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Dinner 2.0: 4 Tricks That Make “Cooking” Dinner Easier Than You Ever Imagined + SANE Eating at Restaurants

CARRIE: Welcome to the Sane Show, lovely listeners. This is Carrie Brown.And Mr. Jonathan Baylor is here with me, in the studio, which has now reached a temperature of three million degrees.

JONATHAN: Million — it’s Dr. Evil level of heat in here — three million degrees.And it’s only going to get hotter.

CARRIE: Maybe that’s a little exaggeration —

JONATHAN: It’s only going to get hotter[overlap].

CARRIE: But only a little [overlap].

JONATHAN: It’s only going to get hotter, Carrie.

CARRIE: [Laughter].

JONATHAN: Because you know what we’re going to talk about today?


JONATHAN: The hottest meal of the day.


JONATHAN: We are going to — we talked about breakfast, we talked about lunch. And now — and really, in those podcasts, we did talk about the actual meals themselves.But we went off topic a little bit, but I think it’s still helpful. Today, we’re going to talk about dinner.


JONATHAN: Boom. Dinner. Big meal, fabulous meal, lots to do, family dinners, all kinds of different directions to take this. What are your thoughts about Sane dinners, Carrie?


JONATHAN: Easy — all right.

CARRIE: That’s not going to be a popular answer, I know —

JONATHAN: [Laughter]

CARRIE: — because a lot of people, especially people that are new to Sane,are, rightfully so, completely fazed when it comes to like, “I can’t eat this, Annie” or,“I can’t eat pizza” or,“I can’t eat burgers” or,“I can’t” — “All these things and used to eating, my normal, go-to meals have just gone. What do I do?”

JONATHAN: I think the biggest challenge we face, as a culture, when it comes to dinner is that we have completely lost any sort of culinary education. Translating that — I probably didn’t need to make it sound that complicated — no one knows how to cook, anymore.

People who are children today — first of all, they don’t even know what a vegetable is. So that’s the second point. But you actually have to cook. Dinner is exceptionally easy, if you know how to use a stove and/or an oven. But a lot of us were never taught how to use a stove for an oven.

CARRIE: Or a grill.

JONATHAN: Or a grill, exactly. And so, if you know how to use those things, dinner becomes very easy, very quickly. And maybe we can sort of breakdown, by cooking device, easy ways to prepare dinner. But I do want to acknowledge that if you don’t know how to cook, please don’t let that — I mean, you can’t.

Plenty of people cook. All of those people aren’t smarter or more capable than you. You can cook, too. This idea that — I’m a tech geek guy, right? I am. So people used to say — when people would say to me — and my parents have gotten a lot better at this.My mom — is — she’s like a tech expert, now (laughter). She’s out in the front.

I think she’s in her mid- to late 60s, now and she’s doing all kinds of fun, tech stuff. And she used to say, “Oh, Jonathan, I just don’t get technology.” And I would say, “Mom, that’s a little bit like saying, ‘I don’t get the telephone’ or, ‘I don’t get cars.’” You can’t not get technology; it’s not an option (laughter).

I mean, how are you going to function in today’s society, if you don’t get technology? But a lot of people say, “I don’t get cooking. I don’t know how to cook.”Well, you can cook. There’s a bunch of great books, there’s a bunch of great online resources. And the good news is, you don’t need to be a chef, you just need to have a basic understanding in the kitchen.

CARRIE: And if you do need somewhere to start, I do develop my recipes for the least of the cooks. I mean, I try to write them and make them so that anybody can have success and get a delicious meal at the end of it, without having gone to culinary school.

JONATHAN: And there is a level of, quote, unquote — like, Carrie is a chef. And she knows how to cook. And what Carrie does is an art form. There is also, for people who have listened to this show for a while, you know that there is this other thing we talk about, called assembly, which is what I do.

I never was taught how to cook. I don’t know how to cook. When I quote, unquote, cook, it’s laughable. But if you understand the basic principles of stoves and ovens and grills and flavors, you can use a more formulaic approach to cooking. Or you could follow a recipe and you can get exceptional results.

