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April, your time to rethinking home-cooked food

April, your time to rethinking home-cooked food

April 7th, 2020 | Hui Hui Lee, MS,RD/LD

How’s everyone doing? Hope all is well with you guys. I know it is a difficult time right now, but I believe things will get better soon. During this difficult time, we all need to work together to make it through. I don’t know about you, but I see this unprecedented time as an opportunity. The time to get us all learning or relearning about healthy eating. Since we spend most of the time at home, why not try to do some experiments in the kitchen? Cook something you already have thought about a long time ago, but just “have had no time to try” previously. Do these ingredients sound familiar to you and are currently sitting quietly in a corner of your kitchen: canned beans, cheese, eggs, frozen veggies, tortilla, pasta, pasta sauce, salsa, rice? What do you see when you look at these items? I see several potential meals. And of course if you have garlic, onion, spices, salt and pepper, these will be even better.


Canned beans (black beans, refried beans, chickpeas) I can make it into a bean burrito, burrito bowl, or vegetarian chili. The types of burrito vary depending on what you have. I would personally make it with beans, rice, shredded cheese, sour cream and salsa.

If you don’t have any tortilla wraps, then just make a step-down version, which is a burrito bowl. What I have here for the burrito bowl is a fun and colorful bowl filled with cooked brown rice, toasted almond, creamed corn, black beans, roasted chickpeas, broccoli (cooked), roasted sweet potatoes, and grape tomatoes. I have salsa and sour cream to go with my burrito bowl.

The vegetarian chili is also pretty flexible in the ingredients. The common ingredients used for homemade vegetarian chili are vegetable stock, celery, carrots, garlic, canned beans (black beans, pinto beans, and/or chickpeas), canned diced tomatoes, taco seasoning (or mixture of cayenne pepper, ground cumin, paprika, dried oregano), salt and pepper. The recipe of vegetarian chili is adapted from Cookie and Kate. When I was preparing the chili, I obviously did not have all the items listed on the recipe, so again I modified the recipe at the very last minute. I used taco seasoning instead of twenty thousand (just exaggerating here) herbs and spices listed on the recipe; I added diced sweet potatoes; I omitted celery and bell pepper; I used chickpeas instead pinto beans. I topped my chili with avocado and sour cream, to provide an extra creaminess and love to my chili.


Pasta/spaghetti and sauce? It is easy. Plain marinara pasta? NO NO! I added some roasted chickpeas to the sauce (made into chickpea bolognese), to give an extra texture, protein, and fiber. Even better, I served with some steamed broccoli on the side.

Kindly refer the chickpea bolognese recipe to the minimalist baker

Rice? How about making it into fried rice. What I generally have in my fried rice is cooked brown rice (sometimes regular white rice), frozen mixed vegetable, garlic, ginger (optional), and seasoning (salt, pepper, soy sauce). If you don’t have ginger feel free to omit it. I like to serve my fried rice with a good serving of steamed broccoli and a sunny-side-up egg. But this time, I tried something different which is pineapple fried rice, something tropical with a slight kick. As for the sides, I had honey sesame chicken and stir-fried broccoli with shiitake mushrooms.

Pineapple fried rice with the recipe adapted from the Spruce Eats. And of course, if you know me well enough, I made a few modifications because I make do of what I have at home. I omitted the cashews, raisins, shallots, and lime juice. I substituted frozen edamame for frozen peas.

Honey sesame Chicken, the key is the sauce. I used the honey sesame sauce from Dinner at the Zoo. As for the chicken, to bake or fry is completely up to you. I had the chicken fried in the air fryer.


Bread? Oh boy, this ingredient is pretty easy! How about having a sandwich for lunch? I made a black bean patty sandwich. If you have time, why not spend a little more time making your own patties. A black bean patty is actually pretty easy too. It requires black beans (canned), onions, garlic, bellpepper (optional), celery (optional), mushrooms (optional), panko bread crumbs, oat, eggs, seasoning/spices (salt, pepper, dried spices and herbs like cumin, oregano).

If you are interested in trying to make your own black bean patties, do refer to Sally’s baking addiction for the recipe. TIP: If you have some mushrooms in your fridge, make sure to incorporate some into the patties. Mushrooms give an extra umami taste to the patties.

A piece of toast can also be turning into pizza toast, which can be a little fun activity with kids.

*** Cooking is not rocket science. It requires your patience and multiple trials to nail it.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH: “In the middle of a difficulty lies opportunity” - Albert Einstein

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