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  • Sara Gracey

Kitchen Tricks and Tips For Healthy Eating

HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY COOKING EASY, QUICK, AND MAINTAINABLE






With everyone’s extremely hectic schedules; juggling work, family, social obligations and everything in between, it’s becoming increasingly harder to maintain healthy eating habits. They are so many convenient unhealthy options out there to tempt us when we are tired and hungry. One almost doesn’t want to read the ingredients on the back of most processed, premade, or frozen meals much less delve into the fast food ingredients. How do we bring the cooking back into our kitchens on a regular basis? We have been asked a number of times, how do we consistently have the time for fancy home cooking? Well, we don’t, and these are some of our important tips and tricks that help make it possible to quickly put together tasty, healthy, home cooked meals.


ALWAYS COOK FOR TWO NIGHTS

We have found that doubling the recipe whenever you cook is not only easy, but it also keeps the nutrients higher than if you were to try and cook for 3 or more meals. This also makes it so you are only working hard in the kitchen every other night, which frees up evenings throughout the week for more family and relaxation time.

The energy/life force, called prana in Sanskrit, in the food we eat diminishes with each day it sits around in the fridge, which is why we only double instead of triple or quadruple the recipe. Also, it’s perfectly appealing to eat the same thing two nights in a row.

Lastly, try not to cook the crap out of the food when reheating, especially when microwaving. Vegetables should still be brightly colored and a bit crunchy. If the food has taken on a different pallor from the first night it was made, it has probably been cooked too much and the nutrients have diminished.


PAPER PLATE IT

Sometimes the aversion to cooking that night comes from not wanting to clean up the mess afterwards. When you are tired, but still want a nice home cooked meal, paper plate it! If you don’t do it all the time and it’s just with immediate family, they will understand and won’t judge. It’s more important to have that healthy home cooked meal, than to have a perfect presentation. Keeping the clutter and mess down makes frequently cooking more appealing and less daunting.

When I was 8 months pregnant, my mooching uncle was staying over for an extended stay at my home and had the audacity to complain that I was serving him homemade meals, on paper plates. He thought it to be very uncouth. Now he didn’t help with prep or clean up, but still, he felt entitled offer his opinion…which was rude and inconsiderate.

If you are worried about being environmentally respectful, smack and wipe off plates over the garbage and recycle them. Also, think about the packaging of the alternative: fast food, individually wrapped frozen meals, instant “processed” meals. They all have paper, plastic, Styrofoam, cardboard, etc. is terrible for the environment. So eating at home is definitely better for you and for the environment.


EARLY PREP

Whenever you have a free moment, do a bit of prep. Everyone’s schedules vary, but you can prep whenever, early morning, afternoon, the night before, whatever works best. Cut up veggies, marinade your chicken, fish tofu, etc. soak your beans. If it’s a slow cooker meal, you prep and cook the whole thing early, which really makes for a quick dinner.


Another way you can prepare your ingredients is to lay out your seasonings, chicken broth, sauces, noodles, flour, rice, etc before you begin so you have everything at hand and can quickly whip up your meal. What you don’t want to have to do is go hunting for an ingredient when you are right in the middle of cooking. Prep makes it so even when you are tired and don’t have the mental energy to come up with something good to eat. The less tired you are and the more prepared you are the better. Now all you have to do is quickly put the prepped meal together.


PANTRY MUST HAVES

We always have these basic things in the pantry/fridge so wide ranges of tasty meals can easily be put together:

· Nutritional Yeast

· Bone Broth

· Olive Oil

· Jar of organic veggie or chicken broth

· Variety of an aray of veggies, noodles, rice, potatoes, apples and lemons

· Different proteins – chicken, tofu, fish, beef, lentils, beans, etc (freeze meat so you can stock up on it)

· Fill up your spice rack


VARIATION IS GOOD FOR YOU

While it is easy to get stuck in our food habits because we naturally gravitate towards the comfort foods we know and love, it is very important to explore knew foods on a regular basis. Even if you do not like change, your body loves it. Repetition leads to stagnation in the body, which then can lead to various health issues. Bodies get bored and when they get bored, they cause problems. Instead, always keep the body excitedly guessing at the next new food, spice, and flavor. So pull out those cookbooks, talk to friends, family, and neighbors about their favorite go-to healthy recipes. Get re-inspired because cooking can become monotonous and talking to others can help motivate you. Also, talking to the older generations can be super fun and help continue those important cooking traditions.


CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO GODLYNESS

Cleanup is another issue that can deter one’s motivation to cook. Who wants to cook in a messy kitchen or waste all free cooking time cleaning up? Here are a few things that help lessen the workload.

Try and use as few pots and pans as possible so anytime you can rinse and reuse the same pan, go for it! While the meal is cooking, take any idle moments to clean pots, pans, measuring cups, and cutting boards, as well as put away ingredients no longer needed. Lastly, never leave the kitchen messy after the meal. Grab a cleaning buddy and quickly clean up so cooking the next day is not hindered by a messy kitchen from the day before.


SOMETIMES SIMPLE IS PERFECT

Every meal does not have to be a culinary masterpiece. It’s easy to forget how tasty, simple can be. When you are tired, but still want that healthy home cooked meal, grill up some chicken, butter and herb noodles, and good veggie. Another example, cooked lentils, or chickpeas (or any kind of bean) with veggies with rice. During certain nights of the week, don’t worry about any fancy sauces, marinades, or elaborate recipes, just go for ease.


IF ALL ELSE FAILS, PUT IT IN A SOUP!

When I really don’t have any idea what to make, I pull out a variety of ingredients or just whatever I have in the fridge and pantry and…put it in a soup. We call it clean out your fridge soup. All you need is a good broth, some kind of veggies, a protein, and maybe a starch (like noodles, rice or potatoes). The thing about soups is you can literally take a three-course meal, put it in a good broth and voila, dinner is practically done! It’s all about a good broth, which if you have our pantry must haves, is no problem. From there, the list of yummy ingredient combinations goes on forever.


PUT VEGGIES IN EVERYTHING

Some people are averse to idea of vegetables in every meal/course. That there are certain traditional dishes you just don’t mess with, but our philosophy is to get in there and mess it all up. Because most of the time, the extra veggies give the meal a delicious depth of flavor. We have gone up against many traditional dishes without any vegetables and every time, our veggie versions won the taste test hands down. For example, my corn, zucchini, and spinach chili, is to die for. Other examples of things to spice up like a health nut is: spaghetti, any sauces, mac and cheese, any soups, casseroles, risottos, basically most dishes. The other option is to puree the vegetables with a hand blender so healthy ingredients are included without the veggie texture or if you are simply trying to hide the veggies from children…or adults who act like children. :)


I hope you enjoy this post and it inspires you to get creative in the kitchen!

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