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Easy Meals

Creative Kitchen Challenge


Have you ever looked inside your fridge at the end of a long day and wondered, "What am I going to make tonight??"

With a busy schedule it can be challenging to find the time and energy to cook a meal every night, let alone go grocery shopping.


We invited our friend and Holistic Nutritionist Meghan Cooke to facilitate a workshop to explore practical, healthy meal planning that was low-cost, low-effort and low-waste. What we came up with was the Creative Kitchen Challenge!


We challenged participants to come up with an easy, creative meal in 30 minutes. Teams were given the three same secret ingredients that they were required to use: onion, black beans, zucchini. They also had access to common items you'd find in your pantry, kitchen and garden. The idea was to inspire people to come up with different ways to use the 'same old' ingredients, and to realize that they can actually make pretty tasty meals out of seemingly random stuff in the fridge.


Here's what our teams came up with, plus a few extra recipes from Meghan:

Pasta Salad

by Team Survivor


1 onion, diced

1 1/2 cups black beans

green beans, blanched and chopped

1/2 bell pepper, chopped

lettuce, chopped

1 tomato, chopped 

1 zucchini, chopped and salted

1 can Oceanwise tuna, flaked

4-5 SPCA-certified eggs

1 package bowtie pasta, cooked

150 g goat feta, crumbled

3-4 tablespoons pesto

olive oil, salt, pepper


Cooking Method: 


Sweat onions on low heat. Blanch beans.

Boil the pasta and eggs in separate pots.

Peel eggs once cooled, and chop.

Mix ingredients into large bowl.

Drain pasta and add to bowl.

Taste and adjust.


Summer Salad

by Team Culinary Calamity


lettuce, arugula & kale, shredded

sprinkle of black beans

tomato, chopped

radishes, finely sliced

bell pepper, chopped

chives, roughly chopped

dried cranberries

pumpkin seeds, toasted



white balsamic vinegar

honey, salt, pepper, olive oil

Garnish: edible flowers (marigold, nasturtium)


Cooking Method: 


Chop and mix together!

Add salad dressing immediately

before serving.

Veggie Hash

by Team Culinary Calamity


1/2 onion, diced

1 cup black beans

1/2 zucchini, diced


nutritional yeast

Montreal steak spice

tobasco sauce


Cooking Method: 


Sweat onions on medium heat.

Add zucchini. Add seasonings and black beans.

Taste and adjust.

Breakfast Challenge

Veggie Hash & Summer Salad

Dinner Challenge

Veggie Tuna Pasta Salad

Black Bean Mango Salad

by Meghan Cooke


1 can black beans, rinsed

1 cup mango (or peach/nectarine), diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

4 green onions, chopped (use both green & white parts!)

handful cilantro, chopped

optional: 1 small jalapeno, chopped



6 tbsp olive or avocado oil

4 tbsp lime juice

2 tbsp hot sauce

3/4 tsp sea salt


Cooking Method: 


Rinse beans well. Place beans and chopped fruit and veggies into a large bowl. Pour dressing.

Toss. Let it sit at least 30 minutes before serving.

Serve by itself or with tacos, chicken or fish.

Zucchini & Herb Salad

by Meghan Cooke


1 zucchini, shredded or finely julienned

1 cup fresh herbs (ex. mint & tarragon)

handful pumpkin seeds



3 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp honey

1/4 cup olive oil

sea salt, freshly ground pepper


Cooking Method: 


Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and set aside. Toss zucchini, chopped herbs and pumpkin seeds together. Pour dressing onto mixture and toss.

Let it sit at least 30 minutes before serving.

Meghan's Pro Tips:


  • Plan your meals around what is in season and growing in your garden

  • If you want to use zucchini but don't feel like cooking on the stove, sprinkle some salt on raw zucchini, let it sit and soften up

  • Reduce food waste by using as much of your vegetables as possible. Chop up vegetable stems (kale, chard, parsley), use every part of beets and green onions; save tough stalks and tops in your freezer to make soup stock

  • If you don't have time to soak and cook beans, buy canned beans. If you do have time, make a big batch, keep them sealed and refrigerated in a ziploc bag for the week, and add them into any dish

  • Make extras so you can have something to pack for lunch the next day

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