Talking with a new coaching client last week, she said to me “The trouble is, I never know what to cook. You say to eat ‘plants and animals’, and stay away from processed foods, but I never know what to actually do?”
I get this question literally all the time.
I am no chef, and don’t consider myself to be particularly talented in the kitchen, but I do OK, and I create some tasty, and healthy, meals.
Here’s what I do. And I’m keeping this purposefully simple. Because that’s part of the ethos of Mother Nature’s Diet, to keep healthy living simple for everyone to understand.
I keep cooking simple, because if it was complicated, I wouldn’t find the time to do it.
Quickie stir fry
- Pick a choice of meat or fish – pork, chicken, lamb, prawns, whatever you fancy
- Pick a style or nationality of cuisine – maybe you want to create Italian, Malaysian, Moroccan, whatever
- Google “what spices used in Greek / Indonesian / Argentinian / Kenyan dishes” and spend five minutes getting a feel for what flavours and spices work, and typically what vegetables work well with those flavours
- Assemble these bits – the meat/fish, the vegetables, the herbs and spices
- Heat some coconut oil or butter in a pan
- If using onions, chop them up and get them going first (usually)
- Brown off the meat
- Throw everything else in (generally speaking)
- Stir fry for five minutes
- Taste and adjust seasoning as you go
That’s pretty much it.
Think in terms of one third of the meal is meat or fish, two thirds is vegetables.
It’s that simple.
- Want to achieve a Mediterranean flavour – try tomatoes, garlic, olives, basil, herbs de Provence, tomato puree, that sort of thing.
- Aiming for a Malaysian or Indonesia flavour – try coriander, cumin, peanut butter (buy one that is organic, 100% nuts, no palm oil), a splash of chilli.
- Want Moroccan? Try ginger, cumin, paprika, sultanas, apricots, cinnamon, black pepper and chilli.
- Love Persian foods? Lamb or chicken, onions and green veggies, ginger, cumin and coriander, delicious.
- Go for an Indian feel with cumin, chilli, coriander, experiment with coconut.
- How about some classic combinations – lemon and ginger. Sweet chilli. Lime and coriander.
- Try frying off finely chopped spring onions with chestnut mushrooms, pine nuts, flaked almonds and some mixed herbs, add to chicken and peppers for wonderful flavour.
- Combine a green curry paste with coconut milk, chilli and cumin for a Thai.
These are jusy my own ideas. You can create your own too.
Experiment. It’s easier than you think.
As above, but instead of stir frying everything in one pan, combine your meat or fish with the sauce and spices in an oven dish, and while that bakes for half an hour or so in a medium oven, you can steam your veggies separately to go on the side. (To make those spices into a suace, just add them to tomato passata or a tin of chopped tomoates. Voila, instant ‘sauce’.)
Couldn’t be simpler, slow roasted joints (lamb, pork, try venison) are so tasty and tender they need virtually no seasoning, just foil the joint, roast for a few hours in a low to moderate oven, and add lots of veggies on the side.
If you are feeling a tad more ambitious, try my Moroccan slow roasted lamb dish here.
Short of time, or going out for the day?
Use a slow cooker – same as all the above, but combine it all (with enough liquid) in the slow cooker, stick it on low for 8 or 10 hours, and come home to the amazing smell!
The point is, cooking meals from scratch using fresh whole foods is easier than you think.
Just experiment. Pick some meat or fish, pick some veggies, pick a flavour, and have a crack at it.
Once you have done this a few times, it’s a breeze, and kinda fun. You can get your kids involved – have them pick the meat and nationality/region/flavour, and then get them in the kitchen to help and learn as the dish comes together.
You learn to cook, and so do they.
Don’t be afraid of experimenting.
In the last month, for weekend family meals with my wife and kids, I’ve made pesto pork, Thai coconut chicken, satay beef, peanut mackerel (yeah! that worked!), vegetable curry and some sort of Indonesian chicken (I am sure an Indonesian person would say it was more Malaysian or Thai or Vietnamese or something!)
I never write down what I do, so it comes out different every time, but that’s all part of the fun!
Just have a crack at it. One third meat or fish, two thirds veggies, quick Google search for ideas, and away you go. Don’t over think it, keep it simple and fun. Healthy whole foods based family meal in 30 or 40 minutes, no worries.
Let me know what you come up with! If you use Facebook, join our MND Group and share your creations in there!
To your good health!