Know what we’re tired of?
The not-so-subtle implication that healthy food is somehow lame and boring. That when you transition into a restricted diet, you have to “give up all the good stuff.”
Fast food companies using masculinity as a selling point for disgusting food — like, REAL MEN EAT WHOPPERS. SALADS ARE FOR SISSIES, YOU SISSY. (That was my man voice.)
Or this whole “treat yourself, you deserve it” angle. As if all that healthy food you eat all week is this major sacrifice, and that truly treating yourself means eating pizza and cupcakes.
And we wonder why America’s in the middle of a health crisis.
These are the things on our minds when we design menus at Factor.
Exciting flavor combinations. Clean ingredients. Satisfying portions. Manliness.
Seriously. We want fireworks going off when you eat our food.
To prove that you can have fireworks and optimal nutrition, I’ve pulled together 7 of the team’s favorite meals from our current menu. And get this — no two team members chose the same meal.
We must be doing something right.
For each dish, I’ve included some basic steps to help you recreate these at home.
But of course, that all depends on your willingness and ability to put in some stovetop time.
If you’re not a great cook (or you just don’t have time), a blog post isn’t going to help that much.
But this might.
1. Buffalo Chicken Casserole
People seem to think of hot wings as junk food. But that’s only because a) they’re usually fried in yucky oil, and b) we associate them with OTHER junk food, like chips and pizza and “game day” gorge-fests.
The truth is, there’s nothing inherently wrong with drowning some chicken in a flavorful sauce. Which is what we’ve done here, only we’ve casseroled it (which is totally a word, shut up) with spaghetti squash, onions, and peppers.
Do it Yourself
Find a hot sauce that isn’t loaded down with sugar. Combine this with your favorite buffalo sauce and marinate chicken breasts overnight.
Bake them at 375°, turning & basting once, until skin is crispy and no pink remains (about 40 minutes).
While the chicken cooks, roast a spaghetti squash until soft (about 30 minutes, depending on size).
When both squash and chicken are cool enough to handle, remove the chicken from the bone and chop, and pull the squash out of its skin with a fork.
If you want it to be casserole-y, mix the spaghetti squash and chicken together with some sautéed onions and bell peppers, then place that mixture in a loaf pan and let it set in the fridge for an hour or so. When you heat it up, bring the pan back to room temperature before popping it in the oven.
Casserole is kind labor intensive, though, and not really necessary. You can make the exact same flavor combination by just throwing it all together in a bowl and chowing down.
We make it into casserole because it looks cooler, and because we love you.
2. Factor Burger
We make lots o-burgers at Factor. I think we have a burger problem.
But even though we have so many interesting varieties, the classic Factor Burger is always a hands-down fave. (It’s the bacon chutney.)
Do it Yourself
The reason this burger is so freaking awesome is because it doesn’t mess around when it comes to flavor. Season your burger mixture with garlic powder, salt, and lots of black pepper. (Or do what my mom does, and use fresh onions and garlic.)
Add some different spices to… well, spice things up. We like a hit of turmeric.
The other reason this burger rocks is that chutney. To create something similar, put a can of tomatoes in a pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, cook bacon in a 400° oven. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
Add a little salt to your tomatoes (not too much; you’re gonna add bacon soon), and a touch of molasses. Let this reduce by at least half. You should have a thick sauce now.
Chop up the bacon and stir it into the tomatoes. This is best served fresh so the bacon stays crispy. But if you heat it up the next day (like you do with all Factor meals) it’ll still taste bomb.
3. Lemon Dill Salmon
Full disclosure: the dish that was actually chosen was our Chipotle Coconut Salmon, which was quickly followed by the comment “Anything-Salmon.” I couldn’t grab a picture of the Coconut Salmon, so we’re talking about this one instead.
‘Cause we rock at cooking salmon.
It seems too simple, right? Like a backslide into boring-healthy. The addition of roasted beets and cauliflower bring it back though.
Do it Yourself
Cut the tops off your beets and wrap in foil, like a Hershey Kiss. The top of the beet (which you cut off) now becomes a flat bottom. Set beets up on a tray and roast in a 375° oven for about an hour. Cool enough to handle, and they’ll slip right out of their skin. (Golden beets are less messy than red beets, FYI.)
Meanwhile, spread roughly chopped cauliflower on a baking sheet and add a drizzle of olive oil and salt. You can roast this along with the beets, but it’ll be done much sooner, like in 20 minutes.
Chop up the beet and toss with the cauliflower, then serve on the side.
