Feed Your Cravings (Part 2)

It’s Tuesday, September 5th, and the first day of school for many young people. I wish all of the children and parents a great year ahead.

I know, for a lot of parents, hearing those fateful words, “What’s for dinnnnerrrr???” can raise anxiety and stress levels bigtimeWhile I don’t have children, I can understand those feelings, and getting a meal on the table can feel like a major struggle, especially when bellies are hungry, palates are picky, and time is limited. Takeout can seem like the easiest option.

But that’s where I hope I can help a little.

While takeout does seem like the simplest solution, it isn’t a great one; at least not on a regular basis. Takeout food doesn’t provide our kids (or ourselves) with the nutrition we need, and it may fill the hunger gap but it leaves us drained of energy, lacking nutrients, and setting ourselves up for an unhealthy lifestyle. The sooner we realize that “we are what eat” and prioritize eating real food, the better off we will be in the long run.

In this so-called “throw-away” society, we tend to value choices that are convenient over ones that serve us long-term. And while I’m all for education, I feel we are truly failing when it comes to teaching our kids what’s most important in life: Things like the meaning of hard work and discipline–setting goals and sticking to a task, even (especially) when it gets hard. Things like the value of a dollar and how to respect money when we earn it. Things like compassion by treating each other with dignity and respect and by radically practicing kindness. And things like caring for ourselves by treating our bodies with love.

It is my belief that the most profound (and practical) way to show ourselves love is through the way we treat our bodies. In my experience, the people who feel really good about themselves–the ones who are loving their lives and living vibrantly–are also the ones caring for themselves in myriad ways. Moving our bodies, allowing them to rest, reducing their stress and nourishing them are all examples of ways we can show our bodies that we value and respect them; that we want to care for them and help them not only survive, but thrive.

It is my life’s work to help others make this connection, and I hope my posts encourage you to live your best life. That is my intention with this blog.

Last week, I shared the gift my mother gave me, which is to think outside the box a little when it comes to making meals. By using the ingredients I have on hand, rather than having to feed a craving with a particular food–which often means going out or ordering in to get it–I can get the nutrition I need while also satisfying my taste buds.

I hope to inspire you to make meals that taste delicious, feed your cravings, and serve your body at the same time. Last week, we covered Italian and Mexican. This week, we’ll kill our cravings for Chinese, Indian, and Thai food.

So let’s go!!

CHINESE FOOD

Using those same soba or shiritaki noodles we used in our Italian dish, you can whip up an Asian meal in less time than it would take to order in. You can also cook up quinoa or brown rice instead of noodles. Here is what I need to have in the fridge and pantry:

Toasted Sesame Oil (make sure it is toasted. Otherwise, you won’t get the flavour)
Garlic (fresh is best, but dried also works)
Ginger (fresh is best, but dried also works)
Green onions, AKA scallions (preferable, but other onions will work, too)
Bean sprouts (these can also be used as the “noodle”, if you prefer a rice/quinoa/noodle-free option)
Coconut Aminos, AKA coconut sauce (this is a soy-free alternative to soy sauce). You can also use soy sauce or tamari if you eat soy.

I start by cooking up the noodles, rice or quinoa. While that’s happening, I chop up my veggies (anything goes, just make sure to cook hard veggies first, then softer ones after) and the protein (chicken, beef, shrimp, etc.) into bite-sized pieces. Save the bean sprouts for later–they hardly need to be cooked. Chickpeas again make a nice vegetarian option, or you can simply use quinoa (it is a complete protein) instead of rice or noodles, making for a verrrry easy dish!

I crank the heat to high, add a good drizzle of sesame oil, and in a large pot or wok, I stir fry the meat. Once it is fully cooked, I remove it and set it aside.

I go back to the pot with another drizzle of sesame oil and I add in my vegetables. I like using carrots and celery first, then mushrooms and snow peas once my harder veggies are softened a bit (but, again, any veggies work). Before my veggies are quite done, I add in some chopped garlic and ginger (or dried) as well as the scallions/green onions. If you didn’t have any green onions, you would have chopped up a cooking onion with your original veggies and stir fried them earlier.

I add a splash of coconut aminos or soy sauce, toss in the cooked meat (or chickpeas–if using) back into the pot and combine everything. I add in my bean sprouts and toss them a few times. I serve it all on top of my noodles or rice and enjoy!

To make an easy “pho” (Vietnamese noodle soup), you could add a few cups of chicken stock and some sriracha hot sauce and use soba or shiritaki noodles (or vermicelli) to make a yummy soup.

Dinner is done and cravings are satisfied. Win win!

INDIAN FOOD

The next craving Roger and I often get is for Indian. Not a week goes by that we don’t have have something curried. Here is my absolute favourite easy side dish: Curried Cauliflower. It makes an amazing accompaniment to salmon, chicken or beef, and often, I simply use the same ingredients to coat the fish/meat as I used to coat the cauliflower! Curried chickpeas are also delicious, as is curried quinoa. Again, same ingredients.

