Welcome to the 5 Seasons Diet! We want you to be successful in every area of what may be a big change for you and your relationship to food, so we will be sending tips each Monday that may be helpful as you go through your cooking week. This first newsletter will be a bit longer, since it is the first week of your new lifestyle and we have some things that will be helpful every week as you cook and eat your way through a delicious month!
First, to help ensure a successful week, remember to:
- Print out your Meal Plan Chart and your Prep and Cook Chart and hang them on the refrigerator, or wherever they are most likely to be visible and useful. You will refer to them daily.
- In the mornings before work, allow yourself more time than you may have previously been used to so that you can eat breakfast and make sure your lunch and snacks are ready for the day. At first, this may seem like a chore (we know certain members of our team prefer to stay in bed until the very last possible second…!) but over time it will become second nature and you will begin to really appreciate how it feels when you set yourself up for success with a solid plan . Those mornings that you are inclined to grumble about those few extra minutes, just remind yourself that the pay-off of a healthier mind, body, and spirit is worth it!
- Once you have gotten rolling with your mornings, we would love to hear any tips and tricks that you use to help make them easier or more efficient! Please email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If it is an option, get family members involved with prep on Sundays and during the week. The old English proverb that “many hands make light work” definitely applies in the kitchen!
Second, it is useful to scan recipes the day before you make them, in case there is an overnight soaking or marinating component, and then to read recipes through completely before beginning them. You will have a better feel for what you need to have queued up as you are preparing the dish, and are less likely to be missing a critical component when the pan is ready for it. For example, with some recipes the chop-and-drop method of ingredient prep will be fine; as one component is working, such as onions, you can be chopping the next thing to go in the pan, such as garlic.
Some recipes, however, will require that you have all of the ingredients ready to go before you turn on the heat, such as a stir-fry. In a recipe like a stir-fry, ingredients do not cook very long at all before the next one is added. Not being ready when the pan is can mean that some ingredients will overcook.
Finally, let’s talk about what we mean by “active time,” “cook time” and “serving size” at the top of each recipe.
In some recipes, such as braises, there is a lot of upfront active time as you prepare the ingredients for the dish. You will chop vegetables, sear meat, deglaze the pan, and add everything back to the pot, which will make for busy, hands-on 25-30 minutes. But then, the pan and heat do all of the work for at least an hour. Your active time is 25-30 minutes, while you are chopping, searing, adding, etc. The cook time is the time that the food is on the heat.
Sometimes, as with a braise, there will be little to no hands-on time during the cook time. Other times, as with the stir-fry we mentioned above, the cook time will also be hands-on time, because you are adding ingredients and moving them around the pan the whole time.
It is also important to note when the recipe time includes overnight soaking or marinating.
You will notice that serving sizes seem to vary widely in some of the recipes. Sometimes, the serving size is simply two. That means you are making enough food for a single meal with no leftovers. Other times, especially with dinner recipes, the serving size will say, “Serves 2, with leftovers for lunch.” Those recipes are designed to serve two people for dinner, and two people for lunch the following day. Lastly, you will occasionally be making recipes that will be used through the course of the week (or even month). You may make a dressing, sauce, dessert, or snack that is eaten twice during week one, then frozen and used again in week three. The recipe, Prep and Cook Chart, and Meal Plan Chart will all help you know when to use each component.
We hope this week’s Chef’s Corner has been helpful as you gear up for a tasty month of eating with the season!