• Cook Smarter, Not Harder – Practical Tips for Busy People

    Cook Smarter, Not Harder | stupideasypaleo.com

    Who wouldn’t like to cook smarter, not harder?

    (Quick side note: I launched my podcast, Harder to Kill Radio, this week! Be sure to listen in. The episodes are ~30 minutes long, and I’m interviewing amazing people from the worlds of nutrition, fitness and mindset work about how to build unbreakable humans. I’d so appreciate your honest feedback on iTunes, too. It helps others find the show. Now, back to cooking smarter, not harder.)

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    If you’ve committed to eating healthier, you know that means cooking more at home. If you don’t box clever, that more could mean multiple trips to the grocery store every week, being virtually chained to your stove, and then trying to scale an insurmountable pile of dishes once it’s all done. Not exactly the most motivating proposition.

    Luckily, there is a way to save your sanity and still have delicious food waiting for you to turn into a masterpiece, and it’s called “rolling food forward.” I can’t take credit for the term…that goes to my friend Ciarra Hannah of Popular Paleo and Frugal Paleo Cookbook, but it really does sum up my food strategy during a busy work week.

    The concept is this: Cook up a bunch of food staples, then either eat them as is or transform them into something new with some simple tweaks. Keep your seasonings basic. By not heavily spicing these staples, you’ll have more room to change up their identities. If you make your chicken curry flavored right off the bat, you won’t be able to pair it with, say, salsa verde, and have it taste good.

    You’ll have those staples on-hand so there’s less cooking from scratch for each meal. This strategy is also great for singles or couples who inevitably have leftovers on hand since most standard recipes serve four people.

    Cook Smarter Staple #1: Roast Chicken

    A basic roast chicken is truly like a blank canvas ready for you to paint on. It can be transformed into so many different things. Pre-cooked rotisserie chickens from the market are great in a pinch, but they’re more expensive than roasting a whole bird yourself, and sometimes, they’re injected with preservatives or other weird seasonings like MSG.

    On your big weekly cook-up day, roast two whole chickens using the method(s) below. Two smaller chickens will fit in a large slow cooker. The downside is that the skin won’t get crispy but you can always remove them when cooked and crisp under the broiler if you want.

    Oven-Roasted Chicken Recipe

    Preparation 5 mins 2017-03-25T00:05:00+00:00
    Cook Time 60 mins 2017-03-25T01:00:00+00:00
    Serves Serves 8     adjust servings

    Ingredients

    • 2 whole chickens, 3 to 4 pounds each, giblet bag removed (check the cavity just in case)
    • Sea salt
    • Black pepper
    • Optional: melted ghee, fresh or dried herbs like thyme or rosemary

    Instructions

    1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. Pat the chickens dry with paper towel (this will help make the skin crispy). Place both chickens on the baking sheet. Brush with melted ghee, if desired, and sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper. No exact measurements here, just be sure it’s seasoned well.
    2. Place the chickens in the oven and roast for 20 minutes at 425F, then reduce the heat to 300F for another 45 minutes. If the chickens are on the large side (4+ pounds), roast for about 60 minutes.

    by

    Cook Smarter, Not Harder | stupideasypaleo.com

    Slow Cooker Chicken Recipe

    Preparation 5 mins 2017-03-25T00:05:00+00:00
    Cook Time 3 hours 2017-03-25T03:00:00+00:00
    Serves Serves 8.     adjust servings

    Ingredients

    • 2 whole chickens, 3 to 4 pounds each, giblet bag removed (check the cavity just in case)
    • Sea salt
    • Black pepper
    • Optional: melted ghee, fresh or dried herbs like thyme or rosemary

    Instructions

    Place both chickens in the slow cooker, and sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper. Cover. Set the slow cooker to five hours on low or three hours on high. You do not need to add liquid.

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    Homemade Paleo Mayo Recipe

    Preparation 15 mins 2017-03-25T00:15:00+00:00
    Cook Time 2017-03-25T00:00:00+00:00
    Serves 1-1/4 cups     adjust servings

    Ingredients

    • 1 egg
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 1/2 tsp dry mustard (optional)
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt (a couple generous pinches)
    • 1 to 1-1/2 cups light-tasting olive oil or avocado oil

    Instructions

    1. Bring the egg and lemon juice to room temp. I usually put the whole egg (still in the shell!) in a small dish of very warm water for about 10 minutes and keep my lemons on the counter. You can also crack the egg into the blender and add the lemon juice with ¼ cup of the oil and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.
    2. Blend the egg, lemon juice, dry mustard, sea salt and ¼ cup oil on low speed for about 15 seconds.
    3. Now, very slowly drizzle in the remaining ¾ cup to 1 cup oil while slowly increasing the blender speed to medium. Do not turn it to high because the friction from the blender will heat up the content and cause the mayo to break.
    4. Once most of the oil is incorporated and the sound the blender makes changes (it’ll be a noticeable change in pitch), stop adding. You may have some left over. Just pour the excess oil back in the bottle. Refrigerate your mayo and add a sticky note with the date the egg expires to the container. That way you’ll know when it’s ready to toss out.

