Sunday, November 2, 2008

Favorite Shortcuts

Like many of you, I sometimes find myself short on time, making lengthy meal preparation an impossibility. Also like many of you, I am a devout foodie, and am hesitant to sacrifice my taste buds for the sake of convenience and time. Fortunately, I've discovered a few products that make it so that I don't have to choose between meal time and study time--check out a few of my favorite shortcut products:

PomegranPlus Waffles
The thought of homemade waffles baking in the morning titillates my taste buds, but unfortunately, I have neither a waffle maker nor the time to prepare a batter from scratch. Frozen waffles to the rescue! While not as comfortingly delicious as homemade, I've found that Nature's Path provides a line of waffles that serve as excellent alternatives.
Although the HempPlus and FlaxPlus waffles suit me just fine, I recently decided to branch out and try a new variety: PomegranPlus. With whole wheat flour and oat bran as the main ingredients, and the conspicuous absence of animal products from the ingredients list, these waffles looked promising. Once toasted and topped with just a drizzle of agave, I soon realized that they had lived up to their promise.

The subtle fruitiness of the pomegranate provides a nice contrast to the usual overbearing blueberry varieties I have tried in the past. These waffles are sweet enough to enjoy without syrup or agave; there are already 5 grams of sugar baked right into the waffles. In addition, each two waffle serving contains 4 grams of fiber, 4 grams of fat, and 4 grams of protein, all for 160 kcalories.
If a knife and fork are too tedious for you, these waffles work wonderfully for waffle-wiches: simply spread with your favorite nut butter and squish a few banana slices between 2 waffles, and you've got an easy, no fuss breakfast.

I bought my 6-count box at Whole Foods for $3.39.

Pacific Butternut Squash Soup
I've featured boxed soups here before, but they merit multiple mentions due to their versatility, ease of use, and nutritional value. In the spirit of harvest time (and in lieu of roasting and pureeing fresh squash), I recently sampled Pacific Foods' butternut variety.
My initial reaction to this soup can only be summarized by the word velvety. The smoothness combined with the creaminess and understated sweetness made for quite the delicious lunchtime treat. Although this soup tastes decadent (read: as if it should contain cream!), it is dairy-free due to the substitution of soymilk. Each one-cup serving contains 90 kcalories and 2 grams of fat, plus an impressive 3 grams of fiber. While this soup is not protein-rich, it offers multiple other nutrition advantages such as its provision of 50% RDA for vitamin A. The regular variety carries a hefty sodium load, but Pacific has recently released a lower-sodium variety to address this problem.
In addition to slurping it out of a bowl, try incorporating the soup into your favorite sauces and serving over pasta and/or vegetables.
I purchased a 32 oz. carton for $2 at Whole Foods.

Annie's Woodstock Dressing
If you've taken a walk down the condiment aisle lately, you'll notice that there are countless varieties of salad dressings these days, many laden with high fructose corn syrup, additives, and other less-than-natural ingredients. The obvious solution would be to rely on homemade dressings. This tactic can provide satisfying results, yielding tasty salad toppers and allowing you to get creative in the kitchen. However, whipping up a batch of salad dressing is hardly a priority when I have a 3-page to do list.
Enter: Annie's Natural Dressings. Annie's Goddess Dressing has enjoyed much popularity among food bloggers and cookbook authors alike (see Dreena Burton's Goddess Garbanzos). I, too, enjoyed the flavor of this dressing so much that I decided to sample Annie's other varieties as well, starting with Woodstock. Its sunny orange color and use of tahini in the ingredients list induced me to toss it into my basket without hesitation.

A dose of this goop on a salad makes a world of difference. Although I like lettuce as much as anybody, this dressing transformed a ho-hum salad into a flavor explosion. Woodstock dressing provides your body with heart-healthy unsaturated fat; that fat will also help you absorb some of the nutrients from your veggies. Each two-tablespoon serving contains 110 kcalories and 11 gram so of fat.
Try dipping crudites or toasted pita into the dressing--it's not just for salads, you know!

I purchased an 8-oz bottle from Whole Foods for $3.

What are your favorite shortcuts in the kitchen? Do you have any "semi-homemade" secrets? Let me know!

Enjoy your Sunday:)


Erica said...

Great post! Theres always a way to make a healthy dinner! I love Pacific soups!

jess said...

Thanks for the ideas- I Love pacific brand soups (sometimes even When I have time to make my own! haha) but I've never tried those waffles: I'll have to keep an eye out!

Anonymous said...

Mmm, I really want those waffles now!

Anonymous said...

Great shortcuts, Caroline! I'm actually planning to try that butternut squash soup for dinner, so I'm extra excited now! And I love Annie's dressings...sauces...everything!

I've got a ton of "lazy" secrets - basically trying to do everything as quickly as possible - so this post is right up my alley ;o) I hope you have a great week!

VeggieGirl said...

Thanks for listing these tasty shortcuts!! You rock :0)

ChickPea said...

Erica: Yay! Another Pacific fan! What's your favorite variety?
Jess: Yes, please do try the waffles--so delish.
Shelby: Aw, come on your homemade waffles always look pretty awesome.
EatingBender: Ooh, I hope you like the soup. Annie's is quite the godsend, isn't it?
VeggieGirl: No problem!!

Emma said...

Those waffles look great- I wish I could get frozen vegan waffles here in the UK!

My kitchen short-cuts are cooking sauces for stir-fries or curry dishes. I am definitely too lazy to make my own!

My favourites are black bean (for stir-fries) and Jalfrezi (for Indian style curries)

Wholesome Foodie said...

hahaha my shortcut for waffle eating is just eating it by hand!

My shortcuts are:
1) premaking large batches of food when I have the time
2) stealing bread, peanut butter, bananas, cereal, and what-have-you from the dining hall and keeping other things (like almond milk, oats, flaxseed, wheatgerm, honey, etc) in my room and throwing together things when I don't feel like going to the dining hall for breakfast/dinner
though this obviously only works if you are in a dining hall, haha

ChickPea said...

Emma: That's such a great idea! Pre-made sauces can save a lot of time in the kitchen.
Wholesome Foodie: I definitely used #2 frequently during my freshman year, when I relied on the dining hall for food. Good tips!