“But I just get so tired of chicken and broccoli…”
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard this over the years, I would be able to retire, buy my own island and raise my own chickens and have my own broccoli farm.
All jokes aside, this is an honest statement; and it was in light of the most recent comment I received on this topic that inspired me to address what is actually a bit of a serious issue.
I am not sure how Chicken and Broccoli became the iconic example of a healthy meal, but somewhere along the line it happened. We try to talk as much as possible about food and healthy choices at the gym, but I think I often forget how many common misconceptions there are out there about how many foods there are that are truly healthy!
I can’t say this loud enough: Healthy cooking doesn’t have to be bland! Quite the contrary actually. Lets take a super simple concept.
Plants and animals.
That is simply what is truly healthy. Within these two simple things are SO many awesome choices, species, colors, flavors, spices…all of which include different amazing nutrients all bundled in a sweet little package perfectly designed by nature to be used by your amazing body…
…if you are only brave enough to disregard the media and try some new things!
I know first-hand that simple and easy are not the same thing. Meaning here, that this is not always easy to implement this simple concept. We are literally bombarded with things like the 500 calorie snack packs and low-fat chemical-and-sugar shit storms that are marketed to us as from all angles as the “healthy choices.” Take Cheerios, for example. The box is stamped with “May Help Lower Cholesterol” right on the front. This is a misleading health claim on its own, and the unfortunate reality of this marketing technique is that Cheerios are full of the things that are actually truly linked to heart disease. Accompanied now by “Gluten Free” so it must be healthy right?
It is no wonder people get confused…
Lets talk low-fat for a minute. The demonizing of fat has been going on since the late 1980’s. (Which I have also come to believe is about when Chicken and Broccoli began its attempt at world domination.)
The unfortunate truth is that since the low-fat craze took off, American citizens have only gotten fatter and sicker, as a whole.
So I ask you now to pretty much ignore whatever the media and the government tells you to eat. This will take a bit of re-programming. I ask you instead to think about the way nature has worked for millions of years. This planet produces everything we need to be healthy, and none of it comes from a package made in a lab with preservatives to make it shelf stable.
(Hidden shopping tip alert! This means real food is supposed to go bad!)
Let me tell you about when I discovered chicken thighs. The first time I passed over the ever-favored-but-oh-so-dry chicken breast and grabbed the neglected pack of thighs from the back of the shelf was nothing short of monumental for my taste buds. I never knew chicken could taste so moist and, well, chicken’y!
I think I am fortunate in the sense that I like to cook. But I still had to learn! I had to try new things, I had to fail. Repeatedly. Just ask my husband. We ate a lot of Hamburger Helper and burned peas.
But amidst all those failures were some successes, and many lessons about what tasted good together. This is also likely something you are going to have to do for yourself. And we are blessed with a wealth of information at our fingertips!
(Hidden cooking tip alert! GOOGLE! And if a recipe looks too complicated, skip it. Keep it simple! You don’t have to make everything look like a gourmet meal.)
In case you can’t tell, I like tips. And lists of tips. So here is a no-bullshit list on the subject of cooking and trying new things:
- Put your big-kid panties on. Seriously. I don’t care if you think you don’t like veggies or think you can’t cook.
- Find just one veggie you like and eat it until you get sick of it then try a new one. Then keep trying stuff!
- Find a way to cook veggies so that they taste good for you.
- Butter. 🙂
- Herbs and spices. Make them your friends! I promise, once you quit eating hyper-pallatable crap that comes from a box or a can, real food will start to taste differently. For the better!
- Lets talk about fat…again. Because you need to hear this and you need to know what the good stuff truly is. Fat = Energy. Fat = Flavor!
- If it comes from an animal (the way God and Mother Nature intended) that was raised properly (the way God and Mother Nature intended) then it is good for you. Eat it.
- There are a few fruits (yes fruits, not vegetables) that are naturally oily and these are good fat choices as well; eat them. Short list:
- Do NOT choose vegetable oils, canola oils, corn oils or seed oils. These are oils you can’t make in your own kitchen, they require chemical processing and a factory to produce and do not belong in your biological human body. If you have some around your house, trash it. If you can’t bring yourself to trash it, it would make good lamp oil, possibly for a squeaky door hinge or wherever WD-40 would otherwise be used.
- Don’t be afraid to mess up! Keep trying. Then try again. Most of us learn things like this by DOING, not reading recipes or blog posts 😉
And for good measure here are a couple of other super simple recipes, and a couple of links to things I make a lot!
Simple Curry Stir-Fry
- Handful or two of meat of choice (Or eggs for a breakfast type scramble)
- Diced asparagus
- Chopped cabbage
- Chopped onions
- Yellow Curry powder to taste
- 1 TBS coconut oil
- salt pepper to taste
I usually sauté the onion, meat and cabbage in the oil for a few minutes before adding my asparagus. (Asparagus cooks super fast) Then add the asparagus and spice with curry powder and salt to taste. (I never measure, I add some and taste it then add more if needed!) If you are doing eggs, add them very last!
Quick (and pretty) Salad
- 1 diced bell pepper (any color but green, more flavor!)
- 1/2 C Finely chopped purple cabbage
- 1 diced carrot (2 if small)
- 1 diced cucumber (1/2 if big)
- Meat of choice (I go to a can of tuna, salmon or chicken thighs…whatever I have around and ready is how I decide…)
- Balsamic vinegar (about 1/4 C, depending on how big your salad gets)
- 1-2 TBS olive oil
I just throw all this in a bowl and usually eat it over 2 meals. Making it the night before is awesome because it marinates in that vinegar. Yum! Lemon Juice instead of vinegar is awesome too, as is homemade mayo as the dressing!
5 Ingredient Pizza Pie from Paleomg – this is SO easy and my go-to for potluck type settings!
I really hope this helps some of you! Stay healthy friends.