And I think when you give yourself permission to: one — realize there are two paths you can take — one is, you can follow a recipe. If you’re following a recipe, you are following a set of exact instructions which, if you listen to them, you will get a good result.

And if you’re not following a recipe, it’s because you’re doing something that is called assembly, which is so radically simple that it’s very difficult to screw up. So in both cases, you either have step-by-step instructions, or you’re doing something that is so simple that doesn’t need instructions. It’s like making cereal.

Cereal is the perfect example of assembly: you take cereal and you assemble it with milk. You don’t do that, you will get diabetes and become obese. But it’s assembly. So you can do it, first of all. So I want to help people understand that, you can do it. Other people have done it, people have done it for generations, you can do it, too.

CARRIE: I think there’s a lot of power in just taking away the mind-set that, “I can’t cook.”

JONATHAN: Exactly. And I think the reason people have — so one, they just say, “I can’t cook,” which is like, “I don’t do technology.” Right now, I saw that you were making a face when I was saying that earlier. And I just like — like, my mom, she has a Master’s degree. She’s brilliant.

She probably has an IQ of — whatever — I don’t know. She’s a genius. So when she says to me, “I don’t get e-mail,” I say, “Mom, with respect, I don’t buy that. You’re a genius. If you want to get e-mail, you can get e-mail.” So I think people just don’t give themselves enough credit, right?

I mean, look at everyone else in the world who does it. Unless you think all those people are better than you — which I know you don’t — you can do it, too.

CARRIE: Yeah, “I don’t get TVs.” But I don’t care.

JONATHAN: [Laughter]

CARRIE: I don’t care.

JONATHAN: But that’s the thing: the reason you don’t get TVs is because you don’t care. And if you cared — if I said to you, “Carrie, you can’t get TVs. I bet you can’t. I’ll bet you $100 you can’t get televisions,” you would be like — you would come in the next day and be like, “I programmed the TV. And I set up my TiVo and I got it all. I showed you.” But you just don’t care, right?

So we know that, if you listen to this show, you care about this.So you can cook. And once you understand that, you would be empowered to do other things. And this is so critical, because one, if I didn’t think I could cook, you would just stop before you even start.

The other thing is, if I had to cook a unique meal — one at a time — every single time I was going to eat —

CARRIE: Your head would explode.

JONATHAN: — I just wouldn’t do it. And I think we talked in previous episodes about rules and blah, blah, blah. If you believed that you have to cook something different, every single night, that’s it. So you need to prepare seven unique dinners, every single week, good luck.

That is very — there are very few people I know, unless their full-time job involves doing that — that are able to do that. So cooking in bulk is so, so, so important, because if you think — just like eating less and exercising more; the reason I get so upset about this “eating less and exercising more” dogma is, personally, if I had to be hungry and spend two hours per day doing cardio, I should be diabetic and weigh 400 pounds, because I can’t do that.

And I don’t think anyone else can, either — reasonably. So I would just be like, “Forget this. I’m not even going to worry about my health, it’s a lost cause.” And if I thought that dinner — eating a healthy dinner — required having a culinary degree and shopping for, and then preparing, seven unique meals per week, I would say, “Forget it. I will just order pizza.”

So I think giving people permission to let go off those beliefs is really, really empowering. And now, we can replace those limiting beliefs with simplifying beliefs that are more assembly- and simplicity-oriented. What you think about that?

CARRIE: However —

JONATHAN: Uh oh. Oh, good — see, I just screwed it all up with the whole technology thing. Carrie is like, “You work at Microsoft. You get technology (laughter).”

CARRIE: However, there are a significant number of people who love to cook and like to create new things. And if you can create a new thing every night, you go for it, don’t listen to him (laughter).

JONATHAN: So let me clarify, for anyone — foranyone —

CARRIE: I am standing up for the cooks in the world.

JONATHAN: — for Carrie: so if you’re a cook, first of all, you’re awesome, because I envy you. If your hobby is cooking, then this is a non-issue, because you enjoy it.

