This past Saturday, we had an absolute blast at the Goose Island CrossFit Cooking Party. One of the best parts of a nutrition challenge that temporarily eliminates former staples of your diet is that it forces you to broaden your horizons and step up your cooking game. But why go through that process of learning/re-learning how to cook alone if you can do it with friends?
Three years ago, I went to a cooking party that shook up the cooking rut I was in, and laid the foundations for how I cook today. I am so thankful for that experience, and I absolutely love sharing what I learned with other people.
The internet is overflowing with amazing recipes. Often, if I have a recipe idea, I will check websites such as Nom Nom Paleo and PaleOMG to see if they’ve already done the work to turn an idea into an actual recipe. Finding new recipes are a great way to get new ideas, change up your routine, and make something fancy and delicious.
That being said, when you are cooking all your meals, finding and following a recipe for every one can be overwhelming and expensive. Recipes don’t care what the price of produce is this week. Recipes will not consider whether you’re going to be able to use that one expensive ingredient ever again. Recipes are not mindful of how much time you have to make dinner. So instead of bringing my favorite recipes to our cooking party, we decided to focus on the basics of how to build a delicious meal
For me, the process of making a meal looks like this document (click to download):
Basically, when I cook, it’s like playing Mad Libs. I pick a fat. I pick a seasoning. I pick what veggies I am going to use. I pick a meat. I never end up with the exact same dish. To start off our cooking party, I picked coconut oil; Thai seasonings; zucchini, red pepper, green onions, and sweet onions; chicken thighs. Then I plugged them into the formula and made an absolutely delicious Thai sauté.
Then the fun started. We split into teams of guys vs. girls and had a bit of a cook off. The guys chose to make a Creole dish, and the girls went Mediterranean. We definitely had a mix of cooking experience in the room, but it was awesome to watch everyone work together to bring together two amazing meals.
It was really exciting to watch some people discover how easy it can be to make a delicious meal and for others to learn a new trick or two to add to their skill set. Oh, and if you are wondering who “won” the cooking challenge…I’d say the guys Creole dish stole the show.
For those of you who missed out, feel free to download the cooking cheat sheet and feel free to ask any questions you have about how to put it into practice.
Also for everyone, the fun doesn’t have to end with this cooking cheat sheet. The template works with any spice blend, so maybe instead of looking for full-blown recipes, take some time to look up spice blends. Or, get inspired at The Spice House to stock up some quality spices and blends. My favorite is Pepper-Orange, but check out their tandoori, king creole, smoked paprika (hot or sweet), Chinese five spice, or cake spice. Just watch out for sugar in the blends. I personally plan to check out The Flavor Bible to get some new ideas and better understand my food.
Go play, have fun make mistakes, eat delicious food!