food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

grilled shiitake kimcheese by food to glowFact or fiction for you: munching out of a box of cereal on the sofa; curled up with the cat; the latest Netflix series glowing before you; ice cream/wine/bag of sweets on standby {delete as applicable}. Sound familiar? Even if only once in a blue moon?

This may seem like a harassed mother’s idea of bliss. All that time to yourself. The TV remote in YOUR hand. No incessant, “mummy, look at this!” Just you, your show, your cereal and a disinterested cat.

But for singletons, students, those whose partners are frequently away, or whose children go to an ex-partner for the weekend, the lure of the no-cook meal gets old. And fast. One or three Lean Cuisines in and you can fall either way: searching out real food but that’s quick and for one; or the other way: processed foods and takeaways.

Katie Schmidt of the wonderful whole food blog, Whole Nourishment, has invited me and a few other whole food bloggers to contribute to her week-long series, Cooking For One. It ‘s only a guess but I don’t think that cereal features very highly. 

grilled shiitake kimcheese by food to glowWhy Cooking For One? We recognise that, regardless of personal circumstance, the chances are that we all need to fend for ourselves occasionally. And why not make it a meal that nourishes as well as hits all the cooking for one buttons: easy, quick, minimal clean up, uses few ingredients, tastes good, can be eaten on a sofa…

Why Bother? Some of us may feel that cooking properly for ourselves just isn’t worth the time, effort, mess and mental energy needed to produce something nutritious and delicious. Just for ourselves. But how ridiculous does that sound? Are we only worth a greasy takeaway? A box pinged in the microwave? Of course not. Sure, we all will resort to such easy offerings occasionally. But how much nicer to have ideas that are short, sweet (well, not actually sweet) and on the table in a few minutes flat? And that truly nourish, rather than merely quell a growling tummy.

Don’t get me wrong. I am no cooking for one saint. I sometimes will eat beans on toast, or heat up some boxed soup. I have been known to put cheese and salsa covered tortilla chips under the grill and call it dinner. But when we do these things it should ideally be because it is a conscious decision. That we actually fancy those beans on toast {which is a really good meal, btw}. Not because we don’t have any other options.

Over my many {many} years of cooking I have had countless occasions where I am cooking just for myself. I have actually come to enjoy it as a kind of me-time. I get to eat what I want, when I want, clear up when I want. And that’s sometimes quite appealing. Although, I must say that my family are very easy to please and I tend to get my own way!

Katie says in her introductory post to this series, “it’s really a mindset shift.” I couldn’t agree more. Cooking for one can be a gift to yourself: a time to replenish and nourish in a way most appropriate to you. I think it was Nigella Lawson who dubbed eating for one “Templefood”: the idea of looking after oneself, and one’s self alone, with food that is easy, nourishing and – this being Nigella’s idea – slightly decadent.

I think Miss Lawson might approve of my own “temple food’ recipe.

To spur your own ideas of how you can get creative with cooking for one, each day the bloggers in the series will be sharing not only a recipe but also a few tips to make healthy cooking for one that much more do-able. Here are mine:

Don’t always think for one. This seems counter to what I have been going on about, but making more than you need, especially of things that taste better second and third time round, is helpful. Think soups, casseroles, stews, dips, bakes. All of these can be popped into individual pots for freezing and pulling out when time really is tight and your tummy can be heard in the next postcode.

Related to the above is, kill two culinary birds with one stone. What I mean is don’t just make enough grains, fish, beans, whatever for one serving. It takes no more effort to make a big pot of beans or grains than a wee pot. Cool the extras, bag, label, freeze or keep in the fridge for healthy meals that week. I can’t count how many times just looking in my freezer with its labelled bags of grains and beans has inspired me to make something quick for family or just myself. Healthy eating doesn’t happen by accident, so thinking and making ahead with staple items makes sense.grilled shiitake kimcheese by food to glow

Make meal plans. Eating healthily on your own or in a family/shared setting requires a bit of planning. It helps ensure you have the right things on hand when you want to cook them, and also factors in leftovers that will be useful throughout the week. We don’t suggest that everyone needs to cook everything from scratch everyday, but cooking even a few meals at home each week can improve your health and reduce the amount of money you spend on food.

Make it fun. Or even make it sexy. Sway to your favourite music, don a sassy {or even just clean!} apron, pour yourself some wine or make a delicious mocktail, listen to that podcast you have been meaning to listen to. Any and all of the above. If your loved one is away, Skype them while cooking….

