How To Plan Your Slow Carb Meals For Maximum Results

planning-slow-carb-meals

There’s one strategy that surpasses the rest in terms of what will help you stick to your 4 Hour Body guns:

Planning your meals.

If you’re not planning your meals, you’re a ticking time bomb of unplanned cheating ready to go off. I know that’s how it is, because that’s exactly how I am.

The only way I’ve been able to see consistent results is when I plan my food out ahead of time. In fact, I’ve planned enough that I created a slow-carb meal planner you can subscribe to if you’d like.

But if you stick around, I’m going to tell you how to plan so many meals you could eat a different meal for something like 80 years without eating the same thing twice.

How’s that for diversity?

All the foods

As I was putting together the slow-carb planner’s very first version, I developed what I call the “Fairly Exhaustive Slow-Carb Food List“. With that, you’ll find over 12,000 unique meal combinations.

Use it. Here’s a link to download the PDF.

If I didn’t have a meal planner to use instead, that’s what I would use to start planning my own meals. Here’s an example of how you could use it each week to plan:

  1. Create a spreadsheet (I use Google Docs) and give each group its own column.
  2. On a piece of paper (one you can hang on your fridge), make a space for each meal you want to plan. Here’s a meal planning calendar if you’d prefer to just print one out.
  3. Starting with the first column, randomly pick a number from 1 to the amount of items in the list. That’s the number corresponding to the food you’ll use. So for example, using the list you should have downloaded by now, if I pick 20 for protein, I’ll write down mahi mahi. A 17 for veggies gives me cucumbers, a 6 for legumes gives me lentils, and so on.
  4. The list provides the inspiration for the meal. For mine, I’d probably do a salt/pepper grilled mahi mahi, a cucumber salad (with red onions, salt, pepper, oregano, white wine vinegar, and olive oil), and my standard lentil recipe.
  5. Repeat for each meal.

What I love about this is there are so many things we don’t normally eat (regardless of who you are) that you’re bound to try something new and delicious and vary your own intake. And we all know a variety is good for you.

When you have a combination of foods and spices you don’t know what to do with, head to the internet to find a recipe from allrecipes, epicurious, or chowstalker.

Of course, if there are things on the big list you don’t like, simply remove them for your meal planning purposes.

Never eat without a plan again

I mentioned above that I created a meal planner, and then I basically told you how to plan your own meals. Why would I do that?

The first reason is that my main goal is to help you guarantee you’re preparing slow-carb compliant meals that will help you reach your own goals. You’ll never have to wonder again if what you’re eating is “allowed”, regardless of if you do it your own or let me do it for you.

The second reason is that I know you’re busy, and I know this information is going to save you time. Sharing this with you is my way of saying thanks for being a SCF/FMF community member. If you can’t, or even just don’t want, to subscribe to the planner, you’ll still get the results you’re looking for and not have to put in as much effort as you did before today.

That said – if you think you’d like to find out more about the slow-carb meal planning service I’ve put together (and get the first month for only $1), then please follow the link to the launch post to read more. If you have any questions, let me know!

Learn more about the meal planner!

original photo credit: Liz

Slow Carb and Paleo Recipes and Tips for the Holiday Season

I know you’re all getting ready for the holiday season and that normally means food.  Lots and lots of food.  And potential to pack on a few pounds that never really go away.

No one wants that, do they?

Keep the menu lean and healthy with one of these holiday recipe ideas put out by some friends of the Slow Carb Foodie.

A fantastic almost freebie from Jason over at Finding My Fitness (and a regular contributor here) has put together an ebook with Thanksgiving tips and tricks for Slow Carb and Paleo eating so you and your family can enjoy a happy and healthy holiday.  Since the date is fast approaching, he’s lowered the price to $1 – a steal!  Even if you miss it, check it out for the rest of the holiday season.  There’s 7 pages on preparing the perfect poultry,  7 scrumptious sides, 6 decadent desserts, 3 delicious drinks!  You’ll be set for the rest of 2012.

Looking for a healthy way to stuff your bird?

Check out this recipe for Paleo “rice” stuffing – made with cauliflower.  Looks yum!

Need some fresh ideas for what to do with your turkey leftovers?

This looks like a super easy recipe for Turkey and Black Bean Soup (ignore those crackers in the picture!)

Need some post Thanksgiving reading material while you surface from your Turkey coma?

If you were somehow under a rock and haven’t heard, Tim Ferris has just released the Four Hour Chef.  I’ve got mine on my Kindle and can’t wait to start reading this weekend.  Make sure you order a hardcopy (or the digital version!)

For those of you in the US, I hope you all have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.  I’m on vacation in tropical Northern Queensland, Australia for the week, so no Turkey for me.  I’ve been enjoying (a few too many) cocktails, doing some business planning for 2013 and trying to relax by the pool.  Next week I’ll be back to Melbourne, and looking forward to finally enjoying some summer weather.

