Welcome to Busy Women Mealtime Makeover! Whether you are one of the lovely busy ladies participating in the makeover or just interested in taking your meals up a notch – girl, do I have some rockin’ recipes for you! From now until October 13th I’ll be featuring twelve new delicious makeover-friendly recipes. (And if you want to join in and get the entire makeover PDF complete with meal plans, shopping lists and recipes, videos and photos of me cooking for added support, weekly emails with additional recipes and kitchen tips and tricks and access to our online forum, you can totally start a few days late – click here and sign up!)
My friend Penina comes to mind when I think of a "busy woman." She recently moved to a new city, she is engaged to get married, she runs her own business and she is weeks away from finishing her Master's degree in Nutrition... AND she gets healthy meals on the table. Yep, it's possible.
Penina, how has improving your eating habits affected your life?
In 2006 I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. I was 24 years old and my life changed overnight. I had to start paying attention to how I was treating my body. My autoimmune disease woke me up. It was my body's way of telling me to slow down, switch gears, and breathe! Cleaning up my diet helped me get a handle on my disease and significantly improve my quality of life.
Why is eating healthy a priority for you?
Not to sound overly dramatic, but my life kind of depends on it. When I don't eat well my disease flares up and my quality of life plummets. My energy gets low because my body becomes malnourished. I'm not satisfied just being a couch potato and frequenting doctor's offices. Eating real food helps me manage my disease.
As a busy women, how do you get healthy meals on the table?
There are a few things I've learned over the years about managing my schedule and still finding time to prepare and eat real food. Planning what my fiance and I are going to eat in advance is a huge time and money saver. This helps to avoid extra trips to the grocery store and throwing out food that goes bad before it can be consumed. I've also discovered that every meal doesn't have to be as fancy and elaborate as Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon. When you're using high quality ingredients like whole grains and real vegetables, you don't need to do a lot of extra work to make dinner taste good. Simple is best. I don't have any professional culinary experience or training. Everything I make has to be easy and fast because I don't have hours each day to spend in the kitchen. What really helps the most for me is cooking extra of whatever it is I'm making. This way I don't have to cook every day. My lunch is almost always whatever I had for dinner the night before. On Sundays I like to spend time in the kitchen making a few different dishes that will last a couple of days. I also like to wash and prep my vegetables when I get home from the grocery store so that they are ready to go anytime. On any given day there is always a huge container of washed and chopped lettuce, some type of whole grain and at least one or two containers of steamed vegetables.
Can you share a recipe? Tell me a little about this recipe.
One of my favorite fall recipes is a butternut squash and chickpea salad. It's really easy to make and requires few ingredients, which is key when I'm short on time and sticking to a budget. It tastes great at all temperatures - right out of the oven, at room temp or even straight from the refrigerator, which makes it an low maintenance dish to serve when you have guests.
Butternut Squash & Chickpea Salad
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cubed
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons coconut oil
15oz (1 can) chickpeas, drained, rinsed
¼ sweet onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the butternut squash in half between the neck and the bulb. Slice each half in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Then you can peel the skin off and cut the remaining portion into cubes. How easy is that?
In baking dish, combine butternut squash, garlic, coconut oil and onions. Make sure the butternut squash and onions are evenly coated with oil.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the squash is soft, and remove from oven.
To make the tahini sauce, combine all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk together. Add more water as necessary for preferred consistency.
Pour chickpeas onto butternut squash. Add tahini or serve it on the side. Serve warm or at room temp.