How Do I Cook It?
How do I cook my food?
Unless you have specific recipes, figuring out how to actually prepare your healthy food choices can be a daunting task. In order to be successful in your new lifestyle, you need to have the ability to put together your own ingredients into a healthy dish. This is where your own creativity can blossom! Following written recipes for every meal tends to fatigue your interest level, which can lead to making easier, less healthy food choices. So here are some tips on how to cook different types of food so they taste good and don’t hog up loads of prep time.
I use a variety of seasonings on my food. Keep in mind if you’re going strict paleo, seasonings are a no-no. But even I think going strict paleo is pure madness. After all, we want to actually enjoy what we eat and who the hell wants bland food? Not this guy. So I tend to use Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper on my meats and veggies.
I use a lot of ground meats. They’ve become a staple for me when I want a fast meal. Turkey, beef, pork and chicken are few in my arsenal. To cook them, I use a frying pan set to Med-High heat with about 2 tablespoons of either olive or coconut oil. Add sea salt and pepper to taste, drain off excess oils. Once the meat is browned, I add whatever chopped veggies I’m having. But there are many ways to prepare vegetables, so we’ll cover them later.
PRO-TIP: Pick your favorite ground meat and add in eggs, chopped veggies & chopped bacon. Continue to cook it all together for a breakfast protein bomb! Add 1/2 an avocado and a sliced apple for a perfectly balanced plate of fuel.
You can also form ground meats into patties and make burgers with them. Add your seasonings and an egg (with yoke) into a mixing bowl, then mix by hand. The egg acts as a binding agent to hold it all together when cooked. Form the patties and throw them on your BBQ, or sauté them the same way you cook ground meats, as described above.
Ground meats can also be formed into meat loafs (meat loaves?) in the same manner. Add your seasonings, egg and chopped veggies. Form it into a loaf, coat with a bit of olive oil and bake it at 350F for about an hour, or until the internal temperature of the meat is around 155F.
PRO-TIP: Invest in a meat thermometer. They range in price and quality, but you don’t need one with all the bells and whistles to get the job done. I find it easier to place the thermometer in the meat to gauge it’s cook time, rather than cutting into the meat for visual inspection. If you know the temperature in which to cook the meat and what the internal temperature should be when it’s done, you can’t miss!
Chicken Breasts: I’m a big BBQ fan, so my yard bird gets the grill most of the time. Wash each breast in water, trim off the snotty fat (chicken fat is nasty). Coat the breasts lightly in olive oil, add an even coat of your favorite seasoning. Preheat your grill to 450F and cook the breasts for 5 minutes per side. Only flip the once unless you want chicken jerky. The internal temp should be about 155F. Pull them off and let them sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
PRO-TIP: Let your meat rest! While meat is cooking, the protein molecules will shrink and push juice from your cut. When you cut meat directly after cooking, the juices do not have an opportunity to re-absorb into the fibers, causing the juices to escape onto your cutting board. This can result in dry meat and a sore jaw. Let your meat rest to allow these juices to re-absorb and your palate will thank you. For smaller meats, such as chicken breasts or steaks, let them rest 5-10 minutes before cutting. Larger cuts of meat such as a tri tip or a pork shoulder can be wrapped in foil and left in the ambient air for 15-45 minutes. The foil will retain the heat and allow for juicy re-absorption. So…much….better!
Chicken breasts can also be boiled in hot water and shredded for soups, or you can bake them. To bake, wash, coat and season the breasts, then place them in a pre-heated oven (375F) for 25-35 minutes, or until the internal temperature is around 155F. Remember not to eat chicken with pink in the middle unless you want to spend some quality time on the toilet. After removing from the oven, let chicken sit uncovered for 5-10 minutes before serving.
You can also cut chicken into chunks and cook them in a frying pan, as you would for vegetable stir frys. Wash, cut and season with olive oil, then sauté with some fresh cut garlic and a tbsp of clarified butter (Ghee). Once the outsides are browned, add in your veggies and repeat the dose of clarified butter. It’s a damn tasty way to prep your bird!
Ok so I’m going to share one of my favorite ways to cook tri-tip. It’s easy and it produces an INSANE cut of meat. Here we go…
Wash and pat the tri tip dry. Coat with a layer of olive oil and use your favorite rub, such as the one described below. Place the rubbed meat in a Pyrex dish and leave uncovered. Preheat your oven to 500F. Once the temp is reached, place the meat into the oven and close the door. From this point until done, don’t open the door! Let the tri tip cook for 20 minutes at 500F, then turn the oven off completely. Without opening the door, leave the tri tip in the oven for an additional 30 minutes. After the last 30 minutes is up, pull the tri tip out of the oven and wrap it tightly in foil. Let it sit for 10 minutes on the counter. After the 10 minute rest, unwrap and slice the tri tip thinly against the grain, then serve. You’re welcome.
