Some quick food that isn't "Fast Food"
November 5, 2005 5:29 PM   Subscribe

Give me your best fast but healthy and tasty recipes. Cheapness is of secondary conern only.

I require massive amounts of caloric intake just to stay at a healthy weight, but I'm not the best at time management. Too often I get in to a vicious circle where I'm too hungry and spaced out to cook properly. I need easy, sustaining recpies.

An example: Sautee garlic, sautee onions, add crushed or diced tomato, add chickpeas, add cumin. Eat with brown rice.
Total cooking time is probably about 20 mins (not counting soaking of chickpeas, which can be done the day before), with minimal prep. Give me more.

Ideally, nothing with beef or pork, since I can't stand either. Vegetarian preferred but not necessary. Extra points for meals which are bio-regional for someone living in mid-North America. But the main concern is keeping myself fed without eathing the same three meals all the time. Keep in mind I know how to cook, I just don't.
posted by poweredbybeard to Food & Drink (33 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
Open tin of refried beans. Glop into pot on medium heat. Squeeze in one lime. In low frying pan, warm tortillas. Chop one tomato and one pepper; grate some cheese. Add sour cream, salsa, hot sauces as desired. Roll and eat, yum. Truly one of the heavenly foods, I don't know why.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:35 PM on November 5, 2005

Throw huge handfuls of fresh basil,ample oil and a lot of garlic and grated quality parmesan, romano, or asiago cheese, all into a blender. Puree. Use as pasta topping. Yum!
posted by five fresh fish at 5:37 PM on November 5, 2005 [1 favorite]

Put oil in skillet, toss in chicken breast. Fry. Add dash of lemon juice and handful of blueberries. Yum.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:38 PM on November 5, 2005

Ginger-garlic tofu (recipe ripped off from Madhur Jaffrey's wonderful World Vegetarian):

Chop up a pound of firm tofu into 3/4-inch cubes. In a nonstick frying pan, sautee it in 2 Tbsp. of peanut or safflower oil over high heat until it's lightly browned on all sides (5 min. or so). Add 1 tsp. ginger powder and 1 tsp. garlic powder (you want the powders; the real thing doesn't work here). Turn down the heat just a little. Stir for a minute. Add 2 Tbsp. of tamari. Stir for two minutes, turning the heat down a little more. Add 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast. Stir once and turn off the heat. You're done. It's good with rice and maybe steamed broccoli or something.

Another thing that will cut down your cooking time considerably: get a really good chef's knife and make sure it stays sharp. I have a 6-inch ceramic knife (that therefore doesn't need sharpening), and use it ALL the time.

Also: keep prewashed salad greens in the fridge. You can get good and very cheap organic salad fixings from Costco; leafy green stuff at every meal with no fuss!
posted by 88robots at 5:38 PM on November 5, 2005

oil in pan, sautee garlic, cube extra firm tofu and add to pan (blot the tofu with a towel first), blob on some oyster sauce, keep on heat for another minute, then squirt on chili sauce (I use the thai one with the rooster on the bottle).

You can add veggies, but I'm usually too lazy to do so. In fact, sometimes I'm to lazy for even the whole pan part; I just mix the oyster & chili sauce & dip the tofu cubes in it without frying the tofu first.
posted by neda at 5:39 PM on November 5, 2005 [1 favorite]

Fry onion and garlic in oil. Mix a couple Tb tomato paste, some water, sage, mint, chili powder. Add to frypan, add two cups water. Bring to low boil, reduce heat. Add several eggs carefully, to poach. Serve up the mess: it's huevos rancheros or something close to it. You can add some salsa, too.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:43 PM on November 5, 2005

Boil a couple cups of water. Add a cup (or is it two?) of couscous, along with raisins, apricots, slivered almonds, and anything else fruity or nutty. Wait five minutes, eat with gusto. It's like a healthy, hearty dessert, but it's really a great meal.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:45 PM on November 5, 2005

Toss rice in rice cooker. Add water to a height one fingerjoint higher than the rice. Cook. Add healthy splash of unseasoned rice vinegar, tablespoon sugar, dash of salt, mix well. Cool. Toss in bowls, top with slices of carrot, cucumber, salmon, sushi sprinkles, black sesames, seaweed, etc. Add wasabi to the side, along with Japanese mayo. Lazy sushi!
posted by five fresh fish at 5:48 PM on November 5, 2005 [1 favorite]

Toss hash browns into frypan with 2Tb oil. Fry. Reduce heat when near done. Add eggs, sunnyside up. Put a lid on the frypan, helps set the eggs. Serve up. A comfort food, a very lazy comfort food.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:49 PM on November 5, 2005

Boil up some bowtie pasta and while you wait your eight to ten minutes, stir-fry peppers, onions, tempeh, and fresh peas if you've got them. I put in garlic and dill as well. On a good day, I can get all these at my local farmer's market.