Paleo Holiday Recipes

Intermittent Fasting: The Quickest Way To Look Sexy In A Bathing Suit

This is your plate on IFThere’s a really great way you can quickly lose body fat, and it’s more simple than what you’re currently doing.

No, I’m not going to tell you to cut calories or starve yourself. That doesn’t actually work in the long term, because once you start eating the calories again, you put the weight back on.

What I want to briefly talk about today is the practice of intermittent fasting. It could change the way you approach your goals for a while.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

The first time I read up on it, I thought IF was simply skipping breakfast. The more I read about it, the more I realized that you really don’t have to skip breakfast. You can, but it’s not essential.

The really quick overview behind IF is that you give your body several hours with no intake so that it can begin to burn the body fat it’s stored more efficiently.

Why would I want to do that?

Our bodies can be lazy. They burn the easiest stuff they can get first, and that happens to be glucose. Once the glucose is gone, they realize they better start burning some fat.

Intermittent fasting has been shown to have an array of benefits that include (but are not limited to):

  • rapid fat loss
  • increased insulin sensitivity
  • more efficient use of the glucose you do consume
  • lowering blood pressure
  • easier tissue repair (some say anti-aging benefits)

So how do you do it?

There are many forms of IF from what I’ve seen, but one of the easiest methods is a 16-8 schedule. Basically, you don’t eat for 16 hours and then you eat within an 8 hour window. When I did it, for example, this was my schedule:

  • 6am – Wake up
  • 10am – Breakfast
  • 2pm – Lunch
  • 6pm – Dinner
  • 10pm – Go to bed

I still ate all the calories I would have, I just condensed my intake to a shorter window.

A couple days during the week I experimented with this I would only eat breakfast at 10am and dinner at 6pm. Both meals were bigger than “normal”.

You could also completely skip a whole day of meals to spice things up.

Tips to help you get going

  • Incredibly important: Don’t try IF if you don’t have everything else dialed in. Your food quality should be superb, you should be getting decent exercise, and your sleep should be long and restful. If all that’s in line, then proceed with some IF experimentation. IF stresses your body, so if you’re already stressed for other reasons, take care of those first.
  • Keep busy. When you’re not used to fasting, it can be exhausting trying to stick to it. That’s why I like the 16-8 schedule. I’m not going too long after getting up before eating, and I’m not spending too much time in the evening to get bored. On the days I only ate twice or did a whole-day fast, if I was busy I hardly noticed it. When I was bored, I felt incredible hunger pains.
  • If you want to take as much advantage of the fasted state as you can (and its ability to mobilize the stubborn fat), do some mild cardio when you’re nearly done. For example, you might go for a 30-45 minute walk (or longer, if you can) in the morning when you wake up or a bit before eating your first meal.
  • Drink some caffeine. It’s a stimulant (as if you didn’t know…) that actually works to unlock the fat stores while in a fasted state to be burned more.

Further reading

If you’re interested, I highly recommend checking out some other sources. Here are the sources I went to when I was learning about IF:

To Eat or Not To Eat, That Is The Question. – Robb Wolf’s Blog
Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy? – Mark’s Daily Apple
The Myriad Benefits of Intermittent Fasting – Mark’s Daily Apple
Intermittent Fasting and Stubborn Body Fat – Lean Gains
(Lean Gains is actually one of the foremost authorities in IF, so if you really want to go deep, check out many of his articles).

And if you’re interested more about my personal experience with it, check out my post on intermittent fasting on Finding My Fitness.

What are your thoughts on intermittent fasting? Is it just a bunch of baloney? Would you ever try it? Let us know in the comments!

Jason spends most of his time writing about his adventures with fitness on the 4 hour body and paleo diets. Check out his newsletter and get 10 more free slow-carb recipes.

How To Prepare Vegetables Even Your Pickiest Eater Will Love

Slow-carb recipe tips: preparing delicious vegetables
On the slow-carb diet, one thing you’re going to eat more of than you probably ever have before is vegetables.

It seems really obvious, but a lot of people just don’t get it. To lose weight, they eat less calories, and that – to them means smaller portions of bread, fats, and sugars. But really, that’s not the way to do it.

It seems like a secret that no one knows but is right in front of your face. The best way to lose weight is really by eating more: more veggies.

Think about it this way: in a cup of whole oats you have 607 calories and 103 grams of carbohydrate (that’s more carbs that I eat in a day). In a cup of green beans, you have 44 calories and only 10 grams of carbohydrate. Sure, the grains might fill you up more, but that’s what fat and protein is for. I’d take 3 cups of green beans over a cup of oatmeal any day (and I love oatmeal)!

But I don’t like vegetables

I’ve actually heard someone talk about how they’re tired of choking down vegetables. Now, I understand it can get old quick. I can only stand broccoli in my omelet for about a week before I switch it out for spinach or kale. But vegetables could really be an untapped market in weight loss nutrition!

