We move on now to the evening meal, with it’s different names – tea, dinner, supper. Until the last few decades, when we started expanding our horizons with other ethnic meals or maybe going vegetarian, the evening meal was “meat and 3 veg”. Since saturated fats have been under attack, this has become quite unfashionable, and many people have moved away from this model – replacing red meat with chicken, fish or vegetarian dishes, potatoes with pasta and butter and gravy with margarine or low fat sauces.
So we’re going to take another look at some old favourites, looking at different methods of preparation and focussing on recipes that are quick and easy to prepare. What we start off with in this lesson will be the basic components of the meal. When we convert it to whole foods, we add some extras:
- Healthy fats to help us assimilate proteins and digest our vegetables
- Fermented condiments to add flavour and enzymes (we’ll cover these in Sprouted and Fermented foods)
- Delicious sauces and dressings, based on stocks or good fats, to also add flavour and nutrients (Sauces and Spreads)
But before we start cooking, let’s discuss some different methods of structuring a meal. Nutritionists talk about a balanced diet – but what exactly is that? One way to look at it – and for most people this is a good starting point – is to eat something from each macronutrient group at each meal, and spread your calories out over the day. In other words – some protein, some fat and some carbs at every meal. Carbs can be further broken down into non-starchy vegetables and starchy/sugary carbs (grains, legumes, fruit and starchy vegetables such as root vegetables). A simplified example might be:
- Breakfast – Omelette (fat & protein) with mushrooms & spinach (non-starchy carbs) and some fruit (sugary carbs)
- Lunch – Chicken (protein) salad (non starchy carbs) sandwich (starchy carbs) with homemade mayo (fat)
- Snack – Hummus (fat, protein & starchy carbs) with celery sticks (non-starchy carbs)
- Dinner – Steak (protein), baked kumera (starchy carbs) and steamed broccoli and cauliflower (non-starchy carbs) with garlic butter (fat)
This sort of model works well for someone who is Mixed metabolic type and goes well if their food is spread out over the day. Some alternatives:
- A Protein type would want to minimise their starchy carbs and replace eggs for breakfast with meat of some kind
- A Carbo type would find this too heavy, and might have fruit and yoghurt for breakfast, and fish instead of steak for dinner.
- Some people like the adage “breakfast like a king, lunch like a lord and dine like a pauper” and feel better having a large breakfast, but only a light dinner
- Some people follow the Warrior diet. This involves alternately feasting (over a 4 hour period in the evening) and fasting (for the rest of the day. This stimulates the body’s ability to alternately store fat and burn it off and many people find this effective for weight loss, or better performance. If you followed this, you might eat raw fruit and vegetables with lots of easily useable fat, like coconut oil, during the day, then a large meal at night, with protein, starchy and non-starchy carbs and not much fat.
- Some people food-combine and eat either protein or starchy carbs at each meal, never both together
- A vegetarian would eat totally differently and we’ll look at that in some detail next lesson
Unlike some other diets, a whole foods diet isn’t about eating in a predetermined style. If you already know what balance of nutrients you feel best on – use the whole food principles to get the most benefit from it. If you don’t, trying a variety of different whole food recipes and seeing how you feel on them will give you some ideas on what works best. So depending on the type of eating that works for you, adapt the menus given here to suit your own personal style.
Another important component of whole food cooking we haven’t talked about yet is organic food. There are a couple of different reasons why organic food is considered better:
- No pesticides means less toxins for your liver to deal with
- It’s assumed that organic farmers are also taking better care of the land, which in turn means more nutrients in the food.
Of the two, the latter is the more important. Yes, it’s good to minimise our toxin intake. But the nutrients in our diet are what enable our bodies to clear the toxins, as well as perform many other activities. A food with high nutrient value will still nourish our bodies, even if it does have some pesticide residues. And by nourishing our bodies, it strengthens them to deal with pesticides and other toxins. But a food that’s low in nutrients is worthless to us, no matter how clean it is. In other words, a high nutrient, but non-organic, food is more beneficial than a low nutrient, organic food.
In practical terms, what does this mean? If you have access to good quality, high nutrient, organic food, that’s the best of both worlds. But if you don’t have access to organic foods, or what you can get doesn’t seem that good, choose your food on how flavoursome it is. Don’t judge on how good it looks – with fresh foods, flavour is a better indication of nutrient levels.
To get a bit technical, the “Brix” of a food can be measured, using a tool called a refractometer. It measures the level of sugar in a food. By comparing the Brix of your sample to a chart showing ranges of Brix for that food, you can tell how high the sugar level is. That gives a good indication of the levels of other nutrients. So a sweet cherry, for example, will be high in nutrients, a flavourless one will be low.
