Thug Kitchen Cookbook Review

The best &$(%&# cookbook in the *%&#)$ #&%)#*&$ world!

Please excuse the profanity, but in this case I feel it is appropriate to describe my new favorite cookbooks. If the profanity didn’t give it away, I am talking about the Thug Kitchen series of cookbooks. At best I am a reluctant cook, forced into duty by my family, making basic meals commonly found in 1950 kitchens. For a number of reasons (there are some very compelling reasons that I won’t get into here, just google it), we have been trying to cut out meat for about half our dinners. Reducing meat consumption sounds easy, but it’s definitely not just not omitting the meat portion of the meal and serving as usual, but substituting alternate protein sources in place of the meat.

When it comes to these vegetarian meals I started out with a standard repertoire meals: stir fry related (mixed sautéed veggies over rice/quinoa/potatoes), burrito related (this can be anything wrapped in a tortilla), and omelets. Searching the internet for inspiration generally left me feeling inadequate; most of the recipes I found were complicated and had hard to find ingredients. But, the internet came through in the end and I saw the Thug Kitchen series mentioned on a fitness trainers fb page I frequent. The premise sounded intriguing, but to avoid jumping in and buying them outright, I cheated and checked them out of the library to make sure they would work for my family and cooking style.

The books are called Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F$@k; TK-Party Grub and TK 101-Fast as F&-K. As you can tell by the F bomb blurred out in the title, these books have a lot of swearing (I mean a lot, like every third word) so if you are cooking with children who can read, probably not the best source for vegan recipes.

Another nice part of each of the books is the “how to” aspect, they discuss how to cook basic beans, rice, quinoa, millet, barley separately from the recipes that use each grain. There are recipes for drinks, breakfast, appetizers, soups, main meals and of course dessert! The recipes are easy to follow, and even somebody with marginal kitchen skills can make a presentable and tasty vegan meal (I can say that because that is me). What I love is even though some recipes have a lot of ingredients and take some time, almost all the ingredients can be found at our normal grocery store. So far, I have only had to go to Whole Foods for two ingredients, and that’s over the course of making at least a dozen meals.

Besides trying to avoid meat, we are also trying to avoid fake food (like margarine, fake cheese etc.), and these books are great for that too. Since vegans don’t eat real cheese, I was wondering how they would deal with the missing dairy products. I am happy to report that they don’t use that weird fake cheese, but nutritional yeast (which I had never heard of), but have since learned has a ton of nutritional value (Google for more info). Most of the egg recipes substitute olive or grape seed oil for eggs, and there’s even a recipe for whipped cream which uses coconut milk. One substitution I haven’t made yet is using non-dairy milk (like almond) since we always have cow’s milk on hand. The recipes substituting cow’s milk for almond have turned out fine.

Did I mention the swearing? Well, the swearing combined with a spunky, yet helpful writing style makes this the first cookbook I have ever read from beginning to end. When choosing a recipe, or putting the book away, I catch myself reading the next page, either because the picture of a yummy new dish catches my eye, or the swearing looks extra intense….
After multiple renewals from the library, my husband the hunter/fisherman and all around carnivore bought all three books for me as a Christmas present, which I consider a pretty good endorsement.

In summary, just because I can’t choose a favorite, all three books are highly recommended as an addition to any cookbook library!

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Quinoa Comfort Food

What is quinoa?
qui·noa
ˈkēnwä/
noun
1. a goosefoot found in the Andes, where it was widely cultivated for its edible starchy seeds before the introduction of Old World grains.
2. That funny looking grain stuff from health food stores that everybody has heard is healthy but nobody knows exactly what to do with or how to cook.

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I believe the first definition, but fall squarely within the second definition. Ever since Costco started carrying bulk, organic quinoa I have been buying it and adding it to at least a couple meals per week. When I say “adding” it, I mean cooking it like rice as a side dish. My husband likes it because he “adds flavor” with salt, pepper, butter and cheese, but that kind of defeats the purpose of including a healthy grain with our meal. So, with that in mind I am always looking for new quinoa recipes that incorporate it into the meal, not just a side dish. I came upon this recipe and wanted to give this one a try.
People who know me really well, know that I love my comfort food, especially during the colder months. I figure this quinoa meatloaf would do the trick and decided to give it a try:

I found the meal filling and flavorful. However, I made a few tweaks:
-I made one cup of quinoa and only added a half cup into the meatloaf
-Instead of tomato paste I used ketchup
-Did not use hot pepper sauce; that can be optional
-The recipe says to cook some of the other ingredients. I just cooked the quinoa, got a separate bowl and added the other ingredients as is, mixed it all well together with my hand and put it in a bread pan to cook.

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Did you know quinoa has the highest percentage of protein than any other grain?

What’s your favorite quinoa recipe?

What Works

The fitness side of the internet is full of really good information about the best way to work out, best time, best pre-post nutrition, acceptable heart rate and just about anything else you can think of for the proper way to sweat (just in case you are thinking of checking for yourself, I can tell you right now that every website has a better way to work out). Working out can get really complicated, with gadgets, schedules and rules. The thing I like about working out at home, and what has kept me at it for the past two years is that it is what you make it, and I make sure it is as simple as possible. It is easy enough to follow along with any video you choose (I will continue to post reviews of the videos I am enjoying), but I thought i would share what I do to keep my workouts at a high level regardless of outside influences or obligations. These are just the first tips that came to mind, so dont think that this is all there is to it…

First, I like to get my workout done in the morning so I dont have to dread it for the rest of the day, and Steve can help out with his “special brand” of motivation before his morning nap. If I wait until after work, there are way too many other important things to do, like watch TV, check facebook, play with Steve, vacuum the house, trim my toenails, watch the grass grow…you get the point, just about anything but workout. The point is, it wont get done unless I make myself get it over with before I have had my first cup of coffee and my brain is awake enough to know what I am about to put my body through.
The other advantage of working out first thing in the morning is that I can get through the workout without having to eat anything before hand. I don’t really know why, because I am definitely hungry after my workout, but I feel that my energy level is good without eating. It is rare, but if I am too hungry to focus on the workout, I eat a spoonful of natural peanutbutter to get a little bit of protein. This is a personal preference, and I am sure it wont work for everybody, but find something that works for you, like a few bites of banana or something. The main focus is to help you with the workout without puking up a full meal of pancakes and bacon (not fun!).
This isnt a workout tip, but my birthday was last week (I wont say how old I am, and no points for guessing…). These non-milestone birthdays are pretty boring when you are past 21, but we splurged anyway and got pizza (plenty of cheese and cured pork products). Then it was lunch at a chain restaurant with a friend (just a few carbs), then family dinner at our house…makes it sound like my birthday wish was to eat all weekend, but I swear it wasnt.
Here is my weekly (well, almost two weeks since my last post) workout summary: I enjoyed Turbofire for every workout last week (and the week before) – took both weekend days off due to birthday obligations. Overall I felt good, my abs got a bit sore from the HIIT workouts tuesday and friday (for more info on that acronym, see my Turbofire review, “Burn, Burn, Burn”). My goal is always to get a little sore, so I will consider that goal met!
Next week (this week really since this is a bit late…) I am planning on mixing in a Body Beast Lucky 7 workout into the Turbo Fire just to change it up a little bit. Mixing up workouts is another tip, but that is for another post, stay tuned!