So I want to help out a bit. I’ve learned to love vegetables, and I’m trying different kinds I hadn’t considered before. Maybe one day I’ll write a post about different – and possibly strange – vegetables, but today I’m going to skip ahead to some cooking tips.

You see, loving veggies probably has a lot to do with the way you cook it. Personally, I love the flavor in vegetables. They come packed with a lot on their own. But often the cooking method can really seal the deal.

Roasted

This is a very easy way to prepare some delicious vegetable sides, especially if you’re already roasting some meat besides. They can go in together, and sometimes even in the same pan.

Technique: Prepare your veggies in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle some cracked sea salt and pepper on top. Bake in a 375 to 400 degree oven (F) for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender.

Recommendation: Try roasting asparagus, cauliflower, onions, squashes, or sweet potatoes.

Grilled

It won’t be long before we’re all in relatively warm weather and smelling the familiar scent of coals blazing under some delicious meats. You grill because you like the flavor it gives to your chicken or steak. Why not also give that same flavor to your vegetables?

Technique: Much like roasting, toss your vegetables with some olive oil. This helps the browning and helps keep them from sticking too much. Sometimes I’ll form a tray out of aluminum foil if I’m grilling smaller veggies like cherry tomatoes, onions, or sliced peppers, but you can also just lay them right on the grill.

Recommendations: There’s nothing like grilled onions, peppers, zucchini, or eggplant. You have to watch some of the softer ones, though, because they get really soft really quick.

Stir fry

When people see the word “fry”, they automatically think it can’t possibly be healthy. But you know better, and you know that nice fats from oils are an essential part of a solid diet. Because you’re using a hot pan, though, you can’t just use any oil. I recommend using coconut oil or clarified butter when you stir fry.

Technique: To stir fry, use high heat with a few tablespoons of oil. When the pan is hot, toss in your veggies and keep tossing until cooked to your liking. I love to add just a smidge of sesame oil at the end to give it sort of a rich nutty flavor.

Recommendation: Some of my stir fry favorites include cabbage, green beans, and broccoli.

Sautéed

With a nice saute, you can thoroughly heat vegetables without wilting them too much. This is great for vegetables that are soft anyway. Again, you’ll need to use a fat with a high smoke point, like coconut oil or clarified butter.

Technique: Sauté is much like stir fry, only the action isn’t as intense. Heat your pan and a bit of olive oil over a medium-high heat. Toss in your chopped or sliced vegetables, stirring just occasionally.

Recommendation: You’ll love sautéed zucchini (my favorite), tomatoes, onions, and peppers.

Steamed

Most people might say this is the healthiest way to cook vegetables. I really don’t think it matters, except for flavoring purposes. What I like about steaming vegetables is that they won’t take on any extra flavors, and they often beautifully exhibit their natural colors. I love how green broccoli gets when steamed, for example.

When you steam, you’re just a step away from raw. They’re soft enough to not crunch, but still natural enough to show you what their real flavors are.

Technique: You can get steaming inserts for pots, and that’s probably the most recommended way to steam. Basically you add water to your pot, stick the veggies in the steaming tray, and cover. Cook time will depend on the vegetable and your preference. Check it, and when it’s as soft as you want, it’s done.

Alternatively, I’ve steamed veggies in the microwave. In a bowl, you can put a few tablespoons of water and add the vegetables. Most microwaves these days have a “fresh vegetable” button or setting you can use that will pretty much cook them perfectly.

Recommendation: My favorite vegetables to steam are carrots, parsnips, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Raw

Of course you don’t really have to cook your vegetables, now do you? Many vegetables can lose some nutrients in the cooking process, and sometimes their flavor even changes.

When you get your taste buds back under control, you will actually begin to find really delicious flavor in raw vegetables. I personally love to eat raw peppers, carrots, celery, and tomatoes just to name a few. Experiment, and you’ll find a whole new world of flavor!

We want to hear from you! What’s your preferred method of enjoying a nice veggie? Lay it out in the comments!

photo credit: thebittenword.com

Jason spends most of his time writing about his adventures with fitness on the slow-carb and paleo diets at his blog, FindingMyFitness.com. Want even more recipes? Check out his newsletter and get 10 more free slow-carb recipes.

Slow Carb and Paleo Party Food

slow-carb-super-bowl-party-foodsSuperbowl can be a landmine of bad food choices on the Slow Carb or Paleo diet if you don’t plan for it.  You can also stick to the plan pretty easily and eat some killer food if you’re up for a bit of prep.

Here’s a few ideas to have a Slow Carb or Paleo friendly Superbowl Menu if you’re looking to keep it “clean” and not blow your eating plan on Super Bowl Sunday.  I’ve hand-picked recipes from my own blog as well as a few of my other favorite food recipes and bloggers.

What will you be eating on Superbowl Sunday?  Will you be sticking to your eating?
Feel free to share your recipes below.

