KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid
I love fast food. I really do. I think it is delicious. There is nothing I love more (that is a figure of speech people, there are clearly things I love more) that a Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich and a large side of french fries. I also know that fast food is terrible for you. Everyone knows this but we continue to eat it. Why? Because we, as a culture, have convinced ourselves that we don't have the time to cook a healthy meal and delicious meal on our own so we resort to fast food. We even named it "fast food" to convince ourselves that it is faster than making our own food. We are lying to ourselves.
Our meals can be delicious AND healthy AND fast. All you have to do it cook it ourselves. It seems so simple yet so complicated. That is because we, as a culture, have convinced ourselves that in order to cook a healthy meal it has to be complicated. That is where we are all wrong. Anyone can cook a delicious meal in less time than it takes for you to go out and get a burger. The key is from a phrase I was taught in Boy Scouts - KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Not every meal needs to be a soufflé. Your ingredients list doesn't have to look like the shopping list of Wolfgang Puck before preparing for a meal for the President of the United States. If you stick to simple, fresh ingredients then you can make something as simple as pie; which is a terrible phrase because making a pie from scratch sorta sucks. So actually, you can make something simpler than pie.
Take me for example. I'm not a chef. I never went to cooking school. The most I ever remember being taught about cooking was from a Boy Scout chili cook-off. Everything I know about cooking I learned from following the instructions from a recipe or watching my Mom growing up then applying that to something else. If elementary school teaches anything it should teach how to follow directions. Anyone can do just about anything if they just follow the directions.
To show you how quick and easy it can be to make something as delicious, if not more delicious, than fast food let me show you what I made for dinner this week: beef stir fry. Give this a try before you think about ordering that General Tso's chicken that will be packed with enough MSG to kill a small fishing village.
See what is in the picture above? That is all you need to make a stir fry that tastes better than anything you will get from your local strip mall delivery service. Not only that, you will have cooked your entire meal in less time than it takes for you to pick up the phone, call the place, make the order, and wait around for your order to show up.
OK, so I actually tried to trick you to make it look harder than it is. You see that cutting board and knife? Put it away because you won't need it. The beef above was purchased pre-cubed. That's right, the grocery store will do all the hard work for you. I took that beef right out of the package and put it into a bowl. Why? Because we are going to give it a bit of flavor.
So, start off with 1 pound of chopped up beef. Get whatever beef you like. This beef is pot roast that was left over in the freezer from a previous meal. Want to make it better? Get a tasty cut of filet from the local farmer's market. That will jack up the price but it will be tasty. Otherwise, this pot roast will do just fine.
To the beef add 2 tbsp of less sodium teriyaki sauce, 2 tbsp of less sodium soy sauce, and 2 tbsp of sesame oil. If you need help to remember that it is 2 servings of each. Use your hands (or if you don't want your hand to get messy use a couple of spoons) and mix it all up so each piece of meat is covered. Then sprinkle some Asian seasoning over the entire mixture. I used Pampered Chef seasoning mix because it is what we have in our cabinet from a Pampered Chef meal making party that Rizzo attended but any mix from your grocery store will do. I can't give you a measurement here but just cover the top.
Now through the entire mixture into a pan sprayed with cooking spray (or, as we like to use, a pump action mister filled with olive oil) and heated to medium. Cook the beef until tender and cooked to the temperature of your liking. It takes me about 5-6 minutes to get the beef to medium. Make sure to keep the beef moving or flipped so it doesn't burn. After your cooking you're all set and your meal is prepared.
You know what, you're right, a meal of just beef just doesn't sound healthy and isn't the full replacement you want. You need some vegetables. Not a problem. We will fry them up too. I like to have snow peas with my beef stir fry but any vegetable (green, blue, purple, plaid, or otherwise) will do. Just make sure they are fresh and they are clean.
Remove your beef from the pan and put into whatever it is you plan to use to serve or store your meal. Return the pan back to the heat, give it a splash or two of the sesame oil for some flavor, then add back your vegetable of choice. Keep the vegetables moving in the pan until they are cooked to your liking. I keep mine a bit crisp but the longer you cook the softer they get. I'll give me snow peas about 5 minutes in the pan.
Mix your veggies together with your beef and pour the juices left in the pan over the entire mixture. Don't worry about the juice. All you have in the pan is cooked up beef bits, sesame oil, teriyaki sauce, and soy sauce. Now you are all done. You have just cooked up a meal in about 15 minutes. You probably wouldn't even have finished ordering your food from the Chinese place in that amount of time. Not only that, this meal is infinitely more healthy than anything you could have delivered to your door. See, if I can cook anyone can cook.
If you want to lose weight but still eat some delicious food just try cooking more for yourself. Rizzo and I have cut down our dining out to no more than once a week. Simply by doing that you can lose a ton of weight and save a lot of money. It isn't easy to get past the idea that cooking has to be complicated but trust me, it doesn't. With a few simple ingredients and 15 minutes you can make your own delicious meal and be healthier on the process. Don't forget that your home came with that kitchen for a reason. Use it.
P.S. I don't remember my Mom making anything overly complex while we were growing up. She didn't have to because she knew the value of keeping it simple. We always ate well and we ate healthy and we ate around the dinner table as a family. Mom, thank you for that gift.