If you choose to buy non-organic fruit or vegetables, for whatever reasons, you can reduce the pesticide exposure by good washing. Get some 3% hydrogen peroxide, and plain white or apple cider vinegar, and a pair of clean spray bottles. To wash vegetables or fruit, just spray them well with both the vinegar and the hydrogen peroxide, and leave to sit for a few minutes. Then rinse them off under running water. It doesn’t matter which you use first. You won’t get any lingering taste of vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, and neither is toxic to you if a small amount remains.
As far as meat goes, of primary importance is the animals feed. So grass fed beef or lamb is far more nutritious than grain fed. Here in New Zealand, all our beef and lamb is mainly grass fed. So whether you choose organic or not isn’t as important as making sure you’re buying NZ produce. I would recommend looking for free range if you’re buying pork or chicken though. Chicken that’s been battery farmed, or even worse, fed soy, is best avoided, if possible. And of course, free range eggs are far superior to battery farmed.
This section is for those are working through the lessons of the cooking course. Otherwise jump straight to the recipes
- Protein: Nourishing Traditions P26-32
- Fish: Nourishing Traditions P258-259
- Poultry: Nourishing Traditions P279
- Game: Nourishing Traditions P317
- Beef & Lamb: Nourishing Traditions P329
- Ground meats: Nourishing Traditions P355
- Vegetables: Nourishing Traditions P366-367
- If you want a book dedicated to meat, vegetables and fruit, check out Garden Of Eating, by Rachel Albert-Matesz and Don Matesz.
Make a different style of meat and vegetable dish each night this week. If this is different to your usual style of eating and the kids complain, promise them pizza on Saturday night!
A fish dish:
A mince dish:
A stirfry or panfried meal:
A stew or casserole:
- Expand your repertoire of meals by converting old favourites to whole foods. Mix and match different meats and vegetables to see which you like together.
- Make a list of the family favourites. This will help with meal planning.
Meat, sausages, poultry or fish:
- Meatballs ~ GAPS P187
- Meat cutlets ~ GAPS P188
- Basic Meatballs, but use real onion & garlic
- Crock-Pot Swedish Meatballs but use GAPS bread and leave out the flour in the sauce
- Eggroll in a Bowl but serve on cauliflower rice
- Glazed Meatloaf, replace ketchup with tomato paste or puree
- Quick Chili, use navy / haricot beans
- Quick Crock-Pot Spaghetti Sauce Serve with zucchini, carrot or pumpkin noodles ~
- Casserole with turkey ~ GAPS P192
- Honey Mustard Chicken
- Crock-Pot Chicken Chili, use navy beans instead
- Curried Chicken Clafouti, use coconut or almond flour MAY need to use less of them.
- Liver pudding ~ GAPS P193
- Liver in a clay pot ~ GAPS P193
- Quick Liver ~ GAPS P194
- Fish cutlets ~ GAPS P188
- Baked Fish Sticks, use almond or coconut flour
- Swedish Gravlax ~ GAPS P189
- Fermented fish / sardines ~ GAPS P190-191
- Marinated fish
Cooked veges, for example:
- Baked vegetables ~ GAPS P199
- Vegetable “risotto” ~ GAPS P198
- Cabbage and carrot ~ GAPS P198
- Cabbage and apple
- Cauliflower “potatoes” ~ GAPS P199
- Cauliflower rice
- Pumpkin bake
- Steamed broccoli
- Zucchini chips or noodles
- Mediterranean vegetables
- Celeraic (celery root) hash browns
Salads (Don’t have these yet if you have diarrhoea):
- See under lunches
Sauces or condiments:
- Gravy made from stock
- Mayonnaise recipe 1 or Mayonnaise recipe 2
- Ketchup ~ GAPS P172
- Salsa ~ GAPS P173
- Fruit chutney ~ GAPS P174
- Aubergine / eggplant dip ~ GAPS P174
- Beetroot dip
- Quick Honey Mustard Dip
Hamburger patties are quick and easy to cook up, and can be served in a variety of ways:
- The traditional way, in a hamburger bun, with salad and homemade mayo, chutney or fermented veges. (Convert one of our bread recipes to hamburgers buns by baking in smaller tins.)
- Replace the bun with a starch free bread
- Replace the bun with cos lettuce leaves
- With a selection of cooked starchy and non-starchy vegetables, eg. Kumera chips and steamed broccoli
- With a large mixed salad
Experiment with different combinations.