Snacks & Nibbles
Raw veggies with Guacamole or Salsa
Green Olive and Almond Tapenade
Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
Paleo Meatballs
Egg and Pesto Stuffed Tomatoes
Bacon Cups
Bacon Wrapped Asparagus with Cilantro Mayonnaise
Jalapenos: Bacon Wrapped Chicken Stuffed
Shrimp with Sugar-Free Cocktail Sauce
Deviled Eggs or Demoned Eggs
Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Salads
Chimichurri Salad
Heart of Palm and Avocado Salad

Full-on  Food
Spicy Bacon Lentils
Asian Lettuce Cups
Korean Grassfed Shortribs
Lamb and Vegetable Kabobs
Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders
Spicy Buffalo Wings
My Favorite Slow Carb Chilli
Mexican Pulled Chicken Stuffed Peppers
Red or Green Thai Curry

Cocktails
Nor Cal Margarita
Vodka Soda with Lime
Red Wine

I hope these recipe ideas inspire.  Or if you’re Slow-Carbing you could just take the day off.  

 

Incoming search terms:

  • party food

Why (And How) You Should Drink Yerba Mate on 4HB

The Best Way To Enjoy Yerba Mate
photo by juanpol on Flickr

Question: What did Tim Ferriss say was the world’s greatest beverage? Do you think you’re already drinking it?

I’ll give you a hint: if you’re from the Rio de Plata region of South America, chances are you’ve been drinking it since you were a child, and your family’s been drinking it for generations.

If you’re a North American, it’s possible (but still not likely) that you have recently picked it up because places like Whole Foods decided they should sell it for really high prices as the new “secret” beverage.

I have no idea about the rest of you. ;^)

Have you guessed it yet?

I’m talking about yerba mate.

Enjoyed by millions of South Americans for hundreds – maybe thousands – of years, yerba mate (pronounced yair-ba MAH-tay) can be all of refreshing, healing, soothing, and warming. Traditionally “taken” in lose-leaf form, you can buy it bottled, canned, and in tea bags these days.

(Side peeve: I’ve seen people write it “yerba maté”, and I don’t understand why – it’s not yerba mahTAY. Don’t do that.)

What is this magical herb?

As a really quick primer, yerba mate is a tea leaf grown primarily in South America. Most places get theirs from Paraguay (tierra bendita) or Brazil. Argentina also produces a lot of brands of yerba. It’s related to the holly plant, but I wouldn’t recommend trying it with our (American) holly bushes.

Health benefits

I’m not sure if the native Guaraní people knew the health benefits of yerba mate when they started cultivating and drinking it, but it turns out there are quite a bit. Paraguayans in the countryside believe it helps you live longer and keeps you fit (I kind of think it’s their hard work ethic personally). Superstition aside, science has revealed some of its benefits.

Yerba mate is an antioxidant on par (or better than, depending on who you ask) with green tea. It’s got a form of caffeine that helps yerba serve as an energy booster. Several compounds that have been studied for their anti-inflammatory properties have been isolated from yerba mate leaves. If you listen to Robb Wolf at all, he’s all about anti-inflammatory properties. It’s one of the reasons we eat slow-carb that Tim Ferriss never told us about.

For more information, a quick Google search on “yerba mate health benefits” will find you more info than you can read in a day.

How to enjoy your yerba mate

There’s a right way and a lesser way to enjoy it. I’m going to tell you the right way. If you choose to go the easy (and less interesting route, may I add), I won’t think any less of you. But I really want you to try it my way!

“Taking” yerba mate is a very social event. You do it with friends, and you almost always share the same “cup” (guampa) and “straw” (bombilla). You sit, you drink, you chat, you laugh, you enjoy. When I drink mate, I’m reminded of the awesome times I had in Paraguay and it makes me feel the warm fuzzies.

The traditional way to drink is to fill the guampa up about 3/4 of the way with the looseleaf tea. Often you’ll find the tea mixed with some mint leaves, maybe some anise, or perhaps some orange or lemon peel. The one I’m drinking as I type is “normal” blend that my wife added some anise seeds and orange peel to.

You slip the bombilla into the guampa, covering it with the leaves. I like to tilt the leaves so there’s an incline from the bottom to the top. The idea there is that you leave some of the leaves dry so when your tea starts losing its flavor, you add some more dry to kick things back up.

Yerba mate is brewed on demand. That is to say you pour as much water into your guampa as you will drink in that turn, usually just about a mouthful. Don’t let it sit; it’ll get bitter really quickly, at least at first. When you take your sip, you pour one for your friend and pass the guampa over. This goes on, a new brew for each person in the group, in a circle until the water’s gone or until no one wants any more.

Variations on the theme

The way I’ve described it is the typical Paraguayan style. If it’s cold out (anything below 70°F), you drink it with hot water. If it’s hot out, there’s absolutely nothing more refreshing than an ice-cold “tereré” (cold mate).

When I’ve had mate with Brazilians, they have a much bigger gourd and you usually fill it up once per round, and each person takes a sip, as opposed to drinking everything in the guampa like I described.

