BACK TO BASICS:
It’s time to go back to cooking basics. These simple tips and pieces of cooking information for some might seem obvious but being informed about kitchen tools and cooking methods can help you be more comfortable in the kitchen, and help you make the most of food’s amazing properties and nutritional value. Once you’ve got the basics down then the opportunities are endless for all you can do in the kitchen and the amazing meals you can make in your very home! Cooking is an act of self-care and self-love, we want to fuel our bodies with the best, and being able to make healthy meals yourself is so rewarding. We’ve all got the extra time now to practice and test out new cooking styles at home, so why not? Keep reading for my keys to basic healthy cooking!
Ingredients: When it comes to choosing the food you’ll prepare, remember that that fresh is best, local is even better (check out my other blog post on buying local) and organic is ideal. The combination of local, fresh, organic food is an amazing trio. These foods offer you the most nutrients and are best for your body and environment. However, these options aren’t always available and can be pricey. Commercial and frozen produce is okay! Just remember when shopping to try to shop on the perimeter of the grocery store to help avoid packaged and processed foods.
Healthy cooking doesn’t have to be complicated, keeping things simple and planning ahead makes the biggest difference! When preparing to cook remember these tips:
• Fancy equipment isn’t necessary: Even though air fryers are a huge time saver they aren’t completely necessary, you can make the most of the tools and appliance you have in your kitchen right now. You’ll be surprised how versatile things can be, and once you get more comfortable, then you can add new things along the way and splurge on fancy appliances you know you’ll use.
• Plan ahead: planning your menu in advance and what meals you want to make each week; can help you save time and money. You can plan to create multiple food options from one main dish. Having prepared foods can help limit unhealthy eating from last minute meal decisions and or rushed preparation.
• Spice it up! Using spices in your cooking and understanding flavor profiles is a huge game changer and can help take your dishes to the next level. I love experimenting with spices and getting creative. The more you cook the more you’ll learn about what flavors work best for you!
• Experiment: Don’t be afraid to explore new recipes and see what others are making. I love buying a fruit or vegetable I’ve never had before and challenging myself to use it in a meal!
Tools and Appliances:
Knowing how to effectively use kitchen tools can help you become more comfortable in the kitchen and stay safe!
o Knives: there are a ton of different cooking knives and blades can come in a variety of different materials, a basic rule of thumb is the harder the material, the stronger the edge, and the longer it will remain sharp. Remember to sharpen knives regularly, dull knives cause accidents!! Knowing a few basics types and their uses is beneficial:
▪ Santoku knives: light small knives with a straight edge, best used for chopping, slicing and mincing veggies and meats
▪ Fillet Knives: flexible knives used to fillet and prepare fish
▪ Usuba Knives: have thin blades for cutting firm veggie and other foods with precision
▪ Cleaver knives: these knives have large heavy blades for splitting meat and bone
o Pots and Pans: there are also a variety of different types of pots and pans based on their material make-up. Each different type has different uses and care requirements:
▪ Stainless steel: these are the most versatile and can be used both on the stove and in the oven
▪ Cast Iron: these pans are super durable which makes them a great choice and the more you use it the more natural flavor it will add to your food.
▪ Copper: these pans are the most expensive and require the most upkeep but the also the best for temperature control.
▪ Ceramic: very versatile, easy to clean, withstands high temperatures and last a long time, saving you money!
• Dehydrators: These remove moisture from meats, fruits, and veggies helping to preserve nutrients. They can be used to create snacks like homemade jerky, and dried fruit
• Juicers: juicers separate the fiber and pulp from fruits and veggies, just leaving the juice. They allow you to consume a large volume of produce, and therefore vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
• Pressure cookers: pressure cookers allow you to prepare food fast, they cook food up to three times faster than conventional methods all while preserving the food’s essential vitamins and nutrients.
• Slow cookers: Slow cookers are an amazing option if you are low on time and can plan ahead. They allow for hours of unattended cooking of meals such a soups and pot roast. Put all your ingredients into the pot in the morning, set the timer, and by dinner time your food will be done!
There are so many sources of information about cooking and it can get overwhelming, but don’t be afraid to experiment and learn by doing. Keep these basics in mind and just have fun with it all while being safe!