It really doesn’t get easier than this, but to make it EVEN easier, you can seriously just use the coconut oil, curry powder, salt and pepper. The additional spices add depth of flavour, though, and I always have them on hand.

Curried Cauliflower
Sarah Roberts

Why I Make This: Indian cuisine is a favourite of mine, and I am a big fan of eating cauliflower as a side dish because it can replace heavier options like rice, pasta or potatoes. Plus, it tastes absolutely delicious, so I can get a few servings of veggies into me without even trying!

Ingredients
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets.
3-4 tablespoons (or so) of coconut oil, melted (the amount will depend on the size of your cauliflower)
2 Tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/8 teaspoon Garam Masala
Pinch of cumin
Good pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the cauliflower florets in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, combine the melted coconut oil with the spices, except the pepper.
Pour mixture over the cauliflower and toss well to coat. I use my hands!
Spread cauliflower onto a parchment in an even layer and season with ground black pepper.
Roast for 25-35 minutes, depending on how soft you like your cauliflower (I like mine a little crunchy). Halfway through cooking, take a spatula and move the florets around to encourage even cooking.

That's IT! At-home Indian your whole family will gobble up.

Downloads

THAI FOOD

Here is the last craving we often get and this one is delicious AND a huge money-saver. We truly love supporting local businesses, including restaurants, and our local Thai spot is no exception. But it can get really expensive to eat out more than, say, a few times a month and we also like knowing every ingredient that's going onto our plates and into our bodies. At-home Thai for the win!

Thai Red Curry with Chicken
Sarah Roberts
Serves 6-8

Why I Make This: I am a big fan of Thai food, but it can get pricey to eat out and I like to control the ingredients. This is fast, easy, delicious, customizeable and makes a ton of leftovers, depending on how many mouths you feed. Feel free to double the recipe!

Ingredients
4 organic chicken breasts, sliced into strips or cubes
2 large cooking onions, chopped
1 jar of organic red curry paste (check the sugar content. There are a few with no sugar, like Geo Organics, a brand I really like)
1 can of full fat, organic coconut milk
Vegetables: I like 1-2 sliced red peppers and 1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets, but almost anything goes!
1-2 cups of chicken stock, depending on how "saucy" you want it. I like it fairly saucy, as we serve it over quinoa or rice, so I use 2 cups.

Directions
Make a batch of quinoa or brown rice, if desired.
In a large pot, heat some coconut oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken and fry it, stirring occasionally, until cooked. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Remove chicken from the pot and set aside.
In the same pot, add more coconut oil and sauté the onions until nicely browned.
Add in the red peppers and allow to soften for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the peppers are cooking, pour the coconut oil and red curry paste into a separate frying pan over high heat and whisk together until bubbling.
Add the chicken back to the pot, add in the curry sauce and stock, and bring to a boil.
Turn the heat down and allow everything to simmer a few minutes before adding in the broccoli.
Serve piping hot alone or over quinoa/rice.

ENJOY!! This one has become a crowd pleaser and a staple in my kitchen. I hope you make it often, and it tastes even better the next day!

Downloads


I hope this post (and last week's) has helped you to see that you can enjoy all the flavours you want from your favourite foods without having to eat out to get them. Does curried cauliflower taste exactly the same as the dish you order from your favourite Indian restaurant? Probably not! But, in my opinion, it almost tastes better because I have made it and I know exactly what I've put into my body. Will I still eat at my favourite Indian spot? Of course! But not every time my cravings hit. Because I know that I can satisfy my cravings at home and save dinner dates for more special occasions. This saves my wallet and my waistline while helping me stick to my health goals.

We don't have to sacrifice taste when we make our own meals, and cooking doesn't have to be hard or intimidating. We can take the fear out of it by trusting ourselves to try new things and by experimenting in the kitchen.

Because cooking (and eating) should be fun; not a chore.

Because nourishing our bodies should feel empowering; not exhausting.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.

P.S. Are you in recovery from something (depression, cancer, divorce, addiction, PTSD, etc.) and have a desire to write about your experience? On September 9th and 10th, 2017, Roger and I are launching our online Writer’s Retreat that will teach you how to write your story–from start to finish–and self-publish your book, the way I did, in order to heal yourself and help others. If this speaks to you, click here to learn more, or send me an email at Sarah@SarahTalksFood.com and I will be in touch with more details. 

P.P.S. Let’s be friends! I’d love to connect on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. Plus, if you haven’t already subscribed to my blog, you should! That way, you won’t miss anything. For joining, you get my personal meal plan, shopping list, and a week’s worth of easy, tasty recipes. http://sarahtalksfood.com/

 

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