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Healthy Food that Doesn’t Taste Like Shoe Leather

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    Healthy Food that Doesn’t Taste Like Shoe Leather

    Esteemed Pitmasters,

    I come to you today in a conundrum. I love to make BBQ. As a practitioner of low ‘n slow I am drawn to meat centric meals that take anywhere from 4-16 hours to prepare. BUT, I have put on the Covid-19 and am busy working a new job. I need some inspiration for some healthier meals that also taste great. It doesn’t have to be some kale with a side of spinach... but I can no longer justify smash burgers as my healthy “quick” meal...

    In the spirit of learning, I hope this thread can become a “top of the stack” reference point for idea sharing. So, things I have tried and like so far:
    - If I have to eat BSCB, there are two methods I like:
    - Crockpot on low with chicken broth/salsa/some sort of braising liquid. The chicken shreds easily and reabsorbs the liquid
    - hammer the BSCB to be super thing, dry brine them, then grill’em up with a thermometer in hand
    - Chicken kabobs (I prefer thighs) along with a salad and some sort of vegetable
    - Steaks and roast broccoli... that is healthy in my book
    - Grilled chicken on the bone, BBQ seasoned, vortex (or equivalent method of indirect with a quick sear to crisp up the skin)
    - Chipotle style bowls... easy to make a bunch in advance for the work week, but not sure how healthy they are if they are like 50% rice and beans

    I struggle with simple healthy vegetable recipes. Roast broccoli and cauliflower are easy and tasty... I have a couple different ways I do Zucchini that is good, and “fajita style” peppers are tasty too

    #2
    I have similar feelings about trying to be healthier in my cooking. I'm no expert for sure but I've been trying to use more herbs and marinades to season foods. Think about individual herbs, balsamic vinegar and glaze, lower fat dressings, olive oil, grilled vegetables, etc. Lately Bread Baking has been pretty minimal too. Good luck. I too hope this thread gets a lot of posts!
    Last edited by Skip; February 20, 2021, 09:24 AM.

    Comment


      #3
      We signed up for a CSA this year and we get a box of vegetables from a local farm each week. It’s been helpful because it’s forced us to figure out or experiment with vegetables we wouldn’t have normally bought. We’ve done a lot of sautéed cabbage (been playing with curry powder a lot and going for a Jamaican style cabbage) and roasted a bunch of different squashes and been pretty happy. Also smoked some acorn squashes and they came out great (a little oil, spg, and wrapped in foil with holes poked and smoked until tender). Worst case it’s forced us to google and try new things.

      Comment


        #4
        I would do a CSA if there weren't so many squashes and sweet potatoes in them. Those are a tough sell in our family.

        I tried a CSA last summer and was underwhelmed by the quality, number (some only enough for 1 serving) and variety of the vegetables available for delivery. That said, I got a jar of some simply amazing Lemon Dill Sauerkraut, so there was that.

        Not to rag on the CSA concept. I'm sure in some areas of the country they deliver simply amazing produce. But not in the area where we live, sadly. That said, I may give it another try this summer. When Covid goes away, I'll be happily back at our local Farmer's Market instead.

        Kathryn
        Last edited by fzxdoc; February 20, 2021, 09:46 AM.

        Comment


          #5
          Veggies on the grill are great. Slice eggplant half to three quarters inch thick, hit wit rub of your choice and grill at 350 or so until good grill marks on both sides. Then onto a grilled burger bun (leave off the butter if you must) and add condiments of choice along with lettuce and tomato.

          I've even smoked spaghetti squash on the grill too.

          Comment


          • tRidiot
            tRidiot commented
            Editing a comment
            You lost me at "slice eggplant"... sorry.

          #6
          Originally posted by jhoskins View Post
          Esteemed Pitmasters,

          I come to you today in a conundrum. I love to make BBQ. As a practitioner of low ‘n slow I am drawn to meat centric meals that take anywhere from 4-16 hours to prepare. BUT, I have put on the Covid-19 and am busy working a new job. I need some inspiration for some healthier meals that also taste great. It doesn’t have to be some kale with a side of spinach... but I can no longer justify smash burgers as my healthy “quick” meal...

