PART 1. THE EIGHT PRINCIPLES
OF HEALTHY NO-RECIPE COOKING
The following eight principles are at the core of Kitchen Karate. They are what make the routine so speedy and effective. Skip any of them and you are not really doing Kitchen Karate; you’re doing who knows what.
PRINCIPLE #1: THINK FOOD-AS-FUEL FOR YOUR EVERYDAY
The trick to creating a lasting healthy eating lifestyle is to make a clear distinction between your everyday meals and your special occasion meals. Your everyday meals are those workaday meals that you eat mindlessly and don’t really care about all that much.
These are your food-as-fuel meals, the ones that get you through the day.
Your special occasion meals in contrast are your indulgent meals, your dinners out, and your extravagant home cooked feasts. These are your food-as-fun meals, the ones you make into an activity.
For a healthy lifestyle, your food-as-fuel meals should make up at least 80% of your food intake, while up to 20% can be food-for-fun.
Kitchen Karate - and this guide - is all about optimizing that 80%.
PRINCIPLE #2: USE ONE TEMPLATE FOR YOUR EVERYDAY
This is a bit of a radical idea, but it is a powerful way to simplify your cooking: If you want to eat healthy most of the time, decide once and for all what is the composition of a healthy meal for you. And then eat that way for all of your everyday meals.
Don’t allow every meal to become a new adventure in appeasing your appetite with what’s available at the moment. Despite all your best intentions, the majority of your meals will be problematic because they:
● Are filled with junk you don’t really want
● Have too much of this
● Have too little of that
● Aren’t tasty enough
● Aren’t fresh enough
● Aren’t low cost enough
You can fix all of that with one simple trick: template that shit.
Distill your eating habits down to one single generic plate of food. This is your template of a well-balanced meal.
I’ll show you how to identify your template and plan your meals using it in PART 4: THE SIX SKILL SETS.
PRINCIPLE #3: MAKE IT UP AS YOU GO
My wife: Hey babe, what are you making for dinner?
Me: I’ll tell you when I serve it.
My wife: (silent stare)
I’m not being a smartass. I just don’t know exactly what I’m making until it’s done. (And truth be told, my wife cooks that way as well. I just know better than to ask her what she’s making.)
Healthy no-recipe cooking means you don’t think about what you’re making until you’re making it. That’s the fun of it.
This guide will teach you all the skills and strategies you need to come out on top.
PRINCIPLE #4: FOLLOW THE STEPS OF THE ROUTINE
How do you break free of recipes? By following a routine. This routine:
1. Pick your ingredients
2. Plan your meal
3. Prep your ingredients
4. Season your ingredients
5. Cook your ingredients
6. Serve your meal
Following these steps in this exact order is what streamlines the process of cooking, making it as quick and easy as possible.
We will go over these six steps in detail in Part 2- The One Routine. For now, I just want to emphasize that it’s crucial to finish one step before moving onto the next.
PRINCIPLE #5: PORTION BY HAND
How much of that chicken should you buy? How many tomatoes do you need?
Don’t look at a recipe to find out. Look at your hands.
Your hands are great measuring devices. And you bring them with you everywhere! I’ll show you guidance on how to portion by hand in the SKILLS section, but for now just realize that breaking free of recipes includes learning to portion out the right amounts of food for each meal with your bare hands! Whoa, mind-blown emoji
PRINCIPLE #6: SEASON TO TASTE
How much salt should you use? How much of that cumin?
Don’t look at a recipe to find out. Look at what you are seasoning.
It takes some trial and error, but the sooner you start the sooner you’ll master it.
We’ll spend A LOT of time on this in the SKILLS section. When it comes to going no-recipe it’s the lack of this specific skill - seasoning by eye - that holds you back the most. But more on that later. For now, just know that your seasoning game is about to get a whole lot better.
PRINCIPLE #7: COOK BY FEEL
A timer doesn’t tell you when your broccoli is done. Your fork does with a simple poke.
No matter what cooking technique you are using, you have to be able to tell when things are done just by poking and looking at them. Or by sticking a meat thermometer in it. This skill is critical to rising above the use of recipes.
I’ll teach you how in the SKILLS section.
PRINCIPLE #8: FOLLOW THE ABC’s OF COOKING:
ALWAYS BE CLEANING
When you are cooking quickly you’ll send food flying, spilling and splashing. Awesome! Embrace that. BUT always clean up after EACH OF THE 6 STEPS.
Done prepping your ingredients? Clean your knife and cutting board and wipe down the counter.
Done seasoning? Put away your seasonings and wipe down the counter.
Done cooking? Clean the pans and put them away.
Done eating? Clear the table and clean the plates. Always Be Cleaning. And you’ll feel like there’s never much to clean up.
Grab the PDF to read later.