Feed Your Cravings (PART 1)

My mother gave me an amazing gift. One I am consistently grateful for. And one I am going to share with you today as well as in a second post (because this one got too long!).

You see, when Roger is hungry and craves, say, Italian or Mexican or Asian or Indian or Thai food, he believes that the only way to satisfy his craving is to go to a restaurant. And he also believes he will have to live with his craving until we go out and get whatever he is craving.

But he should know better by now.

Because I, on the other hand, see cravings as an opportunity! When I have a hankering for a particular cuisine, I open up the fridge and pantry–the same fridge and pantry that Roger has declared barren–and I formulate my plan while plucking ingredients from each. This is the gift my mother gave me–making “something” from “nothing”.

30 minutes later, we are eating something delicious and he wonders what kind of witch I must be to be able to whip up an elaborate meal out of “nothing” and in less time than it takes to order in.

Today, I’d like to share my favourite tips for enjoying the flavours you crave whenever the craving hits, rather than feeling like the only way to satisfy it is to eat out.

So, let’s get started!

When a craving hits, the first thing I think about is what protein I have on hand. This is always my first thought when it comes to cooking any meal, because every single meal and snack I eat contains protein. Protein digests slowly and is a powerhouse at being able to satiate us. It also helps to build muscle and ward off sugar cravings; both of which are important to me.

If I don’t have any meat thawed, I think of canned tuna or salmon, quinoa, eggs or pulses (chickpeas, lentils, black beans, etc.). Frozen fish can also work because it can be cooked from frozen. Shrimp can be easily thawed by placing it in a bowl of cold water while you work through your recipe.

I also gauge how much time I have or want to spend on creating a dish. I typically like to have something made and the kitchen cleaned up in under 30 minutes.

So here are my most common food cravings and my go-to recipes to satisfy them. I am passionate about “teaching people to fish”, and I hope these tips prove useful for you. In this post, we’ll cover Italian and Mexican food and in the next post, we’ll cover Chinese, Indian and Thai. Bon appetit!

ITALIAN FOOD

If it’s Italian I crave, I always know I have a jar of tomatoes or tomato sauce on hand. I also always have herbs and spices, so Italian is just about the easiest craving to satisfy. I simply do the following:

Empty the jar of tomatoes/sauce into a medium saucepan, add a little oregano, salt and pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil or a knob of grass-fed butter and whisk until heated through. Voila! A tasty, rich tomato sauce in mere minutes.

NOTE: I always use Himalayan salt, never table salt, in my recipes. You can find Himalayan salt in the health food section of most grocery stores, at health food stores, online, and at Costco. Himalayan salt contains minerals you won’t find in table salt and is mined from the foothills of the Himalayan mountains near Punjab, Pakistan.

If I have ground beef, ground chicken or ground turkey thawed, then that’s the protein. I fry up the meat, add some seasoning (any combination of garlic, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper), drain it and then add the sauce. I also often use leftover cooked chicken or steak as the protein. I simply add it to the warmed sauce or else warm it separately.

If I don’t have any meat, or I am choosing to eat vegetarian, I pour the sauce over chickpeas. They work nicely as they are quite “meaty”. In this case, I don’t serve the sauce over noodles. If I’ve used chickpeas, I rinse and drain them verrrry well, and I like to fry them in grass-fed butter or oil with a little salt and pepper before topping them with the sauce. 

For noodles, I like to make “zoodles”, or spiralized zucchini noodles. I have also simply sliced zucchini into thin strips and sautéed them in a little oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and then poured the sauce overtop. But my favourite is to use roasted spaghetti squash where the “noodles” act as the pasta.

Otherwise, there are lots of nice noodle options out there. My favourites are soba noodles (made with buckwheat flour, which is gluten free), brown rice noodles, or else Shiritaki noodles. Shiritaki noodles come ready-to-eat and are made from the Japanese konjac yam. They are gluten-free, delicious and soooo versatile. Find them at your local health food store, Asian grocer or on Amazon. Be sure to buy organic and look carefully at the package to make sure they don’t contain soy (if you avoid soy).

For a super easy Italian dish, I often simply make my noodles of choice and, once cooked and drained, I return them to the pot and drizzle them with a little EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), some red pepper flakes, a good handful of any fresh herbs I have like basil, parsley, rosemary, etc…  and I add in some sliced cherry tomatoes (if I have them) as well as a good pinch of salt and pepper. I stir it around the pot, add a few tablespoons of reserved pasta water or chicken stock (or even almond milk) and, if I feel like it, I add a little parmesan cheese for a simple, delicious dish.

If I’ve got other things on hand, like sliced black olives, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, or capers, these add flavour and saltiness, so I adjust my seasoning accordingly. I top with some leftover meat or shrimp or I serve this as a side dish to grilled meat.

Another common craving is Mexican. I was inspired by my friend, Michelle, last week when she posted a pic of her baked sweet potato topped with yummy Mexican ingredients. Here’s my take on it.

MEXICAN FOOD

I turn the oven on to 400°. I slice 2 small sweet potatoes in half, lengthwise and rub them with avocado oil and salt. I lay them on parchment, skin-side down, and sprinkle them with fresh pepper. I roast them in the oven for 40 minutes (yes, this recipe takes longer, but it’s worth it!)

While they are roasting, I rinse and drain a can of black beans and toss them in a pot to warm them.

I slice a few cherry tomatoes, a little green onion and jalapeno, and I make sure I have Greek yogurt and fresh salsa ready. I also like topping them with ripe avocado, but I didn't have any the day I made these. If I'm using avocado, I wait until just before serving to slice or chop it, otherwise it tends to brown.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, I take a fork and poke them all over, then gently "fluff" the potato and top them with whatever I am using. If you eat dairy, a little extra old cheddar (or any cheese, really) would also be delicious, and I'd grate it and put it right on top of the potato--so it melts a bit--before adding my toppings.

Voila! A delicious, healthy, satisfying Mexican meal that's no more effort than a sandwich and made with ingredients you likely have on hand. If you are a fan of sweet potatoes and Mexican, this is definitely a winner.

Enjoy!!

So, the next time a craving hits, ask yourself, "What do I have on hand that I can make to satisfy it?"

Once you get the hang of thinking of the flavours you crave--rather than just a particular food--you can adapt your meals to what you have on hand, and a whole new world opens up for you. This kind of thinking may even help you to shop for staples that will allow you to be more creative in the kitchen...because cooking is an art form; not a science.

So, have fun!

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 invite you to 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. For only $97 (a ONE TIME fee), you will have everything you need to write and self-publish your very own book! If this speaks to you, then click here for all the details.  We would love to have you with us.

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/

 

 

2 Comments

  • Caroline Midgley

    Reply Reply August 29, 2017

    Love these recipe ideas… thanks for sharing. Looking forward to more tomorrow!

    Caroline

    • Sarah Roberts

      Reply Reply September 7, 2017

      If you make them, I do hope you and Arnold enjoy! xo

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