JEFF TIEDEMAN: Meals made easyOne-pot dishes take guesswork out of planning healthy dinner.
Are today’s parents busier and under more stress than their parents or grandparents?
That’s a matter of opinion.
There’s no doubt that people raising a family 25 to 50 years ago had a more demanding lifestyle. They didn’t have the modern-day conveniences of cell phones, computers, microwaves, cable TV, etc.
Then again, they also didn’t have to deal with the unending parade of after-school activities and the challenges presented by a violent, morally permissive, confusing, “anything-goes” world.
But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed: the dilemma presented every day of preparing a supper that’s convenient, quick, delicious, nutritious and healthy.
Of course, a lot of parents succumb to the fast-food option, and as we all know, that’s not always healthy or nutritious.
In fact, it’s one of the biggest reasons experts are saying that the ranks of the obese adults in this country will swell to 42 percent by 2030. And 11 percent of adults will be nearly 100 pounds overweight — or more — by then.
Enter the one-pot meal. Well made, it can boast balanced flavors and a variety of textures and be nutritious at the same time. One-pot meals also can be made cheaply and do not take a great deal of preparation.
A good one-pot meal contains several elements, all of which help contribute to a balanced diet: protein (meat, fish, tofu), aromatics (onions, garlic, herbs, spices), vegetables and a starch (potatoes, rice, grains, pasta). Some examples of these are your basic soups, stews, stir-fries, chilis, baked beans.
Keys to success
The pot you cook with has a lot to do with your success. I’ve found that a Dutch oven is the best container to cook a lot of one-pot meals, including soups, casseroles and stews. (See one-pot stews at www.grandforksherald.com/event/tag/group/Life/tag/food/.)
Dutch ovens are heavy but hold the heat well and evenly and can be used on the stove top or in the oven. They also are perfect for roasts that are cooked with vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and onions.
Another prerequisite for one-pot meals is a well-stocked cupboard and freezer. Frozen stock (beef, chicken, etc.) is great for soups and stews. And a refrigerator full of fresh veggies and herbs as well as a variety of spices also is a must.
For people who want to be environmentally friendly, one-pot meals are a great option.
— One-pot meals made from scratch have significantly less waste than most other foods that may come in cardboard, plastic or aluminum products.
— One-pot meals use only a single energy source, i.e. stove top, oven. That translates into fewer fossil fuels, less carbon waste and a lower electric bill.
— If you’re using prepackaged foods, the amount of energy used to refine and produce the ingredients far exceed that which is used in one-pot meals using fresh ingredients.
— One-pot meals need considerably less water for cleanup. And with a water shortage looming this century, that’s a consideration.
As you can see, one-pot meals are good for you and the world we live in.
And don’t forget about the parents who can’t seem to find enough minutes in the day.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.