As you might have noticed, most of my so-called ‘recipes’ are very simple. While I don’t mind cooking, it is a means to an end, and I usually don’t want to while away the hours cooking – I want to eat. Whenever I see a recipe, I try to remove steps – do I really need 3 pots? Can I skip exotic ingredients that I might use once a year?
This reductionist approach to cooking produces results that, while no one would credit me with being a master chef, are frequently good enough for people to request I make the same thing again. While politeness might have someone say a meal tastes good when it doesn’t, they would never ask you to make it again if they thought the first batch sucked – and I do get request to make some of my recipes again.
Don’t get me wrong – I do like to cook on occasion, and I am particularly impressed with George Stella’s style of low-carb cooking – he adds some techniques in his recipes that make it a bit more fun – and add a gourmet touch to low carb cooking that I have fun with when time allows.
But – I know there are those of you out there – the ‘can’t boil water’ crowd – the ‘bachelor-eating-in-front-of-the-fridge’ person – you’ve been living on fast food, diner food, takeout and frozen entrees that you nuke in the microwave. Your oven has only been used for storage. You never have to clean your stove-top – you’ve never used your stove.
Your idea of ‘real home cooking’ is Boston Market.
You look at even my simple recipes and think: this hill is too steep to climb.
OK – You want to lose weight and feel better, but all you know is the kind of life described above. I don’t think that any sort of pre-packaged food will really allow you to lose weight and keep it off – I’ve known a number of people who went on Nutrisystem and it didn’t seem to do anything except allow them to lose weight in the wallet.
There is the McDonald’s Diet – see the movie Supersize Me for more info – but I don’t recommend it.
Fact is – if you want to lose weight you are going to have to buy and cook food that doesn’t come with microwave instructions – and doesn’t come with a toy.
I think this stops many people in their tracks. They simply don’t know how to feed themselves, and low carb fails, not because they lack the willpower, but they lack the knowledge of a few simple techniques and some creativity in their food choices. I’ve seen the classic Atkins Failure – the person who quickly tires of scrambled eggs, bacon, and burgers – this is the person that Atkins detractors point to as losing weight because their food choices are so limited. They are right, but it’s not because Atkins limits their choices, but they limit their choices.
What follows is my own quirky solution to the problem of what to eat when you aren’t inclined to cook. It may sound odd, and it may not be the stuff that you want to eat, but it’s meant more as food for thought – think of it more as a technique than a meal plan. You will still have to get your stove-top dirty with some regularity, but think of this as training wheels as you work to embrace a new lifestyle – and a new you.
If you grasp the technique and experiment to find what works for you – and invent your own micro-recipes, you can come up with a wide variety of eating choices that prevent you from saying: to hell with it all because if I eat one more scrambled egg, I’m going to puke!
- Ricotta Dessert – 1 cup of ricotta and 4 packets of Splenda. Mix.
- Chocolate Ricotta – Take a teaspoon of coca and mix in a cup of ricotta and 4 packets of Splenda.
- Ricotta with Tomato Sauce on Toast – Smear ricotta on a piece of toasted low carb bread, put a low carb tomato sauce on top of that, sprinkle with oregano and basil and red pepper if that’s what you’re into. Nuke for 30 seconds if you like – I don’t.
- Tomato and American Cheese – 1/2 tomato and 4 slices of cheese. Eat on top of a piece of low carb bread or toast as a open-faced sandwich – or skip the bread and just eat as if you had the bread. Messy, but a great combo if you have good tomatoes in season. Add mayonnaise if you like.
- Hard-boiled Egg with Mayo – Slice a hard-boiled egg in half and put a spoonful of mayo on each half.
- Cheese Pizza – A thick slice of mozzarella on low-carb bread, topped with some tomato sauce, oregano, basil, red pepper – pepperoni is great on this, by the way. Nuke for 1 minute or until the cheese melts. Eat with a knife and fork.
- Sardines with Mayo and Relish -A can of sardines in olive oil (keep the oil), a large tablespoon of mayo and some no-sugar sweet pickle relish. For me, it’s the sweet relish that makes this one a classic. Yeah – sardines do have a certain ‘yuck’ factor for some – try it anyway.
- Sour Cream and Splenda – Mix a cup with 4 packet of Splenda for a yogurt substitute. Throw in some blueberries if you aren’t doing induction.
- Tuna Salad – One can of light tuna (albacore has more mercury) in oil (if you can find it), mayo, sweet relish, and some mustard. Eat as-is, as a filling for half of a bell pepper, or on low carb bread.
- A Packet of Splenda – Yep – just a packet of Splenda. I get some strange looks on this one, but sometimes you just need to ‘cleanse the palate’ with something sweet – a packet of Splenda will work – especially on the run.
- Half-Pickle Slice with American Cheese – Add some mayo if you like – one of my faves.
- Romaine Lettuce Leaf Stuffed with Any Low Carb Food – They can substitute for bread to allow you to hold whatever filling you are into. They are classic in low carb lifestyles as a replacement for a bun with a hamburger. Wrap the burger in a leaf or two and you can eat it without a fork. But why not try some cream cheese, american cheese with mayo, slices of chicken breast or ham, or a low carb italian meat sauce, or tuna salad? Even low carb bread can be a problem when you are trying to get into induction – Romaine lettuce is more ‘nutrient dense’ than iceburg lettuce, and you can buy just the hearts in bags of three at your grocery store and you only have to pull off a few leaves and rinse – one minute is all it takes.
- Block of Tofu with Chopped Scallion, Sesame Oil & Soy sauce – Old chinese snack. Get the tofu in the boxes – lasts way longer than the refrigerated kind. Get it in a chinese market and you’ll pay way less too. This is a good one.
I probably have ar least a dozen more of these quick tricks – they add the variety needed for the long haul and so what if my wife and kid look at me like I’m a lunatic?