Monday, June 6, 2011

Impressive and Healthy Doesn't Have to Be Difficult!

Several years ago we started making {almost} everything from scratch in our household as a way to save money (tons!) and eat a more healthy and more balanced diet.  The rewards have been well worth any effort and besides that we think food tastes a whole lot better this way.

I am always surprised by how many people think it is far too difficult and time consuming to actually make a meal from scratch.  First of all, let's define from scratch.

From scratch: An idiom that means from the very beginning or starting point and from nothing (nothing already done for you)

While it is probably not likely that we are always going to start a meal from nothing already done for us...for example, I don't have the equipment to ground my own flour, I don't catch the fish we eat, and in the example I will get to of a meal idea I didn't shred my own coconut.  However, the point is, you can make a meal that is healthy, affordable, and even impressive all from simple and natural ingredients.

I am not saying that it is morally wrong to use a box to make a meal or baked good.  I am just saying that you don't have to do it, and if you don't you will probably save a lot of money and make something that is much healthier.  This is because there is a lot of junk available today in boxes.  These items often have terrible ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils, and when you break down the price you can be spending a lot more money for the convenience.

We started with one change at a time in our home until we had made a whole lot of changes that had become a part of our lifestyle.  I don't often make food that is fancy or has a lot of steps in the recipes.  You don't have to do that, either.  There are so many ways to make this kind of cooking and eating fit into your life and your family.

Here is one example.  We had one pound of salmon in the freezer that I bought fresh and froze immediately because it was on sale a couple of weeks ago.  I also had some white potatoes, about five little purple potatoes, a small bag of snow peas, a leftover portion of an onion, and four cloves of garlic that I wanted to use up before I forgot about it and accidentally let it go bad in my fridge (letting food rot doesn't save you money, of course).  So I thought about it for a few minutes.  Hmmm, what can I do this all of this?

So I chopped up all of the mentioned veggies and put them in a baking dish.  I seasoned them with sea salt, black pepper, and Mrs Dash after coating them with extra virgin olive oil and stirring it all around in the pan.  I didn't worry about chopping the pieces up perfectly or taking too much time on it.  The goal was to wash and cut it and get it in the pan to bake.

Then I preheated the oven 425 degrees.

Taking the salmon that I had thawed in the fridge overnight, I placed the two pieces on a baking sheet (without greasing the pan).  I put a good bit of black pepper on the top of the fish, and then I put a little bit of sea salt.  Then I had a really exciting idea because we love coconut here.  How can I put coconut on this salmon without having to go through the steps of breading it or making a mixture of some sort?  So I took the unsweetened, organic coconut shreds I had leftover in the freezer and generously sprinkled and spread them on the tops of the two fillets.  Then I took our bottle of raw, unfiltered, local honey - a.k.a. the good stuff - and cautiously sqeezed thin lines of honey all over the top of it.  I just wanted to lightly cover the top with honey to help the coconut not burn and to flavor the fish more.

The oven was finally ready!

I put both the pan of veggies and the baking sheet of fish in the oven side by side for 10 minutes, making sure that the fish was flaky and cooked in the middle.  After letting it cool we had such a yummy dinner that we ate all the fish and managed to save only a little bit of veggies for leftovers.  It was so tasty and even looked like a meal you would order at a restaurant. 

And it only cost me around $12 for almost four portions of fish and about six portions of veggies!  That is really good for a salmon dinner!

This one is going to show up again at our house.  Impressive and healthy doesn't have to be difficult!

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