Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Busy Week? Make a Dinner That Stretches

It's been a busy few weeks for me and it will only get busier.  Now that I'm back from my office's annual convention, I find myself in the final gauntlet (read: less than two months to go) of preparing for our wedding.  So, between random wedding tasks, work and yoga, I find myself with limited time in the evenings to cook.

Stretch Meal #1 - Beans & Veggies Over Brown Rice Blend.
In times like these, I need to balance my desire for nutritious, sustaining meals with some sense of variety with the desire to have said meal at hand quickly.  The best way I've found to accomplish all of this is a Stretch Meal.

What's a Stretch Meal, you may ask?  It's a series of meals that uses essentially the same ingredients, but takes on different forms.  One of the best ways I've found to do this is to make several servings of a bean and veggie mixture that can be repurposed in different formats.

I started my Stretch Meal on Monday by sauteing shallots, two yellow peppers (cut in very narrow strips), a cup or so of chopped mushrooms and several handfuls of spinach in olive oil, and stirring in a can of black beans.  I seasoned it with ground black pepper and oregano.  In hindsight, I should have added some cumin. 

I also had some Lundberg Jubilee Wild Rice going in the rice cooker.  This particular rice blend is a blend of Wehani, Black Japonica, short and medium grain red rice, short and long grain brown rice and sweet brown rice.  I find it has a more interesting flavor and texture than plain brown rice.

Once the rice and veggies were done, I plated about 1/3 of the veggie mix on top of the rice, and added some cheddar style Daiya for good measure.

Stretch Meal #2 - Black Bean and Veggie Burrito
Tonight, I used another 1/3 of the veg mixture to make a bean burrito.  I wrapped all the veggie goodness in a flour tortilla with (you guessed it!) more cheddar style daiya, and let it heat up in the microwave in two minutes.  Add in a side of steamed cauliflower and broccoli and my dinner was in front of me in five minutes.

I still have enough veg mixture left over for one more meal - I could do a spinach salad with it, make a quesadilla, or mix it with wholegrain pasta and tomatoes for a Southwestern style pasta dish.

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