes much less time and effort than you think! Vegetables will fill you up when paired with a whole grain such as brown rice. And freshly prepared, they’re delicious!
There are two items you can add to your kitchen equipment that will make cooking a healthy fast food meal at home — when you don’t have time to fuss — a breeze.
Item one: Rice Cooker
This little appliance has changed my life, and I bet it will change yours, too. No more worries about measuring, what pan to use, how long to cook, remembering to turn off the heat, regulating the temperature, figuring out how long to let it rest, fluffing, keeping warm and so on. The rice will be perfectly cooked. Every time.
The must-have feature when you choose a rice cooker is a timer, which you set to the time you want the rice to be ready to eat. If you want rice for dinner, put the rice and water in the cooker and set the timer for your dinner hour, and come home to a meal that’s ready.
And it’s perfect.
If you’re not ready when the rice is, the cooker will keep it warm and fluffy until it’s needed.
The hundred or so dollars you end up spending on this little appliance will quickly pay for itself in the number of times you will choose to eat simply and healthfully at home rather than order in a pizza.
Brown rice is a great source of thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium and phosphorus providing more than 30% of your daily requirement for each as well as 20% of the recommended intake of zinc and 12% of iron.
In short, it beats the pants off something prepackaged that’s made with the simple carbohydrates and high glycemic index of white flour.
Item two: Steamer Basket
The other must-have item for healthy fast food is a little stainless steel steamer basket. Drop by your local 99 cent store or Chinatown and pick one up for less than a Frappuccino. Put a pan on the stove with an inch or two of water, drop in the steamer filled with vegetables top with a close fitting lid.
Most vegetables steam in less than five minutes.
If you wash and chop the vegetables in the morning while you are packing your lunch, you can put them on to steam when you get home after work. Together with the rice, some sardines or edamame you have a healthy meal ready by the time you hang up your coat and say hello to your family. And there’s enough left over for lunch the next day.
Fast food, the healthy way
Set up the rice at night before you go to bed, and in the morning you will be greeted by a toasty beguiling aroma before you even emerge from the covers. Set it up, as mentioned above, before you go to work, and arrive home with the foundation for dinner fresh and ready to eat.
- Add beans and tortillas with a side of steamed vegetables.
- Or eat your rice with a meze plate.
Put some cooked brown rice in a pan with a splash of almond milk, a handful of raisins, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a spoonful of maple syrup. Warm it all through and top with sliced almonds and fresh berries.
Rice Bowl ready when you are dinner
Add some cubed firm tofu to your steamer basket of vegetables. Top cooked and warm brown rice with freshly steamed greens and tofu, season with salt, pepper and olive oil, and top with roasted cashews.
Save money with a healthy lunch
Make twice as much rice bowl as you need for dinner and put half of it in a container to take to work. Add a touch of olive oil and salt. Better than the company cafeteria!
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.