CARRIE: Right.

JONATHAN: Right. So there are people who — and like, some people’s hobby is exercise. So for them, clearly, it’s, “So you don’t exercise? I don’t understand that.” Not everyone has the hobby of exercising. People like Jonathan, science — for me, it’s enjoyable, right? It’s a hobby for me. I think it’s cool. So, ifyou’re —

CARRIE: And thank goodness, you are because there’s no way the rest of us would have spent 12 years reading all that literature, let me tell you.

JONATHAN: Well, yes. And frankly, Carrie, if I could afford to have you cook all of my meals for me and seven unique meals per week, I certainly would not turn that down.

CARRIE: Hey, that’s a great idea. Let’s do that.

JONATHAN: (Laughter) If I could afford you. Carrie is not cheap. So the key thing here is that if you don’t enjoy cooking, you can solve this problem very, very simply. And this is going to start to sound redundant, but that’s because it’s simple.

I can’t — I’m going to keep saying this, because I think we need to keep hearing it, because as soon as you stop listening to the show, all you’re going to hear is complex nonsense. It’s simple: non-starchy vegetables, nutrient-dense protein, whole food fats, low-fructose fruits.

Okay, here’s how you do that for dinner: pick — so, first of all, this — let’s — okay, we’re on time, okay. Because I’m about to go in a little rampage here.

CARRIE: Uh, oh [overlap].

JONATHAN: Strap yourself in. If you’re in your car, make sure your seatbelt is on. So there is this — people talk about, “Oh, there is not enough variety.” There is not enough variety. Okay, the Standard American Diet– you want to talk up a — blah, blah, blah. Okay, I’m getting amped; detonator’s coming. Brace yourself.

You want to talk about a lack of variety: the Standard American Diet has a lack of variety.A cycle of soda, cereal, pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries on a loop, has no variety — with, like, candy bars thrown in. There is no variety there. People are talking about, “It doesn’t have enough variety.” You have an infinite amount of variety with Sane eating.

First of all, there are probably dozens of vegetables at your local grocery store that you have never even tried. And then, Carrie has all sorts — she has introduced me to leeks and eggplants and freaking Brussels sprouts. I’ve never had Brussels sprouts before. You can learn all these different ways to cook them; it’s fabulous. So you have your non-starchy vegetables, you have your nutrient dense protein.

Most people–fish, maybe they have had salmon and maybe they have had some sort of whitefish. There is a bunch of different — mussels, clams — I almost said asparagus. That’s not a seafood. What I was going to think of was squid or octopus and that made me think of asparagus. And all these different types of seafood.

And then, you have all these different types of meats. You have beef, you have pork, you have chicken, you have other, more exotic — in this country, at least — types of meats, such as lamb. You’ve never had lamb before? Lamb is the bomb.

CARRIE: I love lamb.

JONATHAN: And then, you’re doing things with avocados that you never thought were possible. Carrie puts them in smoothies, which were amazing. I just want to — I really — some people see Sane eating and thinks it lacks variety. The opposite is true.

Sane eating is taking the most nutritious, delicious and flavorful food groups in the world and providing you — it’s like a palette. You have these four things, and within these four food groups, there are myriad options which, literally, have an infinite combination.

What is boring is starches and sweets. Sugar tastes like sugar and starch tastes like starch. We are like: bread, rice, pasta. Bread, rice, pasta. Bread, rice, pasta. Bread, rice, pasta. That’s redundant.

CARRIE: Don’t forget your potatoes [overlap].

JONATHAN: And potatoes. Bread, rice, pasta, potatoes. Bread, rice, pasta, potatoes. Bread, rice, pasta, potatoes.

CARRIE: (Laughter).

JONATHAN: Not exciting. So what are some of your go-to dinner options that do this assembler approach? I mean, you’ve obviously nailed soups, but what else?

