Cooking is a time consuming process. Cooking healthy meals with minimal non-processed ingredients can be even more of an undertaking. The humble leftover plays a crucial part in the day of a healthy eater.
A person that has committed to this lifestyle can’t just go out into the wild without a plan, or else they will end up with extremely limited choices that fit their needs, giving up and eating a fast food meal that packs more calories and added sugars than they would normally get in a week, or just going without food altogether. Food prep and rationing out leftovers throughout the week is crucial to the success of healthy eating habits.
Some of you might, as I do, have to contend with the natural born enemy of leftovers…a male between the ages of 14 – 21 lurking in the shadows of your living space. Said male age 14 – 21 can decimate a carefully portioned out week’s worth of food prep in one night while you sleep. It’s like a hoard of locusts descending on a crop right before 4 weird dudes in cosplay outfits show up on horseback, only it happens in your refrigerator, and is much more frightening to see in action.
After a weekend of food prep, this is an accurate rendition of what security camera footage of me would look like after inspecting the fridge on a Tuesday morning:
I’ve had to adjust my game plan, and it’s fairly simple and easy to achieve. While these locusts in male human form age 14 – 21 are amazingly effective at decimating the meals you have painstakingly prepared, they are virtually incapable of assembling their own food. When the eventuality of your casserole – big enough to feed a platoon – vanishes overnight, you can pivot by assembling a quick meal out of individual items they could never figure out how to combine on their own.
Cooking with healthy versions of foods also has great advantages to this strategy over traditional methods. Leftover cauliflower rice is just as tender and delicious warmed up in a skillet as it is freshly cooked. Have you ever tried to eat leftover cooked white rice? It’s the equivalent of chewing on a Lego brick shredded over a cheese grater.
Warmed up french fries is the food equivalent of everything wrong in this world, while Jicama fries can be eaten cold or heated back up with no ill effect whatsoever. If you have a spare vegetable to dice up, even better.
The male age 14 – 21 would have no more idea what to do with an intact bell pepper than a caveman would with a MacBook Pro. It is safe from late night raids while you sleep. Keep some simple, basic ingredients around and you won’t have to resort to eating ham sandwiches for lunch like a little kid home on summer break.
The recipe below is one I threw together in one such incident. It hits all the right requirements for protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats that I need. It’s also delicious and satisfying. You might end up liking it as much as beloved character actress Margo Martindale in one of her many great roles.
For some reason, the HBO series The Leftovers comes to mind right now. Then when you find out it was actually Ann Dowd and not beloved character actor Margo Martindale as most people believe, the analogy rings more true. When you run out of Margo, having Ann on hand can be just as good and keep you on track.
Leftover Chicken and Rice bowls
Leftover cooked cauliflower rice
Store bought Chicken strips – all natural
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
Fresh ground pepper, cumin, chili powder to taste
Guacamole and Pico
Black bean chips
Grass fed plain greek yogurt
Dice the bell pepper and red onion and saute in a cast iron skillet until just soft:
Weigh out around 82 grams of chicken strips and slice into bite sized pieces. Throw in the hot skillet with the peppers and onions, then season with the spices to taste:
Once the chicken starts to brown, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of leftover cauliflower rice to the pan and heat through:
Put it all in a bowl with toppings of your choice. Guacamole, fresh pico, black bean chips, and plain greek yogourt were my weapons of choice here: