You know, recipes stress me out. It’s the aspect of multi-tasking I can’t do. Gathering the ingredients, measuring them out, and moving from my phone to my work station and back again… it’s too much, especially toward the end of the day when my kids are running around terrorizing each other.
I discovered a secret to cooking recently. It goes like this: I play around and I trust my foodie instinct. After thirty-some years in this gluttonous country, I think I know what kind of flavors I like.
I don’t look at calorie content, so you’ll never see nutrition facts like that on this page. I do follow a formula, though. It’s simple.
Veggies + seasoning + condi-meat + healthy fat = yummy dinner. Or lunch. Or really any meal. Just follow the formula and play around.
- Let’s start with veggies. Most vegetables contain fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K so they need to be consumed with a healthy fat. This is why I won’t ever go for a salad with the inflammatory canola or vegetable oil dressing. Dressings like that also typically have lots of sugar, and if they don’t have sugar, they have other chemicals I’d prefer to keep away from my veggies. Grass-fed butter is a go-to for me. It contains butyrate for brain health and EVERYTHING tastes better with butter. Or I use avocado oil, a fabulous omega 9 source that you can cook safely at high heat.
- Seasonings – I prefer fresh herbs as much as possible, like rosemary, cilantro, and basil. Sauteing some garlic and onion adds an instant kick to whatever veggies will follow. But when I don’t have that, I use garlic or onion powder, paprika, cayenne, pink Himalayan sea salt, pepper, turmeric (great for inflammation). I toss a bunch on the veggies and taste as I go!
- Condi-meat – most of us consume way more low-quality protein than we need, and too much of it can cause inflammation. I like to think of my meat as a side item, not the main dish. I love grass-fed ground beef as a complement to sweet potatoes and squash and zuchini bowl, or wild-caught salmon that is packed with omega 3s! Salmon bowls are my favorite (see above picture). I also love putting some organic chicken thighs in the crock pot and layering it bowl-style as well. Eggs make anything taste good! I season my meat like I season my veggies, I just play with flavors learn as I go.
- Healthy fat – I already mentioned I use grass fed butter a lot, as well as avocado oil. MCT oil is another one I top my food with after it’s all cooked. Avocados make anything taste better.
I do this for lunch a lot, too. The fat keeps me filled up, and the real food, free of inflammatory gluten and dairy, keeps my brain feeling fresh and clear. That is my main goal.
The most important key for me is playing around and finding what works for my brain, my emotional well-being, my body. These steps may look different for someone else. These steps may look different for me in a year. As I study nutrition, the most important thing I’ve learned is that there is no one size fits all, no “one perfect diet.” But EVERYONE can benefit from more whole plant-based foods. This formula is the way I can get the most nutrients with the least amount of stress or prep time.
I heard a doctor recently say something like, “When I stopped eating to lose weight and focused on eating for brain health, I found my happy weight.” I completely agree. I feed my brain, and my body thanks me!