Transport (NaNo Prep 24)
I enjoy the BBC Sherlock a great deal.
In fact, my novel this year is sort of a play off an imaginary spin-off of the show. I have an affinity to the title character that has only been reinforced by a sweet friend who has an affinity to John Watson’s character.
She calls me Holmes. In public.
And I can’t say I mind. It fits in a lot of ways and it’s sort of fun to be open about it.
One of the show’s great exchanges happens in a restaurant when Sherlock urges John to eat, denying his own need or interest. Referring to his body, Sherlock says dismissively, “It’s transport.”
While I share Sherlock’s annoyance with having to eat yet again (what a waste of time!), I have learned well enough my need that I’ve worked through the denial and anger stages and skipped “acceptance” for the “how-can-I-minimize-the-tedium?” stage.
My path has been to learn what my best fuel is, and how to batch-process its preparation in order to minimize the extent of interruptions (aka, individual meal prep).
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Now, I know I mentioned in my second post in this series that Baty (NaNo founder) recommends loading up on your favorite “vice” food, in order to free up some will-power to write daily.
My advice, in contrast is to know (or check) your nutritional type and then stock up on the stuff your body actually needs. As I said yesterday, I have a persistent battle with depression that I can’t be lazy about fighting.
Nutrition is one of those ways to fight, and I often must use my story mind and imagination to hold in my body the memory of how some tasty or convenience food made me regret its indulgence.
My type is the protein type, which means that I have to go out of my way to maximize the amount of protein I get, if I want to function optimally.
I’m going to share some ideas and advice for functioning as a protein type, because about 1/3 of people are each type, and all the healthy eating lists focus on types one and two (avoid fat, maximize fruits, veggies, limit protein, especially to fish, skinless poultry, and fat-trimmed red meat—if you indulge in the stuff at all).
This is okay advice as far as it goes, it’s hard to go wrong maximizing food without lables, but for types like me it is inadequate. I thrive on a high-protein, high-fat diet. Counting protein grams is about the only way I remember to stay on top of it, and to answer the next question, the only way I can really balance the calorie equation with straight-up fats (I stick to the healthy ones– almost none liquid) is to minimize grains and almost completely cut sugar.
My type of fast-food is a ¼ pound chicken sausage nuked in a paper towel and eaten while I work.
Just today I stocked up on enough to get me through November– if my family doesn’t learn to like them too, which they are.
I’m trying to be glad for them instead of pouting for me.
Other make-aheads and quicks (relatively speaking, though straight-forwards might be the better term):
- A cup of whole-fat vanilla yogurt with diced pineapple (from a can) and a handful of raw oatmeal—mixed together and eaten like cold-cereal
- Vegetable nachos: raw veggies sliced thin and covered with shredded cheese. Before I nuke it I sprinkle on some homemade ranch-flavored powder (I have a jar of this in readiness).
- Salmon fillets (I’m an Alaskan, so I have a stocked freezer) sprinkled with salt and ranch seasoning
- Skin-on chicken thighs (with seasoning of choice on the meat under the skin), put in oven preheated to 450-degrees. Cook for 30 minutes (crisps skin), then reduce temperature to 350. Cook for another 40-60 minutes, till the thermometer reads something that fits your comfort level (I slightly under cook mine so do your own googling ;)). This counts as a quick-food because I’ll individually freeze them after cooking and grab one later to nuke when I need it.
- Great plain or as the center of a simple salad.
The crockpot is your friend: throw a couple frozen meat chunks in (a few chicken thighs, pork chops or a small roast), cover with broth, 1 ½ tsp. cumin, a cup of salsa and a couple cans of beans (salt to taste) and you’ve got a generic chili/soup you can eat plain, mix in your favorite taco toppings, or (shred the meat with two forks once it’s cooked) serve it over greens and recreate Wendy’s Baja salad for a fraction of the cost.
- Here’s one that works best if you have a food scale (at least for me, since I’m gluten free): blend 1 doz eggs (~24oz.) , 24 oz milk, and 12 oz flour. In the preheating 400-degree oven, melt ½ cube of butter in each of two 9×13 pans – about the amount of time it take to combine your three ingredients (additional salt or sugar optional). Cook at 400 for 20 minutes, lower oven temperature to 350 and finish another 20 minutes.
Spaghetti with meat sauce: cook whatever pasta you usually use and brown a pound of ground meat. Add a teaspoon of salt and tablespoon of taco seasoning. While the meat browns, combine two (15.5 oz) cans tomato sauce, (8oz) can tomato paste, 1 T oregano, 1 ½ t garlic, 1t paprika and mix until smooth. Add the hot, seasoned meat and you’re ready to go. (Meat sauce can double as sloppy joes, or go over shredded cabbage instead of noodles.)
- Finally, a major crowd-pleaser at our place is taco salad. Brown and season a pound of meat and combine with shredded lettuce, grated cheese, a can of beans, and crunched tortilla chips. On the side optionals to add include sour cream, mushrooms, tomato, onion, extra cheese and salsa.
These ideas are mostly to get your own thinking rolling: whatever you already make will probably be faster to put together than someone else’s recipes. Even so, these are all things that come together under 20 minutes, or can be made in bulk and save meal prep for days (ask me how I know…).
So don’t feel that your health or sanity have to suffer because of your other goals. We all have to eat anyway, so knowing how to maximize the time you already have committed can actually buy you more flexibility, later.