We have recently been getting into a good stride with meal planning. It’s something we’ve tried off and on for a while but it never really picked up momentum until now. It’s such a game changer, seriously. Even if we don’t follow the plan to a T (cause you know, life happens), it’s still made our lives a heck of a lot easier.
I’ve started batch cooking a grain and a pulse/legume/bean/whatever at the beginning of the week, as well as making granola, yogurt, and date energy bites on an as-needed basis. This planning has also streamlined our grocery list and helped to trim our grocery bills and food waste –> double happy dance. It also means my cooking is slowly but steadily improving, and that we are covering a lot of territory in our cookbook collection. Often times we will each grab a couple cookbooks, sit down at the kitchen table, and bookmark a few things we each want that week. This totally prevents a cooking rut: a wide array of spices and a couple different cooking techniques can transform the same food into completely different meals, which feels so exciting (#nerd).
Yes, meal planning and prepping take some forethought. But some of it is hands off: cooking beans and grains does not require much attention, you could watch tv at the same time. It gets easier as you figure out a rhythm for batch cooking, as well as a rhythm for your week: have a couple easy go-to recipes that will round out a meal (we often have a greek salad hanging out in the fridge) for nights when you’re pressed for time, and plan the more in depth recipes for when you have a bit more time on your hands. Even an in depth recipe can come together more quickly if you prep some of it earlier in the week.
This olive oil quick bread comes together pretty quickly, so you can have a not too sweet and sorta wholesome snack with your coffee/tea, and not spend money on muffins at your favourite cafe every morning. One of the cookbooks we use most frequently is Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi, and the combination of dates, pistachios, olive oil, and preserved lemon reminds me of the book. If you don’t have preserved lemon, just leave it out and feel free to add in some zest in its place; it won’t be the same, but you’ll still get some brightness from the lemon.
p.s. The thought just occurred to me as I’m about to hit ‘publish’ that steeping a pinch of saffron in hot water then stirring it into the yogurt would take this over the top.
pistachio date olive oil loaf (vegan)
adapted from this recipe
1 cup whole spelt flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons ground chia seed + 6 tablespoons water, mixed
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3-3/4 cup sugar (see notes below)
3/4 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 cup preserved lemon, rinsed + deseeded then chopped small
1/2 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
3/4 cup dates, roughly chopped
to serve: yogurt, pomegranate molasses
Preheat the oven to 350F, and line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Whisk the chia through preserved lemon together in another medium bowl. Add the dry to the wet and stir gently. When almost combined add the pistachios and dates and stir through. Pour into the loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave the loaf in the pan for 30 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and allow to cool before slicing.
Definitely opt for a fruity olive oil, and make sure that it’s one you enjoy because the flavour really comes through in the loaf.
This loaf is not exactly in the dessert territory of sweetness. I tested the loaf with varying amounts of sugar, and either of the above will work fine. I opted for a barely sweet version that makes for a good accompaniment to breakfast or afternoon tea, but if you’re looking for more of a sweet treat go for 3/4 – 1 cup.
If your dates are quite soft and sticky, toss them with a couple teaspoons of flour before adding to the batter to keep them from clumping up together.