Shopping and Cooking Healthy for One

September 7, 2013
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“What should I cook for dinner tonight?” “What’s easy?”  “What’s healthy?”  

When you live alone, it’s easy to just resort to packaged food, frozen food or fast food take-out.  Who wants to spend time shopping and cooking for one?  I love to cook and I love food, but preparing solitary meals is just not really that much fun.

However, when you live alone, it’s important to eat right and keep fit, so I do make the effort.  But I also make it easy on myself.

“What should I cook for dinner tonight?” “What’s easy?”  “What’s healthy?”  

When you live alone, it’s easy to just resort to packaged food, frozen food or fast food take-out.  Who wants to spend time shopping and cooking for one?  I love to cook and I love food, but preparing solitary meals is just not really that much fun.

However, when you live alone, it’s important to eat right and keep fit, so I do make the effort.  But I also make it easy on myself.

healthy cooking

My cooking really isn’t “cooking” per se.  It’s more like “assemblage.” 

This time of year, farmer’s markets are a huge help.  All the fresh produce that can be eaten raw (no cooking!), just tossed in a salad, makes meals really easy.  I eat a lot of salads during the spring, summer and early fall.  And I use the term, “salad”, very loosely.  Anything that can be chopped up and put together in a bowl is a “salad”.  There are different variations on the same theme.  You can toss great tomatoes with mozzarella and basil for a great Caprese salad.  And then there is the “Caprese Plus” with some olives, peppers, cucumbers and maybe some avocado tossed in.  Get some good olive oil and some good salt to put on top.  And buy some fresh bread to go with it.

 nutritious cooking

It’s easy to put together a salad Nicoise with some green beans, olives, hard boiled egg and some canned or fresh tuna.

You can go the SouthWest route with lettuce, tomato, black beans, avocado, corn, cilantro and some salsa and get some great tortilla chips (or make your own with fresh tortillas).

Of course, you can throw in some meat if you want.  I mainly eat vegetarian when I am home.  Meat and fish are expensive and I go out once or twice a week, so i usually eat my protein then.

I had the best salad at La Fondita in Amagansett, NY, recently.  I tried to duplicate it by making the Southwest style salad and adding some sauteed tilapia fillet on top.  Not as good as La Fondita’s, but a close second.healthy food ideas

For variation, I might put vegetables on a pizza that I cook on the grill.  I buy some pizza dough (I have given up making it myself – much easier and just as good to buy fresh pizza dough at Whole Foods)! and stretch it out, brush it with olive oil and grill it for 5 minutes.  Then I top it with goat cheese and roasted peppers and onions, fresh tomato and some olives, and voila!

As the weather turns cooler and produce changes, I start cooking with root vegetables and perhaps adding some grain to my “salads”.  And when the farmer’s markets go home for the winter, the produce section of the local supermarket is my friend.

Roast vegetables are my favorite fall food.  Anything will do here, but I like butternut squash, carrots, onions, turnips and brussel sprouts.  I just toss them in a bowl with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Sometimes I add rosemary or thyme.  Roast for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees and voila!
easy healthy foods A great meal that can last several days depending on how many vegetables you cook.  You can also add pesto (I  like it made with walnuts) to the vegetables after they are cooked.  And you can put them over some quinoa if you want to add some grain to your diet. 

Winter brings cold weather and then I like to eat hot food, so I switch to roast vegetables over pasta or quinoa or soups that are really just vegetables cooked in some kind of stock.  Again, adding meat is an option here as well.

Following this kind of regimen is pretty easy and it’s healthy and not expensive.  As I said, I go out once or twice a week and can get fancy dishes, meat, fish, and all the asian fusion, Indian, or Italian food that I love then.  And I will cook up a storm if I have guests over or go to a potluck dinner.

But cooking for one is not the most fun thing to do and I want to keep it simple and healthy.