How To: Healthy At-Home Cooking Hacks

With 2016 well under way we’re always thinking of healthier and more sustainable ways to change up our daily routines. The bracing January air is a prime time to start new routines (seriously!) so we recruited seasoned nutrition coach and trainer Will Maloney to share his tips for healthy – and more importantly simple – approaches to cooking at home.

There are a few things in the day that make a great day a bit lackluster for us guys: figuring out what to eat and having to cook it. How many times have you come home from a long and productive day, and the thought hits you— “What am I having for dinner?” The fridge become this version of a vending machine, as we look for something simple to throw together, yet we want to make to sure it’s healthy. Obviously take-out is an option, but it’s not practical nor sustainable long-term. And let’s be real, take-out usually means having drinks and we’re not really going for the belly-out-of-the-shirt look.

With myself included, guys don’t really jump at the chance to put on an apron and sluff a meal together over the hot stove on a daily basis. And we don’t want to end up like that uncle we have who says he had a six pack in high school and now is stretching a size 44 waist. And clean up after cooking is, well, not how we want to spend rest of the evening.

There is a fine balance between convenience, healthiness, and of course, taste. The key point with hassle-free or no cooking at all is finding foods that are prepped when shopping (either pre-chopped, pre-made or pre-cooked) and combine them to form a meal.

Here is a day’s worth of meals that are well-balanced, easy to make, and don’t include lots of clean up. Again, these recipes are for the “cooking-impaired.” (Funny how we fake being bad at something when we don’t want to do it…) For nutritional reference, the portions are based off a 200lb guy wanting to eat healthy and stay fit looking. If you’re trying to figure out portions based on your size, here a few guidelines:

  • 20 grams of  protein or carbs is roughly the size of your palm. This is an average.
  • The recommended amounts of protein per person wanting to stay fit and looking good is .8 x body weight, giving you grams per day.
  • Carbs would be .5 x bodyweight for lower activity days, sometimes even close to zero if doing very little activity. Then it can go up to 3x bodyweight for grams per day for the highly active. (Again, these are general guidelines. If you want a more specific amounts for you, and details on carb-cycling, protein sparing and tying portions together, see the end of this post for more info.)

No-Cook: Tuna Nicoise with Greens

How to make (5 minutes)

  •   1 can of tuna
  •   1 handful of arugula
  •   1 spoon of mayo
  •   1 pinch of red pepper flakes
  •   2 pinches of salt
  •   2 pinches of black pepper
  •   3 spoons of Nicoise olives (or capers)
  •   1/2 spoon of honey
  •   1 spoon of olive oil

In a mixing bowl, add in the arugula with a pinch of salt, pepper and 1 spoon of olive oil. Mix with your hands. Then plate the greens.

In the same bowl, add the tuna, mayo, red pepper flakes, chopped green onion, olives or capers, honey, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix with a big old spoon.

Then scoop the tuna salad onto the plate next to the green. Eat.

Heallthy Recipe

Lite-Cooked: Dijon Seared Chicken w Polenta “Caponata”

How to make (10 minutes)

  •   3 spoons of olive oil
  •   1 spoon of chopped garlic
  •   1 spoon of red pepper
  •   1 spoon of oregano
  •   1 handful of cherry tomatoes
  •   1 of a roll of polenta (sold in stores as a solid, pre-made roll)
  •   1/4-1/2 of a rotisserie chicken
  •   2 spoons of mozzarella cheese
  •   1 pinch of salt
  •   1 pinch of black pepper

Heat a sauté pan with two spoons of olive oil over medium heat.

In a bowl, add polenta slices, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes and oregano. Microwave for 3:00 minutes.

While microwaving these ingredients, slice off the meat from the bone (dark or white meat).

Once the microwaved ingredients are done cooking, add them to the sauté pan along with the chicken.

Turn it to medium high heat. Sauté the ingredients, mixing it around for 5:00 minutes until the ingredients are looking browned.

Plate once browned, top with a spoon of olive oil, mozzarella and eat.

Chicken Recipe

Stove Free Cooking: Deconstructed Huevos Rancheros

How to make (5 minutes)

  •   3-4 whole eggs
  •   2 spoons of medium salsa
  •   1/4 roll of polenta
  •   2 spoons of mozzarella cheese
  •   1 pinch of salt
  •   1 pinch of black pepper
  •   1 spoon of red pepper flakes

In a bowl, add 3-4 whole eggs along with one spoon of olive oil, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper. Microwave for 1-1:30 minutes. Stir.

Add in the polenta and the cheese and red pepper flakes. Microwave for 1:45-2:00 minutes. Remove and stir.

Top with salsa, cheese, and eat.

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And there you have it. These recipes can help you get the idea of how to hack your cooking to make it healthy and hassle free. For more specifics on how to fit it into your lifestyle, I have detailed information on tools listed at the bottom of the post.

When is comes to clean-up, always use less: utensils, pans, cutting boards, containers,  etc. Also, a clean cooking area is a faster, more efficient cooking area, so while you’re cooking, clean up what is not being used anymore along the way. If you to want to know portions sizes for your lifestyle, more cooking hacks, nutritional advice for men and healthy lifestyle tips, you can get personalized advice directly from me here.

Will Maloney writers on the subject healthy nutrition lifestyle and regeneration. He’s a former Stanford strength coach, nationally ranked Equinox trainer and founder of Metabolic Kitchen. You can find his site here.

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