Healthy Cooking — Recipes For The Kitchen Challenged…

Written by shapeshifter

Let’s face it, eating healthy is challenging no matter how disciplined you are.

Our increasingly hectic lives are filled with overtime, traffic, kids sports events, and family obligations. It’s a delicate scheduling balance, and when small surprises hit they can send our diet plans tumbling like a house of cards.

It’s at moments like these that the takeout pizza flyer poses the greatest risk to your waistline. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

As with any crisis, your survival depends on preparation. Thinking ahead, anticipating possible challenges, and then preparing for the unforeseen can keep your diet on track no matter what life throws your way.

“What about those times when my husband drags home a bunch of guys from the bar, and I suddenly find myself with 12 extra people to feed?”

It’s funny you should ask that…

We didn’t drag 12 friends home from a bar. But we did find ourselves locked in a house in Vegas recently with 12 hungry fitness professionals. You know some of these guys from our blog, and you can imagine how much they pack away. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that cannibalism wasn’t far off…

Thankfully no one had to resort to “long pig” with The Muscle Cook Dave Ruel in our corner. Dave scrounged the cupboards and fridge and came up with dinner for 12 in less than 15 minutes!!!

We asked Dave to share a few tips with you — kitchen tricks for guys like Ryan who want to eat healthy but who hate to cook.

What’s YOUR number one kitchen tip for healthy eating? Share your best strategy with us in the comment section below.

We’ll pick the best tip and GIVE you a copy of Dave’s awesome cookbook full of healthy recipes that even Ryan can master!

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  • I use a Vitamix to make green smoothies. I combine celery, cucmber, ice, two or three raw eggs, some chia seeds or powder, baby spinach or dino kale, and a small clove of garlic for a little kick. Mix it all together and voila! a delicious, nutritious smoothie. Mmm!

  • What i do is whenever i can cook a meal i make an extra large batch so i can put the rest of the servings into individual containers. I then put these “left-over” containers into the freezer, so whenever i dont have time to cook (or am simply too lazy), i can just reheat a healthy meal from one of the containers and i have a healthy meal straight up in 2-3 minutes!

  • My lunch box is always stocked up. I buy the tuna in the pouches when they go on sale. Even If I have other things to pack I have more “back up” in case so I don’t have to resort the junk food. Packets of pickle relish and mustard are handy and stay fresh! I keep hard boiled eggs in the fridge and ice packs in the freezer so I grab them on the way out the door. Then I use a bowl and fork to combine the tuna-relish-mustard and hard boiled egg into make shift tuna salad. Protein on the fly!

  • I fall back on a “no cooking required,” mineral, antioxidant, healthy oil, and protein rich staple all the time: salad with fish. Get a couple clear containers in the produce section, preferably organic, but OK if not — way better than someone else’s food “product.”

    In a large bowl, fill about halfway up with a bed of your favorite salad greens, I alternate shopping trips between spinach greens and Romaine lettuce.

    From the other veggie platter container, a handful of broccoli in one quadrant of the bowl, baby carrots in another quadrant, and celery short stalks in another quadrant. If the platter has cauliflower, toss in some of those, too — all of these crunchy veggies give a real satisfying mouth feel and fullness.

    Peel open a tin of either sardines (the ones packed in mustard go best with the dressing to come) or a can of wild atlantic salmon (available at Costco). Both of these are low mercury, high protein, high omega-3 oil fish, and are ready to eat. These go in the fourth quadrant of the bowl.

    Over the top, drizzle a vinaigrette, made from the following:
    2 parts Udo’s Choice oil, or your favorite extra virgin olive oil
    1 part vinegar, plain or balsamic, or lemon juice
    A goodly squirt of Dijon mustard to keep it from separating and add tons of flavor

    A slice of red onion (more like a few ringlets) to garnish, and dig in!

  • One good tip for healthy eating is:

    1) Keep only available and easily accessible the kinds of foods and ingredients that are nutritious/nutrient dense. Those whole and minimally processed foods that you enjoy and love to eat which supports your healthy lifestyle goals.

    Like the saying “You learn to kill, so you never have to.”, then “You learn to cook, so you can if you want to.”

    Since the Bodyweight Coaches have shown us the importance of progressive skill acquisition, we can use the same principles for healthy cooking and healthy living.

  • Can it get simpler than this, yes, u do need a reasonably sized fridge.

    6 eggs : 1st the yolk only – raw, use a tea spoon to pierce the yolk bag, & scoop out the yolk& just swallow it.
    whip up the whites, then mix yogurt & whip again. allow 1/2 hr, then drink it up.

