ONE PAN MEALS – FUN QUICK AND HEALTHY IDEAS
The idea for One Pan Meals came to me when I realized I was preparing fast snacks and whole balanced meals in one pan, literally, and it was easy and efficient for clean up too.
The KEY is timing.
It takes some thought as to what seasonings, herbs – flavorings you’ll use; will they taste good on a piece of fish, chicken or meat, and on the vegetables, rice, pasta too?
Here’s where your nose, memory and imagination come into play… to create meals that smell and taste great. If you have a fussy eater who likes his or her food kept separate on the plate, then you may have some adjusting to do before serving. If you use a large skillet, foods may be cooked “separately”, but in the same space.
Timing: With fish and veggies, I usually put the veggies in the pan first, followed by the fish unless it’s a thick piece. With chicken or meat, you may want to start that cooking first, then add the veggies. It’s also a great way to clean up those little baggies and bowls of odds & ends or leftovers .
Prepare a large pot of cooked rice, quinoa, barley, or other favorite grain and keep it handy. They will usually stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. This was how I began. Any grain can be added to a pan of veggies and protein in about the last 3-5 minutes of cooking.
Other good staples to keep in the refrigerator are chicken, beef and vegetable broths for nourishing liquids to poach in and to add moisture to the pan for cooking. A bit of white or red wine may be added for liquefying, but keep it to a “bit” unless you’re poaching and really want the flavor from the wine. Of course olive, walnut and coconut oils are great for sautéing and stir-frys.
Stir-frys are a simple and tasty way of preparing in one pan. Slow cooking them on lower heat than traditional “frying” keeps the enzymes and vitamins and minerals from being heated out.
Again timing, cooking your chicken or meats first; (slicing thinly and dicing meats does help them cook faster) and then add your veggies. Sauces and spices go in with the first ingredients to be absorbed.
Tasting and adding, adjusting the spices can be done after adding your protein source if needed.
Adjusting the cooking temperature may be done when the protein is added. I turn up the heat initially to brown or sear meats and chicken to lock in their juices, then reduce heat to finish the meal.
Serve immediately and enjoy.