How to make a healthy meal in 3 steps

In Starting From Scratch, Sarah Elton shows families how easy it is to cook healthy meals together—you don't even need a recipe. Dinner is only two pots and three steps away.

How to make a healthy meal in 3 steps

Photo: Sarah Elton

Sarah Elton cooking from scratch excerpt

Fast food, homestyle!

It’s fun to create a beautiful meal in the kitchen, but you must eat at least three times a day, and that means sometimes you have to move fast. If you practice a little bit, it’s possible to make healthy homemade dinners more quickly than you can get a takeout hamburger.

The trick is knowing how to work with your pantry staples, a few fresh ingredients, and maybe even some leftovers you happen to have in your fridge.

Here’s how you can get a healthy meal up and running using nothing more than two pots and a little time.

Excerpt from Starting From Scratch: What You Should Know About Food and Cooking. Written by Sarah Elton. Illustrations by Jeff Kulak. Published by Owlkids Books. © 2014 All rights reserved.

How to make a healthy meal in 3 stepsPhoto: Owlkids Books

Choose your base, protein and veg

Pot #1
• Is your meal going to be a rice bowl?
• Or a pasta bowl?
• Maybe you have another staple you can cook, like quinoa?

Whatever you pick, put some salted water in Pot #1, get it on the stove, and cook your base.

Pot #2:
• Do you have any leftover cooked meat in the fridge, like roast chicken or some steak? How about a can of black beans or chickpeas?
• And how about a vegetable? Will it be frozen peas or fresh, rinsed spinach? (You don’t even have to chop it—watch it wilt, or shrink down, with the heat!)

Put Pot #2 over medium heat with a little oil. Start with your protein, then add your veg about 5 minutes later. Stir often until everything is cooked through, around 10 minutes total.

How to make a healthy meal in 3 stepsPhoto: Owlkids Books


Pick your flavours and toppings

Pot #2 (again!):
Ask yourself which flavour toppings go best with whatever is already in the pot. You could try:
• Soy sauce
• Olive oil with some fresh herbs
• Seeds or nuts
• Grated cheese
• Sour cream or yogurt
• Chili sauce
• Or anything else that you think will taste good

Time to eat! As they say, don’t sweat the small stuff. Make whatever you have chosen work for you. And if your meal isn’t your greatest creation ever, who cares? At least you filled your stomach with healthy food—and saved money by not going out to eat.

On the other hand, if you really liked what you did, try to remember which ingredients you used. With a little more time and planning, you could make that dish taste even better the next time. It might become a new favourite!

How to make a healthy meal in 3 stepsPhoto: Owlkids Books

P.S. Don't forget eggs!

Eggs are the greatest fast food ever. You can turn them into just about anything. How about scrambled eggs for dinner? Or maybe a fried egg sandwich? An omelette? Even use them to make pancakes. To make it feel like dinner, grate some cheese on top, fry up some mushrooms, steam broccoli or cauliflower, and dig in!

Read more: 6 easy egg recipes>

How to make a healthy meal in 3 stepsPhoto: Owlkids Books

Snacks kids can help make

8 kid-approved after-school snack recipes>
Here are some ideas of what to feed your kids when dinner is at least an hour away and you don’t want to spoil their appetite.

How to make a healthy meal in 3 steps

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