COOKING FOR A CROWD NEEDN’T INTERFERE WITH YOUR LEISURE TIME
Story and Photography By Jennifer Cohen-Katz
A summer week at the beach. It’s something we look forward to all year. Bringing multiple generations of family together to enjoy each other’s company, to laugh, reconnect and gather for meals at a communal table.
There’s just one catch. Someone has to prepare all that food. It’s supposed to be a “vacation” isn’t it? Eating out all week can be expensive, so having a solid plan for healthy eating and prepping ahead is the way to go.
I like to have provisions on hand for leisurely breakfasts and casual lunches. For dinner we enjoy cooking together most nights. We choose a favorite seaside restaurant for a special night (or two) out. On our final night of the week, we gorge ourselves on a leftover buffet.
A few days of prevacation food prep will buy you much leisure time during beach week. Bake breakfast muffins and pancakes and freeze them. You can take some out each morning to serve with low sugar yogurt and fresh fruit. Freeze mini vegetable omelets made in muffin cups too, and you’ll be out of the beach house and on to the beach in a flash.
As part of this prep, roast whole chickens for lunch and dinner. Shred the meat and freeze in several zipper bags. Toss together a mix of greens for a salad base or to stuff in a wrap at lunchtime. The day before you leave, prepare large batches of chickpea salad, slaws, chicken salad or shrimp salad. The beach farmers market will provide plenty of cucumbers, summer tomatoes, peppers, green beans, herbs and summer squash to add to your salad and wraps.
I also do something I call the “convenience store.” I prep multiple sandwich wraps and enclose each in parchment paper with a sticker. I make layered green salads in disposable cups, sticking a straw in the hole of the lids. I fill small lidded cups with fresh fruit salads. I arrange all these goodies on the refrigerator shelves—just like you’d find in a convenience store. My family enjoys grabbing a bit to eat on the way to the fun.
Not into planning ahead? Let a meal kit delivery service do it for you. Order family size portions, cook together on vacation and avoid cleaning the fridge on your last day at the beach.*
Surfer Morning Muffins
INGREDIENTS Yield: 12
- 1/3 cup mashed sweet potato
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup grated carrot
- 1 cup grated apple
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger peeled and grated, optional
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1/3 cup dried pineapple, chopped
- 2/3 cup raw walnuts chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 350°. Place baking cups in a 12-count muffin pan.
In a large bowl combine mashed sweet potato, eggs, maple syrup, carrot, apple and ginger.
In a small bowl combine almond flour, raisins, pineapple, walnuts, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Stir dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients and mix well.
Scoop batter into the lined muffin cups.
Bake 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean.
Transfer muffins to a rack to cool for 15 minutes to firm up.
Quinoa Chicken Burgers
- 1 pound lean ground chicken or turkey
- ¾ cup quinoa, cooked
- ¼ parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 egg
- ½ red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup spinach, chopped
- ¼ cup green onions, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
METHOD Yield: 6
In a large bowl combine all ingredients, except oil, until thoroughly mixed in. This works well with your hands.
Form 6 patties. Chill until ready to cook.
Heat oil in a large pan. Add patties and cook 5 minutes on one side, flip and cook 5 minutes on the other side or until cooked through.
Blueberry Lemon Protein Bites
- 1 ½ cups cashews, soaked 4 hours or overnight
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 scoops vanilla protein powder, plant or whey
- ½ cup dried blueberries
- ¾ cup medjool dates, about 9, pitted and roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
METHOD Yield: 36
In a food processor blend cashews and shredded coconut to a coarse meal.
Add protein powder, blueberries, dates, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract and salt. Process until the mixture holds together when pinched.
Roll into small balls with hands or a small scoop. Roll the balls in a small bowl containing shredded coconut to coat. Store refrigerated for up to a week.