My husband, Mark, and I have dinner at home almost every night. We consider one or two nights per month about right to enjoy restaurant food. Before you think I am a genius in the kitchen, let me remind you that I was very inexperienced as a cook back in college. My roommate came out with a fruit salad. I had no idea how she made it!
Fast forward to present time: preparing beautiful, nutritious, delicious food for my family and friends is among the greatest joys in my life.
Cooking at home means that you are in charge of every ingredient. No mystery sauces or extra sugar, oils, or salt. It means that you can save time by not driving across town, waiting in line, and probably eating more than you would at home. I am such a fan of eating home-cooked meals that I devoted an entire chapter to making food at home in my book, Health Matters. At my school, Institute for Integrative Nutrition, they implored us to cook at home more often. Doing so is among the most bonding experiences for a family. It also costs one tiny fraction of dining in a restaurant. In fact, we believe that it is so economical to eat at home, we feel free to purchase the finest and freshest ingredients we can possibly find.
If you aren’t confident as a cook or chef, start off simply. Scrambled eggs with some avocado and salsa is a lovely meal. A simple salad with some salmon is easy and super nutritious. Remember to keep the ingredients fresh and you will surprise yourself by how good home-cooked food can be.
This winter I’ve been experimenting with a variety of ways to cook butternut squash. Let me describe the dinner in the plates above, and then I’ll show you how to prepare the squash. I use and recommend organic produce and wild salmon.
In addition to the glass of California pinot noir, in these plates you see:
- A bed of arugula (rocket) with a cooked salmon patty, some Parmesan cheese, and some guacamole on top. I got the salmon patty at Costco and prepared it on a
Foreman Grill. So easy! This grill is a very handy kitchen tool. It is simple to use and not a hassle to clean.
- Cooked squash over garlic and onions. Steamed mixed greens, fresh herbs from the garden, with feta and pomegranate seeds.
Squash Recipe for two servings. It’s okay to estimate everything. That’s what I do.
- Cut up and steam a butternut squash. (Click here for an online video. Steam for about 8 – 10 minutes) Set this aside.
- Take a pan and add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Heat without burning or smoking. Add one chopped red onion or one large sliced shallot and about three garlic cloves minced. Cook over medium heat until translucent. This takes about five minutes.
- When the onions or shallot are cooked, place one bag of mixed greens, or just spinach right in the pan. The mixed organic greens I get are chard, baby kale, and spinach. Any combo will do. Turn the heat down to low. (These are very easy to find at most markets, or combine your own.)
- Place the cooked, cubed squash right on top of the mixed greens and cover. The steam from the onions will wilt the greens. It does not take much to cook them and they reduce to very low volume.
- Add some mineral salt and black pepper, about 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese, and about 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds to heat just for about two minutes.
- Throw on a handful of any fresh (or dried) Italian herbs you have. Tonight I picked thyme, sage, and rosemary from the garden. Feel free to experiment, as there are no rules about which ones you can use.
Remove from hot pan with a spatula. Serve on dinner plates for a main course or side dish.
I picked this dish for you because it looks and tastes exotic, but in fact it is uncomplicated and easy to prepare.
Have fun. Practice makes improvement. Give thanks for being able to choose beautiful, nourishing food.
Certified Health Coach, Galloping gourmet
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