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Secret Weapon #1

Have you ever eaten a dry, tasteless chicken breast?  It’s awful!

This was the image I had in my mind when I thought about changing the way I eat.  And I knew that I couldn’t just go from eating my current diet to dry chicken breasts.  If I did, I knew I’d soon be right back to my old ways of eating.  So I made a promise to myself that when I started my weight loss journey…

I would NOT be eating dry chicken breasts.

So before I started the Bright Line Eating online boot camp (see my review here), I bought myself a gift.  I purchased what I call my number one Bright Line Eating secret weapon.  A secret weapon that would prevent me from ever eating another dried chicken breast again.

And what was it that I bought?

A sous vide cooker.

Sous Vide Cooking

The term, “sous vide” means “under vacuum.”  Basically, meat is vacuum sealed in a plastic bag and then submerged in water.  The sous vide cooker then heats up the water to the exact temperature you select.  Do you like your steak a medium rare?  No problem.  Set the sous vide temp to 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 Celsius) and you’ll get a medium rare steak every single time.

No more undercooked meat.  No more overcooked, dried out meat.

 

Sous Vide Cooking Cons

I’m going to share with you why sous vide cooking is my number one Bright Line Eating secret weapon.  But first, let me give you a few of the downsides.

Up Front Financial Investment

First, there is a bit of a financial investment on the front end.  A typical sous vide cooker typically costs about $80 to $200.  The optional accessories that typically go with it (like a vacuum sealer) can cost another $80 to $200.

And if you choose to purchase a vacuum sealer you will have some ongoing expense to purchase the plastic rolls or bags that go with it.  (Alternately, you can often use gallon size freezer bags to keep your cost down.)

Longer Cooking Time

Second, sous vide cooking is a slow process.  Typically cooking steak or chicken breasts will take an hour or two so you need to plan accordingly. We have even done some recipes that had us cook the meat for 24 to 72 hours.

And before you cook your food, you need to get the water to the proper temperature.  This can add another 20 to 60 minutes depending on the quality of your sous vide device.  So all in, I would typically plan on about two to three hours of cooking time.

Different Food Appearance

Additionally, a note about appearance. When you initially take your meat out of the sous vide bath, it may not look very appetizing.  But don’t worry.  That is because after cooking sous vide, you need to sear the meat.  Just put it in a pan or on the grill to give it that nice golden brown outside.  After a proper sear, it will look delicious.

However, be careful not to sear your meat too long or you’ll over cook it.  If you do, you’ll end up with dry meat which defeats the entire purpose of sous vide cooking.  You can reduce this risk by using thicker cuts of meat.

 

 

sous vide cooking

Sous Vide Cooking Pros

So how has cooking sous vide been so helpful on my Bright Line Eating journey?

Automaticity

Automaticity is your best friend when it comes to sticking with your food plan and sous vide cooking is a perfect fit.  For example, on the weekend I can buy six pounds of chicken breast (or whatever is on sale), vacuum seal them at home and throw them in the freezer.  And because you can cook frozen meat with a sous vide cooker, you don’t even need to mess with thawing your meat the night before.

This makes committing your food the day (or week before) so easy!  You just walk to your freezer, choose the meat you want to eat the next day and write it down in your food diary.

And because 90% of the food prep is already done, you are so much more likely to stick to the plan.  All you need to do for your protein is to throw it in the sous vide cooker, walk away, come back two or three hours later and sear it in a pan.  Then just weigh your portion size and enjoy.

This has been so helpful to me because when dinner time rolls around I am really hungry it only takes me about five minutes to grab my meat and have it on my plate ready to eat.

 

 

Great Food, Every Time

No more dry chicken breasts!  Even if you’re a lousy cook, you can cook your meat perfectly every time.  I’ve cooked steak, hamburgers, salmon, shrimp, lamb, sausages, pork tenderloin and even duck.  (Oh, and of course, chicken breasts.) I cooked all of them to the exact temperature I specified.

So as long as you start with a fresh cut of meat and the temperature you like the most (you might need to experiment a bit), you’ll enjoy a moist and delicious source of protein every time.

And the beauty of sous vide cooking is that you can safely cook at lower temperatures than you can with other cooking methods (for a technical explanation why, see this article on Food Safety with Sous Vide Cooking).  These slightly lower cooking temperatures are why your food can be so much more tender and of restaurant quality.

