Obesity is one of the biggest health issues nowadays. It can lead to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease. High blood sugar, high cholesterol, frequent tiredness that can come from bad dietary habits. Frequent fasting, frequent dieting are not answers to a healthy durable life either. So what to do?
The answer from many MDs is – cook more at home! In fact, a very interesting and useful MOOC course from Stanford University on the basics of nutrition states just that. You can find this short online course HERE and I advise anyone to sit though it and listen.
But why is it so many people struggle with cooking at home?
Going out for lunch or dinner is a normality nowadays, it’s not just something reserved for festive occasions. We have less and less time to spend at home, doing shopping lists, going to the market, and then spend hours cooking. So supermarkets are filled with precooked meals, snacks with very little nutritional value but high fat, sugar and salt content, high energetic but low qualiy content.
There is always a reason to not cook at home.
But how can some people still manage to cook and lead busy lives working, doing sports, reading, meeting friends, getting home almost every day to prepare a meal?
I cook every day. Except for a dinner out maybe once every two weeks, now with the pandemic it has gotten even less frequent. And I enjoy going out for a meal so much more if I don’t do it every day.
How do I have time or the will to cook something at 8pm, when I should be in bed by 10pm because I’ll be getting up at 6am? And I need those 8 hours of sleep to feel well rested.
Easy! I have a few ingredients always at home, they hardly ever go bad and they are perfect for a quick and tasty dinner.
The magic ingredients and some incredibly simple recipes
Garlic, Pasta and Extra Virgin Olive oil
Garlic is a fundamental ingredinet for almost all dishes I cook. It gives great flavour without the need to use many other ingredients.
Garlic is not only a great ingredient to boost flavour, but it is antiinflamatory and antibacterial too!
You can use this to make pasta aglio, olio, peperocino. Cooking time 10min aprox.
Recipe for aglio olio peperoncino
Preheat water to a boiling point and put some salt. Drop the pasta in and check the cooking time on the pack, put a timer 1 min before the indicated time.
In a pan on the lowest heat just warm up the olive oil, chopped garlic and some peperoncino (chili pepper), once the pasta is cooked, drop it in the oil for 1 min to absorb the aroma.
Voilá! Dinner is served!
Good quality canned tuna or sardines
Portugal, Spain, South of France, all have excellent tradition of quality canned fish.
Buying fish at the market is usually the most difficul thing, you need to plan to go when the fish is fresh and be sure you’ll be back home quickly before it starts going bad.
So keeping canned sardines or tuna at home is always a great idea. They are tasty, full of omega 3 fatty acids (good fat) that is lacking from so many people’s diets.
These can be served as an aperitif with some bread, fresh tomato, extra virgin olive oil. You can use these for pasta too. Or one of my favoritres for summer – fresh salad with tuna, like the Niçoise salad.
Canned tomato and parmigiano reggiano
Some tasty good quality canned tomato fried, chopped or pealed are all perfect.
Recipe for tomato sauce
Heat some olive oil and chopped garlic. Add the tomato, adjust salt, maybe add some sugar, if it’s very acidic. You have a tomato sauce in 10 min that you can use with anything!
Have an egg? You can make some shakshuka by frying the egg in the tomatoes. Just crack it in and turn up the heat.
Pasta? Top it with the tomato sauce and some parmigiano reggiano.
Same with rice or if you have some fast cooking red lentil, drop them in for 15min, add some water so it doesn’t dry out and you have the perfect dinner!
Gated parmiggiano or cut in pieces is excellent to give more flavour for any dish and it goes so well with tomato.
Canned chickpeas and tahini paste
Hummus. Such a satifying dish!
And yes, extremely easy to make. When you have no time to cook, you have your canned chickpeas and tahini paste. You can serve this with veggies, cheese, bread. You can even use this as a sauce for pasta and top it off with some grated parmiggiano reggiano!
Recipe for hummus
In a food processor mix the drained canned chickpeas, a tablespoon or more of tahini paste, two tablespoons of icy cold water, add some salt, cumin, if you like, a splash of lemon. Adjust the quantity of the cold water with the consistency you want to acheive.
With little and not so expensive ingredients you can stack up your pantry and never worry, if there has been a day you haven’t been able to go to the market to get some fresh produce. It’s not necessary to buy precooked meals, processed foods, or takeaway every day, when you can make your dish in only 10 min with very few ingredients!