Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Meat and how to cook it

photo credit: www.lane1photos.com
Recently we had a request for a post about how we do meal prep with a fairly meat-centric diet. Specifically, how do you get past the low-carb standard steak and eggs?

I'll take this one on since I'm the meal planner in the family. I tend to center our week's meals on the protein, which is meat, fish, or eggs. I make a big salad and/or some standard sides to go with it each day, without worrying about what goes with what, and that reduces the amount of planning I need to do.

I usually roast one or sometimes two whole chickens each week. The great thing about cooking a whole chicken is that after you are finished eating it, you can simmer the carcass with a dash of vinegar and some salt (and any herbs or spices you like) to get a big pot of tasty and nutritious bone broth. I cook my chicken(s) uncovered at 325F for 2 hours, then another 15-20 minutes at 375 to crisp the skin. The only prep I do is to brush them with fat (avocado oil, melted butter, or melted bacon fat) and sprinkle salt and herbs or spices on top before I put them in the oven. It's really tasty and feels like a special occasion. You can keep it simple with a salad, or fancy it up with mashed potatoes (okay, that makes it not low-carb!) and sauteed vegetables. Leftover meat can be shredded for salads, soups, whatever you like.

Another great low-and-slow option is a beef roast. I like bottom round and brisket, tri-tip can be good - there are lots of options. Tough cuts are just fine, because the long cooking at low heat melts all the connective tissue and makes it tender. I cook a 3 pound boneless roast for about 4 hours at 300-325F in my enameled cast iron dutch oven, but when I used to be away from the house all day to work, I used a slow cooker on low all day. The same thing works for pork roasts too - I tend to pick pork loin (not tenderloin - that's a quick cook) because there is less fat and less waste than something like a pork shoulder. Both beef and pork roasts are great for leftovers. Make a lot, and you have at least 2 dinners and some lunches too. I like leftover roast beef cold with pickles, but I'm weird. Pork roast shredded and mixed with BBQ sauce lacks the special-ness of legit smoked meat, but it's still good and really filling. See if you can get Randy to make you some of his famous NC vinegar sauce, and if you really, really love vinegar, ask me for my coleslaw recipe.

If you love your steak but want to save a few bucks, try sirloin or a flank steak or skirt steak. Sear them well and slice them thin, and season the sliced meat with plenty of salt, and I think the flavor compares to a nice New York strip, honestly. Leftovers are good in a lettuce wrap or a sandwich, if you're one of those crazy people that eat bread. Seriously, don't eat bread.

Burgers are my most frequent meal (the boys never, ever get sick of them). I just make up some patties, make a shallow indentation in the center so they don't turn into meatballs, and cook them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper at 400F for 20 minutes.

Sausage is an easy and inexpensive option. We are picky and get the in-house Whole Foods stuff. I'm Italian, so for me, the more fennel and peppers the better, but the boys love apple sausage and bratwurst. I just cook it in a big saute pan without adding fat. If it's taking too long, I slice it up diagonally and fry the pieces. This whole process goes even faster when you get the fully-cooked stuff and just brown it up. Don't cheap out on sausage - it's already cheap and the really low-cost stuff is full of fillers and sugar and other not-great stuff.

I personally don't cook a lot of fish, but I've had luck with simple pan-frying of salmon or Dover sole. Salmon fillets just go skin-side down in a hot pan with butter or coconut oil until they are opaque more than halfway up the side, then flip and cook on the other side for a minute or two. Sole is really thin, so I baby it a little more. I love shrimp, but I got spoiled with fresh-caught as a kid, and I just can't bring myself to cook the ones that have been frozen anymore, too many disappointments. I'm not very well versed in seafood, so I'll leave it at that, but if it's your thing, there's lots of info out there that can guide you better than I can.

I'm not even going to talk about eggs, but remember they are good for dinner too. When I'm really tired or not feeling great, fried eggs for dinner are my go-to.

This is a getting started list - there is more on my regular menu, but this will get you started. All of these things scale up to batch cooking, so if you don't mind some repetition, you could set yourself up for the week.

Have fun!


Warm-up

row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips

Strength

press 8-5-3x5

Accessory/Skill

2 TGUs between sets

Group Workout

5 rounds:
3L, 3R kettlebell 50/50 press 
0:45 rest 

then

8 rounds:
10 Weighted lunges 
5 Bodyweight row 
0:45 rest

then

2 x 1 min 1-arm overhead kettlebell hold



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