I would be doing everyone a disservice if I claimed that cooking healthy at home is a zero work, ultra convenient commitment. The truth is, it often involves extra time, shifts in lifelong behaviors, and breaking out of comfort zones. But, that’s okay. Accepting that investing in your health isn’t always easy and comfortable is the first step towards making healthy changes that last.
As a dietitian, a lot of what I do involves thinking outside of the box to create tactics that make living healthy a bit easier for everyone (myself included). Cooking nutritious meals at home can be challenging and downright confusing. Over many rounds of trial and error, I’ve nailed down some simple cooking hacks for better health that will benefit the at home master chefs, as well as those of you that forgot you had a kitchen. You have my word that these tactics will add a bit more ease and nutrition to home cooking adventures:
Add Flavor Not Salt
There are so many exciting flavor profiles to explore that don’t involve the saltshaker. Your heart and overall health will thank you later if you commit now to utilizing low-sodium flavors. Vinegars, mustard, salsa, fresh-squeezed juices, herbs, and spices are all lower sodium ways to add excitement to dishes.
If you have a microwave and a mug, you can whip up coffee cup quiche, strawberry breakfast bowl, or egg fried rice like a chef. The morning I wrote this article, I made a mug scramble with eggs, spinach, and salsa in three minutes! Also, don’t forget that you can now save even more time by ordering Luvo for home or office delivery.
Use Meat as a Side Dish
Think of meat as a side dish and keep portions to three ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards. Bulk up your meals with vegetables and you’ll be just as full as you would have been if you had the 12-ounce steak. The only difference is you’ll have two more portions to save and enjoy at a later date.
Add Beans & Greens
Beans and greens are both nutrient powerhouses, super convenient, and pair well with almost any dish you can think of (and I’m thinking of these salted chocolate and black bean brownies). Add them to soups, stir-fry, smoothies, wraps, pizzas, omelets, frozen meals, etc. If all else fails, throw the two in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, and have a beans and greens salad.
Roast Fruits & Veg Whole
No prep, no problem. Cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, potatoes, carrots, onions, eggplant, grapes, apples, and cherries (to name a few) can all be roasted whole. In general, roasting temps and times range from 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit and 30 minutes to an hour.
Use a Variety of Cooking Oils and Fats
Olive oil, butter, and coconut oil have all gotten a taste of the limelight. If you’ve been following nutrition media over the past decade, you probably threw away all of your butter to replace it with olive oil to then fill the pantry with coconut oil, to now consider bringing butter back. The reality is, they all offer something different in regards to both taste and nutrition. So, mix it up. Use a variety of cooking oils that are rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, like olive, canola, sunflower and sesame, a majority of the time. Save the cooking fats that contain saturated fat, like butter and coconut oil, for special cooking occasions when their flavor is especially important for a meal.
“Sauté” with Broth
How many times have you used two cups of a carton of broth in a recipe to have it sit in the refrigerator for the next year? That was the case for me until I realized broth is a flavorful substitute for oil when sautéing vegetables or meat. Reduced waste, great taste. Win, win.
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