Paraguayans also add certain crushed plants or roots into their water as herbal remedies for things. Argentinians almost always had hot mate, even when it was hot out, and almost always with sugar in it. When I did have cold mate in Argentina, it was usually with a sugar-free juice mix in the water (typically a citrus fruit).

If you’re Uruguayan and have a different custom, I’d love to hear it!

My recommendations

If you haven’t guessed, I generally drink it the Paraguayan way. I’ve got a set that includes a thermos (two actually – one for hot water and a bigger one for cold), beautifully decorated with stained leather, a carved guampa and a silver bombilla.

Are you ready to try it yourself?

My favorite place online to get it is Amazon. If you can’t find a latin market that carries it, this is where I’d suggest going. You can find some in higher-end grocery stores, but it’s overpriced and not as tasty as the South American brands (although the manufacturer you’ll find has told me they buy their yerba from Paraguay, which makes me happy).

Go ahead – give it a shot, and drop us a comment to let us know what you think!

Jason spends most of his time writing about his adventures with fitness on the slow-carb and paleo diets at his blog, FindingMyFitness.com. Want even more recipes? Check out his newsletter and get 10 more free slow-carb recipes.

Slow-Carb Tips: Successfully Stocking Your Fridge

Be prepared for slow-carb diet success!
Creative Commons License photo credit: Tedward

The weekend’s almost here, which means it’s the perfect time to fool-proof your ability to stick to the plan next week. There’s one way that’s almost guaranteed to help get you results every time:

Preparation.

The Boy Scout motto notwithstanding, being prepared is easily the best way to keep yourself from slipping up. Think about the last few times you’ve had difficulty. I’d bet that most of them were due to needing to make game-time decisions or not thinking about your plan well enough ahead of time.

The easiest way to prepare for the week ahead is to get as much of the work as possible done ahead. Let’s look at several different ways you can work ahead.

Here are my three Ps:

Plan your attack

The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but a few beforehand.
– Sun Tzu,
The Art Of War

Don’t think that you will always be successful by winging it. Maybe sometimes you will, but most of the time you won’t.

The best tip I can ever give anyone who is trying to follow a new diet is to plan your meals in advance. When I have the best success, I know what I’m going to eat all week. It takes the thinking out of things, and the less I have to think about eating right, the more likely I am to do it.

So the first thing I want you to do is to make a menu for yourself for the coming week. Plan in snacks if you want to, but make sure you know exactly what you’ll eat.

Pro tip: this will also save money because you can always make extra at night and have the leftovers for lunch.

When the circulars for the grocery stores in your area come around this weekend, get them all and figure out where the best place to get things is. Then use your menu to make a list and separate it by store. Now you not only know what you’ll eat, you also know where you’ll get it from and roughly what your budget will be.

Procure the goods

The next tip I have for you is to buy in bulk. Most sales are usually better in bulk anyway (the big honkin’ tray of meat is usually cheaper per-pound than the one- or two-serving sized one).

If you’ve got one nearby, a bulk store like Costco or Sam’s Club will be your friend. My wife and I shop once a month and get enough almost for the whole month, with the exception of the fresh veggies (I like to get those
once a week). We save a lot of money that way.

Buying beans and lentils dry is far cheaper than buying canned too and are not hard to make. I’ve got a couple recipes linked for you towards the end.

You may be saying to me now, “I can’t possibly eat fast enough for it not to spoil.” That’s OK. There are ways to handle consumption in bulk. Use reheatable containers and freeze what you know you won’t get to for a few days. They’ll feel just like frozen dinners, only you wont be eating crap.

Prepare the bounty

Once you’ve got your food at home, it’s time to fix it up so you don’t spend hours each day cooking. There are many different small things you can do to make meal prep a lot easier on you.

  • Chop up things like onions, garlic, peppers, and other veggies you know you’ll use a lot. Use tupperware containers to store them in. Then when it’s time to use them, just toss a bunch in your pan.
  • Separate your meat right away. Cut larger chicken breasts in half. Slice a large hunk of beef into steaks or pork roast into chops. Store them in separate containers so you only have to thaw one serving at at time.
  • Stock up on your spices. The more you have, the more varied and exciting your meals will be.

When you prepare ahead of time, you make it almost silly not to follow your plan. There are left no excuses because your food is already there. You just have to eat it.

Recipes that work well in bulk

One of the best ways to prepare ahead of time is to actually cook in bulk. If you find a really nice roast on sale, cook it all at once in a slow-cooker, and you’ll be all set to portion it out for the week.

Here are a few recipes to help:

When you take some time to think about what you’re going to do and then take some action ahead of time, you’ll go a really long way towards having a foolproof lifestyle change. Then, once you’re used to your new diet, it’ll become a habit and you’ll be living a healthier lifestyle before you realize it.

Let’s hear from you: what’s your favorite way to foolproof your fitness?

Need more slow-carb kitchen tips?

Check out our new e-book, “10 Slow-Carb Shortcuts Even Tim Ferriss Doesn’t Know About (Yet)”!

