The most common explanation I get from people who have difficulties eating a healthy diet is that they lack time to prepare home-cooked, nourishing food. Understandable. The pressure of jobs, commutes, and family responsibilities makes it quite difficult to put nutritious, quick meals on the table each night. For many of us, it’s not a very attainable goal. We’re left with few options, and frequently the solution is something like take-out or fast food (yuck), laden with empty calories, refined sugars, and preservatives. In fact, time constraints may be the single biggest factor that drives people to contact me for personal chef services.
Yet what few realize is that with a mere half hour or so—maybe less if you have crafty knife skills—cooking a nutrient dense, delicious meal for your family on budgeted time doesn’t have to be as challenging as it sounds. (Shhh…don’t tell my clients ?).
Eggs, for example, are my all-time favorite go-to meal when I need quick and nourishing sustenance on the fly. Eggs are Nature’s perfect food. They come prepackaged into perfect serving portions and provide an excellent source of inexpensive, high-quality protein, B vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins D and A, cholesterol, and minerals such a selenium, zinc, and iron. Easily digestible, incredibly versatile, and downright tasty, they are, in my opinion, the one food that all of us should incorporate into our diets on a regular basis.
One simple way to eat more eggs is with easy “throw-together” hash meals like this one. This extremely adaptable recipe is a saving grace for me on my busy days. It’s flexible to whatever your favorite tastes and textures are, and it lets you make use of whatever you have in your fridge. Think of it as the perfect way to use up small amounts of leftover meats, that last nub of onion, or the dregs from your produce drawer. I change the flavors up depending on my mood: garlic, ginger, tamari, and sesame oil for an Asian theme; cumin, chiles, cilantro, avocado, salsa, and maybe a little cheese or sour cream for a South of the border flair. The possibilities are as open as your imagination.
The only thing that remains the same is that I always, always top my delicious concoction with a fried egg or two—cooked enough for the bottom to be crispy but the yolk still runny enough to spill over, creating an unctuous, rich, velvety sauce. I also prefer to cook my eggs in butter or bacon fat as I find this gets the best crispy edges.
So next time you feel the crunch to balance a healthy dinner with your limited schedule, a scan of your fridge might prove that a home-cooked meal isn’t just doable—it can be quick and easy as well.
Sausage, Cauliflower, and Bell Pepper Hash with Crispy Fried Eggs
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20–30 minutes
½ lb. bulk Italian sausage
½ medium-sized onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small head cauliflower, roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 red pepper, diced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
1 handful parsley leaves, chopped
2–4 eggs (preferably free-range and organic)
Butter or bacon fat (for cooking eggs)
Brown sausage in a heavy skillet until cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a bowl and set aside. Reserve some fat from sausage in pan (about 1–2 tablespoons should do). Discard the rest.
Sauté onion in sausage grease until golden. Add garlic and cauliflower. Continue cooking about 2–3 minutes. Add red pepper, herbs, and spices. Cook until onion is caramelized and cauliflower is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add a splash of water if mixture seems a little dry. Add parsley and stir through. Set aside and finish eggs.
Meanwhile, heat a second pan with a little butter or bacon fat until hot. Fry eggs to your liking. Divide hash among serving plates and top with fried eggs.
Image from Briana Goodall.