You can add spinach or greens to the boiling water just before the pasta is done, too.

Drain the bowties, then return everything to the pasta pot. Add tahini, heat and stir to coat.

If you're looking to increase the caloric content, chuck in some butter and some sliced avocado. If you're having a non-vegetarian day, sliced cooked chicken is good here, too. When you can't find tempeh, if you despise regular tofu, a little paneer or quesa fresca hits the spot.

This takes less than fifteen minutes, including vegetable prep, and it is hearty, savoury, and toothsome.

neda -- my grocery calls that stuff "Hot Cock Sauce". But if you ask for Sriracha, they still know what you want.
posted by Sallyfur at 5:49 PM on November 5, 2005

Chop up a few big Spanish onions. Fry in a deep, wide pot. Add a Tb or two of flour, lots of butter. Fry until onions are heading toward transparent and flour is heading to brown. Dump into slow cooker, along with enough beef stock. Let it cook all day. Serve up in bowls, add splash of dry sherry, cubed bread, sprinkle with parmesan, asiago, romano, or even mozza. Toss under oven element, brown the cheese. HANDLE WITH CARE its hotter than hades now. Eat with gusto.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:51 PM on November 5, 2005

Fry shallots, or scallions, or minced garlic, or onion in butter until soft. Add smoked salmon tips (they're dirt cheap), fry long enough to warm and infuse butter; remove all from skillet. Pour 3/4c evaporated milk (and some sour cream or cream cheese, if you want a rich sauce) into skillet, bring to gentle boil, then simmer to reduce; add dry dill, pepper, capers, smoked salmon/onion mixture. Get it hot again, then pour over pasta. Mmmmm! Good fishies.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:55 PM on November 5, 2005

Toss water, flour, milk powder, sugar, salt, and yeast all according to manufacturer's directions, all into the breadpan. Make sure you put the paddles in first! Put into bread machine, punch start, wait. Eat with butter and maple syrup.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:57 PM on November 5, 2005

Bowl of rice, mix with squished avocado (mmm, snot green rice), mix with half can of salmon.

Random chopped up stuff like green peppers, green beans, carrots, with chopped garlic and a handful or two of frozen pre-cooked shrimp, fried with oil and soy sauce, on whatever. Toss in yesterdays noodles and fry 'em too.

Make a shitload of spaghetti sauce (can of diced tomatoes, textured veggie protein, random vegetables, lots of garlic, whatever). Store in fridge, eat spaghetti for a couple meals, then get lazy and start eating it on toast or with rice, or scrambled eggs. mmm.
posted by stray at 6:07 PM on November 5, 2005


Butternut - cut in half. Mist with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Cube and serve over brown rice with black peper and grated parmesan cheese.

Spaghetti (the bigger the tastier) - Cut, mist, sprinkle, roast for about 40 minutes. Scrape out the insides and toss with olive oil, grated gruyere cheese, fresh chopped herbs, and canned tomatoes.

Buttercup - This recipe is phenomenal.

Roasting winter squashes takes some time, but not much effort. You can put the squash in the over and turn the rice cooker on at the same time and do something useful for 45 minutes until dinner is ready. Use more butter/cheese for more calories. Nice side dishes include sauted green beens or dark, winter greens seasoned to match the squash.

I'm so into winter squash these days. I'm going to stuff an ambercup squash with (turkey) sausage and cornbread stuffing next to see what happens, but that's neither vegetarian nor fast and easy.
posted by jennyb at 6:34 PM on November 5, 2005 [1 favorite]

Brainless Black Bean Soup:
Saute a diced onion, carrot, and 2 or more cloves of garlic in one tbsp of vegetable oil until onions are soft (5 minutes or so). Add 2 tbsp of chili pepper and 1 tbsp of cumin. Cook for one more minute.

Add 3 cups chicken stock, 2 cans black beans, and about 1/3 bag of frozen corn. Bring to a boil.

Puree 1 can black beans and 1 can stewed tomatoes in blender or food processor. Add to soup. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until carrots are tender.
posted by bibliowench at 6:43 PM on November 5, 2005 [1 favorite]

More with butternut squash--peel and cut into 1" cubes, toss with onion, rosemary and a splash of olive oil and roast at 425 until tender (about half an hour).

Sprinkle with feta or crumbled chevre, and serve with spinach or chard.

