You know when sometimes you dread something, but it actually turns into quite an awesome experience? This is how my recent morning with Nestlé went, as part of their Choose Wellness Choose Nestlé campaign (I wrote more about it over here – basically the campaign is aimed at encouraging people to embrace the different aspects of wellness and inspire them to Eat Smarter, Move More and Live Better).
The day involved a Nestlé nutritionist and a chef coming into my home to teach me some food associated wellness tips – quick preparation, appropriate serving sizes (so I don’t dish up to much or too little), what basics to keep in my fridge and cupboard so there are always ingredients on hand, what to pack in my son's lunchbox that will keep him going, and how to adapt meals at home for me (vegetarian), without having to cook several meals.
Although I was excited about the idea, I panicked about having the team at my house to film – I'm still a bit uncomfortable in front of the camera, I was worried people would judge me on the cat scratches on the couch, and was terrified about performing AND hosting at the same time, ie not sounding like a fool, and making people feel welcome in my home. But the biggest fear was having someone go through my kitchen cupboards as I wasn’t sure they would find what they were looking for.
Well, as soon as everyone arrived (I was expecting about four people and nine came), the nerves were shed, and I actually started having fun. Everyone was warm and chilled, and I was actually excited to have Chef Kabelo Segone, vice president of the SA Chefs Association, cook us all a meal.
While Kabelo cooked a pasta dish using the basics that were in my fridge and pantry such as penne, Feta cheese, chicken and olives, I chatted to Didi Tshikovhi, Nestlé Market Nutritionist, to get some tips.
It was important for me, a working mom with two kids and a husband, to find ways to ‘ditch the guilt’ and be able to whip up quick and easy dishes for the family in seconds that were nutritionally balanced (you can read more about what I learnt in a follow-up post next week).
Chef Kabelo made a delicious pasta – with chicken for the fam, and with cheese for me. Instead of making two separate dishes, he just modified the one main dish. I also processed the pasta in our Nutribullet Baby Bullet, so that it was suitable for baby Rebecca.
I often don't have a "vision" of what the contents of my fridge and pantry can yield, and panic that I need to go shopping in order to produce a meal, but watching Kabelo was inspiring and a good lesson in how to whip something up without a trip to the shops.
He also made a quick salad using a green apple, fresh basil, Feta, cucumber and carrots that were lying in my fridge.
It was great fun having a chef in the kitchen, and while I can't promise I'll be whipping up interesting dishes every night and weekend, I'm a lot more inspired, and realise that more can be done with less ingredients.
Here's the pantry penne pasta recipe:
- 250g penne pasta
- olive oil for coating pasta
- vegetable oil
- 1 can (85g) mushroom slices
- 1 tbsp (15ml) dried Italian herbs
- 1 packet (50g) pitted olives
- ½ cup (125ml) pickled peppers (optional)
- 80g tomato paste
- 100ml tomato passata
- 1-2 tbsp (15-30ml) water
- 500g chicken breast, sliced
- salt and black pepper
- 1-2 Tbsp (15-30ml) Parmesan cheese grated, for garnish
- Cook the pasta in water until just soft (al dente).
- Drain and toss back into the pot with a little olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
- In a saucepan, heat a little vegetable oil and pan fry the chicken strips until golden brown and add the mushrooms and dried herbs.
- Add the olives and peppers (if using) and heat through.
- Stir in the tomato paste and loosen the sauce with a little water and add the tomato passata and simmer for 15min.
- Mix together the pasta and chicken and tomato mixture spoon into deep serving bowls and top with Parmesan cheese.
Feature image: Shutterstock