          In the spirit of learning, I hope this thread can become a “top of the stack” reference point for idea sharing. So, things I have tried and like so far:
          - If I have to eat BSCB, there are two methods I like:
          - Crockpot on low with chicken broth/salsa/some sort of braising liquid. The chicken shreds easily and reabsorbs the liquid
          - hammer the BSCB to be super thing, dry brine them, then grill’em up with a thermometer in hand
          - Chicken kabobs (I prefer thighs) along with a salad and some sort of vegetable
          - Steaks and roast broccoli... that is healthy in my book
          - Grilled chicken on the bone, BBQ seasoned, vortex (or equivalent method of indirect with a quick sear to crisp up the skin)
          - Chipotle style bowls... easy to make a bunch in advance for the work week, but not sure how healthy they are if they are like 50% rice and beans

          I struggle with simple healthy vegetable recipes. Roast broccoli and cauliflower are easy and tasty... I have a couple different ways I do Zucchini that is good, and “fajita style” peppers are tasty too
          South High School (Hall Street SE) - Class of 1960 here.

          Almost ANY food can be called healthy IF you control the portion size. The real problem is that 99.9% of the population can't do that. If it tastes really, REALLY good, most folks will over eat it. Stick with what you like (tastes good to you) and CONTROL the amount you consume. Stay within the recommended guidelines for carbs, proteins, and fat and maintain a balance between calories in and calories out and your health will not suffer from the food you eat.

          Comment


          • HawkerXP
            HawkerXP commented
            Editing a comment
            +1
            My cardiologist sells a meal plan type of thing but he told me if you can control your portion size you don't need it. I'm down 20lbs.

          #7
          Easier said than done but smaller portions is one way to go.

          Comment


            #8
            The frozen mega packs of tilapia at walmart are a pretty good deal. Pan fried we're talking minutes to prep and serve. Use pepper, dill, paprika or whatever for flavor and you can skimp or altogether omit the salt. Perfectly good as a quick snack, or get fancy and make a salad or tacos.

            Comment


              #9
              Let me clarify... I’m not necessarily going all in on a diet. I just am looking to expand my horizons for large quantity food prep, easier meals for weeknights that aren’t cheese burgers, and expanding my “go-to” vegetable list.

              y’all are right though, I could eat less

              Comment


                #10
                There is nothing wrong with smash burgers in a diet except fer the bun. Beef is ok, cheese is ok, just watch what ya put it on. You will have to do some research. Most doctors know little about good nutrition.

                Comment


                • Willy
                  Willy commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I would agree that MDs are not, beyond broad brushstrokes, dietary experts. What sources do you recommend for dietary/nutrition advice?

                • jhoskins
                  jhoskins commented
                  Editing a comment
                  +1 on sources to learn about good nutrition...

                  The amount of resources and people with conflicting opinions on the internet can be quite overwhelming

                #11
                A simple stir fry. Chix or pork, or beef. Add in the veggies of your choice and a simple sauce. Skip the rice if ya want to. I can elaborate if you'd like...

                Comment


                • jhoskins
                  jhoskins commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Please do! Stir frys aren’t my speciality...

                #12
                +1 on stir frys. We have an instapot too, which comes in great handy on weeknights, you can throw a small pork roast in and an hour later, with no supervision have a tender piece of meat that can be shredded/browned and thrown in with some veggies and sauce.

                I feel your pain though, especially in winter. During grilling season throwing something on the Weber for dinner is relaxing. Something about cooking inside for me makes it feel like a chore most nights.
                Last edited by USMCCrashCrew89; February 20, 2021, 10:58 AM.

                Comment


                  #13
                  Depends what you call healthy. The idea that health and taste are opposed is weird to me, though.

                  Assuming you mean lower fat, it's not hard - lean meats, all veggies, fish, pasta.

                  Figure out what cuisines you like and think about a few recipes from each. I strongly believe that you only really need a dozen or so base recipes and can riff enough off of those that you can make meals from them forever.

                  An example - take your basic chicken. Sauté it. Deglaze with wine, stock, herbs. Maybe add a LITTLE butter for richness. Or deglaze with water, then stir in, say, chutney for an Indian-like effect. Or deglaze and stir in spices - Ras El Hanout, curry. Or dredge it lightly in seasoned flour, then deglaze with some lemon, white wine and capers. Add in veggies etc as desired. You get the idea.