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    Oven-Caramelized Veggies Recipe

    Preparation 10 mins 2017-03-25T00:10:00+00:00
    Cook Time 35 mins 2017-03-25T00:35:00+00:00
    Serves Serves 4     adjust servings

    Ingredients

    • 2 pounds chopped veggies (try them solo or as mixtures)
    • 2 tablespoons oil or melted fat
    • Sea salt
    • Black pepper
    • Optional: dried herbs or spices of choice

    Instructions

    1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. I like parchment because nothing sticks to it. Place the veggies on the sheet and drizzle with oil or fat of choice, a couple generous pinches of salt, pepper and / or spices.
    2. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the type of veggies and how thickly you cut them. You want the edges to be browned and caramelly and the interior to be soft. Veggies that roast well: Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, onions, okra, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, parsnips, beets, tomatoes, etc.

    by

    Oven-Roasted Chicken Recipe
    Prep time:
    Cook time:
    Total time:
    Serves: Serves 8
    Ingredients
    • 2 whole chickens, 3 to 4 pounds each, giblet bag removed (check the cavity just in case)
    • Sea salt
    • Black pepper
    • Optional: melted ghee, fresh or dried herbs like thyme or rosemary
    Instructions
    1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. Pat the chickens dry with paper towel (this will help make the skin crispy). Place both chickens on the baking sheet. Brush with melted ghee, if desired, and sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper. No exact measurements here, just be sure it’s seasoned well.
    2. Place the chickens in the oven and roast for 20 minutes at 425F, then reduce the heat to 300F for another 45 minutes. If the chickens are on the large side (4+ pounds), roast for about 60 minutes.
    Slow Cooker Chicken Recipe
    Prep time:
    Cook time:
    Total time:
    Serves: Serves 8.
    Ingredients
    • 2 whole chickens, 3 to 4 pounds each, giblet bag removed (check the cavity just in case)
    • Sea salt
    • Black pepper
    • Optional: melted ghee, fresh or dried herbs like thyme or rosemary
    Instructions
    1. Place both chickens in the slow cooker, and sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper. Cover. Set the slow cooker to five hours on low or three hours on high. You do not need to add liquid.

    How roll it forward:

    Cook Smarter Staple #2: Homemade Paleo Mayo

    Store-bought mayo is either packed with unhealthy industrial seed oils or—in the rare case it’s made with good oils—hugely expensive. It’s too bad because homemade mayo literally take 2 minutes to make and serves as a creamy, dreamy base to a myriad of dressings and sauces.

    The tricky part is actually following the directions exactly. Since you’re attempting to combine water-based ingredients (egg and lemon juice) with a fat (the olive oil), you’ve got to make sure everything is at room temp for best results. Normal EVOO is too peppery for homemade mayo, so look for “light”-tasting olive oil or get fancy with something like avocado oil.

    Want to see the video tutorial for how to make homemade mayo? Click the image below.

    How to Make Homemade Mayo | stupideasypaleo.com

    Homemade Paleo Mayo Recipe
    Prep time:
    Total time:
    Serves: 1-1/4 cups
    Ingredients
    • 1 egg
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 1/2 tsp dry mustard (optional)
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt (a couple generous pinches)
    • 1 to 1-1/2 cups light-tasting olive oil or avocado oil
    Instructions
    1. Bring the egg and lemon juice to room temp. I usually put the whole egg (still in the shell!) in a small dish of very warm water for about 10 minutes and keep my lemons on the counter. You can also crack the egg into the blender and add the lemon juice with 1/4 cup of the oil and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.
    2. Blend the egg, lemon juice, dry mustard, sea salt and 1/4 cup oil on low speed for about 15 seconds.
    3. Now, very slowly drizzle in the remaining 3/4 cup to 1 cup oil while slowly increasing the blender speed to medium. Do not turn it to high because the friction from the blender will heat up the content and cause the mayo to break.
    4. Once most of the oil is incorporated and the sound the blender makes changes (it’ll be a noticeable change in pitch), stop adding. You may have some left over. Just pour the excess oil back in the bottle. Refrigerate your mayo and add a sticky note with the date the egg expires to the container. That way you’ll know when it’s ready to toss out.

    How roll it forward:

    Cook Smarter Staple #3: Oven-Caramelized Veggies

    Okay, I admit, this is just a way sexier way to say “roasted veggies” but the truth is that when you roast veggies in the oven, their natural sugars come out. The flavors get concentrated and the end result is anything BUT your average boring steamed or boiled veggies. Instead, you’re treated to complex flavors that add depth and dimension to pretty much anything.

