In the Chemical Quadrant, our first focus is the food we eat. We can make small changes that will put the odds in our favor for our health and wellbeing, and will ultimately change our lives. Focusing on small changes, means we can focus on the big picture of what we eat, rather than small details. Let’s look at what we should eat, what we should not eat, and how to make it a little easier. 

What we should eat

We should eat nutritious food and whole food. Our focus on the Chemical Quadrant means that we are thinking about the chemistry of our bodies. What nutrients does our body need to work optimally?

Instead of worrying about whether we need more potassium or not, we want to make sure that we are eating food that has nutrients in it. We need to eat real, whole food. For instance, it’s better to eat a bowl of oatmeal with a banana than it is to eat a processed granola bar. 

What we shouldn’t eat

We need to eat whole foods, so we need to work on eliminating processed foods. So often, processed foods have the nutrients stripped out of them. So we find ourselves eating something that is full of calories, but not something that will provide nourishment for our bodies. 

We also need to eliminate sugar. As Micah LaCerte, owner of HitchFit and personal trainer, says, “We need to eliminate sugar for the most part. It is a killer.”

Eliminating processed food will help us to eliminate sugar. Almost all of the processed foods we buy have many different forms of sugar added to them. Even the foods that we do not think of as sweet or sugary have sugar added for taste, to preserve the item on the shelf, or to make it feel good in our mouth. One example is sugar, and it is simply shocking how much sugar is in ketchup, for example. 

In these instances, it is important to think about eliminating these foods from our lives. But it is easier to think about adding good things instead of eliminating bad things. So rather than worry about eliminating processed food, focus on adding whole foods. If we add enough whole foods, we won’t be hungry and won’t even be thinking about those processed foods. 

Cook more at home

The key to adding more whole foods is to cook more at home, rather than buying prepared food or eating out. Lisa Markley, co-author of The Essential Thyroid Cookbook, agrees, stating “one small thing that people can start doing more to promote their wellness and their nutritional wellness is to cook more at home.”

For many of us, the idea of cooking more at home can feel overwhelming. We feel unskilled in the kitchen, we feel that it takes too much time, or we don’t know what recipes to make. Lisa advises us to try batch cooking. 

Batch cooking

Batch cooking is carving out some time to focus in on a few things that you can make that can be repurposed throughout the week. On Sunday afternoon, you could spend two hours in the kitchen preparing various foods, and then you will have healthy meals to eat all week long. 

Three approaches to batch cooking

1.Cook food that can be used in different ways on different nights

For example, you could cook a couple of pounds of chicken on Sunday afternoon. Then on Monday, you can slice it and add it to your pasta dish. On Wednesday, you could add the chicken to your stir fry. And for lunch on Friday, you could add it to a salad. 

Likewise, you could cook several cups of rice. On Wednesday, you’re having stir fry, so you need the rice, and instead of waiting 20-30 minutes for your rice to cook with your dinner, you can pull it out of the fridge and have it ready to go.

Photographer: Kenny Johnson and Food Stylist: Anne Fisher

Lisa also recommends making a sauce or dressing. Sauces are a way to add flavor to any dish. So if you are feeling a little tired of your food on Friday, you can add the sauce you made and brighten it right up. Lisa shared two sauces from her new cookbook, The Essential Thyroid Cookbook, that are perfect for fall. Click on the pictures to download the recipes.

Photographer: Kenny Johnson and Food Stylist: Anne Fisher

  1. Prepare ingredients to be cooked at a later date

The first way to try this approach to batch cooking is usually called “freezer meals.” They are meals that are specifically designed to be put into a gallon bag and put in the freezer for later. Then, when you are ready, you can pull the bag out of the freezer in the morning, and toss it all into a pan when you get home in the evening for a quick dinner. You could also pull the bag out of the freezer in the morning and put all the contents into a crockpot for a completely cooked meal when you get home. 

The second way to approach this is to prepare the ingredients that you are going to use later in the week so that they can just be stored in the fridge and be completely ready. Often what takes the most time in cooking a meal is cutting up all the ingredients. That is the step you would do on Sunday, so that you can just do the actual cooking after work. 

For example, if we’re having stir fry on Wednesday, Sunday could be the day we cut up our carrots, broccoli, and other vegetables. These can be stored cut up in the fridge for a week. While you are cutting carrots, you can also cut some to be snacks during the week. 

  1. Cook large meals and freeze an already-cooked portion

This approach to batch cooking works great for soups and stews. You can freeze them in glass or plastic containers, or in a gallon-size bag. Then you can just pull it out of the freezer in the morning and reheat it for a fast dinner. 

Cooking takes practice, but food is so important to our health that it is definitely worth the effort to put the odds in our favor. What are your favorite batch cooking recipes? Share in the comments. 

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