I am a huge advocate for getting into the kitchen and preparing the majority of your meals yourself. I think that one of the reasons so many people today are struggling with their health is that they have no clue how to make or prepare their own food so they rely on others (mainly restaurants and packaged food products) to do it for them. Maybe you weren’t taught how to cook and the kitchen intimidates you or you do know how to cook you just think it’s boring and tedious. Whatever the case may be, I have a few kitchen tips for you today that can help you in journey to be healthy. Some of these were taught, some I’ve figured out along the way, and some I’ve picked up from places like the Food Network (thanks Alton Brown!). Hopefully these tips will help you get over your fear of the kitchen or cut down the time that you spend prepping food so that you can get on with your day!
- Ever heard of a Silpat? I hadn’t either until I was watching Iron Chef on Food Network. It’s basically a thin silicon mat that you can use instead of aluminum foil or parchment paper. The nice thing about the Silpat is that it’s non-stick and can handle fairly high heat, which makes it ideal for baking and roasting vegetables. With the Silpat you can use less oil because you don’t have to worry about your food sticking to the pan, plus it’s reusable so you don’t have to keep replacing it. I use mine almost every day. It’s a great time and money saver!
- Invest in a variety of sizes of glass storage containers. I have a few different sizes of the pyrex brand and I use them all the time. These are really helpful in terms of food prep as well as leftovers. If you buy a bunch of fruit and vegetables at the store (which I highly encourage), you can come home and wash and cut them right away, then store them in your containers. I like the glass kind because they last longer and are much sturdier than the plastic containers. Also, storing your food in see through containers helps remind you of all the healthy prepared food you have in the fridge!
- While we’re on the subject of glass containers, try storing your spices and grains in mason jars or other recycled glass jars. If you buy this stuff in bulk it’s much easier (and prettier) store them in jars instead of the bags you use at the grocery store. Plus once again, if you store your food in see through containers you’ll be much more likely to use them more often!
- Silicone spatulas are a great thing to have in the kitchen. They are good for making scrambled eggs, scooping batter out of the bowl, and scraping up the last of the cookie dough. I have a variety of shapes and sizes that I use all the time. They are great because they are non stick, won’t scratch your pots or pans, and can function in a variety of situations. Plus they’re fairly cheap, so stock up on a few.
- Have a few different cutting boards instead of just one. Once you start having a food prep day, you’ll be cutting, chopping, and dicing a variety of foods. It’s nice to have a few cutting boards that you can rotate instead of having to wash the same one over and over again. This makes food prep go faster and makes your cutting boards last longer. I’m a fan of wooden cutting boards, but plastic or even silicone ones work just as well.
- One of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables is to roast them in the oven. Upside: this makes the vegetables taste amazing. Downside: the vegetables have a tendency to stick to the pan (even using a Silpat). At least mine did until I started preheating the roasting pan in the oven. Think about it, whenever you cook something on the stovetop you heat the pan/oil up BEFORE you put the food in the pan. Why not do the same thing with your roasting pan in the oven? A few minutes before you plan to put your vegetables or whatever else your roasting in the oven, place the pan in the preheated oven. Then prep your food with whatever oil/spices you’re using. Pull out the preheated pan and carefully spread your food out onto the pan. You should hear that satisfying sizzle as the food hits the warm pan, just like on the stovetop! This little trick (plus my Silpat) has helped cut down the amount of stuck vegetables on my pans!
- I love dark leafy greens like collard greens or kale, but sometimes they can have a very bitter taste to them. I can’t remember where I learned this but by soaking leafy greens in ice water for about an hour before cooking/eating them can cut down on the bitter taste. Wash and cut your greens like normal then place them in a large bowl, cover with water, and add a few ice cubes. Store this bowl in the fridge for an hour. After the hour is up drain the greens and dry in a salad spinner or with some paper towels. Prepare your greens however you like, sans the bitter taste!
- For the longest time, I was afraid to use too much salt in my cooking. The thing I was most worried about was consuming too much sodium like most of the U.S. This resulted in under salting all my dishes, leaving them with a bland taste. The problem with salt is that we’re consuming too much added sodium, mostly from packaged foods. Once I got over my salt phobia and started adding the right amount to my dishes, everything started to taste a lot better. Now I’m not saying go salt crazy and add heaps of it to every single piece of food, but salt naturally enhances the flavors of most dishes. Using it properly can actually help you feel more satisfied.
Other Kitchen Tips
- If one of the problems you have is overeating, try using smaller bowls or plates when you eat. You can trick your brain into thinking that it is eating more food when in fact you are eating less. When you have a big plate, the tendency is to fill that plate to the brim. This means that portions are generally much bigger than they need to be. Try eating off a smaller plate and you can cut down your portion sizes without feeling like you are depriving yourself.
- I just learned about this tip and it’s awesome. Try using a condiment dispenser for your olive oil instead of just pouring it right out of the bottle. This will cut down on the amount of oil that you use because you have better control of how much oil comes out. Plus it will keep the bottle and your hands from getting oily because there won’t be any oil dripping down the side of the bottle! You can find the condiment dispensers at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for $2.
- When using your cutting board on a slippery surface, like a granite counter, place a dish towel underneath it. This will help keep the cutting board in place as you cut your food so you have less risk of cutting your finger off in the process. Now that’s a good what I call a win-win!
These are a few tips that make my time in the kitchen a little easier and healthier. What are some kitchen tips that you have learned along the way? Have a great day and I’ll see you Friday with another recipe!