CARRIE: The easiest thing — and particularly, for Americans that just grill. And I think Australians do, too — just grill. Husbands are really good with grilling — or boys are really good with grilling, not husbands — men. Men love to grill. Send them out with some steaks, some pork chops —

JONATHAN: And you can get the most of the house —

CARRIE: — some salmon, they’re out in the yard. You don’t have to deal with them —

JONATHAN: (Laughter)

CARRIE: — lamb chops, I mean, whatever. Grill for 10minutes, your inside for 10minutes, learn how to make — and I have some lovely combinations on my website — learn how to make some favorite salads with vegetable combinations.

Ten-minute dinner, absolutely 100% Sane: you have your grilled protein, you have your fresh salad, boom. It’s easy, it’s simple and you can change it up, every single night. If you’re one of those people who wants variety, you can change it up every night. Ten minutes, that’s it.

JONATHAN: Grill recommendation is a brilliant one. I’ll tack on to the grill recommendation a — let’s call it either crockpot/casserole/meal in a dish. So this is a — meal in a dish something I love, just because I like to eat out of a big bowl.And I like to have just one bowl and I am just going to eat what’s in that bowl.

So an example of this is — so right now, for example, this is an insane example — but spaghetti and meatballs is a meal in a dish. It’s like: one, you could have a vat of it — so a meal in a dish, you could just have a giant container of it. And then, you just scoop it out, you put it on your plate and you’re done.

So casseroles, slow cookers, things like this — I think is especially for families. Or, for non-families who don’t mind eating the same stuff frequently, coming up with meals in a dish is extremely empowering and it is so ridiculously easy.

Here’s the formula I use: pick a vegetable. Okay, so let’s take the example of Brussels sprouts. So Brussels sprouts, I recently discovered that if you put them, not all the way, and then you put them in a food processor and then rice them a little bit and season them — okay, so that’s your base of non-starchy vegetables.

Then, you can add salmon — anything, you just do a little bit of fun experimentation. So I found that there is this stuff called Chef Paul’s, something, Seafood Magic Seasoning, which is just amazing. So I just take that, make myBrussels sprouts, chop them up, put them in a pan, take my salmon, put it in there, throw some seasoning in there, make as much of it as I want and I have six meals.

Done. Meal in a dish. Throw some healthy fats in there. You can do the same kind of thing with a marinara sauce. So you have a marinara sauce, you have a ground meat of some sort and then you throw in some mushrooms, you throw in some zoodles you throw in some cooked spinach — you’ll be surprised how good cooked spinach or cooked kale is, in these types of things — and again, meal in a dish.

You have your — figure out ways. So get a crock pot, get some vegetables in there — some of the more maybe a cauliflower-like vegetable, maybe a carrot-type vegetable — throw them in the crockpot. Throw them in the crockpot with a roast: meal in a dish. Done.

I really want to tip my hat to the Paleo community here, because there are dozens — I don’t know; I mean, it’s the most searched-for lifestyle on Google. There is so much that you can do with these basic food groups. And if you’re ever at a loss, I think that the Paleo community has done such an excellent job of showing the countless ways that you can use non-starchy vegetables, nutrient-dense protein and whole food fats, plus seasonings and Sane sauces, to — literally, just meal in a dish. I think it’s brilliant.

And casseroles, bakes — I know you have some awesome bakes, like Sane lasagne, which is super easy to make and you can make in bulk. Could you tell us about that? Sane lasagne?

CARRIE: Just, there’s no pasta. I used eggplant.

JONATHAN: But that’s — I mean, that’s — how cool is that, right? So you literally said, no one taught you how to do that, right, Carrie? You just said, here’s something I like to cook. What does it have in it that’s insane? What code I substitute in for that that is sane?

CARRIE: Right.

JONATHAN: Think about how empowering that mind-set is, because you embody that. And there was no recipe for Sane lasagne, before you invented it. But you can do it, right? Because you understand this concept.

CARRIE: Right.

JONATHAN: So let’s say that you really like beef stroganoff. You did the same thing with beef stroganoff; you found a Sane way to make beef stroganoff. So really, just focus on taking the flavors you already know and love and figure out how to use your four Sane food groups to apply those.