    Yogurt 1/2 ltre with 125 gm desert dates

    1/2 ltre milk with a slice or two of pineapple, twice a day.

    Fruits / juices, separately.

    There is hardly any cooking, just the use of a knife. Yogurt is readily available from the dairy shop.

    And most imp. keep yr tummy pulled in tight, all day, & continue breathing normally. This will ensure yr digestion stays efficient, & acidity stays under control.

  • Eat more vegetables. Bare with me and I will share some interesting stats. In the US, 34% of people are obese and 68% are overweight (this is on BMI and is actually more like 80% if body fat is used as the metric). In Hong Kong 5.5% of the population are obese and 24% are overweight (this has doubled in the past decade due mainly to the increase in western junk food). Japan is similar with 4% obesity rates and 22% overweight. Life expectancy in Hong Kong and Japan are 5 to 7 years higher than the US and healthy life span is more like 10 years higher. Additionally health care cost per capita (at PPP for all the accountants out there) is about 3 times higher in the US than either HK or Japan.

    So, you may ask, what does this have to do with vegetables. Well an average American eats about 2 serves of F&V per day while a Hongkie and a Jap eats 6 to 7 serves. This dramatically reduces calories consumed and also deaths by the biggest killers of heart disease and cancer (eg they are about 4 times less over the population). Some recent research (sorry forgotten what Uni and don’t have the paper handy) found that for each 2 additional serves of F&V consumed per day that life span went up by about 2 to 3 years. I must also note that both the population of HK and Japan consume less animal protein and dramatically less dairy (China Study is interesting reading).

    So how to increase the amount of vegetables eaten per day. My favourite way is to use a lot of “mashes”. I seldom have potato but make cauliflower, pumpkin, butternut, rutabaga, celeriac, sweet potato and on less carb conscious days, white bean or chickpea (sometime with spinach). I make double batches and typically cook the vegetable in stock with an onion and then mash it with some EV olive oil (lemon infused olive oil is a favourite). By mashing it you typically eat double the amount you eat and because it is mashed it is fully bio available for your body. Once you have the mash you can serve as is or add more stock to make soup or add a couple of eggs and maybe some cheese to make a full meal.

    Mashed or grated veg can also be added to ground (minced) meat to make hamburgers, meatloaf or meatballs. Those frozen spinach pellets (organic if possible) are also handy to drop in smoothies, mash or meatloaf. I also add Boku superfood (best tasting one I have found) to a protein powder for a post workout drink. A few tricks like these are you can easily increase vegetables consumed by 2 to 3 serves per day.

  • I typically like to cook stuff that can be cooked all in the same pot. For example soups, potages (stews), etc. One big cooking pot, start the meat, when it’s almost ready add in the veggies, some sauce and voila! you’re done! Serve into a bowl and devour 🙂

  • Hey everyone! I use a lot of tricks for healthy eating but the one that has helped me the most (and is probably the easiest) is… Don’t have any junk food in your house! Its a lot harder to eat something that isn’t there! I hope this helped someone liked it helped me.

  • These are all such great comments, I’m learning a lot! I too am seriously kitchen-challenged, and don’t like to cook. Fortunately, I’m happy to live on things I can scrounge quickly and easily, and it’s entirely possible to do that and eat healthy, too. More and more, food manufacturers are figuring out that people want to eat healthy, and are providing quick options for people like me. Some of them have been mentioned above – clamshell packages of organic salad greens, frozen cubes of spinach (flash-frozen vegetables are just about as healthy as fresh), pouches of tuna. I love packaged frozen fruit as well, and switch up different kinds (blueberries and mixed berries are my favorites) in my oatmeal with cinnamon every morning. You can keep it in the freezer forever, and it’s a quick thaw when you need it – great for quick smoothies too, and I’ll sometimes eat a bowl with a drizzle of organic honey when I’m craving a dessert (because of course, I don’t keep any junk food in the house!).

  • Ha, ha! That’s a good one.

    Well, my tip would be to go on an intermittent fasting day a la Brad Pilon. 🙂

    Well, that’s not exactly a kitchen tip for healthy eating, but I hope you guys will give me the book, as I just had an argument with my wife today for not contributing in the kitchen.

    So I’m with you, coach Ryan. 😉
    And thanks Dave for the tips.