But the tips won’t stop there! Each month you’ll get a new slow carb tip or recipe delivered to your inbox. If you don’t love it, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Come join us!

7 Must-Have Tools for Your Slow Carb Kitchen

Slow-Carb kitchen from the 1940s

How does your kitchen match up to the needs of a slow-carb diet?

Here at The Slow Carb Foodie, we’re committed to helping you become the best slow-carb chef you can be. Part of becoming that chef is working with the right tools. Today I’m continuing my series on building the perfect kitchen by talking about the different tools you’ll need.

You might have a lot of them, but I bet there are a couple pieces you don’t have. The idea is not to have a ton of gadgets (MED principles still apply in your kitchen) but to have a collection of the best things for your purposes.

This short list of tools will allow you to make a good 90% of everything you’ll see on this site or find in any cookbook.

French Press

We need to start our day off right, and to do that you need a french press. You may already have a fine coffee maker, but I’m telling you you’ll never get a cup of coffee as delicious as one made in a press. Not even a Keurig makes coffee like my french press can, and I use both regularly.

They’re inexpensive and you’ll thank me for it later.

Bonus: I’ll cover a “that’ll do” gadget later, but I’d also recommend a coffee grinder (burr preferably). They can double as a spice grinder, and frankly there’s nothing like the taste of freshly ground beans steeped for 3 minutes in hot water to get a guy or gal going in the morning.

Extra bonus: some of my favorite cofee is from Blanchard’s in Virginia. In fact, it’s what I’m drinking now!

Slow cooker

slow cooker

This tool will prepare more of your slow-carb meals than you realized. The best thing about the slow cooker is that you can prepare ahead of time, cook while you’re not home, and almost effortlessly have dinner, lunch, and second dinner ready when you get home from work.

Cast iron skillet(s)

They just don’t make things like they used to.

Teflon is OK for a little while. I have a Pampered Chef saute pan that held together for a while and was easily my favorite pan. But even it is starting to become useless.

The best pan you’ll ever use – ever – is the cast iron skillet your grandmother had. It’s so seasoned, nothing will stick to it and it cooks the best food ever. They heat wonderfully evenly, and a good seasoned pan will last literally forever. If your grandmother hasn’t given you one, start one for your grandkids.

Great set of knives

Faberware just doesn’t cut it anymore. I promise I didn’t intend for that pun to be there, but I’m leaving it!

Get yourselves a nice set of knives that cut well. My favorite knives are Wusthof. They don’t need to be $400 Japanese ginsu knives, but they should cost more than $20.

Tupperware

With all this preparing ahead and bulk operations you’ll be doing to save yourself time, money, and energy, you’ll need somewhere to put all that extra food. Invest in a good food storage container set and you’ll have everything you need.

Money-saving tip: You can often buy lunchmeat in tupperware containers and it’s not more expensive than the kind in plastic bags. Also, cheat-night Chinese takeout runs could net you some pretty handy leftover containers.

Pyrex

Skip the metal bowls and baking pans and just go glass. It’s easier to clean, won’t rust, and has no teflon that can flake off.

A good set of pyrex mixing bowls and baking dishes will get you a long way.

Food processor

From chopping vegetables and nuts to blending up your favorite salsa or even making your own mayonnaise, a food processor will be one of the kitchen tools you go to over and over and over. I thought about adding “blender” to the list, but I’m trying to keep it light and tight, and a food processor will do most of what a blender would anyway.

Your best bet would be a food processor with multiple blades, but even a simple one will be extremely useful. I use mine easily every other day.

Extra: This is the “this’ll do” item I mentioned when I talked about the coffee grinder. If you’re in a pinch, a food processor will do that job as well.

That’s it!

You simply don’t need any more than that. If you were expecting a bunch of expensive, state-of-the-art gadgets, I’m sorry to disappoint. All of the little stuff you’ll already have, like spatulas, can openers, and measuring cups. I wanted to give you a short and tight list of extremely useful things you can add to your kitchen to make it that much easier to maintain focus on your health.

Let’s here from you: Which most useful kitchen gadget do you have that you just couldn’t live without? What do you have that’s not on this list?

*Photo credit: ellenm1

Jason spends most of his time writing about his adventures with fitness on the slow-carb and paleo diets at his blog, FindingMyFitness.com. Want even more recipes? Check out his newsletter and get 10 more free slow-carb recipes.

9 Egg Recipes For Your Slow Carb Diet

9 ways to cook eggs deliciouslyEggs: roughly 70 of the most awesome calories you can eat. Packed with healthy protein and fat, they’re a really easy way to get the 20g Tim recommends in the morning.

The problem is some people get tired of them. And if you’re like me, you wouldn’t miss anything if you never eat an egg again in your life!

With this post, I’m going to show you nine super tasty ways to prepare your eggs so that they’re not just the same old thing anymore. At the end, I’ll link you to some recipes that use them.

