I am very excited to be part of Electrolux Ideas Lab. They have a new project where they are looking for revolutionary ideas that inspire people around the world to enjoy tastier, healthier and more sustainable home cooking in the future. And they are offering a pretty good incentive if your idea wins. Keep reading to find out more.
They asked me why home cooked meals are important to me. My answer is very simple. Basic cooking is such an essential skill in life. From then on, you can experiment as you wish. When you cook your meals yourself, you know what you are putting into your body. It is better for your wallet and most often healthier for you too.
And healthy home cooked meals don’t have to be complicated or take long to cook. The only thing it takes is some planning. What I find easiest is to prepare a menu for the week, leaving 2 days free for impromptu dinners, going out with friends or to do clean-up the fridge/freezer meals. Proper planning will not only save you time spent going to the stores too often, but it will also minimize waste and in the end save you money. Just make sure to check your pantry/fridge/freezer while making your grocery list.
Another way to ensure that I always have healthy ingredients/food at home is having a well-stocked freezer. My freezer is not very big but I use it to the fullest. I have one compartment full of frozen fruit for smoothies, quick compotes to add to porridge or for baking. Another compartment filled with veggies, like spinach cubes which are great for smoothies, soups or pasta sauces. And the last compartment I have is for leftover food or anything that I cooked extra to eat on very busy days.
Most food will keep for months in the freezer, if you have packed them well. If you freeze fruits or veggies, make sure that they are dry (or pat them dry). Use freezer bags to pack them and make sure to let all the air out of the bag. Label them with the dates you froze them. Another thing that helps prevent waste (and this also applies to your fridge/pantry) is using the FIFO method. It is something I learned in school and simply means First In, First Out. So it basically means to store your food in a way that you use the oldest product that you bought first. It is the same way supermarkets organize their products on the shelves. If you’ve ever checked the milk isle for example, you will find the milk cartons in the front are the ones that expire the soonest (oldest). And the ones in the back will have a later expiration date.
Here are some ideas:
When you make a smoothie, you can also make a larger batch and freeze some of it into popsicle molds to have as a healthy snack. The picture above is a smoothie I made with frozen mango, Greek yogurt, a bit of honey and a pinch of turmeric. I topped it with frozen blueberries, fresh figs slices and popped quinoa. The picture below shows the popsicles I made with the leftover smoothie.
For the carrot & butternut squash soup below, I used frozen butternut squash and fresh carrots. Since both veggies already have great consistency, there is no need to add any cream to the soup. I bought the carrots with the tops and instead of discarding them; I used the tops to make a pesto to add it as a topping to the soup. For the pesto, I used one bunch of carrot tops, half a bunch of basil, about ¼ of a bunch of chives, 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, a pinch of garlic powder, a pinch of celery salt, a few drops of lime juice, extra virgin olive oil (just enough so you can blend it) and salt to taste.
Besides a good spoonful of this pesto, I also topped the soup with roasted pumpkin seeds and a few slices of Parmesan. You can freeze the leftover pesto in small portions for another meal. Besides adding it to any pasta, you can use the pesto as part of the dressing for a quinoa caprese salad. Or add it to avocado toast for a quick breakfast.
Muffins also freeze pretty well and are great to take on the go or for packed lunches.
And here is where you come in. Do you have a revolutionary idea? A smartphone app, a life hack, a food sharing program or a complete business idea? Anything that will inspire or help others to enjoy more sustainable and healthy home cooked meals? Electrolux will award the winning idea with a €10,000 cash prize and a week in Stockholm filled great culinary experiences. And you will also be able to meet mentors who can help you further develop your idea. A pretty good incentive if you ask me! You can submit your idea via www.electroluxideaslab.com . Happy thinking!
Going back to the muffins, they don’t have to be on the guilty side. I made these chocolate-blueberry muffins with a mixture of spelt and all-purpose flour. They are sweetened with apple sauce and honey, and they only have 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per batch. The recipe is as follows:
Chocolate & Blueberry Spelt Muffins
This recipe makes 8 small muffins.
¾ cup of spelt flour
½ cup of all-purpose flour
¼ cup of honey
1/3 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
½ cup of milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of baking powder
Zest of 2 mandarins
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon of cacao powder
1 ½ cups of frozen blueberries
8 muffin liners
2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil for greasing the muffin liners
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
In a large bowl whisk the flours, salt, baking powder, mandarin zest and cacao powder until well combined.
In another bowl, add the eggs, honey, apple sauce, olive oil, milk and vanilla extract. Whisk until everything is combined.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until everything is combined (don’t over mix). Finally add the frozen blueberries and fold them in.
Line the muffin pan with the muffin liners. Brush the liners with melted coconut oil. Fill the muffin liners, leaving only 1cm of space (these muffins rise a bit, but not too much). Bake them for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let them cool down completely before eating (it’s easier to remove the liners then). Once they are cold, you can place them in freezer bags (make sure to remove all the air). They will keep for about 2 months. You can let them thaw at room temperature.
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