  • I know it’s really simple, but don’t buy unhealthy foods and as a corollary, don’t shop when you’re hungry. Studies have proven that you are more likely to buy unhealthy snack foods and buy more food in general if you do your shopping when you are hungry. Everything just looks so good! Additionally, if when you get a craving all the snack foods in your house are fruits and veggies and nuts and other healthy items, you won’t be able to eat chips and cookies.

  • Many people have posted things that I do. For example, I used to be amused by chip clips because potato chips never stayed around my house long enough to become stale: an open bag is an empty bag. So I don’t keep temptations around.

    I keep cupboards and fridge stocked with the good stuff, and make more than I need when I’m cooking so that I have leftovers to freeze for another meal. I have one day a month when I do a major cook-and-freeze.

    I pack my lunch so I don’t waste money, calories, and nutrients on “boughten” food.

    So, a few stray tips: although not the organic, free-range stuff, IQF (individually quick frozen) chicken and fish is great in a pinch. Doesn’t go bad, thaws and cooks quickly.

    Bragg’s Liquid Aminos are a nice substitute for soy sauce.

    I prepare a big batch of sweet potatoes, and save the spares for snacks.

    The Crock-Pot is your friend.

  • The #1 Healthy Tip that I can give is to eat alot of fruits and veggies along with lean beef, chicken as well as fish high in omega 3’s! NO junk food allowed if you want to live a healthy lifestyle (It’s not easy I’ve indulged a few times)! If you have a craving for something you can indulge but only in slight moderations like I’ve been doing myself lately…

  • delicious nutricious protein smoothie

    Gaining muscle has never been more easy, just get all the ingredients and add them in the blender I use about 2 teaspoon protein powder(Nutrilite) then I mix in 3 teaspoon of wheat Germ, about a half cup of Quinoa, some chia powder or seeds , some baby spinich to maximize muscle recovery, and 3 raw eggs for more muscle recovery. Then some baby carrots for lazer eye vision ,and a half of a peach, and one cup of yogurt, I prefer Siggi’s the yogurt from Iceland with 17 grams of protein (you can buy them in Whole Foods). Add 2 cup of milk or soymilk and half a cup of ice cubes and blend it all together and voila! a delicious high protein nutritious smoothie for maximum recovery, Mmm!
    REMEMBER: make a few cups of this high protein smoothie the day before you will work out and drink 2 small cups right after you work out to gain maximum muscle potential.

    Dont forget to thank me! 🙂

  • I believe the most important thing about healthy eating is meal planning. I like to have a week plan drawn in my journal or note pad that I could simply follow through. Every Friday, I’ll write down next week’s five meal to follow from Monday till Sunday. Saturday is my shopping day, and I’ll make sure to stack the food according to first to use according to my meal plan. Most of the meal are closest to it’s natures (raw) or requires little time to cook cause I’m a full time working mother and time is a challenge.

  • Best tip in my mind, get rid of the cravings by getting rid of the junk food. Junk free kitchen = much healthier food options. Period.

  • Know what you have on hand to cook with and plan your meal according to that. If you Google your list of available ingredients, you’re likely to come up with a quick recipe for whatever ingredients you have. I have made many quick meals like this on the fly.

    The mega best tip I have if you can’t cook is to get someone to teach you a couple of basic recipes (like a basic tomato sauce which can go with any meat, or a quick stir-fry), heck you can even learn these things from the internet (the amount of cooking vids on YouTube is insane!)… then build on your skills. To be comfortable in a kitchen, you have to spend some time in it! You’d be surprised at how quickly you learn just by tasting your own cooking, what works and what doesn’t. Experiment and you’ll find if you feed people and they like what you’re making, you’ll begin to enjoy actually cooking it yourself! 🙂

  • One simple approach that worked great for me in transitioning to healthier eating is redesigning sandwiches that I like into salads. This way you avoid the processed grains in bread and gain more nutrients from the greens. For example instead of a burger I crumble ground beef or bison in a skillet, add onions and diced red pepper, maybe add some cheese and tomatoes; then mix onto a bed of baby spinach. Add a good hot sauce and a bit of organic ketchup and you wont miss the bun. Chicken, reuben, and fried egg sandwiches make good salads as well.

  • Wow! Thanks a lot. For the book and for the “sympathy”. 🙂

    No worry, coach Ryan. I’ll do my best to avoid all the traps. And actually I have details: she’ll be happy to contribute 80%. But she’d be happier with me contributing my 20%. Anyways, I’ll be in the kitchen only 5 days a week.

    Looking forward to surprise her. As soon as I can get my hands on the book, as it seems a lot of people want it and the site went down. 🙁

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