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Energy Efficient Food …. It’s all about the SAUCE ! ?

OK, so this blog title may seem like a bit of a stretch but here’s my thinking….

In order to realize a sustainable food future, we have to ‘TAKE BACK COOKING” – reinvigorate a love of home cooking so we replace our dependence on hyper-processed, packaged food with enormous embodied energy with home-cooked food from real, simple, maybe even local ingredients.

But, competing with the flavors of some processed or take-out food can be challenging, with their calorie dense, tempting aromas and staged packaging photos often promising more than they actually deliver. This is especially true on a week night after a long work or school day when we have limited time & personal energy to cook. Getting motivated to throw down an elaborate meal is most difficult these nights and it just looks SO easy to grab something pre-prepared and processed, right?

Clearly every once in a while we all crumble to this temptation, but my theory is that it’s easier to fight this urge to buy something pre-cooked and packaged if you have a few phenomenal super quick (less than 5 minute prep) sauces in your repertoire.

In fact, if you’re new to cooking, I say one of your first steps to ensure success and keep you in the game is to learn a few “knock your socks off” sauces.

For example, I know I can boil a quick box of protein rich whole wheat pasta, no problem. And, that’s fine, but by itself it doesn’t really grab my interest….BUT, throw together a super quick hoisin sauce (in less than 5 minutes) with a sprinkle of peanuts and some quickly sautéed veggies? Now you’re talking (really this sauce is amazing, try it!)! (recipe at the end of this post).

And sure, a chicken breast cooked on a cast iron skillet – no problem, I can do that quickly, but …. meh… nothing really to get excited about there. Unless you whip together this greek pesto sauce to pour over top – now that will help gather the family around the table.

Humanely raised Pork chops or a healthy grain bowl – well, ok … I guess. But whip together a quick pan gravy (incredibly adaptable – let your creativity go wild!) and you have …. Oooo, baby….what did you whip together tonight?!

You get the trend here? Simple food ANYONE can cook is transformed by a magical sauces, many of which come together in a matter of minutes and make your meals take-out competitive! And, you’ve taken back control of your food system … Ba-Da-Bing!

And while it can take a bit of discipline to START the cooking process some days, once I do, I am always rewarded by these calming and centering activities to help iron out the kinks in my day. I don’t get that benefit from throwing any microwavable meal in the “nuker.”

Here are some of my favorite sauces but the internet is LOADED with others, I’ve provided some links to others below. All of these come together in 5 minutes or less…we can do this! Enjoy!

Simple home-made hoisin sauce (just wisk this together and enjoy on pasta, or chicken, or tofu, or rice, or…):

¼ cup soy sauce

2 T peanut butter (warm gently in microwave to help with mixing)

1 T sweetness (honey, brown sugar…)

2 teaspoons vinegar (any)

1 minced garlic clove (in garlic press)

2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 squirt siracha sauce (or a couple dashes of Tabasco or similar)

1 sprinkle of black pepper

Quick roasted greek pesto (magic on anything – chicken, sandwiches, pasta,…):

¼ cup olive oil

2 cup basil leaves (or spinach or arugula or a mix)

2 oz black olives (approximately ½ cup sliced)

½ cup feta or parmesean cheese

4 cloves garlic (easy in a garlic press)

Salt and pepper to taste

Pan cooked gravy in 2 minutes or less….

2 T butter (or oil, or any fat)

2 T flour

Wisk these together in a skillet over medium heat and allow to get bubbly.

Then slowly wisk in 1 C liquid (veggie or chicken broth, or milk, or white wine, or a mixture of these, be creative!)

Stir in slowly and allow to boil and thicken thick.

Turn the burner off and you’re DONE.

Not required, but feel free to season with herbs & spices (rosemary?), and/or a splash of a sauce (Worcestershire?) and/or some add-ins (sautéed mushrooms?). Works with anything you have on hand.

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