Apply them in bulk, freeze them, Tupperware them, cook them in mass quantities, don’t be afraid of your freezer and I really think that dinner can become quite simple and certainly, very satisfying.

CARRIE: One — I know you alluded to it earlier, but one of the — if you really — especially during the week, if you have no time, one of the best ways to be Sane at dinnertime is with my soups. In my book, “Eat Smarter Soups”, there is a whole bunch of recipes that actually have the protein already in them. Or you can take any of the vegetable ones and add proteins.

And there is a page which gives you suggestions about what protein to add. You can make those in bulk and freeze them. I don’t mind eating the same thing for four nights. And because I’m single, I often end up eating the same thing for four nights, in a row. I don’t care. It’s delicious, so I don’t care.

But if that’s not you, or if your family are demanding that you have something different every night, soups are brilliant, because you can make them in bulk, you can freeze them, and then you have this instant supply of soups for lunch or dinner. Actually, you can use them for both.

JONATHAN: And that really — I think that the biggest challenge we face: if you’re getting home late, you have had a big, busy day, if you have another project in front of you — if that’s what it is, if it’s another project, just another thing you have to do — you have to think about what’s for dinner, and you’re not really super thrilled about cooking and you don’t really know what you’re doing, it’s not going to happen.

So really, just taking that time — I know in earlier podcasts, we talked about trading time in the gym for time in the kitchen — I can’t tell you how much — that’s the assignment for this week. The assignment for this week, the action item for this week, the empowering step that our listeners can do for this week, is set aside some time on the least busy day of the week for you.

For most of us, that’s either Saturday or Sunday. Set aside one or two hours to bulk prepare non-starchy vegetables and nutrient dense protein, because whole food fats are easy.That’s usually your sauce, you can usually eat some nuts on the side, or one of Carrie’s Sane desserts, so you really don’t need to go out of your way to do that.

But on a Saturday or Sunday, or when you’re least busy, bulk prepare. And what I mean by bulk prepare is, just put it in a state where, if you’re stressed out of your mind and short on time, you can grab it out of the fridge and the most work you would have to do is to either put it in the microwave, put it on top of the stove or put it in the oven.

That’s it. It needs to be one step away — it’s like a frozen pizza, but not terrible for you. A frozen pizza is one — it’s: unwrap, put in oven, eat.

CARRIE: Right.

JONATHAN: When we say bulk prep food, we literally mean, get it into the state so that, on your worst day, where you are most stressed and most tired, you will still have enough energy to put it together and to look forward to the delicious home-cooked meal you just made.

But it was like cake mix, like instant cake mix: put in cake, put in egg, mix it up, you have cake. You can do that with Sane foods, but you have to invest that one or two hours to do that bulk preparation. But just do it. I’m telling you, that’s the secret.

You see these fitness models out there that are just ripped up? They carry around bags of Tupperware containers. That’s just the way — people who do this for a living, it’s about bulk cooking, it’s about pre-prep and it’s about assembling those components. Again, if you’re a chef and you like cooking, it’s easy for you.

But for everyone else: please, please, please, this week, your assignment: one to two hours on your least busy day of the week — bulk prep veggies, bulk prep protein, so that when you’re ready to eat them, it’s one, two, three, done. Ready. You’re eating, you’re Sane, you’re happy, you’re good to go.

CARRIE: And if you’re eating out, dinner is a lot easier than lunch, because for the most part, there will be a whole stack of dishes on the menu where you can just say, “Hold the starch, double the veggies,” or —

JONATHAN: Absolutely.

CARRIE: — “Hold the starch and add a salad to the veggies.” So dinner is super easy. It’s the easiest meal to eat out and stay Sane, without raising any eyebrows.

JONATHAN: Carrie is exactly right. The only time eating out that it’s really a challenge to be Sane is when you go to lower quality places, right? If you go to In And Out Burger or Fat Burger or one of these place, where all they serve this fatty nonsense: starch, sandwich, trans-fats — you know, blah, blah, blah — it’s going to be a little hard to go Sane there.

