Cooking can be an enjoyable experience. Whether following a recipe, improvising or just doing it tapas style1, having a basic understanding of foods can provide you with a foundation to help assist creating your own meal plan and nutritional needs. Here are some tips and tricks I recommend.
First, understand what foods are primal2 and which are most optimal for your health. My blogs have focused on a no grain, starch, sugar and polyunsaturated fat way of eating, as being optimal. So that means avoiding things such as: wheat, rice, potato and turnips, processed and packaged foods, canola and soybean oils, white, brown and icing sugar, lentils and beans. Often times this will lead people in a quandary as to what you can eat.
So the foods you should focus on are: properly raised meats, properly prepared dairy, low glycemic vegetables, berries, occasional fruit, occasional nuts and seeds, healthy fats and oils. A ketogenic style diet is basically what you are aiming towards. That means a diet that has an increased amount of healthy fat, a proper amount of protein, and a compliment of vegetation. Include herbs and spices and the options are quite varied.
Most people do not think of what type of fat they want to consume for their meal. Meaning they do not centre their menu around eating fats. A cheese board may be an exception to that. Instead, often times, people focus on what type of meat of perhaps vegetable they want to enjoy. Which ever you choose, write down the main item for the meal, find a corresponding recipe, check the ingredients and add them to your list if you do not have them in house. At times, it may seem like you have a long grocery list. But for most ingredients, like herbs and spices, you only need to purchase them once and awhile. Purchasing an indoor herb garden can help assist with quick and easy ingredients to perk up your dish.
Creating a meal plan for a week to write out your grocery list is essential to ensure you have all the ingredients at hand for fast and easy food preparation. Some types of recipes, like chicken stick, do take longer to cook, but are not necessarily more difficult in preparation. Planning ahead can solve these types of blocks for feeling comfortable in the kitchen.
So you know what types of food to eat and you know the types of foods you like to eat. You have created a meal plan and have looked up the corresponding recipes. Then you’ve travelled to the grocery store, down your shopping by having chosen the best available options, always reading labels.
Prepping food can seem like an arduous task, but throwing on a podcast or your favourite music, can make time flow by smoothly. If you’re preparing chicken stock, pickling or dehydrating, or creating a garlic and ginger paste for easy use, know that these things take time and that you will become quicker and more efficient at them as time goes on.
Following recipes can help build confidence in the kitchen. Creating structure with a prescribed outcome can make one feel safe and secure their meal will be enjoyable. But even then meals can come out awry. Misunderstanding a recipe, or the author not putting in an essential note (that may seem obvious to anyone who’s taken a food course), can cause some alarm when the meal does not turn out as planned. Just remember, no one is perfect, and sometimes you may have to improvise with an impromptu salad. (Stay tuned for a list of exciting recipes!)
One important note is to always cook on a slightly lower temperature than you think. Of course, follow the recipe temperature and time for cooking chicken. But for most other things like steak, fish, sautéing onion, have the element on a slightly lower temp after heating up the oil will protect the for from burning. Using an oil like ghee or count oil is beneficial as they can handle higher temperatures without desaturating3. Stable oils are healthy oils.
There is also the choice to look at what you have in the fridge and go from there. Think of the three types of food to have in your meal: protein, low glycemic carbohydrate, healthy oils.
Tv cooking shows can be a great way to learn. But remember, they’re taping a show, so normally errors are omitted. Recipes books are a great way to get some reading in, but sometimes can be confusing to understand the jargon and the pictures may not be of benefit. Take a cooking class is probably the best way to learn. Hands on and with direct instruction.
Cooking is a verb and it will always be an experience. Focus on the positive dishes you create and take time to recreate and refine them. If you have a dish that should not be consumed ever again, may re think that and revisit it when you have some time to spend a little more attention to it (and have a back up planned).