I recently looked back in my food journal to the first week I started SCD. On the third day I wrote: “I am feeling really tired of food prep”. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was embarking on a new lifestyle. lol! It’s difficult to make changes in behavior and habits, isn’t it? I think this is particularly true of food habits. Some people might say your success in the kitchen depends on what you group up with. My response is this: regardless of whether you grew up with homemade meals or TV dinners, finding healing for your body/gut starts from the inside out. The inevitably means you need to spend time in the kitchen. I know you know that, but sometimes saying it aloud makes it more real.
I’m here to help simplify this process as much as possible, but I’m also going to be very real with you. You will be spending more time in the kitchen than you did before the diet. At first it may feel overwhelming, hard and frustrating, but you will get through it and come out on the other side stronger and healthier! It’s okay to give yourself some time to mourn the loss of TV dinners, cookies and take-out, but then move on. You won’t regret it, I promise you that! Here are 5 simple tips to make things in the kitchen easier, especially if you are new to the kitchen or don’t enjoy cooking.
1. KEEP IT SIMPLE
There are a lot of things you use to eat that are no longer off-the-shelf available to you, like ketchup and BBQ sauce to start. You could go all out and make your own, but I’m guessing you are reading this post to find out how to make your time in the kitchen as SIMPLE and QUICK as possible. You can meander over to Pinterest and get a wealth of beautiful recipes, but don’t feel like every meal has to be picture worthy. If you are a busy parent, full-time employee, volunteer, have hobbies, etc., your time is at a premium. Focus on getting the nutrients you need to heal your body – not about getting picture-worthy meals on the table.
I’ve created a formula to make my SCD meals as simple and quick as possible.
My KEEP IT SIMPLE Meal-time formula: Meat and Veggies.
Thrilling, right? I wasn’t kidding when I said SIMPLE.
Sometimes I add fruit, but I have to limit my fruit intake (1-2 cups a day, max). I typically eat fruit for snacks. I discovered a few months ago that if I eat fruits first or on an empty stomach, I avoid the bloating that I was experiencing when I was eating them after the meat and veggies. You could also substitute eggs for meat-I am have a reaction to eggs so they are off my plate (hopefully for now and not forever, I’ll keep you posted).
So there you have it. Meat and veggies. Easy Peasy!
2. Use your broiler oven setting to cook meats quickly.
I cannot tell you how much time this has saved me- so many hours of standing over the stove or grill. You can cook all the meat you need for the week in no time at all. When I cook my meat, I typically use just salt & pepper and maybe some olive oil. I do this so if I want to add the meat to a recipe later, I can. These are the meats I typically broil when prepping for the week and the estimated time for cooking.
- Set your pan 2-3 inches from the broiler
- For easy clean up: line a baking or broiler pan with aluminum foil
- Remember to salt & pepper each side
- Times may vary, depending on your oven
Chicken Tenders: Broil on low, 6 minutes each side
Chicken Breasts: Filet (cut in half horizontally) and broil on low, 6 minutes each side
Hamburgers: Depending on thickness, broil on high, 7 minutes each side
Salmon: Brush olive oil on each. Broil on low, 6 minutes each side
Pork Chops: Depending on thickness, broil on high 6 minutes each side
- If you cook more than 3 days worth of meats, freeze the rest and thaw when you’re ready to eat.
3. Use your broiler oven setting to cook vegetables quickly
- Set your pan 2-3 inches from the broiler
- For easy clean up: line a baking pan with aluminum foil
- The veggies will gradually char on the outside – this is good! It brings out the flavor!
- ADD SPICES for more flavor and variety-see recommendations below
- Optional: add cheese if you can handle it and it’s SCD legal.
- Remember to salt & pepper each side
- Oven temps may vary, so check your veggies
Butternut Squash: Peel and deseed 1 med. butternut squash, cut into cubes, toss with 1 Tblsp. of olive oil, broil on high, 11 min. each side. Spice Suggestions: cinnamon, paprika
Carrots: Peel 1 lb., cut into match sticks or 1/4″ coins, toss with 1 1/2 Tblsp. of olive oil, broil on low, 4-5 minutes each side. Spice suggestions: parsley, cinnamon, paprika, nutmeg
Onions: Peel onions, cut in half and then into 1/4-1/3″ strips, broil on high, 4-5 minutes each side
Bell Peppers: Slice in strips, broil on low, 4 minutes each side
Cauliflower: Cut into chunks or thin slices, toss with olive oil, broil on high 7-10 minutes each side. Spice suggestions: basil, cumin, paprika, oregano, thyme, ginger, dill.
Broccoli: Cut into chunks or thin slices, toss with olive oil, broil on high 7-10 minutes each side. Spice suggestions: basil, thyme, garlic, sage
Zucchini/Summer Squash: Cut into coins, toss with olive oil, broil on high 4-5 minutes each side. Spice suggestions: basil, dill, marjoram, onions, oregano, red pepper flakes, garlic, thyme.
4. Steam your veggies in a rice cooker
It is recommended when you first start the diet to eat everything well-cooked and puréed. The reason for that is it makes it easier for your body to digest. I have found that steaming my vegetables in a rice cooker is an easy, hands-off way to cook veggies quickly. I use the rice cooker (pictured right), which can be found HERE. It steams rice, but also has a tray for steaming vegetables. I’m telly you, it is a LIFESAVER for stage 1, I kid you not. I do not want to have to stand over the stove and keep an eye on steaming veggies for minutes on end when I have children to keep an eye on, laundry to fold, bills to pay, etc. With this rice steamer, you add water to the bottom, cut up your veggies and place in the tray, close the lid and press start. It beeps when it is done and voila!-you have steamed veggies. If you need to purée your veggies, I recommend steaming them. One they are cooked, throw them a little bit at a time in a blender with some water and you have puréed veggies. Puréed veggies are great for soups and sauces to dip your meat in. YUM!
5. Invest in a food processor.
Let’s face it, you will be cutting a lot of veggies on this diet. I will be honest, I did not get a food processor right away. However, I have tendonitis in my right wrist and all the chopping was taking a toll so I invested in a food processor. I had no idea what I was missing! Chopping veggies goes INFINITELY faster with a food processor and I have to admit, it’s also kinda fun! Plus, if you get to the point where you are craving some nut butter, it’s awesome for making your own homemade nut butters and other condiments. The one pictured right is the one I use and love-though I wish it had a julienne attachment. You can find it HERE.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE FORMULA for meals: Meat and Veggies.
- Cook meats on the broiler setting of your oven.
- Freeze or refrigerate to eat for the week.
- Veggies: If you can, invest in a food processor to speed up your time spent on cutting veggies and then
- Cook veggies in steamer or on the broiler setting of your oven
- Add spices to liven up the flavor and give variety to your taste buds
Nearly every meal I eat is using this formula, however there are times I crave something a little more special or a change of pace. If you’ve gotten the hang of things and you find yourself craving an actual ‘recipe’, you can head over to my SCD Meal Plans for great recipes from the web with tips from me on how to make them SCD friendly.
If you need help to plan your meal-time: Last week I wrote about meal planning and shared also sorts of nuggets to help meal planning easier. You can read all about it by clicking on the picture to the left.
What tips do you have to make cooking as simple as possible? I’d love to hear from you – share in the comments.