A fun trick is to cook pasta, and when you drain it, drain the hot water into a big bowl of greens--let the water stand for a minute, then drain the greens and toss them with the pasta. The above squash mixture is delicious with the pasta/greens mix, as is tomato or cream-based sauce.

If you have a nearby Trader Joe's, you can buy the squash precut in a bag, but it is less expensive and not terribly time consuming or messy to peel and cut it yourself. You can even roast half as another poster described above, then save the other half to roast my way within the next day or two.
posted by padraigin at 7:34 PM on November 5, 2005

Stirfry: saute garlic in olive and sesame oils, add mushrooms, snap peas, wait a few minutes then add broccoli and cilantro, then finally a handful of unroasted cashew nuts. Top with black pepper and eat straight or serve in toasted pitas. If you keep a few basics, cashew or pine nuts, different oils, fish sauce, pepper, spices etc you can make a healthy meal out of whatever random vegetables you have in the fridge in under 20 minutes. To get extra fancy bake some fish or meat and add it too.

Another easy stirfry is mushroom, garlic and shallots in olive oil, add chopped tomatos cook until soft then toss in some smoked salmon (preferably honey smoked) and cottage cheese. Cook one more minute and serve alone or with noodles, rice or bread.
posted by fshgrl at 7:56 PM on November 5, 2005

canned lentils simmered with spaghetti sauce (Classico's my favourite) and cheese bits melted into it (cheddar's my favourite).
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 8:09 PM on November 5, 2005

For breakfast: Banana Pancakes.

Mash a banana.

Beat an egg.

Mix them together.

Fry in butter on medium heat.

Makes two.

(Lower heat than normal pancakes. If the heat's too high, the bottom will scorch while the top's still runny)
posted by winston at 8:40 PM on November 5, 2005 [8 favorites]

Take a sweet potatoe, stab on all sides with a fork. Microwave. Slit with knife, put a dab of butter or margarine.
posted by 6:1 at 8:46 PM on November 5, 2005

Open a can of baked beans, throw them in a small skillet and fry them with one or two eggs (I like to mix it all up together). Eat on top of 2-3 pieces of toasted whole wheat or whole grain bread. 5 mins. total
posted by postergeist at 8:51 PM on November 5, 2005 [1 favorite]

Corn - throw a couple of cobs in the microwave, with husks still on. Three to five minutes, great tasting corn. Butter, if you like it that way, or just eat.

Fried rice - cook large pan of rice (white/brown) then (using cold rice for several days) fry onion + any chopped veggies, salt + pepper (pepper's important imo) throw rice into the veggies, add an egg, stir, eat.

I was helping collate recipes for a vegan presidential candidate's planned cookbook. One of the submitted recipes reads: "take one potato, wash, slice thinly, eat. delicious" Sounds like it would be quick, but I haven't tried it.

As 5ff pointed out cous-cous is really simple and quick, and you can add all sorts: e.g. a can of tomatoes plus a can of chick peas; cooked shrimps; precooked veggies as below.

I've recently been buying Trader Joe's prepackaged mixed veggies, dropping a handful in a bowl plus a spoonful of water, covering with a saucer and microwaving for a few mins. All the taste stays in the veggies. Yum.

Crepes are very quick & simple: bit of flour + egg + milk, stir gently (if you stir hard then leave the mix for 30 mins after stirring, to let the gluten relax), fry in butter. Good either savory or sweet.

Thanks to everyone for the great ideas -- my mouth's watering and I'm off to the kitchen.
posted by anadem at 9:06 PM on November 5, 2005

Oh, and Trader Joe's fresh mozarella, sliced, with TJ's pesto sauce as dip. Almost zero prep time, healthy-ish and tasty.
posted by anadem at 9:11 PM on November 5, 2005

I love my vegetable/rice steamer. I find them at thrift stores for $4 or $5. Put in your veggies, add water (just over the first line on my oval shaped Rival). Walk away. When the light goes out it's ready. I add shrimp, fish, or chicken breasts sometimes too, right in with the veggies. Shrimp can go in frozen. Check to make sure any meats are fully done before you eat them. Add butter & seasonings, lemon, whatever. Easyand very healthy.
posted by BoscosMom at 9:49 PM on November 5, 2005

Sound so nice, all of them, but no corn or nuts for this boy. Medical, dontcha know...
posted by Samizdata at 10:51 PM on November 5, 2005

Unstuffed peppers:
Slice up one or two green peppers. saute in water to desired doneness
Add cooked, chopped Morningstar Farms breakfast sausage patties and
Cooked rice pilaf (leftover Rice-a-Roni, or those microwave bag-o-rices, whatever)
Stir together until heated, add ketchup or other tomatoey topping as desired.

