I’ve been getting quite a few questions about meal prep and cooking. People can’t seem to find a quick, easy and, perhaps most important, recipe that is Slow Carb Diet compliant. I did post a little PDF cook book on the newbodi.es links page, but people want more than that.
So, while I toy with the idea of doing a few meal prep videos, I thought I’d share a tip that’s at the heart of much of my cooking. Three basic veggies, some olive oil and a pan.
The three veggies are frozen diced onions and frozen shelled edamame, plus fresh baby spinach. You can use baby kale, too, but I find the spinach to be really tasty. I use organic options for each. The pre-diced frozen onions are great since dicing onions can take some time. The trick is to throw some olive oil (or macadamia, if you can find and afford it) in a pan, throw in the frozen veggies, and start the heat on medium-ish. Then, after it warms up, you have a decision to make – what else are you going to add, if anything. You could add more veggies, or perhaps another protein beyond the edamame. Cashews and almonds go well with this dish, as does some shredded or cut up coconut. I typically add an animal protein (usually a piece of fish or shrimp), but you don’t have to. This setup forms the basis of a fast, complete and tasty meal.
If you’re going to add something pre-cooked like canned tuna, hard boiled egg, pre-cooked chicken breast, etc, you should add the spinach now while raising the heat to a medium high level. It needs about 2 minutes to cook while being tossed so the oil gets it well covered. I typically fill the pan with spinach as it cooks down fast and dramatically. When it’s still visible as leaves but darker in color, throw in your pre-cooked item, reduce the heat to medium, and let it sit for a couple of minutes to warm the pre-cooked stuff. Move the pan around occasionally to keep things mixed, free from sticking and so things heat evenly. That’s it.
If you’re adding nuts, the story is the same, but you should consider pan roasting them a bit before adding them. Throw in a little sea salt (unless they’re already salted), roast them in a little bit of olive oil while moving them around in the pan for 2-3 minutes, and throw them right into your veggie mixture. Is really just about combining at that point, so you can even plate the veggies, and pour the nuts over the top.
Another option is to add lentils – an amazing source of vegetable protein, very hearty, and pretty filling. I tend to cook a put of lentils each week, and spoon the into various dishes. I put some cayenne and a little sea salt into the water when cooking them. Throw about a cup per portion into this meal, and it is a really complete dinner.
If you chose to add a raw item, like fresh fish or chicken breast, first make sure it’s not a huge piece, or better yet, cook it a bit in another pan while you were warming the frozen stuff and oil. Then throw it in, cover the lid, and raise the heat slightly toward medium high. Let it cook for 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the item and what it is (chicken will take longer than fish or shrimp, for example). Move the pan around occasionally to keep it from sticking. Check it, flip it, cover the whole thing is spinach, and then put a cover back on. Then let it cook until the raw stuff is cooked through as you like it. Be sure to move the pan around occasionally, and check it now and then to see doneness. Just don’t check too frequently so you don’t release all the heat that’s building up under the lid too much.
All in, you’re looking at 10 minutes including prep and clean up without raw animal protein, or about 20-25 with it. Not bad at all. And it’s a pretty easy meal to make in terms of intensity.
A couple of side notes. First, I don’t insist on animal protein at all. This dish works really well as a purely veggie dish, and you’ll see it has no dairy, so it’s easy to make it vegan. One thing I do insist on (if I can be so bold) is to really load up on the portion size if you aren’t adding animal protein. Spinach is awesome, but cooks down really fast, and isn’t very dense or filling. Diced onions are kinda worthless from a ‘fill you up’ standpoint. Edamame is better, but still not filling enough in small to medium amounts. The only trick is the lentils, which will fill you more than the other veggies. But, do keep in mid, this meal will be fueling you for many hours. For me, I typically eat around 5:30pm, and have breakfast the next morning around 5:15, and I might even work out again at night. Just be sure you are respecting your body’s need for fuel and not thinking a cup of cooked veggies is sufficient. I typically have a fully loaded plate of this stuff, with the load being about 2.5 times as big when I go vegan on it.