How to Make Changing Eating Habits Easy?
We understand that change does not always come easy. This is especially true for dietary change. We have experienced this for ourselves in our own lives and in the lives of people we counsel. Hundreds of people struggling to change their food habits have been freed to succeed through adopting our Starch-Smart® System!
We sometimes refer to the solution as Chemical Willpower. Victory over poor food choices without a struggle! No more of "I could never do that" or "But it is so hard". Instead dietary change becomes "Easy Peasy". The concept is simply this; To be successful you must SURROUND YOURSELF WITH FOOD!
We have introduced the concept right out the starting gate: SURROUND YOURSELF WITH FOOD in order to succeed! Now, we would like to share with you two simple tools to smooth the way towards this "Surrounded Yourself with Food" Starch-Smart® System. It is much easier than you may have imagined.
To begin with let us introduce you to some of the tools that we use on a daily basis, in the Carney household, to ensure our home is always filled with plentiful satisfying staple foods! After mastering stocking your home with healthy food, you can advance to carrying this food with you. Carry it to work. Carry it when travelling. Carry it anywhere you might find yourself hungry with nothing healthy nearby to eat. Being hungry without anything healthy to eat is a recipe for disaster! Being hungry while surrounded by healthy food is a piece of cake. Sorry for the bad analogy, but you probably get the point?
Tools of the Trade
In order to surround yourself with healthy food you will need some things (tools) to help prepare a lot of food with a minimal amount of time and effort. That is where the following tools come in handy:
Tool #1: Instant-Pot
Tool #2: Stainless Steel Dutch Oven
With just the above two tools we will teach you how to always have an abundant supply of Starch-Smart® staple foods. Please allow us to describe some of these basic staple foods:
Beans and Legumes
We cook all kinds of beans and Legumes in our Instant-Pot. Our preferred way is to soak dried beans over night and then in the morning rinse them well and place them in the Instant-pot to slow cook all day. An even better plan might be to reverse the order and soak the beans all day and then put them to cook when you get home in the evening. That way the beans will be ready for breakfast when you wake up. We like to cook our beans using the "Slow Cook" mode on the Instant-Pot for overnight cooking. If you are in a rush you can use the "Beans" mode and they will easily cook in 30 to 40 minutes. Once cooked simply pack the beans into containers and place into the refrigerator. Our preferred storage containers are canning jars but you can use whatever containers you like. Some of the cooked beans can also be frozen. We use 4 to 5 cups of dried beans and that will generally make a full Instant-Pot of beans. We recommend cooking a full pot since it is no more work to make a full pot than to make half a pot. We eat these beans generally at breakfast and lunch. Our evening meals are light, typical breakfast foods like oats and fruits. But, that is a bit of a digression.
There are a lot of varieties of root vegetable that you can prepare in bulk. We prepare them either in the Instant-Pot or in the Stainless Steel Dutch Oven. Actually in the Carney household, Sean prefers to cook them in the Stainless Steel Dutch Oven and Linda Carney MD prefers to cook them in the Instant-Pot. Both options are good!
Examples of Root Vegetables
Just about any supermarket will have a variety of good root vegetables. If you are fortunate enough to live near a Mexican Market or an Asian Market or some other International Market then you can probably find a lot more varieties. Some of the common root vegetables are sweet potatoes, yams, potatoes, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, beets (red and golden), and parsnips. Some of the less common, in the USA at least, are the more tropical root vegetables including yuca, taro, malanga, boniato, name and more. There are probably many good root vegetables that we have not yet been able to try. Hopefully we can get around to them soon.
Remember the K.I.S.S. principle
Of course we want to remind everybody of the famous KISS principle (previously Keep it Simple Sweetheart) but now morphed into "Keep it Starch-Smart®". To reduce your workload, here are some things we do NOT suggest that you need to do in the preparation process:
- Cut and peal the root vegetables.
- Poke or prod the root vegetables.
- Just place the washed root vegetables into the pot. We often cook a variety of vegetables at the same time. So, we may be placing a few sweet potatoes, a couple parsnips, some beets, etc. into the cooking utensil. This way we enjoy variety at our meals.
Cooking Root Vegetables in the Instant-Pot
Place the washed root vegetables in the Instant-Pot. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 of a cup of water. Cook on the steam setting. Although you can cook on most any other setting. Linda Carney MD tends to cook everything on the steam setting because she is very familiar with the results and it always works just fine. You will need to experiment a bit with the amount of time because the more you fill the pot the more time will be required. Generally we are cooking somewhere between 12 to 17 minutes. Our practice is to load the Instant-Pot just before we go to sleep. It will then cook and remain very warm until the morning when we dish out the goods and start eating! You can be flexible about when you cook. If you have time in the morning you can wash the vegetables and cook them all at once. We find cooking at night to be the most convenient.
Cooking Root Vegetables in Stainless Steel Dutch Oven
Place the washed root vegetables in the Stainless Steel Dutch Oven. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 of a cup of water. Place the cover on the pot. We tend to cook by remembering "3-3-3". Three hundred degrees, Three hours, Three o'clock in the morning. The third number "3" is about the time to start cooking and is only relevant if you are using an oven timer. If you are not using an oven timer than just remember three hundred degrees for three hours and all should be well. You can also experiment by changing the heat and the time. The higher the heat, the less the time. We prefer a lower heat over a longer time because the vegetables seem to become sweeter that way and the chances of burning are greatly diminished. Since our oven at home has an oven timer, we generally set it to start cooking at 3:00 AM. Then when we wake up the hot food is ready at 6:00 AM for us to dig in and eat.