My favorite way to cook salmon is to poach it in white wine and olive oil. To do this, add equal parts oil & wine to a skillet, enough to fill it with about an inch of liquid. Bring to a simmer, then add the salmon (with fresh dill, if you want) and cover.
The salmon will poach in about 7 minutes, depending on the thickness. Don’t pick up the lid while it cooks.
4. Herb Roasted Chicken
Again, it seems like we’re in chicken-and-broccoli territory (because we are), but there’s one thing that separates boring healthy food from exciting healthy food:
Knowing how to f*cking cook.
The beauty of this dish is how simple it is. If you don’t over bake your chicken, it’ll taste awesome! If you steam broccoli until it’s bright green and still has a little crunch, it won’t be mushy and bland.
Sometimes less is more.
Do it Yourself
You can season a chicken breast (or a whole roast!) with any combination of herbs you like. Roast sweet potatoes in the very same oven, and mash with a fork when they’re cool enough to handle.
Season potatoes with butter and salt. Whenever you’re ready, steam some broccoli to serve on the side.
This is a good one to make in large quantity so you can eat multiple meals from the same effort.
5. Spiced Steak with Herb Roasted Potatoes
You can’t go wrong with steak and potatoes, right?
But when you have crispy purple potatoes and just the right amount of spice… damn.
Everyone at Factor pretty much loves this meal (except the losers who don’t eat meat). It’s one of our all-time faves.
Do it Yourself
Roasting potatoes is easy. Just cut them up into small-ish wedges and tos them in rosemary and olive oil. (I like to line my baking sheets with parchment paper for easy cleanup. You’re welcome.)
I’m not gonna give away our spice rub, because I value my job. Also — c’mon.
But I will say that it’s a dry rub, that it’s influenced by Moroccan flavors, and that we use a metric f*ckton of it on every steak. Grill your steak to sear the outside, and keep the inside medium rare. Let it rest for at least five minutes before slicing.
6. Roast Turkey with Coconut Creamed Spinach
We can’t get enough of Thanksgiving in a Box. This meal is like, endlessly satisfying — my husband’s eaten it every week for about two months and shows no signs of stopping.
The full meal (this picture is just a giant plate of spinach, obviously) has roast turkey slices, sweet potatoes, and a side of cranberry sauce. (I’m obsessed with cranberry sauce, btw.)
Do it Yourself
The show-stopper in this dish is the coconut creamed spinach. Here’s how to do it:
Sauté a chopped onion in coconut oil for about 10 minutes, until soft. Stir in a can of coconut milk — full fat, none of this “light” stuff — and about a pound (10-12 cups) of spinach. If you have any chicken stock on hand, add a splash of that as well.
Simmer until liquid reduces by half. Season with salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg. Boom.
7. Bison Loaf
I included this one because it’s my favorite. Be forewarned — it is SPICY. Fireworks in your mouth!
Not everyone likes that, but I have thought about this meal in bed.
Not like that. Okay maybe like that.
Do it Yourself
Ground bison may be hard to come by, but you can make a decent imitation with grass-fed ground beef.
The heat in this dish comes from ginger, cayenne, and turmeric. When you’re mixing the meatloaf, use fresh grated ginger, and remember a little bit of turmeric goes a long way.
Tip: whenever I do any kind of meatloaf, I add about 1.5 teaspoons of ground flaxseed to hold it all together.
The other reason I love this dish? Carrot coins. Not sure why these are so awesome to me — all you do is slice carrots on a diagonal, into rounds. Steam until soft; toss in butter and salt.
So now you’ve got an arsenal of creative kitchen feats. No more healthy = boring.
But what if you work ’til 7:00 at night, or prefer to spend your Saturday in the woods (not the grocery store)?
What if you just don’t feel like cooking?
I don’t blame you. I love to cook — I’m really good at it, too — but I’m doing EVERYTHING right now. I spend all day on the computer, or running around to various meetings, I have to get up super early to squeeze in a workout and some Me Time, and by the time dinner rolls around, my brain is too tired to even think about cooking, let alone actually do it.
This is where Factor fits in. I use it for midday lunches. Otherwise I’d just eat salad every single day. Boring.
My husband uses it for lunch as well, because his options at work are super unhealthy. He often brings along a second meal, too. Having a prepared meal means he can actually get some exercise after work instead of rushing home for dinner.
Plus, there’s my favorite thing of all: NO DISHES.
I was skeptical about ordering these meals when I first started working here, because I’m such a foodie. But lemme tell you — worth every penny.
All 7 of these dishes are all available in our current menu rotation, which will stay in effect throughout the month of September.
And now we come to the most valuable, least talked-about cooking suggestion EVER:
Get someone else to do it for you.