Want a good rub for your meats? BLAMMO-Here ya go:
1 tbsp Paprika
1 tbsp Chili Powder
1 tbsp Garlic Powder
1 tbsp Onion Powder
1 tbsp Sea Salt
1 tbsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Cayenne
Mix these together and rub vigorously on the meat of your choice. It goes very well with a good tri-tip!
More expensive cuts of beef such as steaks can be prepared just like your chicken breasts. Wash, pat dry, coat with olive oil and season to you liking. Place the meat on the BBQ at medium heat. Cook approximately 5 minutes per side. You can also prepare them in a frying pan with some olive oil, clarified butter or coconut oil. Use the following chart to gauge the meat’s completeness.
120° F (48.8° C) = Rare
130° F (54.4° C) = Medium rare
140° F (60° C) = Medium
150° F (65.5° C) = Medium well
160° F (71.1° C) = Well done
Once the meat is near your desired temperature, remove the meat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Another outstanding protein source that can also provide beneficial mono-unsaturated fats is fish such as salmon, bass, tilapia and halibut. I like to top my filets with sea salt, pepper, dill and garlic, then top with a slice of lemon. Place the filet into a Pyrex dish and oven cook at 400F for 10 minutes, then check it. It may require a bit longer cooking time. It is done when it flakes easily and the flesh is opaque.
Shrimp and scallops can be tossed in olive oil or melted ghee, coated with the seasonings above and pan fried. Keep in mind the cook time in a pan is much less! It will cook quickly, so keep an eye on it.
A NOTE ON FATS: Why all the dang butter, Kash? Ok listen up gamers. Get one thing into your heads! Good fats don’t make you fat! Bad carbs make you fat! Bread, tortillas, pasta and rice in excess will make you fat! Grass fed cow butter, clarified butter (ghee), a bit of bacon drippings, olive oil, coconut oil is GOOD. You need to forget the things your parents taught you about nutrition! I’m going to brain wash you into your new, healthy, fat-burning lifestyle.
Vegetables are your bread and butter, for lack of a better term. They are your primary carb source, therefore, you want to maximize the nutrients you get from them. Below are some typical ways I prepare this fuel source.
As with all fresh food, make sure you wash them thoroughly to avoid taking a bite of foreign substances.
In a pan:
For many veggies like zucchini, mushrooms, onions, peppers, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, carrots, celery, broccoli and eggplant, simply cut them into bite-sized pieces and sauté them with olive oil, coconut oil or clarified butter (ghee). Use some sea salt and pepper for seasoning. If you like it spicy, add a bit of cayenne pepper. The key here is to NOT OVERCOOK the veggies. You want to pull them off the heat just after they get soft to maximize the nutrient benefit of the fuel. Overcooked, soggy vegetables not only taste worse, they have lost a good amount of their nutritional content.
On the BBQ:
Cut your veggies lengthwise into spears. You can do this with zucchini, peppers, and other long veggies. Asparagus is already grill-ready. Cut eggplant and onions into thick coins & broccoli into half-trees. The goal is to cut them big enough so they don’t disappear between the grill holes and end up in the fiery dungeon of your BBQ. Once the veggies are cut toss them in a large bowl with some light olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Place them on a hot grill and let them cook for about 10 minutes, flipping them with long tongs in between. The long tongs help you to retain your knuckle hair. Load your plate up with a myriad of these healthy spears and alas, your body will be giving you fist bumps.
Roasting your veggies is another way to retain the precious nutrients and still get a wallop of flavor. Prepare your choice of veggies by chopping them into bite-sized pieces or into spears as we did in the grill method. You can toss them with oil and seasonings, then place them in a Pyrex dish or on a foil-covered cookie sheet (for easy clean-up). Roast them in a preheated oven at 450F for 15-20 minutes. Remember you want them soft, not mushy.
Steaming your veggies is a quick and easy way to cook them while retaining a good amount of those healthy nutrients. I would venture to say if we were rating these methods, this is the healthiest method of vegetable preparation. It’s also, rather risky. There is a short window from cooked to mushy, so you need to pay attention. No putting the veggies on then healing a raid party. You gotta watch these babies. There no real preparation for them, just wash and cut, then place them in the steaming pot with some boiling water beneath. Make sure the water isn’t touching them, because then they wouldn’t be steamed, they’d….be….boiled. Once they are soft (after about 10 minutes of steaming), pull them off, drizzle some fresh olive oil, your favorite seasonings and CHOW TIME.
PRO-TIP: For cooking, I prefer to use coconut oil over olive oil. Coconut oil can tolerate higher temperatures without breaking down the beneficial ingredients. Olive oil can still be used for cooking and I still use it all the time, but it has a lower tolerance for heat, therefore, it can break down faster than coconut oils. If you do cook with olive oil, just drizzle some more on top of your meal once it’s off the heat. This way you can guarantee you are getting the full dose of nutrients and good fats from the oil.