So you’ve started eating a paleo-style diet and now you can’t eat Clif Bars anymore (thank goodness…who truly likes them anyway?!)…what’s a person to do?
One of the smartest things I ever started doing was devoting one afternoon each week to food prep: a few hours to get a big chunk of the week’s cooking out of the way ahead of time. Let’s face it…
we are each granted 24 hours in the day to use as we see fit, but when people say things like, “I don’t have time to cook healthy” I often wonder if there are ways they could buy themselves more time (less social networking maybe?). Ultimately, if it’s important to you and you’re serious about your health, you’ll find the time.
I think part of what intimidates people about cooking – at least when they’re starting out with a new way of eating (seriously, can we stop using the term “diet” for Paleo?!) – is that they think they must cook 21 times a week…B-L-D x 7! If you’re opposed to eating leftovers but are super busy and want to eat healthier, the only thing I can say is that you have to get over it. Work smarter, not harder.
Here’s part of my weekly prep day:
- Hard boil a dozen eggs.
- Steam 2 bags of kale.
- Saute one head of chopped cabbage in coconut oil.
- Roast diced squash.
- Roast 6-12 sweet potatoes/yams.
- Saute 2# of ground meat (beef, turkey, pork etc)
- Slow cook 2-3# of chicken breasts or pork loin in the crockpot with sliced onion and peppers, a can of diced tomato and spices. Shred the meat when it’s done cooking.
Here are some suggestions for making cooking and food prep less painful:
- Cook in a couple big batches. I do one big cooking day on Sunday and another small one during the week. The rest is heat and eat.
- Make staple items like cooked veggies and meats which you dress up with different seasonings and spices.
- Invest in an army of proper storage containers. It will keep food fresher longer than flimsy plastic wrap on top of a bowl! My favorite is Glasslock Snapware (online here or at Costco). It does NOT leak, and I prefer the idea of heating up glass better than plastic.
- Wash and prep produce as soon as you get it home from the market (ex: slice or dice peppers, dice onions, etc) and store in individual containers. Check out how Jessica Camacho does it!
- Portion out all lunches, for example, for the week at one time.
- Freeze extra portions if you make too much (works especially well for crock pot or casserole type recipes).
- Keep a running shopping list on your phone so you can easily edit.
- This sounds obvious, but don’t do a task twice if you don’t have to. Go through 6 hard boiled eggs a week? Do it all at once instead of 3 now and 3 mid-week. Learn what quantities work best for you and stick to them so you can go on autopilot at the market.
There are so many other clever suggestions that I’m sure folks are doing right now to make their lives easier and ways of eating much healthier. Try some of these if you’re feeling stuck in a rut! What do you do to save time in the kitchen (and calling for takeout doesn’t count!)?
Salty. Chewy. Meaty.
It’s beef jerky, of course, and we all seem to love it. What I don’t love is 1) the price and 2) all the other chemicals and crap they put in it. With that in mind, I did a little research and made this simple recipe (and if you were wondering, it is Whole30 approved).
The Coconut Aminos were purchased at Sprouts (or look at your local health food store i.e. Whole Paycheck), and really are the key to the flavor (plus, it’s not soy-based and has a lot less sodium than soy sauce and is devoid of gluten unlike tamari).
- 1 lb. lean London broil or top sirloin (grass-fed if you can find it)
- 1 bottle coconut aminos (I used ~half the bottle or 4 oz, found in the vinegar section of the market)
- Large ziploc bag
- 2 good racks (haha)…you need something to elevate the jerky so that it dries on both sides
- 2 baking sheets
- Aluminum foil
1. Trim all visible fat from the meat. Throw the whole steak in the freezer for 30-45 minutes. You want to firm up the meat (ha!) before you slice it.
2. Remove from the freezer and use a sharp knife to cut the steak the grain (so it’s not as tough) and on the bias (diagonally, so you get wider pieces). You want the pieces to be less than 1/8″ thickness and as consistent as possible.
