I’ve heard many people say it’s hard to make healthy meals from scratch. In their minds, making something homemade and nutritious requires a trip to the grocery store, too much time spent preparing ingredients, and all the anxiety that can come with choosing the healthiest ingredients possible. It can feel even more frustrating when your social media feeds are filled with chefs constantly showing you new, exciting ways to serve up nutrient-rich, delicious meals–but they seem too complicated to even attempt!
Fresh, healthy meals don’t have to be complicated. People often ask me how I manage to stay healthy and make nearly all my food from scratch… and have that food taste really good. The secret is that I don’t try new, complicated recipes all the time, and I don’t go out to the grocery store to buy ingredients for every meal, choosing instead to work with what I already have in my fridge.
Using What You Already Have
What I find helps me most when it comes to making meals for myself and my loved ones is having a basic recipe that I can add on to and change up based on what I have available. That’s why I created the recipe below–it's a great base that you can build on, and allows you to experiment with new flavours or stick to what you know you like, all while using up all your produce before it goes bad. There’s nothing worse than realizing you have a wilted head of lettuce or a mushy tomato shoved in the back of your crisper!
There’s a world of flavours and healthy meals waiting inside your fridge!
Plus, using what you already have is an excellent sustainability practice, and one you don’t have to go out of your way to incorporate into your life.
When you go looking around in your fridge and pantry, you’ll be surprised how many nutritious foods you can find–many you might not even realize are full of things like antioxidants, fiber, protein, healthy fat, and vitamins!
Graydon’s Healthy, Simple & Sustainable Dinner Recipe
Here’s my go to recipe for when I have less than 20 minutes to make a full-fledged meal I’d be happy to serve to anyone. This recipe is filling, mineral and antioxidant-rich, high in fiber, great for your skin’s health, and filled with healthy fats, vitamins, and protein.
I encourage you to experiment. Try new combinations. Go diving into your fridge and pantry to see what you can use up. Get bold with your flavours. It’s easier to try out new things when you’re working off of a basic recipe like this one.
- 1 cup of quinoa (a nutrient rich complex carbohydrate)
- 1.5 cups of water
- 1 bunch of green onions, finely chopped (filled with vitamins, antioxidants, and flavour)
- 1 pint of sliced cherry tomatoes (also filled with vitamins, antioxidants, and flavour)
- 1 tbsp olive oil (a source of healthy fat)
- 1 tbsp tamari (a tasty source of flavour that is low sodium and gluten free)
Whatever is already in your fridge will make a great addition to your meal! Veggies, sauces, meats, cheeses, leafy greens, or vegan protein sources can completely transform your meal! Here are some superfood add ons I often find in my fridge:
- 1 cup of spinach, arugula, napa cabbage, or watercress (greens like this add fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals)
- 1 package of crumbled mushrooms (a great source of protein, adaptogens, and fiber)
- 1 ripe avocado cut into chunks (adds fiber and healthy fat)
- 1 cup of canned chickpeas (for fiber and protein)
- 1 peeled and chopped carrot (great for adding a crunchy texture, as well as fiber, vitamin A, and beta carotene–a powerful antioxidant)
- 1 peeled and chopped stalk of celery (also for crunch, and a great source of fiber and vitamin K)
- 1 cup of crumbled feta or a vegan alternative (tasty and a source of protein and healthy fat!)
- 1 tbsp of fresh herbs like cilantro, dill, basil, or parsley (each filled with antioxidants)
- 1 tbsp sunflower seeds (whether raw or toasted, they’re full of protein, fiber, and healthy fat)
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (which adds a cheesy flavor, B vitamins, and protein)
- 1 tbsp mango chutney (this is my favourite tangy add-in)
- 1 tbsp dried spice (I love cayenne pepper, garlic, and onion powder)
- Add your quinoa and water to a pot
- Bring your mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover
- Let simmer for 15 minutes
- Remove the pot from heat and let sit while chopping up your other ingredients, including your cherry tomatoes and green onions
- After about 10 minutes, remove the lid on your quinoa, add the olive oil and tamari, and fluff up the quinoa with a fork
- Mix in the tomatoes, green onions, or any other add-ons you’ve prepared
- Grab a bowl and enjoy!
Simply Delicious = Super Nutritious
You’ll recognize a lot of simple, common ingredients in this recipe. Ingredients don’t have to be fancy or exotic to be delicious superfoods that nourish your body!
I have always felt that the more knowledgeable we become about the ingredients we fuel our bodies with, the easier it is to gravitate toward and select foods that add nutrition to our diets. With that in mind, I wanted to share more about some of my favourite ingredients in this recipe, so you can discover more about their benefits.
Quinoa is gluten free and packed full of manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, and vitamin B1–all important vitamins and minerals that your body needs. On average, one cup of quinoa contains 8g of plant-based protein and 5g of fiber, which makes it a great choice for vegans or vegetarians looking to up their protein intake without eating meat. What sets quinoa apart from many other plant proteins is that it’s a complete protein, meaning it has all nine of the essential amino acids our bodies need. Who would have thought that just one ingredient would be chock full of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and amino acids!
Many people consider Tamari to be soy sauce’s healthier alternative, due to its flavourful umami taste and the fact that its appearance and consistency are similar to soy sauce. Yet unlike soy sauce, tamari is gluten free because it is made without wheat. Tamari also contains around 1-2g of protein per tablespoon.
Avocado is a great source of healthy fat, as about ⅔ of the fat in avocados is monounsaturated fat, which can actually help lower your cholesterol when eaten in moderation–that's why most people consider monounsaturated fat the “healthy” fat. Avocados are also sources of fiber and carotenoids, which are antioxidants that can boost your immune system.
Fuel Your Body, Feed Your Skin
Eating well doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t need to make a trip to the grocery store when trying a new meal–getting adventurous with what you already have can lead to some delicious discoveries! By choosing ingredients that fuel your body, you’re also taking care of your skin from the inside out.
I hope you give this easy, customizable recipe a try!