One thing I get asked for a lot recently from my friends and friends of friends or random people at the gym I say hi to regularly but don’t actually know their names (and now it’s been too long to ask without it being awkward…you know that situation, right?) is for easy and fast dinner recipes that are also healthy and can be whipped up any old night of the week. Well friends, today I answer your request with a recipe that not only checks all those boxes but even makes a killer leftover lunch the next day, giving you back even MORE time. It’s my Spicy Asian Brown Rice Stir Fry, and guys…guys…it’s also delicious as hell and features ingredients that support your liver, immune system and improve your digestion (all things that suffer when you’re busy and stressed). Boom goes the dynamite, right?
However, here’s another truth bomb you may not like quite as much but you’ve got to hear it: despite what some people might tell you, eating healthy (at least if you want to do it consistently) DOES take some time and effort. Sorry, guys. But the good news is that it doesn’t require a crazy amount of time. In fact, just an hour or two a week is likely all you need to accomplish my best strategy for eating healthy during the week without going bananas: meal prep!! Yes – the secret is not a secret. If you have lots of healthy, pre-cooked options in your fridge then whipping up healthy meals during the week becomes a snap (and makes all those BS excuses why you have to have that bagel on the run completely bogus – sorry to your bagel loving alter ego giving me major cut eye right now).
So what does good meal prep look like? Well, I don’t want to say mine is perfect, but it works for me and my family. Here’s what it looks like:
On Saturday a.m., I go to the market and pick up the lion’s share of my weekly vegetables, fruits and bulk grains. My grocery list usually includes peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, box of brussel sprouts, kale and spinach, carrots, cherry tomatoes, celery, apples, berries (whatever is on sale!), pears (for the bubs – he can’t get enough!), oat bran, brown rice and quinoa. And then whatever other seasonal vegetables strike my fancy that week (squash, asparagus, beets, whatever…). And before you ask, yes, I choose organic almost everywhere because for me my and my family’s health is worth the money. Plus, the people who run the organic stand at my local market are awesome and it’s good for the planet, yo.
Next, I take it all home and wash it and put it in the fridge. Most of the vegetables I eat raw because I love them like that, so I don’t really prep them since I like to cut them fresh daily. But if you don’t have time to cut yours daily then by all means pre-cut them and put them in a container. I find peppers, carrots, celery and cherry tomatoes are the best raw snack out there and so easy to take to-go or as a fast snack at home when they are pre-washed and cut. And cutting them up literally takes like 15 minutes. Next (and admittedly the most time consuming part), I roast my brussel sprouts and broccoli and rice my cauliflower for the week. This takes an hour or so but I use them in bowls for lunches or dinner and it’s SO worth the effort. Plus, it then takes me under 5 minutes to make lunch during the week so I get the time back in the end to watch trashy reality TV instead of cooking while my kid naps. Get it?
For protein, I absolutely cut corners and buy a pre-cooked organic whole chicken because it makes life so much easier for me; and admittedly for my daily Buddha bowls (literally a bowl of vegetables, beans and a grain or cauli rice) I tend to use canned beans because they are fast and one less thing for me to prep on the weekend. Just choose a BPA free organic canned option like Yves or Eden brands if you can. OR you can cook your own beans from dry, which is cheaper and gives you the chance to soak them for easier digestion. I will talk more about that in another post!
Then, lastly I cook a big batch of brown rice or quinoa (or both cause my husband eats it all, too!) to again throw together lunches and dinners in a flash – like this week’s recipe! Having the brown rice pre-cooked shaves 35 minutes off your cooking time, and by having the veggies already washed and ready, well then you’re off to the races my friend.
It may seem like a lot of work on a coveted Saturday or Sunday afternoon when you just want to relax, but honestly meal prep is SO worth the small time investment and will not only make your work week way less crazy, but will almost guarantee more healthy eating success.
Of course I also use my weekends to bake – cause weekends are for eating a damn cookie, am I right? And with my help, it’s a delicious, clean cookie that won’t derail all your hard work! Who says you can’t have your cookie and eat it, too?
The Natural Blonde
P.s. Markets are also a great place to get a decent bagel….. cause you know, 80/20. 😉
Spicy Asian Brown Rice Stir Fry
- 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
- 1-2 tsp. chili flakes (depending on how spicy you like things)
- 1 small or half a medium red onion, chopped
- 1 yellow or red pepper (or a mix of both!), cut in half both ways then thinly sliced
- 1 medium bunch kale, ribs removed and leaves finely shredded
- 1 block extra firm tofu, preferably organic, non GMO, pressed and cut into ½” cubes* (can sub chicken but I’d use pre-cooked and just heat through)
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 3 cups cooked brown rice**
- 1½ Tbsp. reduced-sodium tamari
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- ½ lime, juiced
- Handful fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
- 2 green onions, chopped, for garnish (optional but recommended!)
In a small bowl, whisk together the tamari, sesame oil and lime juice. Set aside.In a large sauté or saucepan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat and add in the red onion, cooking until translucent (around 5 minutes). Add in the garlic, ginger, tofu, peppers and chili flakes, stirring to coat with the oil and cook for 5-8 minutes until the tofu is golden brown on all sides and the peppers have softened. Next, add in the kale and stir until it starts to wilt.Lastly, add in the brown rice and the peas, stirring to combine before adding in the tamari mixture and stirring again, cooking until the rice is heated through. Serve with a sprinkle of cilantro and green onion (and if you’re like me, more chili flakes!). Can last in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-5 days for future lunching pleasure.*If you’re not familiar with cooking tofu, you must press it first to get any excess water out before cooking it or else it will be super soggy and just gross to eat! My method is to place the tofu between two plates with paper towel underneath the it, then place a heavy stack of my coffee table books on top for 30 mins. Does the trick!!
** I actually used half cauliflower rice when I made this as pictured in the post and it was AWESOME. A great way to add some more brassica veggies into your life (the ones that detox and pretty much ensure you live forever… ;))