Keep your kitchen stocked with some basics, including healthy convenience foods like quick-cook whole grains, low-salt soy sauce and stock powder/cubes, frozen fish {if you eat fish}, passata, etc. My page, Store-Cupboard Staples for the Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, can be adapted to your likes and needs. As for fresh foods, when you can it is often more economical and less wasteful to shop at food cooperatives, farmer’s markets or similar as you can get the amounts you need and no more. Chatting to the stall owners you can also get cooking and recipe tips from people who are just as interested in food and health as you are.

Think about making your main protein once a week. If you are an omnivore this might mean roasting an organic or high-welfare chicken to use in different ways throughout the week {interspersing with animal-free days}. If a vegetarian, a big pot of black or other beans will give inspiration for tacos, chilli, soup, pasta and more. Being a solo cook gives you freedom to be as creative as you wish, without the fear or disappointment of getting the thumbs down from others. Add as much darn chill as you like!

Now that is is getting chillier in the Northern hemisphere, get out that slow cooker and use it. If you have recently down-sized, sell your large slow cooker on Gumtree and get yourself a smaller one. Slow cookers are everyone’s friends, not just those with big families and no time. Make up a full-sized recipe if you like, then parcel up and refrigerate or freeze the leftovers. Small slow cookers often come with cookbooks for serving one-two.grilled shiitake kimcheese by food to glow

Occasionally make it an occasion. Lay the table, get some flowers, present it all nicely and eat with knife and fork.

Aim for simple and satisfying. Adjusting from the mindset of cooking family or larger meals is a bit daunting. But also freeing. You can have an omelet for supper. You can have a quick stir fry or soup for breakfast. You can have those enticing leftovers whenever you like. Don’t feel that if you don’t have time for a full on meal that it isn’t worth bothering with. It is. A simple meal of {reheated} soup, nice bread, some good cheese and a humble plate of salad is always worth it. You are worth it.

Here is a good article I found that goes into much more detail about eating for one on a longer term basis. Sensible stuff  about how to cope with a poorly equipped kitchen, a list of whole foods that last, some very simple {but not very exciting} meal/menu ideas – that kind of thing.

And to compete with the lure of munching cereal on the sofa, I give you a revved up grilled cheese. A ‘kimcheese’. So easy, great for digestion and just that little bit different. And it is just for you. No sharing.

grilled shiitake kimcheese by food to glow

Grilled Shiitake Kimcheese

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

The sour-salty-slightly spicy and fermented kimchi is pretty essential, but if you can’t get any, or don’t have any homemade on hand, try quality sauerkraut for a similar – but not at all Korean – vibe. Here’s a link if you fancy trying your hand at making kimchi: I make modified versions of this recipe. I also show an Instagram pic of an open-faced version, for the less hungry/less greedy. Other filling suggestions to go with the kimcheese are sautéed onions, sliced pear or apple {unusual but very nice}, and lightly smoked tofu. A nice vegan option is to sub the cheese for smashed avocado mixed with nutritional yeast {or not}.

5-6 shiitake or other mushrooms, sliced

2 tsp coconut oil or butter – divided use

1-2 slices artisan or best quality wholegrain bread

2 heaped tbsp cabbage or radish kimchi, chopped

A few thin slices of strongly flavoured organic cheese, like mature/farmhouse cheddar {or melty vegan cheeze}

Radish sprouts, optional

Sriracha sauce, optional

1. Saute the mushrooms in 1/2 tsp of coconut oil/butter and set aside on a dish. Keep the pan medium-hot.

2. Butter one side of each piece of bread and top one butter-side down piece with cheese, then chopped kimchi, mushrooms, sprouts and Sriracha, if using. The latter two suggestions are must-haves for my daughter, Rachel. She LOVES this sandwich for breakfast. :-). Top with the other half, buttered side uppermost, lightly pressing it down.

3. Pop the filled sandwich onto the hot pan, pressing down with a spatula. Let the sandwich cook until the cheese starts to melt and the underside is very golden. Flip and continue cooking until both slices are deeply golden and you can’t stand another minute of waiting. Serve with slices of pear or apple, plus a simple green salad.

Note: You may do this in a sandwich press and eliminate the added fat. Just use a little oil spray.

