Suffering from an arthritic related autoimmune disorder for 3 years taught me a lot about how food impacts our health. This got me experimenting with so many diets that basically required me to cook all of my meals.
These days I continue to cook most of my meals because it is still cheaper and much healthier than eating out. You get to control what goes into your body, get to experiment and play around with new recipes and flavours. And best of all, you get to savour your own lovingly prepared and tasty food! 🤗
As such, cooking has become one of my favourite forms of relaxation after a long day at work or school. I’ve been preparing my own meals for the past 6 years or so and here are some tips I’ve learnt along the way that I use to cook nutritious, delicious meals!
1. It’s all about the veggies! When grocery shopping, I buy veggies according to the 3 types of vegetables we should all be eating that I learnt from following the Wahl’s Protocol in the past – a) dark green leafy vegetables b) cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage c) colourful vegetables from carrots to beetroot. According to the ‘Potential Renal Acid Load’ (PRAL) of foods, we need to eat 4-5x more alkalising foods like vegetables to balance the acidic nature of the proteins we eat to maintain a healthy alkaline, anti-inflammatory and disease preventing state of health. So now you know how to portion your plate! 😉
2. Batch cook! I grocery shop about once a week and soon after will cook almost everything I’ve bought at one shot. If I can’t get organic produce, I first soak and wash in a diluted vinegar solution, then chop up and lightly steam (5-8mins) anything that needs cooking such as broccoli. Of course, raw is best and I usually have a big salad too. With that big pot of veggies, I either refrigerate them to use as ingredients for quick meals (see below) or I make a big pot of stir-fries or curry.
For protein, I’ve stopped eating animal products and so boil before soaking overnight (with some vinegar) a pot of beans, grains and seeds and then spice this up with some Mexican spices like chipotle and lots of paprika when I warm a portion just before eating.
I don’t worry about carbs and often will time my carb intakes only at the end of the day or after exercising to stay lean. These range from steamed kumara (sweet potatoes) to rice noodles or porridge cooked in any leftover curry gravy for extra flavour! Sometimes I roast a whole pumpkin and that’s enough to last the week. Other times I just finish the meal with fruits.
3. Quick meals! Because I’ve already pre-cooked everything, all I need to do is warm it up slightly (careful not to overcook!) and add some flavours (see below) before consuming. I prepare the next day’s lunch while preparing dinner to save time – basically just scooping what I need from the fridge into my glass lunchbox, flavouring it and putting it back in the fridge. Next morning, this box is ready for me to ‘grab and go’! No heating is necessary as the cold food will have warmed to room temperature by lunchtime.
Another quick go-to in case I run out of food or just feel bored of cooked foods is a salad. I buy the pre-washed ones to save time and add whatever I feel like adding. Often some olive oil, vinegar, nuts, seeds, fruits and seaweed.
4. Flavour and spice makes everything nice! These days, you can buy and experiment with many pre-mixed powder spices like Curry, Chipotle or Italian mixed herbs. For dinner, I usually do a quick stir-fry of onions, garlic and ginger before throwing the refrigerated portions in and flavouring with a few teaspoons of those spices. I often add an extra tsp of turmeric and black pepper for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Other go-to sauces and flavourings are Tamari (gluten free soy sauce), nutritional yeast, pink Himalayan sea salt (salt makes everything nice!), preservative-free powdered vegetable stock, seaweed, cinnamon, coconut yogurt and fermented vegetables like kimchi or sauerkraut! Mix and match and keep experimenting! Every meal becomes an adventure.
5. The most cost-effective snacks! Think of the nutritional value of an apple compared to a bag of chips. Often, I can get a bag of 5-7 organic apples for the same price as a bag of chips! An apple is not only 5x cheaper, its sweet-as and really fills you up – often enough to replace a meal!
I also always carry a box of scroggin’ (mixed nuts, seeds and anything really) and some fruits in my bag. A banana is my preferred post workout snack.
6. Trick your treats! Most nights I like to enjoy a nice treat after dinner and many treats out there aren’t exactly healthy or nutritious. The trick is to reframe your perception of what a treat is! These days since going gluten free, a nice treat I like is cutting up raw carrots and dipping them into some peanut butter and/or tahini. An apple or orange can be a sweet and lovely alternative to some ice-cream too! Sometimes I smash an avocado and banana and add various flavourings separately on the side to taste with such as cinnamon, maple syrup, nutritional yeast, coconut yogurt, miso, etc. Kombucha is an awesome alcohol alternative to finish the meal (discount CODES here!). Lastly some dark chocolate or homemade stove-popped popcorn is also nice.
Got a home cooking tip or strategy to share? Comment below!
Enjoy your kitchen adventures!