My brother rings in from Texas.
Here's my problem: I am not a cook. You want a over/under absorption and recapitalization analysis on revenue of fifty million dollars per month? No problem; I'll have it done in a day or two. Ask me to plan a healthy menu for the next week, and, well, it's a deer in the headlights look. I don't have a clue. Where do I start?
Well, first, you have to determine that you're going to cook. Eating out — even at nice restaurants — is a very poor substitute for sound nutrition and physical health.
Second, if you're going to cook and you don't know how, you have to learn.
Third: simple simple simple. You can teach yourself through trial and error, which means you'll really learn. And the more you teach yourself, the more you learn. Repeat.
Don't overthink it. First: real food only.
- meat (inlcuding any organ meats you might like), poultry, fish, shellfish
- most vegetables (keep potatoes to minimum)
- some fruits (berries and melons, primarily)
- nuts (peanuts aren't nuts but legumes — focus on almonds, macadamia, walnuts, brazils, hazels, pecans)
- fats (lard, butter, ghee, COCONUT OIL, olive oil). Excellent review of oils both here and here.
- dairy is OK for some people, i.e., milk, cheese, cottage cheese, heavy cream, etc. If you can, get the organic, or, if TX in its infinite wisdom permits it, raw whole, non-homogenized milk
- spices of all sorts on stuff. Good source of all sorts of nutrients. This is where the particular creativity in cooking comes in. It also gives your preparations a very individual touch. Don't be too afraid to ruin something. It's how you learn; plus, gives you an excellent opportunity for a brief, intermittent fast <wink>.
Then, just cook stuff. Use your imagination. Experiment. Grilling meats is easy. Stir frying veggies in coconut oil in a wok is easy. Salads are easy, and I always do my own dressings. I don't even mix them first. Just olive oil to start, toss, and then I add in some lemon or lime (usually about half a fruit), or a few dashes of vinegar, or some balsamic — or sometimes a combination. Try apple cider vinegar (it also makes a refreshing drink: 1-2 tsp in a glass of ice water). Get Greek Kalamata olive oil if you can find it. You can always make your own blue cheese or other sorts of salad dressings if you like — plenty of recipes on the internet. Mayonnaise too (with olive oil).
Stay away from all vegetable/grain/seed oils except olive, sesame, coconut and palm (canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, etc). We simply didn't evolve eating poly unsaturated oils in concentration. It's essentially the same issue as with fruit juices (would you sit down and eat 2 dozen oranges?). Eating the whole fruit (or vegetable) has it's own built in STOP mechanism that we evolved with side-by-side: the fibrous bulk fills us up before we overload on sugar (with some exceptions — but also recall that non-equatorial primitive man only had fruits part of the year).
Also, stay away from grain-based products. All of them, except perhaps on a very occasional splurge. If you asked your ancestors over the last 2-3 million years (save the last 10,000 or so) to go get enough grain to bake a loaf of bread, it would have taken enormous energy expenditure and time to collect even a handful or kernels (think saffron and why it's so expensive for a comparison). Not only was there no mechanization, but no cultivation either. So, no fields of wheat, per se. They'd have had to forage. Far easier to hunt or trap a high-density, nutritious meal in the form of an animal.
Virtually all plant matter contains various natural "toxins," most of which we are probably well adapted to, as we've been eating those plants (evolved along with them) over millions of years. Not so with grains, most high in gluten, lectins, and other things that cause an awful inflammatory immune response for a lot of people (that puffy look). I suspect that virtually everyone, however, has some level of sensitivity. That's one reason I stay off them. The other reason is that they are converted to sugar, sugar drives insulin, and insulin immediately shuts down fat burning (and turns to segregating toxic glucose away from lean tissues and into fat cells).
But anyway, just cook stuff. Really. We've been doing it for about 1.5 million years, perhaps longer.
Here's a few resources that feature mostly simple preparations:
Mark's Daily Apple (amongst his other super-fabulous postings)
Food is Love