Option: open-faced without the butter {kimchi, then cheese}, whacked under a hot grill then topped with poached egg and/or fresh radish sprouts or herbs.

Other kimchi recipes from Food To Glow: 

Kimchi and Carrot Pancakes {easily made for one or two}

Kimchi and Avocado Lunch Wraps {for one or two}

Veggie Toasties from Others: 

Toasted Potato and Beet Sandwich – Tinned Tomatoes

Garlicky Mushroom Melt – Tinned Tomatoes

The Cooking For One Week line-up

Day
Friends
Sunday, October 5th
Katie @ Whole Nourishment ~ Green Quinoa Bowl
Monday, October 6th
Kellie @ Food to Glow ~ Grilled Shiitake Kimcheese
Tuesday, October 7th
Isadora @ She Likes Food ~ Vegetable Lasagna Roll-ups
Wednesday, October 8th
Dearna @ to her core ~ Roasted Pumpkin and Peanut Soup
Thursday, October 9th
Lynsey @ lynseylovesfood ~ Roasted Root Vegetable Calzones
Sarah @ Highgate Hill Kitchen ~ Spicy-Roasted Chickpeas, Herbed Freekeh & Moroccan Carrot Salad
Friday, October 10th
Grace @ Earthy Feast ~ Marinated Mushroom Sandwich with Sautéed Greens + Avocado + Egg
Saturday, October 11th
Teri @ Nourished Roots ~ Curried Red Lentil and Roasted Delicata Squash Soup

 

 

41 thoughts on “Cooking-For-One Week: Grilled Shiitake Kimcheese

  1. Cooking for one is “Templefood”?! I LOVE this, it cannot more true or better said, Kellie. And when you put it this way: “Are we only worth a greasy takeaway?”, who can deny this idea that our actions and choices around the food we buy/prepare/eat speaks to the value we place on ourselves.

    Love your perspectives, love the recipe of course (need to get on another batch of kimchee, as a matter of fact), and love your tips. Thank you so much for participating in this series, Kellie, you have added such rich, valuable wisdom!

    1. Thanks so much for the honour of being included. I wish I could take credit for the phrase ‘temple food’. But I *did* remember it from one of Nigella’s earliest cookbooks 😉

  2. Deena Kakaya says:

    Did you write this post for me? But of course you did 😉 all of it sounds familiar on scene setting, partly because I’m too darned tired to care about the least important person in the house (me). I often fall back onto noodle soups, which are nutritious and quick to cook. I do like the invigorating tastes in this one and the easy peasy nature of it. X

    1. Nothing wrong with a noodle soup for one!I”m sure you make it special, Deena x

      1. Deena Kakaya says:

        Very simple Kellie, but it does the job, there are more Lethal and easy options out there x

  3. What a great post Kellie, so inspiring as always. I love it when I’m only responsible for making my own dinner. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does I can indulge in the goodies which I love, and which the boys in the house aren’t so keen on! “Temple food” is a great way to think about feeding ourselves 🙂

  4. I’ve never tried kimchi but this combination sounds really interesting to me!! Love the tip about cooking your protein once a week, think that’s something I need to do more often. Though I’m not sure a big pan of black beans would last long in my house 😀

  5. Chef Doru says:

    Wow! Looks amazing.

  6. What a fantastic sounding combination. I must get myself down to Korea foods for some Kimchi, I can see how it would work here. This is such a great collection of ideas and one I may keep coming back to when I teach my single parents and young mums about how to eat well. When I am on my own I am also in need of a push, it’s too day to not bother!

    1. If you keep kimchi on hand this is a no-brainer breakfast or lunch. My daughter recently popped home for the weekend and this was requested for breakfast. One of her favourite things to eat. Luckily it is so easy. But kimchi isn’t perhaps something to keep in a shared student fridge…

  7. Shannon says:

    Nice post, Kellie! You really know how to connect with your readers. This is how I eat MOST days. I will spend a significant chunk of time (2-3 hours) at one time making several BIG portion menus for the (later) out-of-the-fridge heat-and-eat regimen — enjoyed by all. It’s a bit like the week following Thanksgiving, a buffet of options depending upon what’s seasonal at the time.

    1. You are one busy lady, Shannon. I imagine you haven’t had made a meal just for yourself in ages!

  8. Sally says:

    Great advice Kellie. I actually like cooking for me – with a podcast and glass of wine – you’ve peeked into my kitchen haven’t you?! Trying this as a snack for veggie daughter.

