Tuesday, February 07, 2006

For Iron Benny.....and anyone else that cares:D

Didn't I say a while ago that I was gonna help a brotha out with some food stuff? Yes. Yes I did.

First I have to tell you that I am in no way, shape or form an expert on food, food preparation or taste. I only know what works for me and my busy schedule and that's what I'm going to share with you. Here are 10 tips to start you out on a quick journey to dinner.

1) Lean meat. No-brainer really. Turkey, chicken, pork tenderloin and the elk you just bought (score!). They tend to be bland on thier own, but please refer to #3 below for further instruction:)

2) Salt. Salt is your friend. It enhances the natural flavors of food and makes everything taste better. I use kosher salt, have it in a little remekin next to the stove for easy access to sprinkle over whatever I'm cooking. Since you're an endurance athlete, a little extra salt is not going to kill you anyway. You're working your electrolytes daily, so replenishing is a good idea:)

3) Marinate. When I come home from the grocery store, I immediately marinate whatever I have bought to cook for the week. Usually a pork tenderloin and some chicken breasts. The greatest marinades (IMO) consist of soy sauce, citrus, citrus zest, honey and spicy chile sauce. I have a recipe on my site that works wonders for meat and poultry.

4) Pound. In order to speed up the cooking process you must pound your meat thin....(not that meat you sicko!) Do this by layering, say, a chicken breast in between two sheets of plastic wrap and use a heavy pan to flatten it out to about 1/4-1/2 inch. Then you marinate it:) Thicker cuts of meat like a roast or pork tenderloin get seared quickly in the pan on high heat and finished off in the oven. I like the brown crust it gives and it also keeps it moist this way since you've basically made a juice barrier by searing it.

5) Roast. I roast everything. All of my veggies get showered in a bit of olive oil, salted and then thrown in the oven at high heat (400 degrees) for 15-20 mins. They are nice and carmelized, sweet and still crunchy. I like to actually taste my food.

6) Grill. While the veggies are roasting, I'm grilling the pre-marinated protein. And since I've pounded it flat, it takes very little time to cook on each side.

7) NO CROCKPOTTING! For feck's sake man, I can't believe that Nytro actually wants to join the ranks of folks that cook like this. It's an abominiation to food to throw it all together and make every mushy thing taste like the previous bite. Gross. And crockpotters...no need to be hatin'..it's my blog and I can say what I want! I can only think of one good thing to make in a crockpot and that's chili. Everything else....you're just being lazy. Good food doesn't take that long to make. Get fresh!

8) Starch. It's really just an afterthought at dinner for us. I don't like eating pasta or potatoes at dinner because we eat late and it just sits in my belly all night. But when I do, it's usually brown rice (I take a shortcut here and choose instant - you don't lose any of the good nutrients, but you do lose the time it takes to cook it!) seasoned with LOTS of fresh garlic, ginger, salt, pepper and olive oil.

9) Stir Fry. Ingenius really....veggies and meat cut small and cooked on very high heat so it all cooks at the same time. Yes! Make your own sauce or throw some bottled sauce on it for flavor...or just salt it:)

10) Magazines. Fine Cooking and Cooking Light magazines offer up very well-written recipes that are full of flavor and don't take very long to make. You usually have all ingredients on hand you just have to make the effort to follow a recipe.

When it comes time for me to make dinner, I usually just open the fridge and let my imagination take over. I rarely plan my meals out, but here are examples of what we have for dinner:

*Pork tenderloin, garlic mashed potatoes and roasted veggies
*Chicken enchiladas (soooo easy! ask me for the recipe if you want it) with whole wheat tortillas and roasted veggies
*Boboli pizza with ham, pineapple, veggies and low-fat cheese
*Grilled chicken breasts, creamy polenta and spinach salad
*Turkey burgers with oven-roasted fries and salad
*Chile Verde (bite sized pork cooked in a bottled salsa verde) with whole wheat tortillas, vegetarian refried beans and spanish rice
*Stuffed pork chops, green beans and brown rice
*Wasabi Pea Tuna, cucumber and tomato salad
*Broiled salmon, stuffed portobello mushrooms and spinach salad
*Whole wheat spaghetti with turkey meatballs and ceasar salad
*Turkey sloppy joes with whole wheat buns and salad
*Potato and Leek soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Those are all I can think of right now. It's all a sad reminder that I've got to go shopping.

Stay to the outside of the grocery store aisles unless you're shopping for bread and pasta. You'll find everything you need on the outside. Although I have been guilty of caving in and buying a box of Kraft Mac'N Cheese...it's not a steady diet of it. I stay away from most things processed and dehydrated and opt for fresh always.

I hope that helps....if not...you can always fall back on the crockpot!


Iron Benny said...

Thanks for the tips. That enchilada idea sounds good. I'll have to find whole wheat tortillas. I bet some shredded or ground elk would be good in that. What do you put on your broiled salmon? Thanks for all the info. I knew I could count on you for some sweet recipes.

it's only fuel said...

Since I don't really like salmon (only eat it because I know it's one of the healthiest fish), I have to flavor blast it. If you score the flesh side with a knife and stuff it with fresh basil and any other herb you like then squeeze some lemon juice over it, it makes it taste really amazing.

I'm sure elk would be great in enchiladas. My only trick to pass on to you is that you've got to soak the enchiladas in enchilada sauce while you're cooking the elk. It softens them up for rolling your filling into and allows an even baking time. After you roll them up, pour any remaining sauce on them and then put some cheese and onions and olives on top too. Cover it with foil and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10 mins of baking so the cheese will get nice and bubbly:)

Sheri said...

I disagree with you about crockpotting. And you know what a food snob I am. It's excellent for tough cuts of meat.

Don't forget Epicurious.com as an excellent source of recipes. Their advanced search can be used to look for stuff that's quick to make or can be made in advance, and the reviews make it a pretty reliable source.

Salmon: we use a marinade of soy, garlic, scallions and a bit of honey.

it's only fuel said...

I will make only one more exception to include tough cuts of meat as an acceptable use for the crockpot....but when you start throwing nice, innocent and fresh veggies into the mush-mash hell, that's where I draw the line. And you know I'm only making this exception because you are my friend and training partner:P

I don't really care for epicurious...I've yet to find a recipe that I like and it's search results are a bit spazzy and disorganized. I much prefer cooks.com over epicurious. Word.

Amy said...

Pasta and potatoes are some of the quickest digesting starches out there, so I'm not sure why they'd sit in your tummy all night?

There are two "Quick & Delicious" magazines on the Fine Cooking website that I always recommend to people trying to figure out where to start.

it's only fuel said...

Perhaps it's because I eat too much of them at night Amy! I love them...so I eat until I'm stuffed. So, I avoid that problem altogether by keeping them off of my plate:D

Thanks for adding some advice to the post:)

Shannon said...

I'm sure not disagreeing with what you're saying mainly about crockpots but there are some other things that do taste much much better slow-cooked for hours: stews and, believe it or not, some risotto dishes. I found a slow-cooked wild mushroom risotto dish that is to die for and without my slow cooker, it would surely burn to the bottom of the pot if left on the stove for hours!

I've actually never pounded my meat thin before and wondered why it was done. Is it just for faster cooking or is there some other reason as well?

it's only fuel said...

Hi Shannon,

I'm sure there are other good uses for Crockpots and I don't mean to sound like a total snob about it...I'm glad you've found yummy dishes that worked out for you while using it.

Pounding meat tenderizes it as well as preps it for shorter cooking time. Those are the only things that I know about the method for sure. Faster cooking times are very important to me as I don't have time to wait for dinner. I want it waiting for me.

Thanks for visiting:)