Tips for Getting "cooking" with Coach N’ Cook™ Recipes
If the word “cooking” conjures up pulling out a recipe, scrambling to get the “correct” ingredients, and hours spent preparing foods from scratch you are among the millions who would rather dine out or do “take out” any day.
Cooking real food for yourself and your loved ones is a gift that will transform your health and is the true foundation of blood sugar health. So if you find yourself constantly craving foods that don’t serve your well-being, but you “hate to cook”, the Coach N' Cook™ free form recipes that you will find in my blog and the Crave Control Kitchen™ are for you.
First, let’s talk about recipes.
I am the first to admit that I am a big fan of recipe books. I have over 100 in my collection, and I love reading them and exploring new ideas. So it might surprise you if I said that when it comes to day-to-day cooking, I very rarely use a recipe for anything other than inspiration for a dish based on what is in my refrigerator, freezer and pantry.
For years I have been cooking using what I call a “Free Form Recipe” approach. Today, this approach is trending, and some cooks call this style of cooking improvisational cooking or recipe-less cooking. It is a fluid type of food preparation that will enable you to prepare satisfying and delicious meals more spontaneously with what you have on hand..
The common denominator for this type of food preparation is the idea that recipes are guides based upon a “formula” for a particular type of food. Once you know the basic formula underlying a recipe you can swap out ingredients and change amounts based on what is available as well as your own tastes and preferences.
I call my cooking instructions Coach N’ Cook™ recipes because they have both a coaching component where I explain the ingredients and basic formula for a preparing a dish (along with preparation techniques), and then I set forth a basic free-form recipe with some suggestions for swapping out ingredients. The key is to understand basic techniques and how recipes work, and then the possibilities are endless. The essential recipes are simple and require only a few ingredients. You can embellish and add from there based on your taste and creativity.
How I chose Coach N’ Cook™ Recipes and food ideas
In order to eat well every day, I have a number of “go to” basics that I can either use on their own or change up for variety. Understanding what to avoid eating is the first step. Next you need know how to make substitutions that taste good and are satisfying. It is important as you begin to go sugar and flour free that you have some easy to make foods that support your efforts. This collection of recipe ideas in my blog and in the Crave Control Kitchen will provide you with the basics to get you started.
Here are some basics about my recipes:
Measurements: In some of my free form recipes I include basic measurements so that you have an idea where to start. In most cases it is more than OK to vary the amount based on taste and how many people you are preparing food for. (The one exception is baking, where measurements generally should be followed for optimum results) If you are not sure how much of an ingredient or seasoning to add, the best technique is to add a little at a time. A little common sense comes in handy here. I very often do a taste test as I go along. But NOT, if I am preparing certain raw food. So, I might taste a spoonful of mashed sweet potatoes to see if I have added enough cinnamon, and I might taste a marinade BEFORE pouring over raw chicken. But I am not going to taste ingredients once they are poured onto raw poultry until it has been cooked thoroughly. At the end, before serving I might taste to see if anything extra is needed.
Ingredients: It is always OK to swap out ingredients. (Baking is usually an exception, unless the recipe provides alternative ingredients) For example if you are making a stir fry that calls for string beans and you don’t have any, use broccoli, it will be fine. If you find a great smoothie recipe that includes peanut butter and you only have almond butter on hand, use that instead. Don’t want to thicken your smoothie with sugar laden bananas? I have a smoothie for breakfast every day, and I haven’t had a banana in years. If I find a recipe with banana that looks good, I substitute ice and or chia for the thickener and stevia for sweetness. Have a great French Toast recipe? Swap out the grain-based flour bread and use a Paleo or sprouted grain bread instead.
Use spices and extracts to add zip to your food. Coriander, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, natural vanilla and cinnamon are all spices that can make a dish taste sweeter and help satisfy your sweet tooth without adding any sugar. Almond, mint, maple, coconut, and lemon extracts can be used to add flavor to everything from oatmeal to yogurt and sweet potato dishes.
Cooking “from Scratch”: With so many options available today ranging from salad bars to fancy in store deli’s and other pre-made foods, cooking a delicious and healthy meal doesn’t necessarily mean that every ingredient has be made from scratch. Roasted chicken is a great example. Many stores offer prepared free range roasted chicken that can be used in a variety of ways. For example I often shred the meat from the breasts to make Chinese Chicken salad. Then I use the bones and dark meat to make a hearty chicken soup. Or you can save time chopping and cutting by buying pre-cut vegetables and salad greens. Canned goods are also a great way to get a meal together quickly. Amy’s makes a good chili that becomes delicious when you add your own seasonings, sautéed onions and carrots. Feel like some meat? Add grass-fed lean ground beef. The possibilities are endless.
Using detailed recipes: There are going to be times when you want a specific recipe. (such as for entertaining or baking). For these occasions, I definitely recommend having a few cookbooks on hand, or if you prefer you can go on-line to the hundreds of available cooking sites.