From My Kitchen

7 Easy Tips to Get You Cooking

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One of the most important and necessary aspects of feeling better has been changing my diet. I started out gluten-free, then went paleo, and now I follow the AIP. This involves cooking basically everything I eat. Since my whole family doesn’t eat this way that also means I make other meals for them (or at least other components). This can be a lot. Especially when you’re extra tired or feeling very run down, but I say it is as necessary to eat well as it is to rest. So, putting what little energy you have towards cooking will benefit you, it has for me.

1. Keep it Simple. When I first started with Paleo and the AIP I tended to want to cook things that most closely resembled my old diet. Things like treats, baked goods, “breads”, etc. There are some great recipes out there which I appreciate, but many of these recipes take a lot of time and energy. I also factor in the time it will take me to clean up, because I do not want to leave a really messy kitchen, especially when I’m already feeling tired. So, I save more complex recipes for times when I’m feeling better or don’t have a lot to do in other areas of my life.  Lately, that’s not very often.

What I typically stick with is a:

  • protein – meat, seafood, bone broth, offal-which I’m working on incorporating.
  • fat – lard, ghee (or grass-fed butter if tolerated), bacon fat, avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, coconut butter, etc.
  • a starchy carb – usually root vegetables, squash, beets, sweet potatoes, etc.
  • and some other veggie – greens, cauliflower, onions, radishes, leeks, cabbage, etc., really any vegetable that you tolerate well.

2. Use an apron. This may sound silly, but I’m totally serious. When you’re already worn out, you really don’t want to take time to try to get grease splatters or spills out of your clothes. Putting on an apron also symbolizes you are working in the kitchen. You’re in kitchen mode. I like that. Here’s one I like. (affiliate link)

3. Listen to something while you work. This helps me enjoy my time in the kitchen. I listen to a talk radio show or podcast every day, at the same time.  It’s my kitchen time.  You can choose to listen to music, audio-books, or podcasts.  Anything that sets your kitchen time apart from the rest of your day is helpful. At least it has been for me.  I don’t really have any other set cleaning or preparing times for myself, but because food is such a crucial aspect of healing and feeling well, I make it a priority and want to look forward to it.

4. Make eating easy.  You should always try to make enough for leftovers, so it can be another easy meal. Cook once, eat at least twice.You might also consider batch cooking -taking a day to make and prep multiple meals to eat or freeze for later. (Here is a great resource if you’re interested in batch cooking.) Also, if you’ve made something (especially a protein-think pot roast, chicken, etc) and you have even a small amount left, put it in a little container and throw it in the freezer.  A tiny bit of extra veggies, throw them in the freezer.  When you’re having a bad day and need something quick and easy, having a single portion size of food in the freezer is wonderful.  Being able to throw meats and veggies in a pan is easy and (usually) tasty.

5. Roast random veggies.  OK, so like me (maybe), you’ve over bought fresh vegetables or you just didn’t end up making what you had planned on making (all.the.time.) Chop them up. Put them on a cookie sheet, add a cooking fat (lard, bacon fat, coconut oil, whatever you like). Bake at 400* for about 45 minutes. Voila’. This works for a lot of veggies. Or you can chop them up and freeze them for later use. I would suggest labeling them if you’re going to do this.

6. Keep pantry staples on hand. Pantry staples will look different for everyone, but the one’s I try to always keep are:

  • Epic bars.  These are a great, quick, nourishing protein. I keep one in my purse (always) and extras in the cupboard.
  • Coconut butter. They actually sell individual packets (which I also carry in my purse), and I keep a jar in my cupboard.
  • Canned Sardines, oysters, and salmon.  This is an easy protein to always have on hand. Especially when you need something quick and don’t have the time or energy to cook.
  • Seaweed. It tastes yummy and makes a nice wrap. I usually get Seasnax brand.
  • Olives. Yum! They’re a great, easy snack.
  • Salt. Please get good salt. Real Salt, Himalayan Salt, Sea Salt. It’s so important for your body and good for you. Do not get regular table salt.
  • Coconut oil. I use coconut oil for cooking, oil pulling, as a lotion, and as a face cleanser.
  • Ghee. A kind of clarified butter with the dairy proteins, sugars, and water removed.
  • Organic lemon juice.  It can be a little pricey. I usually pay about $5.00 for 16 oz. at our local Kroger, but it usually lasts me about 2 months, depending on what I’m making, and it’s a great alternative to keeping fresh lemons on hand all the time.

These are some of the very basics. Obviously there are lots of other things you might want to keep in your pantry, different starches, coconut flours, other grain free flours, but I think those are more for special occasions then necessary for everyday use. It’s nice to have some of them, but you don’t need them.

7. Clean up after yourself. It feels so good to have a clean kitchen, especially when you need to cook daily.  If there’s only one thing I’m able to clean, it will be my kitchen.

These are a few of my kitchen tips.  What are some of yours? What makes it easier for you?

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