Can you think of a more delicious sounding veggie? Imagine bacony decadence coupled with crisp-tender, sweet broccolini that's ready in 15min or less. Is your mouth watering yet?
Let's take a brief interlude on the What To Drink series of posts to go back to my roots and post a recipe. I know, I know, it's been awhile. Why? I have been trying out some N=1 experiments (more on those later) and cheating intermittently while vacationing and entertaining out of town guests. That is life and now more than ever I can definitely understand why food is a drug. It can benefit your entire being when it's on, and carry one hell of a punch when it's not. When I am normally so dialed in, faltering is felt. Big time. And I am not just talking about nausea/stomach ailments or loss of energy after carb-heavy meals. I am talking about outright depression. Food is a drug, for good or for worse.
So when I am dialed in, what is life like? I have made it as simple as possible so it is easy to follow. I don't have to plan or put in much effort at all. When I am on the diet, I am really just eating meat and vegetables. I am trying the low-carb thing, so I'm choosing low-carbohydrate vegetables instead of fruit and starches. You would think the reduction in possibilities makes like harder, but it's actually just the opposite. With too many choices, I'm overwhelmed and don't always make the best choices. With fewer, I can focus more on the food itself and find myself sticking to newfound favorite staples that aren't much fuss at all. There's hardly a "recipe" to speak of. Life can't be simpler. Or more delicious! Seriously, I crave this fuel for the taste, satisfaction, high energy, and high spirits that follow.
Here's the formula that has totally revolutionized and reinvigorated my diet:
- Pick a meat (like poultry, pork, beef, or fish) and choose a cut you have on hand or buy it from the store (remember to focus on grass-fed/pasture-raised/wild-caught/organic meats).
- Pick a veggie. For ease, make it a quick-cooking (like a broiler/grill crisp-able) or no-cook veggie (like salad, assorted vegetable sticks, or carrots).
- Prepare the meat and quick-cooking veggie the old fashioned way by grill, broiler, or hot pan with little more than salt, pepper, and sometimes a cooking fat if needed/desired.
- Add a fat like bacon or guacamole/avocado if you didn't use plenty of cooking fat.
- Meat: Grass-fed beef burgers, salted, peppered, and cooked in grass-fed, raw butter (Organic Pastures for the win!) topped with guacamole and/or bacon and/or leftover melted butter from cooking (Note: these could just as easily be grilled, but we don't have a grill)
- Veggie: carrots to dip in guacamole (perfect substitute for chips, especially if you cut them in half so they are more dip-grab-able) or use lettuce leaves for burger tacos
- Meat: Grass-fed steak (ribeye or NY are my favs), salted, peppered, and seared in a hot pan/grilled
- Veggie: Broiled Bacon Fat-Smeared Broccolini (recipe to follow!)
- Meat: Rotisserie pasture-raised chicken (store bought)
- Veggie: salad greens alone (like crunchy snack-able/dip-able romaine hearts) or with a simple oil + citrus acid dressing, or raw, cut veggies and guacamole
- Meat: Farm fresh eggs and chicken-apple sausage and/or bacon
- Veggie: Wilted baby spinach sauteed in bacon fat or butter cooked in the same pan as the eggs and sausage
- Meat: Toaster-oven broiled wild-caught fish (just cooking fat smear, salt, and pepper)
- Veggie: arugula salad with a simple oil + citrus acid dressing
Lunches are even easier using precooked roasted turkey breast or leftovers from dinners (always make more than you need!) and cut veggies or a salad. Add some nuts, avocado/guacamole, cooking fat, bacon, or skin for some fat.
Breakfasts are the staple of which I NEVER tire: farm fresh eggs and chicken-apple sausage cooked in raw, grass-fed butter or bacon fat, and perhaps a green veggie to wilt in the pan like spinach.
Pretty simple! Just make sure you have plenty of meat, plenty of veggie, and plenty of healthy fat (monounsaturated and saturated). Thinking of your meals in terms of just these three things makes life SO much easier! Cooking is no longer a chore and neither is meal planning!
What Is Broccolini?
Broccolini is sweet broccoli. It has thin, slender stems still attached to the small florets. The sweetest and most tender are those with the thinnest stalks, as opposed to those with thicker, woodier stems. Broccolini isn't really baby broccoli, as I once thought; instead, it's a cross between Chinese broccoli and regular broccoli. Surprisingly, this new variety was just introduced in the US in 1998! Broccolini is definitely kid-friendly since it is a finger food (even when cooked) and naturally sweeter than regular broccoli. Like most veggies, it's most nutritious when raw and only needs quick cooking. It's rich in vitamins A and C as well as fiber, potassium, and iron. I imagine many of the benefits of standard broccoli still apply. See more at The World's Healthiest Foods.
According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, cruciferous or Brassica vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, radishes, arugula and some other greens. There are some promising links between eating these veggies and preventing cancer. While high intake seems protective of cancer, make sure you aren't iodine deficient. There is a possibility of hypothyroidism if you eat a lot of cruciferous vegetables and you are iodine deficient. Find out more about iodine deficiency at this information page also from the Linus Pauling Institute.
Okay, enough with how good the damned veggie is! I mean, it's a vegetable, so it's nutritiousness is a no-brainer, right?
On to the recipe!
Broiled Bacon-Smeared Broccolini
All the porky deliciousness of bacon plus good-for-you, sweet, crisp-tender broccolini? Need I say more?
Cooking Time: 15min or less start to finish, prep and all
Bacon fat (reserved from cooking bacon--can store for quite some time sealed and refrigerated or on the counter-top. What? You don't have any on hand? What a great excuse to make more bacon!)
one bunch of broccolini per diner (you want those with the slenderest stems instead of thick and woody)
This is so simple it is hardly even a recipe. Let's see how few breaths it takes to recite: Take broccolini, cut off end of stems, rinse, shake to dry, place on broiler-resistant baking sheet (like stainless steel--NOT non-stick unless you like the high-heat-released toxins), drizzle on the cooled, liquid bacon fat or lather on the solid-yet-soft bacon fat (there is no such thing as "too much"), salt, pepper, arrange with thickest stems placed in the middle of the sheet, and whack in the broiler (I use the LOW setting and the top rack) for 3-5 minutes. Check for a color change to a more bright, emerald green. If your broccolini were especially slender, they might be done right now. Make sure you don't let them get floppy (unless you like them overcooked). If you want more cooking, flip them, put them back in, and wait 3-5 more minutes (varies broiler to broiler), then test for desired doneness. I like mine still very crisp, but not hard-crunchable. The stalks shouldn't be floppy, but should still yield when you try to cut them. Remove from that hot sheet once done, serve hot or at room temperature (cold is a little weird with the solidified fat clinging to them), and sop up leftover bacon fat with the florets. Um... yum!
NOTE: since the broiler and grill are roughly equivalent, you could probably quickly grill these using the same recipe (but beware of fat flare-ups). Perhaps you want to dry cook them and then drizzle on the melted bacon fat after. Yum!
Also, these last a few days when sealed and placed in the refrigerator. I just reheat them briefly if desired and they still remain crisp and delicious. So make more and have some leftovers for more easy meals!
Now you have more tools in your nutritional toolbox to revolutionize your diet too! Let me know how it goes!