Stay ahead of the game, or risk living behind the eightball
When it comes to cooking and eating, most of us are looking for almost any way we can to save time. Unfortunately, this combination of time pressure and our desire for convenience has changed the way most of us live and eat. Convenience has brought us all to the point that much of what we buy at the grocery store doesn’t really resemble food anymore.
If your immune system and metabolism become unstable or overwhelmed, this way of eating will keep you sicker – and for a lot longer!
Besides sleeping and working, shopping for, cooking and eating our food is the thing we do most with our lives. It is no wonder that we look for the short cuts that we do. When you are focusing on healing, the best place to start is efficiency and balance. In the long term, fast food and processed food are the opposite of efficiency or any hope of balance.
I have been eating to manage Crohn’s Disease and Colitis for almost 30 years. I am also a very ‘busy’ or engaged person. Over time, I have come up with a basic plan and some efficient and healthy habits that allow me to eat as well as I want with minimal effort during the workweek.
My secret is called ‘Having a Grandmother Day.’ This practice, also called Batch Cooking will give you a lot more time and help you feel better as soon as possible.
This is probably the most helpful advice that I could ever give anyone.
How to Have an Awesome Grandmother Day
A Grandmother Day is the one day a week when you invest 2 – 3 hours making meal components and preparing most of the ingredients for the week ahead.
This may sound like a lot of work, but if you add up all of the time it would take to prepare these kinds of meals from scratch every day, it would take six times longer.
I usually do this on Sunday afternoon while I am making supper. I always plan to use the leftovers from that supper for at least three other meals. I begin my Grandmother Day by choosing some really fun music or a pretty long movie.
It is all about pleasure and balancing out the “chore” experience with the weekend experience. Once the fun has started, I then decide what I want to roast for the week.
A couple of chickens, perhaps?
Maybe a fish or some grass-fed Bison?
A large casserole or some meatloaf?
A large turkey makes enough food to be enjoyed for weeks to come. The idea is not to have the same every day, it is to have several options for the next several days.
Regardless of what goes in the oven, I always make sure to roast it over a liquid marinade so that, as the fat melts off of the roast/chicken/turkey, it lands in a liquid that protects the fat from getting damaged by heat.
As my roasts are roasting, I cut up a few pounds of healthy roots and boil them. As they are boiling I melt some fat/ghee/butter in a pan, add some spices and let it simmer low and slow. Once the roots are soft I mash them up with the flavoured fat and then add some. If I am feeling great and up to dairy products, I add some grated unpasteurized cheese.
Imagine all of the different flavours you could create to make your root smash more enticing.
After checking on what is in the oven and mashing up the root smash, I start chopping 3 – 4 days worth of vegetables (organic, of course). I focus on the vegetables that have less risk of wilting. My favourites are carrots, celery, cucumber, cabbage, zucchini, daikon radish, broccoli florets, and some cherry tomatoes (not too many, they are nightshades). I then make about enough fresh delicious and rich salad dressing (Caesar dressing is a favourite). In a large seal-able container I make a salad that will not wilt and will last for about four days in the fridge.
Depending on how much protein is coming out of the oven, I may decide to make a protein-based sandwich spread,
By mixing shredded animal protein or chopped eggs with some healthy homemade mayo or avocado mayo, some spices and some vegetables, I will have another healthy source of fat, protein and plants to enjoy for the week.
My favourite is Salmon Rillettes (sandwich spread), as I can add it to my pre-made salad or put it on top of some fresh greens. Yummy!
Depending on the season and the mood of my immune system, and how much exercise I am going to get, I may also make some traditional old-school oatmeal to have for breakfast for a few mornings. The old-school way of making this takes three days, so I usually start it Friday night when I am making supper.
I may also make some Risotto or Jambalaya if I feel that I need that much energy from my food and if my health is strong enough to handle the burden of some quinoa or white rice in my diet.
After the roasted meat has been out of the oven long enough to cool, I will most likely make a gravy from the fat that has fallen into the marinating liquid. There are optional flours like tapioca starch and gelatin for thickening the gravy.
Then just chop up some of the roasted meat (fish, chicken, turkey, beef, bison, venison, etc.), put it in a container (or zip-lock bag) and cover it with the gravy. You can either put it in the fridge for four days ahead or put it in the freezer for a few months.
I call this ‘ready meat’. Whenever I need to make a stew or stir fry, I just bring out some ready meat, chop up some veggies and in a few minutes, I have a meal and something to put in my thermos for the next day.
If you like to experiment with unique and strong flavours, which is a great way to help you transition to a new diet, make a nutrient-dense pesto or a spicy and flavorful chutney to enjoy for a couple of weeks.
A Universal Recipe for Stews, Soups, Curries, and Stir Fry’s
One of the best ways to cook meat on top of your stove is called a floating sauté.
This way of cooking meat protects the protein, fat, and medicinal foods like garlic from getting to a temperature that will cause any damage.
- Add 2-3 Tablespoons of healthy cooking oil, fat, or butter to a hot wok, pan or stew pot.
- Add whatever meat you are cooking. As soon as the meat browns, add your favourite flavourings like ginger, garlic, onions, fresh herbs, or dried spices.
- As soon as you smell the fragrance of your spices, add ½ cup of water, stock or bone broth, some wine and/or vinegar and/or tamari.
- Turn your stove down to medium-high.
- Stir and cover alternately for two to three minutes, until all the flavours are mixed together
- Make sure that there is always enough liquid to avoid overheating your oils.
- Turn your stove to medium-low and add all of the chopped veggies, and then stir.
- Add more water, broth or coconut milk (the amount depends on whether this is to be a stir fry, stew or soup) and cover, stirring every few minutes until done. You may want to turn your stove off at this point to avoid overcooking.
If you like a thicker consistency to your stir-fries and stews, add some arrowroot powder (1 – 2 tsp) or 3 Tbsp of gelatin to ¾ cup of warm water or broth, stir and add to your meal. Keep stirring for two minutes.
Cooking this way usually takes 10 – 20 minutes in total, so it is advisable to have everything chopped and ready when you turn the stove on.
I often make a very thick stew of braised meat and veggies over a mountain of root smash.
This is my favourite way to cook because I can put on a pot of healthy roots, chop and prepare my veggies and protein, assemble all my favourite condiments next to the stove, and by the time the roots are cooked, everything is ready.
You could put on some music, dance around your kitchen as you cook and have a delicious and healthy meal prepared in about 20 minutes. And potentially lunch for the next day.
Another useful hint is to get a pot that has an optional steaming tray insert. When you cook roots or grains, you can prepare some veggies and steam them during the last few minutes of their cooking time.
I mentioned music and dancing in the kitchen earlier, and I wasn’t kidding. Cooking is a celebration of Life. It can be a time of family fun.
I love it when my whole family is in the kitchen, pets and all, chopping and nibbling and laughing. I believe that cooking for health brings out the best in people. When cooking becomes an irritating chore that someone else should do we start making fewer and fewer healthy decisions every day.
Cooking for health is a great chance to fall back in love with your life and your kitchen.
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Michael Smith is an internationally respected Clinician, Author, and Speaker.
Michael practices Functional Medicine, Acupuncture, and Traditional Chinese Medicine, and encourages his patients to follow an Ancestral approach to lifestyle and diet. Dr. Smith has dedicated the last 25 years to the research and treatment of Chronic Illness and Autoimmune Disease. As an Autoimmune patient, Michael is intimately aware of the devastating impact these conditions can have on your quality of life.
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