Simple and Healthy Ways to Liven Up Your Kitchen
Are you in a “food rut?” Do you seem to cook the same meals over and over again? Is your family looking for something new? We’ve all been cooking more at home during these trying times. Make this time the time you liven it up with simple and healthy new ideas. Your whole family will love and embrace the change.
12 ways to liven up the kitchen and embrace healthy change:
- Make one small modification in your diet each week. Whatever your modification is, focus on small, healthy changes instead of extreme decisions or quick fixes. Maybe your minor modification is eliminating sugar, dairy, gluten or cutting back on processed snack foods. With just one of these changes per week, you will have given your diet a transformation before you know it.
- Next time you are grocery shopping or enjoying a trip to the farmer’s market, pick up one vegetable you don’t recognize. Put this new vegetable in your cart or basket and bring it home. Look up the new vegetable online and find a recipe that uses it. Do this every time you shop. Be brave, and just do it! We have thousands of recipes on our Pinterest page, or you can find over 500 anti-inflammatory recipes in The Official Anti-Inflammatory Diet Masterclass. Using this course will take the guesswork out of cooking.
- Prep in advance – prep all your ingredients for the week at once. You can save a lot of time only pulling ingredients, cutting boards and knives out one time and chopping/prepping for everything at once. Bonus: only 1 clean up!
- Substitute your starches—swap rice or potatoes with cauliflower rice, whole-grain quinoa, buckwheat, millet, or sorghum. Or substitute with starchy vegetables like parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, sweet potato, beets or winter squash. You will find it surprising how cauliflower rice can be a great rice substitute. My family rarely notices it.
- Incorporate new foods for breakfast. There is such a delicious world beyond eggs, cereal, carb-loaded waffles and toast! No rule says you must eat that stuff for breakfast. What about sautéed, roasted or raw vegetables, or whole grains? I love to make a BLT wrap to start my day. I get the protein from the bacon, veggies from the tomato and lettuce wrap, and a bit of fat from a healthy mayo (see recipe below). Or see the next point.
- Drink smoothies! The combinations are limitless and provide so much nutrition in an instant. Smoothies are good for breakfast, a snack or lunch. You can easily include multiple servings of fruits and vegetables into one smoothie – it is a great way to sneak healthy foods into your diet. I’ve included two favorite smoothie recipes below. If the fruit and veggies you like the most are out of season, buy them frozen to start your day off on the right foot. Remember when you’re making smoothies that you can incorporate any fruits and vegetables that you like along with some almond milk and ice to make the smoothie that’s just right for you – no recipe necessary.
- Alternate your foods. Don’t eat the same food more than two days in a row, or only eat it every other day. Rotating foods is better for your digestion and provides more nutrition. It also reduces the risk of allergic reactions. It will force you to try adding new ingredients in your diet and make it much harder to fall into the dreaded “food rut.”
- Eat seasonally as often as possible. By preparing seasonal foods, change is going to happen as you take advantage of the wide variety of foods available throughout the year. And a wide variety of foods will also give you variety in your recipes and meals throughout the year.
- Keep a well-stocked pantry. A well-stocked pantry will keep you from falling into old habits of “Taco Tuesday” (and Wednesday, and Thursday…taco meat lasts forever!) or making that boxed pasta because you don’t have any other ingredients in the house. A pantry of basics will allow you to try new recipes and provide a solid base for experimenting with new recipes and ideas. You’re also teaching your kids good habits by keeping a good supply of healthy basics.
- Turn left overs into new meals – left over taco meat goes into a casserole; left over veggies in an omelet; leftover steak in fajitas; left over chicken to top a salad……you get the idea! Clean out the refrigerator and make soup – use all of your leftover vegetables and proteins then add broth, salsa, herbs or whatever you have on hand. Pantry items like pumpkin, coconut milk, rice, quinoa, etc. make a nice addition to soup as well.
- Share with a friend! If you’re hesitant about trying new food, grab a friend to try it with you. By splitting the cost it becomes more affordable, and it gives you a support buddy while trying new things! It’s also more fun to shop with a friend. I shop with Ashley (our resident professional anti-inflammatory chef) at Sam’s Club or Costco to buy in bulk at lower prices. She gives me great ideas on what to prepare; sometimes she’ll make one meal, I’ll prepare another and we will share them between our families.
- Research different ethnic cuisines. Periodically, make an authentic recipe from the culture of your choice. Try Cuban, Ethiopian, French, Indian, Japanese, Mexican, Thai or one of the many other ethnic cuisine options. I love doing this because it makes cooking and eating an adventure, like taking a vacation in your very own kitchen. I’ve even done this for my book club. I choose a book with a cultural twist and prepare a meal and drinks from that culture. Sometimes I’ll also decorate the dinner table in the cultural theme and play music to match. It’s a fun night for everyone!
Classic MayonnaiseServings: 1 cup
- ½ cup grapeseed oil
- ½ cup pure olive oil
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Sea salt to taste
- 1 Tbsp boiling water
- Combine grapeseed and olive oils in a glass measuring cup with a spout.
- In a blender or food processor, combine egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and salt to taste. While the blender is running, add a few drops of the oil and blend until combined. Continue adding the oil, a few drops at a time, until the mixture is slightly thickened and pale yellow in color. Slowly add the remaining oil in a steady stream, blending continuously until creamy.
- Thin the mayonnaise to your liking with the boiling water. Taste and season with salt and lemon juice as needed.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
Mayonnaise Tips for Success
- If the mayonnaise separates or breaks, start with a clean bowl, a fresh egg yolk and 1 tsp fresh lemon juice. Add the separated mayonnaise a drop at a time, whisking until a thick mixture forms. After about half is added, increase the drops to a very thin stream, whisking constantly.
- A combination of olive oil and grapeseed oil will make a tremendous all-purpose mayonnaise. All olive oil will produce an intense mayonnaise, and all grapeseed oil a mild mayonnaise.
- For potato or chicken salads, use 2–3 Tbsp mayonnaise per cup of potatoes or chicken.
- Food processor or blender mayonnaise is not cheating! No need to work those muscles making it by hand.
- Mayonnaise can be served on cold or warm foods.
Apple Spinach SmoothieServings: 1
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 cup fresh organic baby spinach
- ¼ cup almond milk
- ½ lime, peeled
- ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
- ¼ orange, peeled
- 4 ice cubes
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 frozen banana, sliced
- 6 strawberries or other fresh berries of choice, chopped
- ¼ inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- ¼ inch piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp chia seeds
- ½ tsp flax seeds
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach
- 6 ice cubes
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for several minutes until smooth in consistency. Pour into a glass and enjoy.
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