Less recipes, more food
And a broth bowl to show you how to build a meal from these components.
Less recipes and more food. This sums up precisely how I cook and how I view cooking. Too often, I feel like we get unnecessarily stressed out about what to cook, how to cook it, and the never ending ingredient lists we see in recipes. We let our kitchens scare the crap out of us.
We live in a world with a never ending amount of resources. Answers to anything are a couple clicks away. And everyone is an expert.
We type in one simple thing on Google and three hours later find ourselves in some black hole of articles and nonsense that have nothing to do with what was originally searched. The information age we live in is great. We’re lucky to have virtually everything at our fingertips. But. It’s a lot. Too much of a good thing is not always a good thing.
Overabundance can lead to overwhelm.
How to begin? Where to start? Which recipe to make? So. Much. Noise.
When everything is priority, nothing is.
Take a breath. Things are going to be okay. When you feel yourself stressing out. Pull back and look at the same picture as simply as you can. Literally ask yourself what this situation would look like if it was easy.
For example, it’s 6pm, you’re home from work and you’re thinking about dinner. Ask yourself, if dinner was simple, what would it look like? Take a breath, and think. You know the answer.
- There would be a protein source. Chicken, fish, beef, beans.
- We should all probably eat more vegetables, so let’s take a look at what we have. Frozen mixed vegetables? Broccoli? Fresh greens of any kind? Maybe peppers or mushrooms?
- Maybe we know we’ll need a bit more to round it out, or we have a family who is going to want more, so we choose to bump up the carbs. (Vegetables, by the way, are carbs. Everything listed above is a carb.) Carbs are great and we want more so maybe we add potatoes. Maybe they’re sweet potatoes because we know they have more nutrients. Something with a little more oomph.
- Finally, while we forget it about it a lot, we need fat. Clean fat. The unspoken hero that helps keep us full, and adds lots of flavor. Fats are as simple as cooking things in a little olive oil. Perhaps adding avocado. Or sprinkling on some nuts or seeds.
- Throw it together. Put it on a plate. And call it done.
Sounds simple enough, right? You’re still not convinced. It still seems daunting. Cooking with minimal direction feels wrong.
Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.
Think food. Not recipes.
Food, not recipes.
Food. Food is simple. It won’t judge you if it doesn’t look exactly like the Pinterest photo. Food doesn’t mean a zillion ingredients. Food is one ingredient. And when you add a few basic things to it, it tastes great, becomes a meal, and fuels your day to day life.
Yes, there are general cooking principles that you can follow to make food taste delicious together. But at the end of the day, if you know how to preheat an oven, turn on the stove, and stock a basic pantry, then you’re well on your way to having dinner on the table.
And. Remember this. All good things begin with onions and garlic.
Now. Component cooking. A term I said one time on a whim to my mom, and one that completely summarizes how I cook. In my pantry and fridge right now live a simple mix of components in the above categories to put together and call a meal on any given day.
Component number 1: Protein
On Sundays or Mondays I choose a protein to cook in bulk.
I’ll roast up a mix of chicken breasts or thighs. Or put them in a slow cooker with a little broth, salt and pepper, and let it go low and slow to make simple pulled chicken. (Picking up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store is also a great time saver during the week if you’re in a real pinch).
Sometimes I brown a mix of ground beef or turkey. This can be combined later in the week with a marinara sauce or put on top of a taco salad.
Now this one isn’t as often, but on some occasions I’ll make a batch of lentils. Lentils are a good slow carb and a good meatless protein source. If I’m feeling crazy I’ll also cook a batch of white rice or quinoa.
Component number 2: Veggies and carbs
Vegetables are carbs. Period end.
In my refrigerator I have fresh greens to be added to eggs or underneath literally any dish. Peppers are always a must for me because I put them in my eggs every day. Right now there’s also a good amount of summer squash and zucchini because it’s always on sale. All of which I typically sauté with olive oil on the stovetop.
When I’m prepping food on Sunday or Monday, I like to roast up vegetables as well. Brussel sprouts, butternut squash, and potatoes of any variety are my favorite. Chop them up, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast away. I’m a big fan of mixing fresh, frozen, and cooked vegetables. Why not.
