Tips For The Home Cook

Welcome to 2019 everyone!

For the past four years I have been working with patients teaching them how to use diet in efforts to reduce medication needs and improve their health. One thing I have noticed is lack of kitchen skills most patients share. This comes to no surprise since the common American relies on convenience foods. This not only includes take out foods or going to restaurants but also heat and eat style dinners instead of making food from scratch.

At this point I'm sure most of you have noticed some sort of health concern related to this way of eating which has brought you here. Or you just really want to learn how to cook which is a great reason as well. Here are some tips on how to tackle the at home cooking challenges.

1. Keep it simple.

Think about meals you enjoy and then try to replicate them. For example, if you really enjoy stopping by Chick-Fil-A for a chicken sandwich then buy some chicken thighs and make your own. For those who are following a diet void of processed carbs you will need to drop the bun and serve the sandwich over shredded cabbage with simple dressing or fresh greens. Bread the chicken thigh with crushed nuts, powdered Parmesan cheese, flax seed meal, and your favorite seasoning mix to flavor it. Bake the chicken thighs in the oven at 375 degrees or cook in an air fryer. Then serve and enjoy. Oh yeah, did I mention that this would cost $10 to feed your family of four instead of the $5-9/sandwich it would normally cost?

2. Use lots of vegetables.

When your cooking food at home you have the flexibility to add more varieties of vegetables than you would typically find in your usual quick food setting options. With a wider range of vegetables comes more flavor and texture. For example, if you like roasts try adding fennel heart and rutabaga with the onions, celery, and carrots.

3. Season to your tastes.

What I mean by this is that you have a unique flavor combination you prefer, everyone does. So make foods taste the way you prefer them to. Search through the spice sections at stores and grocery stores to find a mix that "calls" to you. Once you have a winner use this as your seasoning mix of choice. When you are making recipes use the spice mix you prefer, as long as it meshes with the food you are making.

4. Plan ahead.

When making food at home from scratch meals will take longer to prepare. That is not a question in my mind at all. But the prep time can be cut down with proper planning. For example, if you know you are going to be making a stir-fry for dinner then cut your veggies over the weekend so that when it is time to make the meal your prep time to cut is no longer needed.

5. Pre-make/bake ahead.

Think about the nights you get home late and how you might get around those meals. I suggest making a casserole over the weekend that can be taken out and warmed up rather than making the whole meal start to finish you are just pulling one out you have already made and heating it up. You could also use an instapot or crockpot to make meals on these nights.

I hope these tips are able to help you approach cooking at home with a little less fear.

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