But even if you go to Olive Garden or TGI Friday’s — I mean, anything that Carrie is calling more of a dinner-type eatery — “Hold the starch, double the veggies.”Done. Literally, ninety percent of the restaurants you could go to, ninety percent of the menu: “Hold the starch, double the veggies.”Done. No need to add any more complexity, beyond that. Simple.

CARRIE: And I have never, in any course I do — I do thisBreakfast Adventure, now — and I have never had a restaurant not help me, ever. I’ve never had to walk out, because there wasn’t anything Sane I could eat.

JONATHAN: And one last tip for eating out, which I have noticed. And this is not — so be conscious when you’re doing this, because it’s a little bit of a white lie.But if you ever want to be sure that something is not served to you, giving a medical reason is helpful.

So for example, if you — and you want to be careful with this, because it does cause the restaurant to go above and beyond for you. So maybe don’t say “allergy”, maybe say “intolerance”. Because for example, if you were to tell a restaurant, “I have a peanut allergy,” they do all kinds of crazy stuff to ensure that no peanuts get anywhere close to your food.

But if, for example, you were to say, “I’m lactose intolerant” — so instead of saying, “Hey, can you make sure there’s no dairy in this?” There is a chance that there might not be dairy in it, but they might just be like, “Whatever.” If you say, “I’m lactose intolerant, can you make sure there is no dairy in this?” There is a much better chance that you can get what you want.

The good news is that it’s really not being — if you use the term “intolerant”, there is no disingenuity going on here, because I would argue where all intolerant to sugar and starch and trans-fats, as evidenced by the fact that if you eat them, you die prematurely.

CARRIE: I just say, with a smile and with confidence, “I don’t eat” — you know, if they question me; if they (inaudible — 24:38)–I go, “I don’t eat”– whatever it is. “I don’t eat potatoes. Can you throw together a green salad?”


CARRIE: Works every time.

JONATHAN: And just, for me sometimes, it gets — and I’m a little bit more hard-core than you, sometimes. So for example, I would go to a restaurant and I would say, “What kind of oil is this prepared in?” If they say vegetable oil, I would say, “Man, I get a terrible stomach-ache, if I eat vegetable oil. Do you have olive oil? Do you have any other kinds of oil?”

I just find that if you give a medical reason — and it’s true; if I eat vegetable oil, I often do get stomach-aches — that they are so much more likely to take you seriously, because they don’t want to hurt you. If they just think you’re being —

CARRIE: Weird.

JONATHAN: — weird, or an elitist, or that you’re better than them in some way, they’re going to be a little bit resistant. But if you can give a medical reason which — again, with one out of every four Americans being diabetic or pre-diabetic — saying, “I’m pre-diabetic” —

I mean you might not — you might be, so, you know. I think there are all kinds of ways where we can ensure that, when we go out to eat, we hold the starch, we double the vegetables. We keep it really simple when we’re at home.And then, we enjoy a savory, Sane dinner, simply.

CARRIE: Maybe the reason I don’t have to do that is because you are not blonde and you don’t have a British accent.

JONATHAN: (Laughter) Are you saying I’m much less charming? When you get — when Carrie gets pulled over for her speeding, she’s like [imitates accent], “Oh, I’m terribly sorry, Officer. I was” — you know? And then, she flutters her eyes and she’s like, “Oh” —

CARRIE: And they magically disappear [overlap].

JONATHAN: (Laughter) Whereas, if I got pulled over for speeding and I fluttered my eyes, I don’t think the same thing would happen.

CARRIE: You’d be in jail [overlap].

JONATHAN: (Laughter) I love it, Carrie. Well, listeners, I hope you enjoyed this wonderful conversation as much as Carrie and I did. Remember, your action item for this week, your empowering step, is to, on your least busy day of the week, take an hour or two, listen to some music that you love, do it with a friend, do it with a family member that you enjoy spending time with.

Make it a fun event, spend an hour or twobulk prepare your non-starchy vegetables, your nutrient-dense protein. And remember, this weekend every week after: stay Sane.

CARRIE: See ya.