Soupy rice:
If you have some brown/wild rice blend handy, heat it up, and prepare a can of Campbell's Cream Of Mushroom With Roasted Garlic soup using fat-free milk. Cut up some French bread into chunks. Serve rice over bread, then ladle the soup over the rice. Particularly tasty if the rice has been cooked in a bullion.
posted by sageleaf at 8:43 AM on November 6, 2005

Quesadillas. Flour tortillas, shredded cheese, chopped veggies (I usually use green onion, red pepper, and tomato), beans if you like (black beans from a can, drained and rinsed). Scatter fixings on one half of the tortilla. Fold over other side. Place on dry griddle set on medium-high heat until underside crisps and gets brown spots. Flip. Heat through a minute more. Remove, cut into wedges, serve. Top with sour cream, salsa, guacamole.... Total time about 15 minutes.

Tacos. Corn tortillas, shredded cheese, whatever filling you like (I like apple slices and make a green salad on the side). Spread both sides of the tortilla with butter or margarine. Medium-high heat, place on griddle, flip when air pockets form, scatter cheese on half and fold over. Flip again when brown spots form on underside, leave maybe half a minute more, pull open and put filling inside. Total time about 10 minutes.

Pita pizzas. Lay a flat round of pita out (no need to slice it in half). Top it with tomato sauce (thinly spread), shredded mozzarella, and whatever toppings you like (our favorites are broccoli, pressed garlic, red pepper, feta cheese, cheddar cheese, mushrooms). Bake on a cookie sheet in a 400-degree oven for 7 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted and pita is crisp and brown. Total time about 15 minutes.

Egg salad sandwiches. Hard-boil eggs. While they cook chop up celery and red pepper, toss in a bowl with mayo, mustard, whatever else you like (many people like green olives). Cool boiled eggs under running cold water, peel, chop, add to bowl, mix, salt and pepper to taste. Pack on bread or roll with lettuce leaves. Total time about 20 minutes.

Baked potato. Scrub potatoes to get the dirt off, prick holes all over with a fork, toss in microwave for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on size/how many/how powerful your microwave is. Split baked potato, top with whatever you like: butter, sour cream, chives, cheese, veggies, chili.... Total time about 10 minutes.

Muffins are quick to mix up and bake in 20 minutes or less. Here is an example of an adaptable muffin recipe, and you can add whatever you like best to it. Total time will be under a half hour.
posted by Melinika at 9:02 AM on November 6, 2005 [1 favorite]

How could I forget grilled cheese sammiches with pickles and sliced tomatoes inside? Mmmm. Those are quick and filling.
posted by Melinika at 9:08 AM on November 6, 2005

(Winter recipe) Chop your choice of sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, carrots and/or onions, (root veggies in general) into eighths or so. Put in a bowl, pour in a few teaspoons of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and herbes de provence, toss to coat veggies well. Put in roasting pan in oven at 350. Take the dog for a walk, or wait 35-40 minutes, enjoy caramelized goodness.


(Summer recipe) Take 3 or 4 cloves of garlic. Using a wide-bladed knife, smoosh the garlic under the flat side of the knife. Put garlic in a small dish, sprinkle wtih a teaspoon of salt, and cover with red wine vinegar. Let it sit for 20 mins at least. (Or take the dog for a walk.) In the meantime, thinly slice fresh tomatoes, place in a bowl. Rinse fresh basil. When the vinegar has steeped, pour off just the vinegar over the tomatoes. Add enough good olive oil to coat, tear the basil into little bits with your fingers (not a knife!) and add to tomatoes. Toss thoroughly, correct for salt, serve immediately with some nice crusty bread to soak up the yummy tomato juices.
posted by ambrosia at 9:28 AM on November 6, 2005 [1 favorite]

You can bake chicken breasts using just about any salad dressing as a marinade. Bake up a bunch and freeze into portions. Thaw and serve in a salad, on pasta, next to rice, etc.
posted by deborah at 11:54 AM on November 6, 2005

Gorp! Good old raisins and peanuts. I like to add M&Ms to mine, you can also add sunflower seeds, dried fruits, etc. Probably not good as a frequent meal replacement, but a decent standby and a great snack, especially on the go. Also keeps well and of course is very fast and easy to make.
posted by attercoppe at 3:18 PM on November 6, 2005

Mix canned chickpeas, frozen spinach, canned tomatoes, dried coconut, curry powder and garlic.
It is not super great, but it is super fast and healthy.
posted by davar at 3:35 PM on November 6, 2005

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