Since accepting my first meal prep client, who just so happens to be a vegan with a taste for variety, I have been forced to up the ante in the kitchen and whip out my apron, arsenal of food blogs, and even my kitchen aid to produce healthy meals that are not only clean but are also tasty and satisfying.
Since everything is fresh and made from scratch (for the most part…), grocery shopping happens on a weekly basis. Saturday morning, when mom’s and babies are on play dates and a huge chunk of society is sleeping in recovering from Friday night, is when I have my standing date with Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Kroger and this new fine place called Sprouts. To make sure I have everything needed for each meal, I take time to jot down my meal plan for the week and from there compile my grocery list. This saves loads of time on Sunday afternoon because I have everything I need when I’m ready for my rendezvous with the kitchen.
Most people prefer to relax on Sunday, savoring the last morsels of the weekend. Not me. I find joy, pleasure and sometimes peace massaging kale in the sink or stirring a pot on the stove. My favorite ingredient is creativity. Stepping outside the box can be the winning factor for a meal plan that you actually stick to. Let’s face it, we all have to eat (starvation diets don’t work), why not make it good? Clean and healthy doesn’t have to translate to dull and boring. My goal is to expand my palate and strengthen my skills in the kitchen by trying new things.
This leads me to me to a new old friend from the grain and/or pasta family (versatile already… gotta love it). Often found in traditional North African cuisine, couscous, a quick cooking and quite filling –perfect-with-everything side dish has quickly risen to staple-pantry-item worthiness in my kitchen. I made it for the first time and it couldn’t have been easier or more delicious!
Simply add it to boiling water, turn off then heat, and let it steam for a minute then fluff. But why stop there? I vowed to be creative so you know there’s more. While the couscous was absorbing the veggie broth (and the magic that happens when you add a bay leaf to a pot of anything), I minced a clove or three of garlic, tossed it along with fresh dill into a big bowl and topped it with the fluffed couscous. To this I added cooked (or canned with no sodium added) great northern beans, tomatoes, red pepper, chopped kale (just a few leaves for color and iron) and cucumber. To season it up (a very important step to remember when cooking with grains- they’re only as tasty as you make them to be), I added fresh lemon juice, Greek seasoning (thanks to the international farmer’s market, I can get my hands on some incredible exotic and unique seasonings), and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to the ingredients then tossed.
I thought it’d make the perfect filling for a convenient wrap but only after smearing made-from scratch pesto (toasted pine nut and parsley pesto to be exact) on the inside of the whole wheat tortilla.
And voila! This delicious Mediterranean Wrap was born and has become legendary in this week’s meal plan and couscous has found a permanent place in my pantry and will be a contender for side-dish-in-a-pinch situations.