    They’re great on their own, but you can also roll them forward into tons of dishes. Bonus: Wash and chop your veggies on your weekly cook-up day, then store them in large ziptop baggies with dried herbs or spices added. (Just skip the salt until you’re ready to put them in the oven since that’ll make them soggy.) All you have to do is take out a bag, dump it on a tray, and you’re ready to go.

    Oven-Caramelized Veggies Recipe
    Prep time:
    Cook time:
    Total time:
    Serves: Serves 4
    Ingredients
    • 2 pounds chopped veggies (try them solo or as mixtures)
    • 2 tablespoons oil or melted fat
    • Sea salt
    • Black pepper
    • Optional: dried herbs or spices of choice
    Instructions
    1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. I like parchment because nothing sticks to it. Place the veggies on the sheet and drizzle with oil or fat of choice, a couple generous pinches of salt, pepper and / or spices.
    2. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the type of veggies and how thickly you cut them. You want the edges to be browned and caramelly and the interior to be soft. Veggies that roast well: Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, onions, okra, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, parsnips, beets, tomatoes, etc.

    How roll it forward:

    I’m hoping this gives you some inspiration for rolling food forward and helps you cook smarter, not harder! Get creative and see where you can adapt this concept with your favorite meats, veggies and sauce. Remember, simple food is good food.

    Questions? Ask them in the comments below.

    Pin this for later!

    Cook Smarter, Not Harder | stupideasypaleo.com

    Steph Gaudreau is a certified holistic nutrition practitioner, weightlifting and mindset coach, and the author of the best-selling Performance Paleo Cookbook. Her recipes and expert advice have been featured in SELF, Outside Magazine, Elle, and Greatist. Steph loves barbells, cats, and anything Lord of the Rings. She lives in San Diego, CA.

    19 thoughts on “Cook Smarter, Not Harder – Practical Tips for Busy People

    1. There are a couple of even SMARTER tips to go with #1 (chicken) and #2 (mayo). For another way to get the blank canvas with chicken and get even more options, instead of roasting or slow cooking it, turn the chicken into broth. That way you get the chicken, plus the broth. You can then use the broth to flavor other things, just drink, or turn into a variety of soups. On GAPS Diet, we are supposed to drink a cup of broth with meals at least once a day (on Intro Diet, at every meal and in between meals as well). We have soup about 3x per week. Usually we are busy and just dice up some extra veggies and add pieces of chicken back in. Sometimes I do a pureed soup…think cauliflower or carrot, or broccoli (or combinations) from recipes or just winging it.

      For an even faster and smarter way to do mayo, use a stick blender. It takes about 90 seconds to make mayo with a stick blender, and it is pretty foolproof. No standing there having to slowly drizzle oil. Just put everything into a mason jar (or other container), pulse the stick blender at the bottom of the container until a white cloud starts to form (the mayo) and then slowly start to pull the stick blender higher while still pulsing, and then when the cloud gets even higher, you can just blend without pulsing and move the stick blender up and down. There are a lot of online tutorials on how to do it. The main tip is for the egg not to be too cold. I crack it into the jar, add all the other ingredients and let it sit out for about an hour. If you want to add shelf life to the mayo, it can be fermented (although I haven’t done that myself yet).

      1. Hi Nancy,

        Yes, I recommended using the chicken bones for broth 🙂

        Stick blenders are great but I found that not everyone has them and I find them to be quite dangerous as I’m very clumsy, so I stick with my regular blender for that task. There are certainly similar ways that will work depending on which gadgets you have in the kitchen so I’m glad you’ve optimized those tasks for you. 🙂

      2. I love the immersion blender method! It is so quick and easy and the only thing to clean afterwards is the blender attachement.

    2. Thanks so much Steph, a few mayo fails using other techniques had me discouraged, but today I was finally able to make successful blender mayo….your video helped immensely! I think mayo fails are a thing of the past 😉

    3. I end up slicing my chicken breasts into wafer thin slices which I then either cook or store in the freezer until required. I loved your tips on eating smarter – It’s so easy to go through the motions without really thinking about ways to cook and store food that ultimately will save you time and money in the long run.

      great post 🙂

    4. I like this post. I already do #1 and #3, it’s good to know I’m doing something right! 🙂
      What are your favorite veggies to roast? I’d like to add some variety to mine.

      1. Hey Petra!

        My favorites are cauliflower with some smoked paprika (YUM!); a mix of zucchini, yellow squash, onion and tomato; and broccoli with some smoked sea salt.

    5. Hi-just made my first successful batch of homemade mayo (after a few fails last wk). Thank you Steph! Also I love the podcast (and yes I did rate it in iTunes ?).

    6. Just made the paleo mayo! It was alittle messy when pouring in the oil but tastes yummy! It has a lemony tang to it!
      Thanks for the recipe!

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