Once you are able to master these techniques, your skills with the egg will lead you to hundreds, maybe thousands of recipes.

Hard Boiled

I won’t tell you how to scramble an egg, but I did want to stick with one of the two basics. The fact is, the perfectly hard boiled egg eludes almost everyone.

It took me a while to get the perfect hard boiled egg, and with practice and a bit of tweaking, you’ll be able to cook one every time.

  1. Place your eggs in a small saucepan and add water to cover.
  2. Bring the water to a boil and let it ride for 7 minutes.
  3. Run cold water into the pan for a couple minutes to cool them down.

Check out Laura’s deviled eggs recipe for one using hard boiled eggs.

Soft Boiled

Soft boiled is pretty much what it sounds like: not quite a hard boiled egg. But just because you cook it less doesn’t mean it’s easier. It’s actually a bit harder, but once you discover the secret it’ll feel easy.

Soft boiled eggYou’ll want the white to be firm and the yolk to be slightly runny (hence soft).

Here’s how you soft-boil an egg:

  1. Bring your water to a boil, and then kick it back to a simmer.
  2. Gently lower your eggs in (so you don’t splash boiling water on yourself) and let them simmer for 5 minutes. If you find 5 isn’t long enough for your tastes, you can leave them in a little longer.
  3. Cool the eggs off under cold running water.
  4. When you eat your egg, cut the top 1/3 or so of your shell and eat the egg out of its shell with a spoon.

I wouldn’t make a soft-boiled egg and store it like I would hard-boiled. Make them when you plan on eating them.

Poached

Poaching an egg basically means boiling it outside of the shell. My first attempt was a disaster, but like many things, it gets easier with practice.

  1. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Once it’s boiling, reduce it to a simmer. You don’t want super-active water, but it does need to be very hot.
  2. Crack an egg into a ladle. Using a ladle or big spoon really helps to make sure your egg doesn’t separate in the water.
  3. Gently dip the ladle into the water to submerge the egg and slide it off.
  4. Let your egg cook for about 3 minutes and gently scoop it out to enjoy with your breakfast!

Here’s an Eggs Benedict recipe on Finding My Fitness with your name on it to try out your poaching skills.

Remember: poaching eggs is LEGAL!

Steamed

The first time I had a steamed egg was in a Korean restaurant. It was so tasty, I decided to include it in this little guide.

It’s super simple:

  1. In a heat-safe bowl, like porcelain or glass, whisk your egg and a splash of water so it’s fluffy. You can add (any spices you like) here as well.
  2. Add a couple inches of water in a pot (not so much that water gets in your bowl) and place the bowl in it. Cover the pot and let it simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.
  3. Quicker but less fancy alternative: cover the bowl with a plate and cook for 3-4 minutes.

I like to add some scallion and garlic to my steamed egg!

Baked

If you’ve got a smaller baking dish (like ramekin cups), this is a great method to try out. I’m not talking about a quiche, although they do also make delicious slow-carb meals.

To bake eggs,

  1. Heat your oven to 325ºF degrees (160ºC).
  2. Crack your eggs into your baking cups and sprinkle with some freshly ground salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the yolk is as hard (or soft) as you would like it to be.

Fried

Everyone knows how to fry an egg, but everyone does it differently. What most people do is probably “over easy”, but it’s always fun to try out a few different things. Here are three ways to change up your fried egg.

Sunny-side up

Sunny-side up is possibly the easiest of the bunch. If you like your yolk pretty runny and have trouble flipping the egg without breaking the yolk, this might be your go-to style.

Here’s how I do it:

  1. Heat up your pan on a medium-low heat. You can add a dash of oil or ghee for lube, but if you’ve got a good pan you won’t need it.
  2. Once your pan is hot, crack and drop in your egg being careful not to break the yolk.
  3. Let it cook for 3-4 minutes or until the whites have completely cooked through.
  4. If you want a slightly harder yolk, cover the pan about half way through cooking.

Basted

Basted eggs are very similar to sunny-side up. The difference is that when your whites are almost done, you’ll spoon some of the hot oil or butter over your egg to cook the top a bit.

Over easy/Over hard

This is how I normally cook my fried eggs because I generally like a solid yolk.

Both of these are eggs you flip (as denoted by the word “over”), and the easy or hard bit refers to the yolk.

To go over easy:

  1. Start your egg just like you would for sunny-side up.
  2. When your whites are all but done, gently slide a spatula under the egg and flip it, being careful not to break the yolk.
  3. After a couple minutes, nudge the yolk with your spatula to gauge its doneness. If it’s too jelly-like for you, let it cook a bit longer.
  4. Over easy means the yolk isn’t solid completely. If you want your egg over hard, wait a few more minutes until it cooks through.

Don’t forget to crack some salt and pepper over your eggs while they’re still a bit wet!

A few more egg recipes to get you started

Beyond these techniques, there are many recipes that maybe blend a few kinds. For example, a fritata is essentially a fried scramble that is baked at the end. Quiche is similar to a fritata but usually has more cheese and cream involved.

