food preparationFood preparation at dinner time is not always mindless and fast.

We’ve been sold on the idea that it’s supposed to be.

Food preparation is key when we decide to eliminate mass-produced foods from our diets for health reasons, and cooking real food is now on our menu.

Meal preparation isn’t just opening a series of cans and boxes. How about a little conscious cooking and enjoyment for all your senses? Cooking from scratch every evening takes a time commitment, and in my house, we make that happen about three times a week. The other days, we count on a Sunday Prep Hour as our keystone habit. When healthy foods are pre-prepped and in the fridge, graciously waiting for you, it is such a delight to easily set out a nutritious meal.

Here’s how I do it:

1. Complex Carbs – Quinoa and Brown Rice
Following package directions, I prepare three cups of each without any flavorings or seasonings. Let cool, and place in containers in the refrigerator. You can use this nutritious whole food all week in different ways: with almond milk and chopped walnuts for breakfast, on top of a salad for lunch, or heated up with frozen veggies and veggie broth for a side dish at dinnertime.
2. Grab and Go Protein – Hard Boiled Eggs and Tuna Salad
For a household of two adults, I cook eight eggs for the fridge on Sunday. I also stir together a three-cup portion of tuna salad using an olive-oil based ginger dressing we like, lots of diced vegetables like bell peppers and onions, and I throw in some raw sunflower seeds. After exercise, these items are a great snack.
3. Raw Vegetables Washed, Cut and Dried
It is frustrating to adopt a “eat more produce” habit when all the produce you buy goes bad in the fridge! I’ve learned to wash, cut up and then spin dry all my produce for the week. If you don’t have it ready to eat on a moment’s notice, it sometimes goes untouched. Better to open your fridge door and see at eye level a lovely container of colorful choices. This is setting yourself up for success.
4. Roasted Vegetables and Fruit
Putting a healthy meal on the table without starting from scratch is so much easier since I learned this trick! On Sunday afternoon, food preparation begins as I coat a baking sheet with coconut or olive oil. Take Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and any other veggies you like, sprinkle with olive oil and fresh herbs, and roast at 400° F until almost soft. Remove the pan and make room for some peaches and sliced pineapple. Return the pan to the oven for another 5 minutes. Gently stack all this lovely produce in a sealed container for the fridge.

On two separate evenings with limited time or energy, you can toss this produce into an omelet in the morning, place them in an airtight container and bring them to work to pair with nuts for an afternoon snack, or have them ready for a side for dinner. Yummy!

Lastly, I’d like to share with you one of our favorite food preparation tricks for our homemade meals, Crock Pot Sesame Chicken. The crock pot is one of my favorite kitchen appliances! – Coach Georgianne

5. Crock Pot Sesame Chicken
Here is what you need: Serves 4-6
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tablespoons water
Sesame seeds

Directions:
1. Start by seasoning chicken lightly with salt and pepper and place into crock pot.
2. In a bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic and pepper flakes.
3. Pour over chicken.
4. Cook on LOW for 4 hours or on HIGH for 2 hours, or just until chicken is cooked through.
5. Remove chicken from crock pot with a slotted spoon, leaving sauce behind.
6. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of cornstarch in 3 tablespoons of water and pour into crock pot. Stir to combine with sauce. Replace lid and cook sauce on HIGH for ten more minutes until the sauce has thickened.
7. Shred chicken with two forks and then return to pot and toss with sauce before serving.
8. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice, quinoa, noodles or MY favorite–spinach!