Prep days are also the days I will make a big batch of white rice or quinoa to have if I’m feeling a need for a higher carb day.
Component number 3: Sauce
My refrigerator door holds all of my sauces and broths. At this point, I think I have one of each kind of Primal Kitchen dressings in my fridge. Kettle and Fire bone broths have become a staple in my pantry and fridge. Stay tuned for a very typical weeknight bone broth bowl recipe.
Finally, marinara sauce like this one and a jar of salsa are also great time savers.
Reheat shredded chicken or ground beef on the stove, pour over a cup or so of salsa and let it all get happy together. Pour the now Mexican chicken mixture over rice, lettuce, or in a tortilla. Top it with a drizzle of Primal Kitchen Ranch to have a lovely little Mexican feast. Top it with avocado if you’re feeling frisky.
Component number 4: Fat and spices
When in doubt, salt and pepper. Food doesn’t always have to be fancy. Olive oil, salt and pepper go a very long way. But I will also use garlic powder, dried herbs, or an all purpose seasoning mix as well on top of sautéed vegetables or meat. I also love spice so red pepper flakes are a staple for Emily.
Now. Let’s put this together.
You still with me?
Here we go. The following scenario is me on any given night.
It’s 6pm and I just got home. Enter, the Broth Bowl. So near and dear to my heart and tummy it deserves to be bold with capital letters.
Pull out the cooked protein. Shredded chicken tonight. Recipe below.
Get a sauté pan going with some olive oil.
Assess my veggie situation. Looks like a bag of spinach that needs to be used up, mushrooms, half an onion, and some zucchini. Oh hey, we have some roasted potatoes. Yes please.
I slice up the onion, mushrooms, and zucchini and get that softly cooking in the pan. Sprinkle over some salt and pepper and let it get soft. If I have some garlic powder or fresh garlic, then heck yes let’s put that in there. Garlic is life.
Once those veggies are soft with some color I throw in some chicken to get that reheating, pour in some bone broth, maybe a cup or so, and let it all get hot and happy together. Nothing weird.
I heat up the potatoes in the microwave to have on the side, grab a bowl, throw in a big handful of spinach, pour the chicken and veggie broth mixture over it, top it with avocado, and dinner is served.
When it comes to busy weeks, don’t get picky. Get out of your own way by preparing and stocking basic components to meals. Do not overthink it. If you eat similar things every day, that’s a good thing. Don’t be a picky butthead and make bad decisions because you didn’t have the discipline to prepare.
Count on yourself, remember your goals, prep some basic components, and eat relatively the same every day.
Components and a Broth Bowl
A mix of any fresh or frozen veggies
Salt and pepper
(Rice or potatoes for added carby goodness)
Simple Crockpot Shredded chicken
1lb chicken breasts
1lb chicken thighs
½ cup broth
2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp pepper
*Optional adds: Any all purpose seasoning mix, dried herbs, garlic powder. You truly can’t mess it up.
- Throw it all in a slow cooker and let it go low and slow for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
- Shred, cool, store in the fridge for a week.
The batch above include a little balsamic vinegar thrown in. It was delish.
Things to keep in mind
When you simplify cooking and think of food as individual components that can come together to create a recipe or a meal, things should hopefully feel a bit less overwhelming. And when you look at what those components are, those, dear friends, are macros. We have protein, carbs, and fat. The seasonings and sauces are just for fun.
I eat a lot of bowls. On one hand, I’m messy and I like the wide shallow bowls to help hold all the things together. On the other hand, it helps me think simply and think of things that I don’t mind mixing together.
Bowls are comprised of a base
Greens, rice, quinoa, broth, or a mix of any of them together
You add a protein to the base
Chicken, fish, beef, lentils
Fluff up the carb and nutrition with veggies
Fresh, frozen,, or roasted, or a mix
Top it with the good stuff
Avocado, cheese, nuts and seeds, olive oil, or Primal Kitchen dressing
And dinner is served.
Life is already complicated people, let’s not make cooking.