                  Personally, I love various Asian cuisines - Chinese, (cantonese and sichuanese mostly), Thai and Indian. If I can find 4-8 recipes from those, that's a good start. Same for Mexican - you can do carnitas, but tacos made out of chicken thighs can be a healthy. Now add in some Italian...

                  I'd think about getting an app that tells you the nutritional makeup of foods and enter in the things you make for a couple of weeks. That sets a baseline. Then find dishes you like, enter those in and adjust to be healthier.

                  This all assumes you're open to fairly wide varieties of food. You might want to grab a cookbook like Bittman's How To Cook Everything for ideas.
                  Last edited by rickgregory; February 20, 2021, 01:55 PM.

                  Comment


                    #14
                    As requested - here's how I do a stir fry:

                    Decide what I want in it. But really, do you want beef, chix, seafood, pork or a combination? You decide. Same for veggies. Mine almost always has green peppers and onions, but sometimes I will use asparagus, broccoli and/or mushrooms. I have been know to throw in some zucchini too. And if you really like something I haven't mentioned, you can use that too. With enough veggies, you might want to leave the meat out.

                    Try to cut each item to the same, (bite), size for even cooking. By this I mean each piece of beef should be similar in size - it doesn't have to be perfect. Each piece of each of the other ingredients should also be close to the same size - by the ingredient not with each other since you are mostly cooking each ingredient separately.

                    Make, or buy a sauce. I use 3 parts teriyaki sauce to one part soy sauce. I use low sodium versions of both because both are very salty. YMMV I also add some chili bean sauce. I normally use 3 tbs teriyaki and 1 tsp CBS for the two of us. It's very spicy, so if anyone doesn't like heat, use less or eliminate it. And if you like heat, you can add more, but don't overdo it until you know it's heat level. I have been know to throw in some fish sauce or oyster sauce on occasion.

                    Marinate each ingredient that you are cookin' separately. You can marinate things that you are cooking together in the same container. Try for 30 min to several hours.

                    I cook each item separately if they cook at different speeds. Cook the protein(s) first in enough oil to keep them from sticking and remove from your wok, (or pan). If you are using leftover cooked protein, add it last just to warm it up.

                    I also chop some garlic and slice some fresh ginger, but you can sub powder for the ginger if necessary.

                    Here's how I do the cook:

                    Set a large bowl beside the wok or large frying pan. Set your oil next to the cooker. Line up the ingredients in the order you are planning on cooking them. They should be in easy reach while you are cooking. Brown the ginger slices, (if using), to flavor the oil and remove. Cook the protein(s) first - separately and put in the bowl. Start on med high until you figure out what temp works best for you and stir frequently. You may be able to use high heat. Add enough oil to keep the next item from sticking. I cook the garlic with the onions, but wait a bit to add to the onions or the garlic might burn. Cook each veggie and add to the bowl. When the last veggie is almost done, add everything back to heat for serving. If you have any leftover sauce, you can add it now for added flavor.

                    This sounds complicated, but it's really not. All you are doing is cutting, marinating, and cooking. Since I'm retired, I do all the prep early so that I don't have to do everything all at once. You could even cut everything up the night before, marinate when you get home from work, and cook 30 min later. You could be eating in under an hour.

                    Some seafoods take on a marinade flavor quickly, so marinate them no more than 10 - 15 min.

                    Ask if something is not clear...

                    Comment


                    • RonB
                      RonB commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Forgot some veggies I occasionally use: bok choy, pea pods, and snow peas.

                      FireMan nudged my memory with his post in the SUWYAC thread.

                    #15
                    Mebbee if ya let us know how much ya eat we kin be of better help. Why don’t ya start with breakfast. We have a team waitin to consult ya, yessir!

                    Comment


                    • jhoskins
                      jhoskins commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I didn’t mean to turn this into an intervention

                    • FireMan
                      FireMan commented
                      Editing a comment
                      No interverionin goin on. We are good at tellin ya what to do and how to spend yer money!

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