    1. Sneak a bite for yourself 😉

  9. Katie Bryson says:

    What a delicious lunch idea… perfect for when i’m home alone! If i’m cooking just for myself I usually heat up some soup from the freezer or stuff a toasted pitta bread with a few bits and pieces from the fridge. If i’m in a rush then i’m afraid it’s one of those artificial Mug Shots with a handful of frozen peas chucked in… filthy habit!

    1. Ah, we’ve all resorted to the Mug Shots or Ainsley Harriott! One thing I do think is quite good in a pinch are the non-fried ramen noodle type packets you can get now (e.g. Clearspring). Add the contents of the vegetables bin, some frozen edamame and spicy sriracha or similar and you are good to go! Stuffed pittas also rock 🙂

  10. Brilliant! I’ve got kimchee in the fridge and am already day-dreaming of making this!

  11. Raphaelle says:

    That grilled sandwich looks totally insane!

  12. platedujour says:

    I’ve been cooking for myself for years now, and I like it a lot! I eat what I want and how I want it, so even if I do enjoy cooking for many people, it’s nice to look only after myself and make something I really like 🙂 great recipe, one of those you need when home alone haha have a lovely week xx

    1. And crucially you can eat it any time. I’m glad that cooking for just yourself is a joy. As your beautiful blog testifies 🙂

  13. Oh my god a kimcheese. This looks too good

  14. Sounds so yummy! I love your suggestions of making it an occasion every once and a while. Everyone is worthy of a special meal even if it is enjoyed in solitude.

  15. Karishma says:

    Yum, this looks so good! I love the idea of an asian grilled cheese! I completely have the same feelings about cooking for one. If I am feeling really ambitious, I may try to cook something special but 90% of my love for cooking comes from cooking for other people. But yeah, this is a great perspective on remembering to actually cook for yourself!

  16. lizzygoodthings says:

    Great post, Kellie! I enjoyed cooking for one… love the recipe too. Very yummy.

  17. stateeats says:

    OMG. MUST.HAVE.THAT. BREAD! Looks seedy (in a good way, ha) and those sesame seeds on the crust, oh my! Ingenious idea pairing the kimchee with the cheese. I rarely cook for one but your points are spot on. – Kat.

  18. I love all of your tips on cooking for one! I too have been known to throw some chips and cheese under the broiler and call it dinner! I love a good grown up grilled cheese like this one! I’m compiling a list of good go-to dinners for one for when my husband is out of town and this one is a keeper 🙂

  19. Kavey says:

    Good grief, that looks insanely good!

  20. tohercore says:

    I love the idea of kimchi in a toastie! It sounds like the perfect comfort food, and definitely something I’d want to eat when cooking for myself – yummo!

  21. claudiareilly says:

    Yummy I am definitely going to try it out! Thank you very much 🙂

  22. suebrightling says:

    Cooking for one couldn’t have come at a better time, my husband is about to go off for a weeks walking holiday with his friends so I can eat as I please…will be making the shopping list this evening …

  23. Great article, Kellie! I don’t cook for one very often but when Paul is away I am TERRIBLE at feeding myself. I do look forward to the cheeky single lady takeout on occasion with a bottle of wine handy, but as you said those are planned for and very much enjoyed occasions. The good thing about our weekly eating routine is that if I’m solo during the week I’ll still have the usual for dinner those nights, it’s just on solo weekends I tend to reach for takeout or the cereal for dinner kind of thing. This is a great reminder to treat yo self to really good food, and I do know plenty of people who are cooking for one more often than I, so I shall be passing this series along.

  24. Julia says:

    Waow!!!

  25. FoodDrifter says:

    A delicious idea. It’s as if the “Cooking For One” series was specifically designed for me. The recipe is bookmarked for em to hit back to this lazy weekend

  26. Laura Plumb says:

    Brilliant article and gorgeous kimcheesy sandwich. I am making this for dinner. Unusually, tonight I am just one, but I think the whole family would love it, too. Thank you! And thanks to Katie @WholeNourishment for the link and the theme.

  27. Steven Kang says:

    Wow. Brilliant! I am a Korean myself and I never thought of utilizing my kimchi in my fridge in this way. Thank

If you have time, I would love to hear from you. Thanks so much!

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