You can’t cook

Men's Fitness - - Features -

It’s eas­ily done: you spend your early 20s liv­ing on take­aways and beans on toast, then one day you re­alise you don’t know how to make soup. “You have to learn to cook,” says Mal­ho­tra. “It’s not just a use­ful skill – it’s ul­ti­mately go­ing to make you health­ier and hap­pier. Poor diet in the form of pro­cessed and fast food now con­trib­utes glob­ally to more dis­ease and death than phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity, smok­ing and al­co­hol com­bined.”

For­tu­nately, it’s fix­able. Switch off the fancy cook­ing shows, ig­nore any­thing with more than five in­gre­di­ents and fo­cus on the ba­sics: mas­ter­ing heat, cook­ing meat, mak­ing veg taste bet­ter and get­ting the hang of a few sim­ple taste com­bi­na­tions. Af­ter that you can grad­u­ate to ex­per­i­ment­ing with herbs and spices for more flavour – and health ben­e­fits.


They’re loaded with 7g of pro­tein – plus, if they’re free range, a healthy omega 3:6 ra­tio – and per­fect any time of day. It’s worth mas­ter­ing ev­ery for­mat, but start with scram­bled. “One sim­ple tasty recipe is scram­bled eggs with onion, toma­toes and fresh chill­ies,” says Mal­ho­tra. “Beat three free range or­ganic eggs with half a chopped onion and a tomato, one green chilli, salt and pep­per, and fry in 2tbsp of ex­tra vir­gin co­conut oil. Scram­ble with a spat­ula and cook un­til they start to set, then take them off the heat and stir un­til they’re done.”


It’s very straight­for­ward, and it lays the foun­da­tion for cook­ing other cuts of meat. “Rub it in oil, lightly salt both sides and get your pan very hot – give it at least three min­utes on the heat be­fore your meat goes in,” says chef Si­mon Rim­mer. There are two schools of thought about cook­ing – ei­ther give it an equal amount of time on each side, or, for a crustier fin­ish, flip it ev­ery 15 sec­onds – but ei­ther way, a 2cm-thick cut should take five or six min­utes to­tal.


“I’m pretty bad at cook­ing, which is why I started with sal­ads,” says Bez, who turned his chal­lenge into the book Salad Love. “They’re the eas­i­est thing to make. For­get just leaves and use grains, veg­gies and pro­teins like beans, peas, eggs or cheese. I like to roast my veg in the oven – just chop them, add a driz­zle of oil and salt and chuck them in the oven for half an hour. One favourite of mine is buck­wheat, roasted squash, peas, thyme, red onion and a hard-boiled egg. For the dress­ing, mix 1tbsp ex­tra vir­gin olive oil, 1tsp lemon juice, 1tsp mus­tard, 1tsp honey and a pinch of salt.”


Steam­ing cooks your veg­eta­bles very lightly so you don’t turn them to mush or leech out their nu­tri­ents – and mi­cro-steam­ing is the eas­i­est way to make it fast. Just place a sin­gle layer of veg­eta­bles on a mi­crowavesafe plate, cover them with a cou­ple of damp pa­per tow­els and mi­crowave them on full power un­til they’re ten­der enough to pierce with a fork. It should take be­tween two and five min­utes, depend­ing on the power of your mi­crowave.


The sin­gle sim­plest way to make food taste bet­ter. The ba­sics are easy: leave your meat in a bowl or a sealed bag in­side the fridge with a few care­fully se­lected spices and some sort of liq­uid el­e­ment, give it 30 min­utes, then shake off the ex­cess and fry, roast or grill as usual. With chicken, use harissa paste – which con­tains cap­saicin for a mild fat-burn­ing ef­fect – and co­conut oil. For Moroc­can-style lamb, lime juice with turmeric and cin­na­mon sta­bilises your in­sulin lev­els and has anti-in­flam­ma­tory ben­e­fits.

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