Greater Odds of Success

When you are in the weight loss phase of Bright Line Eating, especially at the beginning, hunger and temptation are two factors that can really derail your success.  For example, if you’re a bit hungry a couple hours before dinner time and you have to smell dinner cooking in the oven or slow cooker, you can easily go from mildly hungry to ravenous in a matter of seconds.  And the hungrier you feel, the more energy and will power it takes to stick to your bright lines.

But by cooking sous vide, you don’t smell your food while it’s cooking!  In fact, you don’t have to hear it or even see it until just minutes before you eat it.  I actually keep my sous vide set up on a counter in the basement so that it is completely out of sight.

Healthy Non-Meat Options

The other thing I like about sous vide cooking is that you can cook a variety of non-meat options as well.  For example, you can make hard boil eggs, homemade yogurt and even cook vegetables.

For breakfast my wife enjoys a sous vide egg bite recipe I adapted for Bright Line Eating that I call “Spicy Bites” (see recipe below).  It is an egg and cheese dish similar to one served at a national coffee shop chain.  I cook and then store each protein serving in a four ounce Mason jar.  In the morning you just take one out of the refrigerator, remove the metal lid and pop it in the microwave.  A hot and easy breakfast protein serving that is ready in less than a minute.

And, if you like your cooked vegetables tender and crispy, you’ll love cooking vegetables with the sous vide cooker.  Vegetables that cook in the sous vide tend to retain their bright colors and because they are vacuum sealed in a bag, you don’t lose a ton of the nutrients like you would if you boiled them.

Summary

So for me sous vide cooking has been my Bright Line Eating secret weapon.  It has helped me enjoy healthy food that is perfectly cooked.  It helps reduce my hunger and cravings while food is cooking.  And it has added some fun and excitement into my cooking and it has given me something to look forward to eating at most meals.

If you’re looking to step up your Bright Line Eating game and enjoy perfectly cooked meat at every meal, why don’t you give sous vide cooking a try?

Equipment

If you’re interested in trying sous vide cooking yourself, you’ll find the equipment that I use in my set up listed below:

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Spicy Bites - Sous Vide Egg Bites

This recipe will set you up for a week of fast and delicious breakfast protein servings. Just pop a spicy bite in the microwave for 60 seconds and you're ready to enjoy.

This will make 8 individual protein servings for a female in the BLE weight loss phase. Men can do an extra half of a spicy bite or supplement with another 1/3 of a protein serving. I've adapted this recipe from a few different recipes (see below) in order to make it Bright Line Eating compliant. I've also used pepper jack cheese to give the egg bites a nice kick. Thus the name, "Spicy Bites." If you don't like the extra spice, you can substitute another kind of cheese. Recipe Inspirations: https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/your-favorite-sous-vide-egg-bites-at-home https://www.platingsandpairings.com/instant-pot-sous-vide-egg-bites-starbucks-copycat/ https://anovaculinary.com/easy-homemade-sous-vide-egg-bites/

Course: Protein

Main Ingredient: Eggs

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 1 hr

Total Time: 1 hr 20 min

Yield: 8 Egg Bites

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 8 Eggs Large
  • 4 oz Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
  • 4 oz Pepper Jack Cheese Shredded
  • 18 tsp salt Optional

Directions

  1. Spray Eight 4oz mason jars with a non-stick spray.
  2. Place cracked eggs, ricotta, pepper jack cheese and salt (optional) into a blender or food processor.
  3. Blend to a smooth consistency.
  4. Evenly pour egg mixture into the mason jars.
  5. Place the lids on the jars, closing lightly with only with your fingertips so water will not leak into the jars, but some air can escape as they are cooking. If no air can escape, the jars could shatter during cooking.
  6. Set sous vide temperature to 180° F.
  7. After the water has reached the full temperature, use tongs to carefully place the closed mason jars into the water and cook for 30 to 45 minutes.
  8. Eat right away or place in the refrigerator for up to a week. To reheat, remove the metal lid and microwave for about 60 seconds.
  9. Alternative Instant Pot instructions:
  10. 1. Place trivet in the bottom of the liner.
  11. 2. Create an aluminum foil sling for easy retrieval (https://danavento.com/how-to-make-slings-for-use-in-the-instant-pot/)
  12. 3. Add 1-cup water
  13. 4. Place filled silicone baby food mold into the Instant Pot; cover with aluminum foil.
  14. 5. Set valve to seal, steam for 9-minutes, natural pressure release for 10-minutes and then switch valve to release.
  15. 6. Remove the mold and let sit for a few minutes before removing eggs.

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