Here are some of our favorite recipes revolving around eggs:

With these skills, you’ll be able to cook any egg to perfection.

Pro Tip: the absolute best eggs you can get will come from chickens who roam around the yard, preferably your yard, eating bugs and grass. The omega-3 content will be much higher, and the omega-6 count will be much lower.

But we can’t expect that to be in everyone’s grasp, so the next best kind will be the ones you find at Whole Foods and places like that that call their eggs come from cage-free chickens with a grassy, organic diet.

The ones I usually end up with, though, are omega-3 enhanced eggs. Eggland’s Best makes some, and you can get them at Sam’s club for relatively cheap. In my opinion, eggs are the easiest and most economical way to work to balance out your omega-3/6 ratio.

Do you have any egg prep secrets you can share with the group? If so, leave some in the comments!

Jason spends most of his time writing about his adventures with fitness on the slow-carb and paleo diets at his blog, FindingMyFitness.com. Want even more recipes? Check out his newsletter and get 10 more free slow-carb recipes.

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Spice Up Your Kitchen: 11 All-Star Seasonings Every 4 Hour Chef Needs


You’re tired of the same old thing, right? Yeah, I know Tim Ferriss told us we should eat the same things over and over, but we don’t have to listen.

Here’s the thing, though: you don’t have to be a fancy chef to take something ordinary and make it exquisite. All you need are the right tools.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be showing you how to prepare the same foods different ways. There are recipes for eggs, chicken, veggies, beef, and more just waiting for their time to come. But before we get to those, we need to get your kitchen ready.

The Basics

The star of any “4 hour kitchen”, in my opinion, is going to be your spice rack. Here’s the down low on the ones I think you need immediately.

Pro Tip:
If you only have one tool in your kitchen for seasoning, it should be a spice grinder.

If you’ve never had freshly ground pepper, you haven’t tasted pepper. Get a grinder like this for salt and pepper. For other spices, a mortar and pestle can work really well, or you can get a blade grinder. A small coffee grinder works very well.

Some of the will work fine already in powder form though, so no need to get ridiculous. The really aromatic ones (cinnamon, cloves, etc) are just best freshly ground.

Sea Salt
I prefer to use an iodized sea salt because most of us are iodine deficient or celtic sea salt because it’s less processed. The one everyone’s talking about these days, though, is Himilayan salt.

Veggie Salt
I add Veggie Salt to soups, stews or lentils to add depth of flavor when I don’t have any stock or broth on hand.  I believe there are some equivalent products in the US.

Whole Peppercorns
Any will do, just pop them in a grinder.  Fresh pepper has so much more flavor than pre-ground.

All Purpose Spice Blend
When I don’t have time to think about seasoning, there’s nothing easier than coating some chicken or meat in a pre-blended everyday seasoning and serving it up with some veggies – not the most gourmet meal, but it serves its purpose  (quick and easy!) and still tastes great. Lowrey’s makes a fantastic seasoned salt.

Italian Herb Blend
Pre-blended Italian herbs are great for seasoning chicken, soups, stews, Bolognese sauce, etc.   I buy this blend from Penzey’s because their spices are very high quality, but any blend will do so long as it doesn’t have any added fillers.

Dried Chili Flakes
Sprinkle chili on just about anything to add a bit of kick. I usually buy in bulk and put the chili into a grinder with some sea salt to make a chili salt blend and because I like my dried chili a bit finer than the whole flakes.  You can also make your own custom blends with peppercorns and other spices by putting them directly into a grinder or shaker.  You can get something fancy and make it a staple on your table or just re-use spice grinders that you’ve emptied and washed out.

Garlic Salt
It almost seems like cheating, but that’s OK. We’re all about hacking our lifestyle to make it easier anyway, aren’t we? I use garlic salt on meats, eggs, veggies, and in various rubs. It’s pretty versatile and delicious.

The Clinchers

Cinnamon

Sure, you can put it in your coffee, but have you ever tried it on chicken? I dare you. Toss it into some coconut milk with a curry powder or boil it with your lentils and some salt. Really subtle, but enough to tingle the taste buds!

Cloves

Cloves are really nice in tea, especially with a bit of orange rind in it. Did you know it works extremely well with pork?

Cumin

Eggs, chicken, beef, use it anywhere. Is there any other spice that is like cumin? It goes amazing with most meats and is particularly spectacular in hamburgers. I also like to put it in my lentils or beans while they cook.

Curry

Using curry is one of the simplest ways to really kick up any dish. I’ll show you a bunch of them later on. I use both yellow and red varieties. My favorite use for curry is in a chicken dish that I’ll eat over a bed of shredded cauliflower, or “fake rice”.

By adding any of these spices to the ordinary meals you’re already eating, you’ll be following the principle of keeping it simple, while at the same time creating something pretty different.

We’d love to hear from you! What is your favorite way to spice up your slow-carb meals? Share with us in the comments!