We treat squash much the same as root vegetables. In fact we would not differentiate them at all except that squash is not a root vegetable. The squash also are prepared in the same way, we do not cut them until after they are cooked. We do clean them before cooking. We do not poke them before cooking. We often will add a squash to the same pot with some root vegetables. They tend to cook in the same amount of time and to need the same small amount of water. We remove the seeds after the squash is cooked and the squash has had a little time to cool down. We wait just enough time so that we can slice into the squash without burning our fingers.
The Instant-Pot is the master tool for whole grains preparation. The only variable for the various grains is how much water do you need and how many minutes to cook them. This, it ends up, can be very subjective. You will find that you need less water when cooking whole grains in an Instant-Pot than if you were cooking them on a stove top. That said, we tend to use MORE water than many people because we like to have our grains softer. They are easier to chew, and we think, digest. So, we will often cook our brown rice at three cups of water to every one cup of rice. We will cook our millet at 4 cups of water to every cup of millet. We cook buckwheat at four cups of water to every cup of buckwheat. The whole oat groats we cook at six cups of water to every cup of whole oat groats. You can experiment and use less water for sure. This is just how we get our grains softer. Brown rice can cook with as low as two cups of water for every cup of rice. Experiment and play here. Another recommendation we have is that you mix some of the grains. Some of our favourites are brown rice and quinoa, brown rice and millet, buckwheat and millet, etc... be creative!
We do love our greens and generally eat them for breakfast and lunch. Typically the quickest way for us to cook them is to simply clean them, cut them up a bit and boil them in a large pot, like the Stainless Steel Dutch Oven. You can certainly steam them instead! Some greens are excellent in salads. But, the easiest way we know is to just put them in a pot and boil them. We love kale and collards but tend to eat more Swiss Chard than anything else. The reason for this is because we have very little time for gardening and love fresh greens out of the garden. In Texas where we live we can keep the Chard alive all year long without doing anything except watering in the heat of the summer and covering the plants during the occasional freezing weather. Some of our chard plants have been providing an abundance of delicious large edible leaves for three years. We put in some new plants yearly but also often leave the older plants to keep producing for three years. After about three years the plants just get too large and so we take them out to make room for the other younger plants.
Pan Sautee High Water Content Vegetables
We also encourage eating a large variety of the higher water vegetables like brussels sprouts, green beans, okra, zucchini, cauliflower, cabbage and more. What we do to prepare them is to use our Stainless Steel Dutch Oven like a Chinese wok. Basically I get it on the highest heat possible on our stove and place the vegetables in that hot pan using as little water as possible to cook them. I stir constantly. If the vegetables are about to stick to the pot I add a tiny bit more water. If you add too much water the vegetables will simmer and that will make the soggy. I prefer crispy vegetables so try to cook them fast and with as little water as possible. It really helps if you have a long handled wooden spoon so you won't get your hands too hot while stirring. You can also just simply steam these vegetables in order to not have to stand over them stirring. It does save time for sure to just steam them.
Your Full and Contented Refrigerator!
When you follow this system you can very quickly find that your refrigerator is always FULL of good food. This is a wonderful problem to have! Often we will wake up in the morning and basically eat foods that were prepared the night before, and the day before. We may be placing some sweet potatoes and butternut squash that is cold onto our plate along with some buckwheat or millet topped with some kale or collard greens that were also already cooked as well. Then we cover that plate with another plate, upside down to create a lid. Then we do what to many is the unthinkable and we place the plate of food in the microwave and zap it for some minutes. Try to guess how many minutes? If you guessed "3" minutes, you would be correct! Three minutes should get the plate of food plenty hot. We may then also scoop on some beans that have just finished cooking using the slow cooker mode in the Instant-Pot. We now have a meal that will be very filling and satisfying. It is composed of lots of unprocessed bulky starchy plant based foods that will be slow burning and keep our blood sugar levels relatively even easily until our next meal.
Raid your Refrigerator Before Leaving the House
On your way out of the house ask yourself how long you will be gone? and if you are likelly to become hungry during that time? If you are going to become hungry then by all means pack some of your already prepared foods into your favorite storage container and take it with you. Again, don't get stuck in a place where you are hungry and there is nothing healthy to eat!
Why No Talk About Seasonings?
You will notice that so far we have not mentioned any flavoring agents of any kind. That is because that is for another discussion. But, for now we wanted to show you how to make a LOT of staple foods that you can live on easily. We actually use a LOT of different seasonings in our foods. You can use Chinese flavors, Indian flavors, Thai flavors, Italian flavors, French flavors, etc... the sky is the limit.
Inspiration for this Article
We have actually intended to write this article for a long time but it was an excellent Question in our Starch-Smart Forum that we responded to that prompted us to improve our reply and post it as an article here. We do invite you to join us in this and other discussions:
(1) Instant Pot