Wednesday, May 8, 2013

8 Whole30 tips for those who hate to cook

So, I know some of you don't like to cook, don't know how to cook, or are in too much of a hurry to cook. A few of you asked for tips catered to your situation (bachelor, working mom, etc), so here's what we've come up with.

1. Put your crock pot to use. One of our kids called it a crack pipe, but I assure you, we don't do that here. If you don't have a slower cooker, its time to get one. In most cases, it's pretty much fool proof (well, unless you forget to plug the crock in or turn it on...) and you can actually throw veggies in with the meat so it's a complete one-pot meal (chunks of zucchini, carrots, and/or sweet potatoes are nice).  You can also do this with boneless chicken breasts or split, bone-in chicken breasts, drumsticks and thighs, a whole chicken, cuts of pork (even pork ribs), or a hefty roast. You can find a zillion crock recipes on the web. Plus, you set it and forget it when you get up in the morning, and it's guaranteed to be cooked all the way through 8 hours later. There's so many different things you make with minimal effort. (Don't forget to season it well! The key to well seasoned food in the crock is generously dump on the seasonings, especially if the crock pot recipe calls to cover the meat with liquid like water or broth.)

2. Burgers and more burgers.  Grill a lot of burger patties and top them with whatever you like. Avocado and tomato slices, lettuce and cilantro (cilantro is a blood cleanser and speeds the healing process along), jalapenos and onions. Instead of cheese we make a creamy avocado sauce (that's pretty thick) to pour over it. We always grill extra burger patties to eat for breakfast (with an egg on top, yum).

3. Rotisserie Chicken.  Now, hardcore Paleo people might shudder, but yep, I'm talking about the kind you buy in the grocery store. Many grocery stores are offering pretty darn good quality rotisserie chickens now. Now that ordering pizza or just running through the McD's drive-through is out, rotisserie chicken may become your new fast food friend. Yes, it's probably healthier if you make it yourself, and yes, it's likely not organic, but I know a lot of Whole30ers who can't afford organic and need quick options some days.  You can buy several of these, eat one for dinner, pull one apart for chicken salad, and cut one into pieces for a quick meal one day (store leftovers in the fridge).  It's better than springing for Taco Bell, and it's fairly inexpensive too.

4. Baaaacon.  If you don't like bacon, then there's something wrong with you. And that goes for you turkey bacon freaks too. (Seriously, turkey bacon? Ew!)  Remember to purchase nitrate-free bacon. It's been impossible for us to find sugar-free bacon here (and we're not about to spend $10 on a small package of sugar-free bacon off some website, thanks) so that is the one thing we have allowed on our Whole30 challenge that contains sugar. It's a small amount, so we just don't worry about it.  You can decide for yourself whether it's a big deal or not.  We bake ours because 1, it's less mess (your kitchen isn't covered in spatter, and there's no heavy, greasy feeling hanging in the air) and 2,  who has time to watch it as carefully or flip it when you have five kids, plus, 3, It always comes out perfectly done.  Heat your oven to 350*F. I line my pan with foil before laying the bacon out in a single layer.  Bake for 15-25 minutes (depends on the thickness of the bacon), and then remove from pan place on a plate topped with paper towels.  If I am using organic bacon, I will drain the grease into a mug that I keep in the fridge (so I can use it for cooking later), but if not, I let it sit out and.. um.. congeal... and then I just roll up the foil and throw it in the trash.  If you've covered the pan properly, you don't even have to wash it. Win.  If you're not into using foil, then have fun washing all that grease off. Whatever floats your boat, man!  But seriously, you can use bacon in many things. You can eat it with a side of green beans. You can top your burger with it. You can have it for breakfast. You can use it as a guacamole scoop. You can freeze it (because, we do this and it's good frozen too). You can put it in the salad wrap. You can stick lick it like a lollipop.  It's your bacon, dude.

5. Eggs. This one seems pretty obvious to me but maybe it's not to you, so I guess I'd better put it on the list. Three to five eggs each morning is a pretty good starter. Cook up a bunch of good quality ground breakfast sausage and store it in the fridge to throw in your eggs each morning. (Remember, check for MSG! Most breakfast sausages contain it.) Boiled eggs, fried eggs, scrambled eggs. Enjoy them how you like.

6. Hot dogs and chili.  Or just chili. Or just hot dogs. Whatever. Remember, Nitrate-free hotdogs. Make sure they don't have MSG.  Cook up a bunch of (bean-free) chili and freeze some for another day.   I found some little weanies that are MSG-free and Nitrate-free at Trader Joe's, but otherwise, it's really hard to find the tiny weanies. You can cut up hot dogs and throw them in the chili, if you prefer.  Load your chili with plenty of tomatoes!  Maybe even sneak in some finely chopped spinach. You won't even taste it. I keep frozen spinach in my freezer just for the purpose of sneaking extra nutrition into sauces, soups, and chilis.  Chili is really easy to make. Just make sure, if you are using a chili seasoning mix, it doesn't have grains, MSG, soy, etc in it.  I mainly use chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder, so if you have those things, don't worry about buying a chili seasoning mix.  Load on some good quality sauerkraut (check the ingredients before you buy!), and maybe some jalapenos too.

7. Look for Nitrate-free and MSG-free Sausages you can throw in soups or toss on the grill. This is makes for quick lunches and dinners, and doesn't take much skill. You can slice up the sausage and brown it a bit in a pan on the stovetop, then add green beans and allow it to cook a little longer. (Or add chopped cabbage and a little water, season well, and cover... stir every now and then. Whole meal in one pot!)  They are good for any meal- breakfast, lunch, or supper.

8. Maybe you're not big on veggies or fruits, so that's the thing that's worrying you about taking the Whole30 jump.  Search for veggies you like. Remember, corn is not a veggie, it's a grain, and it's off limits.  Broccoli, green beans, asparagus, celery (maybe with some almond butter?), carrots, cauliflower, zucchini/yellow squash, avocados, cucumbers, and tomatoes are a great place to start. Even if I'm pretty sure I don't like something, I will give it a try, and maybe even try preparing it or cooking it a different way. (I used to hate cabbage and I love it now! It's all in the seasoning!)  Get a small amount of a fruit or veggie you've never tried and research the best way to prepare it. That way you can try something new.. and you might find you like it.  Try to buy organic, but if you can't afford it, do not worry yourself over it. Remember, even if you don't like a wide variety of produce,  eating vegetables (even if it's the same three) is better than not eating them at all.  You do not have to eat salads if you don't like them. Okay?


Meagan said...

Sooo helpful. I wouldn't have thought hot dogs were paleo approved! I was thinking...okay great, chicken and veggies for 30 days...

Meagan said...

This was a great idea for a post! I think y'all are a little (or a lot!) more,,,"foodie"...than we are, and while a lot of the stuff you've pictured looked DELISH, I couldn't envision anyone else in my family eating it. These ideas are all super doable! Thanks!!!

Meagan said...

I'd love to get the recipe for your avocado sauce!