I’ve come in for a bit of flack recently from people who say they’d like to eat simple, tasty, healthy (low-carb) food on a regular basis, but at the end of a long day are too tired, busy or hungry to cook the recipes I post on Primal Plate’s blog.
I can empathise, but like everything else in life, whether you cook or don’t cook really depends on your perception and priorities. The likes of Jo Wicks (The Body Coach) and TV celebrity chefs may be able to briefly convince you that it’s possible to knock up a delicious meal in 15 minutes flat, but try a couple of their ‘simple’ recipes out for yourself (how about a vegetable stir-fry?) and you’ll likely conclude one of two things; 1) there’s something wrong with you because it’s taken you nearly an hour to cook a meal that’s should have taken a quarter of that time, or; 2) it’s a con, so next time you’ll just buy a ‘ready-meal’ instead.
The fact is, it wouldn’t take me much less than 15 minutes to singlehandedly boil an egg and prepare a couple of slices of buttered toast - let alone to create a family meal. Realistically, if you want to eat well, you need to make space in your life to cook. That said, many Primal Plate recipes are no more complicated than the fast and furious meal suggestions promoted on television and social media.
Many of the recipes I post often involve nothing more than throwing everything together in a bowl, whacking it into a tin and getting on with life whilst the oven does its thing. I suggest you start with Grain-free Bread and take it from there.
However, if you want ‘speedy’ recipes, look for those that have no more than 5 main ingredients. For example, Primal Plate’s Courgetti with Cherry Tomatoes & Asparagus, Leek, Stilton & Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms or Italian Style White Fish in Tomato Basil Broth. You can add today’s recipe for Eggs Florentine to the list.
Personally, I don’t find cooking a chore when it’s a shared opportunity to create something tasty to eat with the people I love, but on this occasion, just to satisfy my curiosity, I asked my ‘sous chef’ John to step down from his food-prep duties, whilst I switched on a stop-watch and got on with making Eggs Florentine without his help.
No slouch in the kitchen, I could make this recipe in my sleep! In my head, I’d roughly calculated 12 minutes to steam-boil the eggs, 2 minutes to peel them, 4 minutes to make a quick cheese sauce, 3 minutes to wilt and drain some ready-washed spinach and 4 minutes final cooking time under a hot grill. Total: 25 minutes.
But not so fast! It actually took 37 minutes 21 seconds to bring everything together and about 3 minutes to finish if off under the grill - i.e. 40 minutes for an experienced cook to prepare and serve a simple meal for three people. A novice cook would take longer. My point is, there’s a lot of kidology going down in the kitchen! What you see on TV cookery programmes and on social media is not what you get. I know, because I trained Sarah to compete in Junior Masterchef and the winner in her heat had the majority of his ingredients for his curry pre-made by his mother! Sure, a professional celebrity chef could probably chop an onion in 20 seconds flat but who peeled the damn thing in the first place? Eggs Florentine requires you to grate cheese and peel eggs - simple enough to do but time-consuming. If you’re being filmed, you can make these behind the scenes tasks magically disappear but you have to allow for these ‘extras’ when cooking at home.
In my case, every partner I’ve ever had (similarly my children) will step into the breach to fulfil the role of peeling, chopping, slicing, grating - as well as the ongoing washing-up. A glass of wine in hand, our combined efforts to get the meal on the table heralds the end of our working day and the start of social time. It’s pleasure not pain and something we all look forward to.
None of the photographs on Primal Plate are ‘staged’ - it is the actual food we’re about to eat that day. Primal Plate is a cookery blog and its raison d’être is to encourage people to spend more time in the kitchen and learn how to eat properly. By showing you what we eat and sharing innovative, primarily vegetarian recipes that aren’t made with sugar, grains, legumes, unhealthy fats and cancer-causing meat I hope to convince people that cooking at home pays dividends on the time invested, namely: quality time spent with your family, delicious dinners, optimal health, quick loss of excess body-fat and easy weight maintenance.
You reap the consequences of your actions either way. With so many major health issues now affecting so many people, it’s time for us to get back in the kitchen and to teach our children to do likewise.
It’s not just that people think themselves too busy to cook - it’s a lack of basic cookery knowledge that’s also part of the problem. Primal Plate is here to help. Off the top of my head, I can think of more than a dozen home-cooked, easy-to-make meals that we turn to for busy days, which haven’t yet featured on this blog. In response to your feedback, I’ll be rolling out my quick, tasty ideas in the forthcoming weeks and months. You’ll find these in the Recipes section of Primal Plate’s blog under Primal Pronto.
To start with, my variation on the classic Eggs Florentine recipe. It's made with spinach, hard steam/boiled eggs and topped with a flour-less Primal cheese sauce before being finished off under the grill. A truly indulgent brunch, light lunch or supper to treat family and friends to.