A 4-Letter Word That Starts with C

Cook.  That’s right.  I said it – cook.

You know this without watching Super-Size Me.  It is difficult to eat healthfully at restaurants.  Their portions are enormous and they augment flavor with sugar, salt and fat.  Even healthier restaurant choices come with empty calories in the parmesan garnish on the broccoli or the butter finish on the carrots.  Cook it yourself and there won’t be bad or empty things lurking around.

Going to the grocery store is so expensive.  Compare it to the dollar menu and you might think so.  However, the the dollar menu just doesn’t list your downline expenses of bypass surgery or diabetic supplies.  You spend the money on nutritious food now, or you spend it dealing with health issues caused by poor food later. Either way, it’s going to cost you.  At least when you spend it on nutritious foods, you get the benefits of feeling better!

Basket of goodies from my local farmers' market

Basket of goodies from my local farmers’ market

Cooking is such a pain and so time consuming.  Prepare and freeze chicken, beef , pork and even rice and beans ahead of time.  When you’re baking one chicken breast, you might as well bake several and put the extras in the freezer for later.  The same thing goes for making a beef, pork, or rice and beans.  Cook them in quantity, divide into single servings and freeze.  This keeps you from eating the same things day after day, it cuts down on your prep time and decreases the likelihood that you’ll call out for Chinese spare ribs.  I usually don’t pre-cook any fish, though, since it takes so little time to cook anyway.

I also like to prepare a large salad (greens only) and put it in a bowl in the fridge.  Tomatoes, onions, peppers, whatever, are kept separately so that I can have an all veggie salad one night, but maybe a salad with blackberries, walnuts and brie the next night.

As far as cooked vegetables go, I steam nearly all mine (except root vegetables).  Steaming them takes just no time at all.  With beets or sweet potatoes, I dice those, put them in the oven and they’re ready in about 20 minutes.

That’s all fine and dandy for lunch and dinner, but what about breakfast?  Omelets are nutritious and, when put on some flat bread or rolled into a tortilla, portable.  To decrease prep time, become your own sous chef.  When you get home from the grocery store, go ahead and chop up those onions, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, etc.  Storing them in separate containers makes them easy to use in either salads or omelets.  

I’m also a huge fan of oatmeal – the old fashioned and steel cut kinds, not instant.  I’ve seen some crock pot recipes for oatmeal, but mine ended up just over the edge of charred; so, I cook it on the stove. I add chia seeds and flax meal for the Omega-3.  I add cinnamon as it cooks, then stir in a mashed banana before I eat it. (The banana has to be mashed to make it as sweet as I like.  Slicing it is also tasty, but not nearly as sweet.)  When I make one serving, I usually go ahead and make two. I can put the second one in the fridge for the next day.

Here’s the most important thing to remember, though: measure. Make sure you have measuring cups, spoons and a kitchen scale.  If you’re like most Americans, you have no clue what a proper serving size looks like and when you’re keeping a food diary like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt, you have to know what you just ate!

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