I tweeted this not long ago:
I don't understand ppl who "don't know what to cook." Grnd beef, onion, zucchini, lots of Indian spices, 1pan, done! pic.twitter.com/Z7SFKPM9m4— Amy Berger (@TuitNutrition) June 14, 2016
If the unexpectedly large response to my tweet is any indication, there are a lot of people out there who want some super simple and quick low carb meals that can be put together in minutes. I have to say, I was surprised by the response. I guess I’ve been at this long enough that it’s never a struggle for me to prepare something to eat, and I don’t rack my brain trying to figure out how the odd mish-mash of things in my fridge and pantry can be turned into a meal that someone—me, usually, but on occasion, other people, too—would consider palatable and actually want to eat.
I take it for granted that everyone thinks cooking is as easy as I do. I’m no Michelin-starred chef, but I’ve been feeding myself for over three decades now, and I’m still here. (I’ll let you decide whether or not this is a good thing.) I don’t create dazzling, four-course gourmet meals every night (or ever, pretty much), but I can usually whip up a tasty low carb meal by grabbing a bit of this, a little of that, and a bunch of that other thing over there.
And that’s really the issue, folks: whether you’re cooking for one or cooking for a crowd, not every meal you prepare has to be the stuff of legends. You and I are not Iron Chefs, and we are not aiming to “beat Bobby Flay.” (Apologies to my overseas readers if you’re not familiar with the Food Network or the Cooking Channel in the U.S.) We do not have to jazz everything up with some fancy-schmancy roasted jalapeño & garlic aioli, or create a sweet & sour gastrique to impress the people gathered around the table. With a couple of good pots & pans, a baking sheet, and a well-stocked pantry, fridge, and freezer, low carb cooking is a breeze. Most cooking is a breeze. Really, it’s much simpler than you might think it is.
With this in mind, I am starting this “Low Carb Cooking Class” series, or, as I like to think of it: LC3.
In fact, before I settled on “Tuit Nutrition” for the name of my business entity, I considered going with “NRS Nutrition” – for Not Rocket Science. Because it’s not. Some of my posts might make it seem like this LCHF stuff is insanely complex, but it really isn’t. The biochemistry of fuel partitioning and metabolism? Sure, that can get a little dicey. But the overall principles and overarching ideas behind carbohydrate reduction and getting the body to work well? They ain’t no thang. And if that stuff isn’t as complex as we like to make it out to be, then low carb cooking definitely isn’t that big a deal.
Before I post anything else in LC3, I’ve got to set some ground rules, and I’ll ask you to keep these in mind when you read future posts:
I am single and have no children. (
Cue the sad violin music. Crank up the stereo and display all the breakable knickknacks!) I do have housemates, but when it comes to our food and cooking, we don’t do shared meals. It’s every gal for herself. So I’m responsible for appeasing only my own tastes and desires, and not those of picky kids or a spouse or significant other who doesn’t eat the way I do. So the way I stock my kitchen and go about meal preparation might not be suitable or realistic for you and your home dining situation. So don’t take everything I suggest as gospel (as if you would anyway). All I intend this series to do is to give you some ideas, which you are welcome (and encouraged!) to alter, edit, and tailor to fit your unique snowflake needs.
Also, I likely won’t be posting recipes, per se, but more like guidelines. If you want detailed, step-by-step recipes, there are a ton of low carb and ketogenic cookbooks now. In fact, I love cookbooks. I have a bookshelf full of them. I have even reviewed some of them. (Here, here, and here.) But to be honest, I rarely use them. Not to follow recipes, anyway. What I do most often is use them for ideas. For inspiration for combinations I wouldn’t have thought of before. And then I make a concoction all my own, based loosely on a recipe I’ve read. (Actually, when I’m making something complex for the first time, I strictly following the recipe, but usually only that first time. After that, I alter it to suit myself: more cinnamon, less butter…whatever. [“OMG! Did she say less butter?! I thought she was low carb!”])
So, rather than recipes, I’ll be giving you strategies. I would say “techniques,” but that’s not quite accurate. I’m not going to be offering tutorials on how to braise, sauté, sear, pan-fry, poach, or anything else along those lines. (For that, this is the book you want, by Michael Ruhlman, the cook and food writer I gushed about here.) A strategy is more like: how to take bone-in, skin-on chicken leg quarters, some onions, a couple zucchini and some celery, and make dinner. I’m not explaining myself so well, but you’ll see what I mean once we get underway and I start talking about ingredients and what to do with them.
I plan to keep these posts much shorter than my usual fare, so in the interest of setting the stage properly, I’ll wrap this one up after a little preview of what’s to come:
We’ll pick up next time with how to stock a real life low carb kitchen. I mean, really. Forget the coconut flour, the powdered erythritol, the dried matcha green tea powder, and other ingredients some of us think about using to make complicated and fancy low carb desserts but almost never actually do. I will focus on actual food you can use to make actual meals. The stuff you should have on hand pretty much at all times, because doing so will facilitate the making of ridiculously quick, easy and yummy low carb food. The stuff that enables real cooking in the real world. You know what I mean: when you get home from work, you’re tired and cranky, and you (and possibly your family) are hungry, and the evening’s “to do list” is a zillion miles long, and you’re two seconds away from going for takeout unless you can figure out some magical permutation of meat and vegetables that you can have on the table in less time than it would take you to get in the car and go pick it up. ‘Cuz let’s face it: that is what some of you are up against, no?
After that, the third installment will focus on basic concepts that apply not just to low carb cooking, but to cooking in general—particularly for people who don’t enjoy cooking, and for people who cook for a crowd. So all you out there with large families, or people who’d rather spend time anywhere but the kitchen, this one’ll be for you. It boils down to, “COOK IN BULK, SILLY!” or, as I like to think of it, “Go big or go home.” Sounds obvious, but few people actually do it. I’ll have a bunch of specific suggestions I think you might find helpful, and which will hammer home just how much easier sticking to low carb can be by implementing this simple rule.
In the fourth installment, I’ll share three simple tips all good chefs employ in their kitchens. (And even though it’ll be three things, it won’t be a “listicle” like I recently noted Mark’s Daily Apple has been doing
too many a lot of lately.) And after that, we’ll get to the food.
P.S. The only reason I didn’t go with NRS Nutrition is that all the website domains with different permutations of “not rocket science” were already taken at the time I initially searched. Boooo.
Disclaimer: Amy Berger, MS, CNS, NTP, is not a physician and Tuit Nutrition, LLC, is not a medical practice. The information contained on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition and is not to be used as a substitute for the care and guidance of a physician. Links in this post and all others may direct you to amazon.com, where I will receive a small amount of the purchase price of any items you buy through my affiliate links.