I’ve felt a bit lazy lately when it comes to cooking. I used to love spending time in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes or inventing my own. after I went from working 3 days a week to 5 days a week in my old job, I guess I got burned-out in that area of my life too. after suffering from stress, I’ve noticed I don’t do well under pressure anymore. after being constantly “on” for several years, I’m now craving a slower pace in life. both so I can get things done properly + to live a more harmonious life. I don’t want to rush through life anymore + get things over with for the sake of it. I want to enjoy the process. I want to be present now. this is why I’ve found it beneficial to simplify my cooking.
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whenever I have limited resources, I usually get more creative; I can find ways to make the most of what I have.
when I’m exhausted,
I’ve realised it’s easier for me to find ways to simplify aspects of my life.
my main focus is to fill my energy tank. resting is one way of doing this; another is to indulge in plus activities (activities that we enjoy / lift us higher / give us energy). regardless of how exhausted we might feel, we might not have the luxury of letting others do heavier tasks for us. when we’re already feeling low, cooking can be one of these minus activities (activities that drain us of energy).
when I simplify my activities, I find ways to save my energy while doing that task or chore. I don’t want to spend too much time / use too much brain activity / make the process too complex for myself. I need the process to be easy + efficient.
when it comes to cooking, I still want to eat healthy + nourishing food. I know this will fuel my body + boost my mood more than ready meals + takeaway. I also like to control what I’m eating, so I have a big need to cook from scratch.
I was hooked on stir-fries for a while, but in this process, you have to add different foods at different times, depending on how long they take to cook. I needed to simplify even more.
these days I’m simply steaming vegetables + then adding meat or fish, usually prepared differently. sometimes I also steam chicken – chicken for 20 minutes, vegetables for 10 minutes. easy peasy. then I add some olive oil to the vegetables / fresh herbs / sliced chicken / lingonberry jam (I’m scandinavian, after all !). voila, that’s it !
food fact #1 :
like everything else, food also vibrates at different frequencies.
local / seasonal / organic / fresh foods vibrate higher than food transported a long way / that’s out of season / produced conventionally (with synthetic fertilisers / herbicides / pesticides) / that’s processed.
fruit + vegetables vibrate at a higher frequency than meat + fish.
when eating high-vibrational food, we boost our moods / we help the body stay healthy / we feel more invigorated.
food fact #2 :
shorter cooking times gives more proteins / enzymes / nutrients. overheating food will destroy this. meaning that the more processes we put food through, the fewer nutrients are left in the food, and our bodies end up receiving less fuel.
so no need to feel bad if you are not at masterchef level in the kitchen. often, the simpler you keep the cooking process, the healthier the food will be.
steaming vegetables is better than boiling them, and both are better than frying. when cooking, water-soluble vitamins may leach into the water, something that doesn’t happen when steaming.
food fact #3 :
the way we eat is more crucial than what we eat. practising mindful eating is a way to enjoy the food more + simultaneously be gentler with our digestive system. when we slow down our eating, we taste the food better, which means we enjoy it more.
it takes 20 minutes for the brain to register that the stomach is full, so slowing down while eating can prevent overeating. overeating doesn’t only lead to overweight; it also overloads the digestive system. if we eat too fast, don’t chew the food properly or eat on the run, we prevent the body from fully digesting the food + absorbing nutrients. so if we spend lots of money on organic foods, we won’t really benefit from their healthiness if we consume it this way.
poor digestive health can lead to a leaky gut, which again can lead to allergies / food sensitivities / autoimmune diseases / inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) / inflammation. the gut is also linked to the brain (through the gut-brain axis). poor digestion can lead to poor brain function (brain fog / poor concentration / memory problems / depression / anxiety).
in our busy lives, we tend to try and do lots of things simultaneously, also while we’re eating. just by sitting down / taking 3 deep breaths before starting our meal / eating slowly / focusing completely on the food, we do ourselves a big favour.
3 STEPS TO SIMPLIFY YOUR COOKING
if you live a busy life + are short on time, it can be very beneficial to prepare upfront. for instance, spend one day a week chopping vegetables / cooking rice, quinoa etc. for salads + Buddha bowls. store these in containers in the fridge. be aware that some vegetables (like carrots) need to be stored in water.
2. COOKING METHOD
as mentioned above (food fact #2), fancy cooking methods do not necessarily give you the most nutrients + make you feel more energised. the simpler processes are usually both quicker + healthier. and if you have prepared foods upfront, you are saving yourself even more time.
3. COOKING QUANTITY
if you cook double portion every time, you can use leftovers to make a salad or Buddha bowl for lunch the next day. or quickly reheat in a wok.
SIMPLE + HEALTHY COOKING METHODS
baking vegetables is like dry poaching them + is happening at a lower temperature than roasting.
place food in a pan or dish, covered or uncovered. no added fat is required.
you can bake seafood / poultry / lean meat / vegetables / fruits.
grilling is a gentler way of preparing meat than frying it. you end up with maximum nutrition without sacrificing flavour. however, there has been research showing links between grilled meat + certain cancers. if only eaten every now + then, as part of a healthy diet, and choosing to eat rarer steaks over well done, it likely won’t affect our health. use a grill pan or the grill function in your oven. in both cases, grilling allows fat to drip away from the food. it’s best to cut away blackened pieces + flip the meat often while in the pan.
when poaching something, you barely cover it with liquid (water / broth / coconut milk etc.). bring the liquid to boil, then turn the heat down to the lowest level (water should be between 160-180°F / 70-80°C). it’s a gentler way than boiling (212°F / 100°C).
use it for very delicate foods; eggs / fish / white meat / fruit.
it’s best to use a meat thermometer to check if the meat is cooked through (chicken should be cooked to 165°F / 75°C, fresh beef + pork should reach an internal temp of 145°F / 65°C).
how to poach an egg :
bring water to a boil in a saucepan, then turn the heat down. crack the egg gently into a measuring cup (or tiny bowl). when there are no more bubbles in the water (the water is no longer boiling), use a spoon to make a whirlwind inside the pan, then gently tip the egg into the pan. let simmer for 2-4 minutes, depending on the size of the egg + how soft you want it. remove with a slotted spoon + transfer to a kitchen paper to let water rinse off.
when slow cooking, you use lower temperatures, which help preserve nutrients. they also rarely require oils or fats in the cooking process – food simmer in its own juices. though it takes longer than other cooking methods, it’s a great way to turn tougher cuts of meat tender + flavourful. use it to make roast / stews / soups / pasta dishes / curries / chillies / risotto or to poach salmon / cook chicken / make omelet.
steaming is the healthiest way to prepare meats + produce because they’re done at lower temperatures. when steaming, the foods basically cook in their own juices, no added fats necessary.
add vegetables / meat / fish to one or more perforated baskets. suspend these above simmering liquid. you can add slices of lemon / fresh herbs / peppercorns / any other flavoured liquids or seasonings to the water to flavour the food as it cooks.
steaming is better than boiling since it prevents water-soluble vitamins (like B-vitamins + vitamin C) from leaching into the water.
as with normal cooking (boiling), be careful not to overcook the vegetables; you want them to stay crunchy.
stir-frying is healthy in the way that it shallow fries vegetables, and therefore, nutrients stay intact. on the other hand, the process requires frying at high heat + using oil. heating oils at high temperatures may result in harmful by-products. so it’s best to use oils with a high smoke point, preferably 400°F / 205°C or greater (e.g. peanut oil or avocado oil), and keep the cooking time short. one way to do this is to chop both vegetables + meat in smaller pieces, so they don’t require too much time. use a wok or a large nonstick frying pan, and frequently stir to allow the food to cook evenly.