If You Fail to Prepare, You’re Prepared to Fail…

This time of year it can be really, really easy to fall off the wagon. Well, not so much fall–let’s be honestit’s more of a spectacular swan dive into a jovial week of holiday parties and family gatherings. Caught up in a whirlwind of preparation for Christmas, my ability to focus on cooking and eating healthfully slackened and the consequences started to manifest. After one too many groggy mornings and emotional upsets, I decided to take action.

To nip this little backslide in the bud I made a trip to the grocery store my first priority for Sunday morning. My strategy: buy all of my favorite (paleo) things, whether or not they would make pretty blog posts, represent diverse meal options, or could be formed into any sort of meal I’d serve to another human being. Point being: if I like it, I’ll prepare it. If I prepare it, I’ll eat it. If I eat it, I won’t eat 57 shards of peppermint bark when I am ravenous at 10:30 am since I didn’t cook myself a decent breakfast.

So, two pounds of brussels sprouts later (plus an ungodly amount of other meat and vegetable matter that made biking home a perilous endeavor) I find myself with an arsenal of quick, easy staples that I can look forward to for multiple meals.

When I take the time to plan, good things happen. Here’s what’s on tap for Tuesday:

Breakfast: Sautéed mushrooms and peppers topped with 3 sunny-side up eggs

Cooking eggs on top of vegetables is as versatile and quick as it is delightful.

Simply sauté your veggies over medium heat until they are 80% done (anything quick-cooking and cut up fairly small will do–onions, peppers, mushrooms, shredded cauliflower, spinach, etc.), gently crack the desired number of eggs on top, put a lid on it, and finish getting ready for your day. I take this time to throw on a fresh pair of stretchy pants or wash my face. Nothing too time consuming.

Check back every 2-3 minutes until the the firmness of the eggs suits you. I like the yolks still runny so that they can make happy yolky goodness all over my vegetables. Gross. Great.

Lunch: Leftover steak and brussels sprouts from Monday night’s dinner

Always a fan of brussels sprouts, I don’t buy them too often since they seem awfully pricey in those little mesh baggies that contain eight obese sprouts for $3.49. When they look good (I like them wee) or happen to go on sale, though, you bet your buns I’ll be buying as many as I can get my hands on.

My latest method is a tried and true combination (brussels sprouts and bacon) with extra emphasis on texture (crispy, tender, crunchy, lovely).

Preheat the oven to 400°. Take your little sprouts and cut the bottoms off–the part that holds all the leaves on. In most cases, I also cut the sprout in half at this point unless they are very small. A few leaves will likely become separated in the process. KEEP THESE. THEY ARE VERY IMPORTANT. Ditch the end pieces, but toss the sprout halves and stray leaves into a baking pan. A 9X13 works well for 2 pounds of sprouts.

Drizzle your fat of choice over the whole thing and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Grab a few slices of bacon and chop them into 1/2 inch bits. Dot them around your pile of sprouts and stir the whole thing up. Stick it in the oven for about 45 minutes, stirring every 5-10 to ensure no sprouts are becoming adhered to the bottom of the pan. You want them nice and deep brown at the edges with a few of the little leaves verging on overly brown. The sprouts should be tender and easy to bite through when you try one (or seven).

For Monday night’s dinner, I served these crack-sprouts (I can’t stop eating them) with a small baked sweet potato and a nice bit of steak.

Dinner: A whole chicken and a cauliflower walk into a bar…

I know the set-up, but not the punch line.

The chicken will either be poached or roasted. The cauliflower could be shredded and sautéed! or roasted whole! or puréed into a tasty mash! Who knows!? (I like cauliflower almost as much as I like brussels sprouts–can you tell?)

We’ll see where the day takes me.

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