Before I became a mother my life was impossibly crazy - working, going to school full-time (for 2 degrees at once), interning, writing books, maintaining two blogs and trying to preserve my sanity with zero time left for myself at the end of the day. Cooking has always been a way for me to release stress at the end of a busy day so making quick and easy meals became my obsession - and helped me create 3 phenomenal cookbooks , if I do say so myself J. After I had my daughter all the things that made my life crazy were still in place but now there is a tiny person who my whole world revolves around. When she started eating solids it was an easy transition, she just ate whatever I ate – never any pureed, smashed or mushy foods just full, bold flavors and lots of variety. In the last 3 months she went from dabbling in food to eating portions that rival my own and suddenly I found myself stressed out about dinner time. When it was just me I could grab some Taco Bell on the way home and call it dinner, or graze on snacks all night long while finishing up homework or writing a new chapter. But now, I have to have a wholesome, nutritious, home cooked meal on the table every night and the pressure of the “have to” can make life crazy sometimes.
Thankfully, I’m starting to find a balance. Cooking double portions of everything and freezing half for the times when I just have no time to cook has been a life saver. My other secret to stress free cooking is a good store-bought simmer sauce. I have a growing list of favorites which I will share over the coming year – all low sodium, no crazy scientific ingredients and full of flavor. With a good simmer sauce you simply throw whatever protein and/or vegetables you have hanging out in your freezer or fridge in a pan, sauté them with a little oil, add the sauce and voila! You have a home cooked meal.
Last night’s simmer sauce of choice was Seeds of Change Organic Madras Simmer Sauce. It was surprisingly difficult to find a vegan Indian simmer sauce. Many of them have some form of dairy in them but this one is a pure simple sauce. Just tomatoes, onions, and a laundry list of spices. And that’s it, no other crazy ingredients or preservatives. The label says it is a “red hot curry” so I was a little worried it might be too spicy for my little one but it actually doesn’t have much heat at all. So if you’re looking for a spicy sauce you might want to add a pinch of red pepper flakes to it. I sautéed a bag of Garden chik’n strips, frozen broccoli and frozen peas together in a large sauce pan with canola oil, poured the sauce over everything and stirred until it was warmed through and then spooned it over a bed of brown basmati rice. Pure heaven! And my little one gobbled it up! In fact, she ate more of it than I did. You can find the Seeds of Change simmer sauce down the “ethnic” (I hate that word) or international food aisle.