3. Throw the pieces in a large plastic bag and pour about 1/3-1/2 cup of the coconut aminos into the bag.
4. BE PATIENT and let marinate it for a few hours (or overnight). Trust me…it’ll taste better.
5. To dehydrate (jerkify), set your oven to 200 degrees. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Place the racks on top (again, you want to leave the jerky exposed to air on both sides). I used cooling racks intended for baking.
6. Place jerky on the racks, leaving a little space between.
7. Bake for approximately 2 hours (checking frequently) or until it is, well, jerky-like!
8. Store in an airtight container. I put mine in the fridge so it’ll keep even longer.
So, as you can see, stupid-easy…you just need some patience. It may not taste like the overly salty jerky you are used to, but I promise it’s so much better (and cheaper!). You could definitely mix it up by adding some chopped jalapenos, garlic, or crushed black pepper into the marinade to. Check out this version from The Food Lovers Kitchen (with garlic and smoky chipotle) and this one from my good pal Jen’s Gone Paleo (with a hint of sweetness from apple juice). Enjoy!
A couple weeks about, my Twitter pal @XFPH asked, “What are your 3 favorite kitchen gadgets?” to which I immediately responded “knife, cast iron skillet and Crock Pot!”
Seriously folks, it’s important to have kitchen tools and gadgets that help make your life easier and cooking more enjoyable. Would you use a hammer to put a screw into wood? I think not. I’m not saying you have to spend your life savings on every gimmicky gadget out there but with some good quality basic supplies, cooking will not be as much of a struggle.
First up…a knife. DON’T BE CHEAP! You don’t need a 15 piece knife set to start out. My blade of choice is a 7″ JA Henckels santoku knife. It does a majority of the chopping/slicing/prep work that I need in the kitchen. Find a knife handle that fits comfortably in your hand and has good weight. While you’re at it, pick up a steel or sharpening stone and learn how to use it. Here’s a target=”_blank”>video link of Gordon Ramsey demonstrating how it’s done…because he’s bloody sarcastic and I love him. Dull knives suck…and are dangerous. Click here to see the one I showed in the video. $40-$70 will give you a good range to shop from.
Next…cast iron skillet. No icky, weird non-stick coating to flake up and you can use metal utensils. The iron will heat up evenly and goes easily from stove top to oven (just beware of hot handles). Plus, you can do bicep curls with it! Kidding…sort of. $20 or so will get you a decent-sized skillet.
And last but certainly not least…Crock Pot. Can’t say enough about this bad boy: it’s the epitome of lazy cooking. Throw in your ingredients, set it and forget it (did anyone flash back to target=”_blank”>Ron Popeil of infomercial fame there?!). Please spend the extra $5-$10 and get one with a digital timer and auto-shut off so you can truly walk away. Keep your eye out at Target, etc and you can find them on sale. The crock (ceramic) part of mine recently broke and couldn’t be replaced so I picked up a new one for $29.99 on sale.
What are your 3 favorite kitchen gadgets?
(and p.s. If I could pick a 4th, it would be my Vitamix!)
I’m not sure how authentic this ceviche is, and frankly all that matters to me is that it’s delicious and simple to make. With warmer weather coming up soon, this cool seafood-based dish is a nice addition to those spring-summer favorites that you may already keep on hand.
If salt is your idea of spicing up your food, there’s a whole world of flavor that you’re missing out on! Stop eating boring food! Changing up your spices can help you globe-trot without having to leave your kitchen. For many, the idea of buying/using spices (besides the normal black pepper, garlic powder and dried parsley) can be daunting. Here are some tips:
Many health food stores offer spices in bulk food containers so you can buy as little or as much as you like. This is a great way to try a small quantity of a spice to see if you’ll like it without having to shell out and then be disappointed later. Also, check the store or your farmer’s market for locally produced brands, which can be less expensive.
Invest in a good spice rack, and keep it in plain sight. This will encourage you to keep everything organized and also be a constant reminder to use your spices! If you clutter them away in the dark recesses of your pantry you’ll be less likely to remember them!
Make your own spice blends. This gives you more variety from the basic ingredients you have on hand (think of mixing and matching in different combinations) and allows you to make just enough so you’re always using fresh spices. (Hint: ground spices have a shorter shelf life than whole seeds). My favorite cookbook, Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan, has some awesome spice blends: sausage seasoning, Rogan Josh seasoning and Ras El Hanout. If you make the blends ahead of time, you’ll always have them on hand to toss into your favorite crock pot creation or on top of meats and veggies.
My top 3 most-used spices: cumin, smoked paprika and cinnamon!
What are yours?
Well folks, this could very well be an ethical question for you…or one based on finances/budget or even availability. If you are relatively new to this paleo journey and are still trying to wrap your head around what to eat and how, considering the level of meat that you’re buying may be too much to think about right now. Whatever the case, it’s still best to do grass-fed if you can (for a primer on all things grass-fed including buzz terms like Omega 3 and CLA–conjugated linoleic acid–click here). But if the issue of grass-fed (or even organic) meats is keeping you from doing paleo at all or making your wallet hurt, here are some tips that can help:
- Avoid fatty cuts of meat (think Porterhouse steaks, etc) and stick to leaner cuts (sirloin, tenderloin, round)
- Trim all visible fat
- For lean, tougher cuts (like stew meat), choose a “low and slow” cooking method such as slow cooking or braising
- If organic is available but not grass-fed, it might be a better choice
- Visit your local farmer’s market and make friends with the vendors!!! Support local!
- Online vendors like US Wellness Meats will sometimes run coupon codes…stock up!
- Check for sales on grass-fed meats from stores like Whole Foods, buy in bulk and freeze
One last thing…my FAVORITE recipe using stew meat from Melissa Joulwan (aka The Clothes Make the Girl…aka my paleo-cook-crush): Rogan Josh!
Stupid Easy Paleo is back after a 4 month hiatus! I know you’ve all been waiting with baited breath. But really. Took some time off of blogging to train (besides working full time and having other responsibilities) but now the season is over–albeit prematurely due to injury–so I’m resurrecting the blog with a new twist: that’s right, lots of me on camera. So many chances for self-depricating humor and sneaking in Chem 101 when I can…muahaha! If there’s something Paleo-related you’d like me to do a short segment about, put it in the comments here, and I’ll take a crack at it. And please, be kind…I’m not a professional actor, tv personality or video editor. You may laugh, you may even cringe…but you’ll definitely learn about how to cook paleo, the simple way.
So to kick things off, I decided to open my pantry and fridge to all of
the universe my 3 followers! Now you have a chance to see what it looks like to keep paleo supplies on hand. I swear none of my pantry items were rearranged, and I didn’t clean up my fridge. Truth. And for those of you who prefer to read what I keep on hand (or can’t watch because you’re reading blogs while at work), here’s a list of my staples:
- Herbal teas, decaf coffee
- Coconut milk (full fat, canned)
- Canned pumpkin, tomatoes and olives
- Canned salmon (love Trader Joe’s skinless, boneless), canned smoked oysters and anchovies
- Sweet potatoes and yams
- Onions and garlic
- Flour alternatives: coconut and almond mostly
- Assorted dried fruits and nuts (moderation only please!)
- Almond butter or coconut butter
- Spices…tons! The more variety here the better.
- Good fat sources: coconut oil, olive oil and ghee (clarified butter) are staples
- Fresh veggies (duh!) and occasional fresh fruit (I just don’t love it so I don’t buy much)
- Lean meats and seafood
- Sometimes HIGH quality bacon (think organic at minimum)
- Eggs (I keep at least 2 dozen on hand at one time)
- Condiments: Red Boat fish sauce, mustard (no sugar added), fresh sauerkraut, etc.
So that’s that!! Hope I charmed the pants off ya and that it gives some of you a jumping off point for your journey with paleo (or some new ideas for you seasoned pros)!! Stay tuned for another video coming soon…a recipe for ceviche!