Chef Alli’s Top 10 Secrets to Healthy Cooking and Lifestyle

12 Kitchen Organization Tips that will Improve Your Life!

Top 10 Secrets to Healthy Cooking and Lifestyle

Do you want to cook up a healthy lifestyle? Here are my top 10 secrets to better cooking and eating. #healthyeating #healthyliving

1. Maintain a well-stocked pantry and keep the ingredients on hand at all times for 3 healthy, family-favorite recipes.

Nothing is more frustrating than learning you don’t have what you need to prepare your recipe.  And if you have to sprint to the grocery store to get those needed ingredients, you’ll soon be telling yourself you might as well run through the drive-through instead.  Keeping the ingredients on hand for 3 solid recipes that your family enjoys, ensures that you don’t have to use your energy to figure out WHAT to cook and that’s typically the hardest part!  As you cook and use up your ingredients, be sure to jot down them down on your grocery list so you’re always restocked.

2. Don’t fizzle, SIZZLE! Use the power of BROWN.

I’m not sure what famous tv chef first came up with this, but it’s so true:  When we cook, brown is not a COLOR, it’s a FLAVOR.  Caramelization and fond (all those delicious little guys stuck to the bottom of your pan!) boost flavor tremendously, so put them to work whenever you can.   Always preheat your pan before adding any ingredients – they should SIZZLE when they hit the pan’s surface – this creates the caramelization we want.  Deglazing your pan to bring the fond up off the bottom is what adds even more flavor to what you are creating – don’t waste it!

3. Try Cooking with Less Oil.

Heart healthy oils, such as olive, grape seed, and canola are great in most recipes, but they still add about 120 calories per tablespoon (roughly the size of your thumb is a tablespoon), so we got to use them sparingly.  Nonstick spray can help when trying to brown something and this typically allows you to use much less oil.  Also, adding a little wine or broth to your pan for deglazing can help you use less oil when cooking  vegetables to the tender stage.

4. Go Green – Grow an Herb Garden to Use Less Salt.

Cooking with herbs lets you create dishes that are bright, aromatic and vibrant in flavor, with no added fat, calories, or salt.  Keep a well-organized selection of dried spices on hand, too.  And, yes, spices lose their potency after they sit in the cupboard so learn to “bloom” them in your skillet over medium heat.  Once you smell their aroma, their essence has been released and this intensifies the flavor.

5. Make Creamy Dishes Without the Cream.

Ditch heavy cream and make smooth, creamy sauces with low-fat milk or fat free half and half that are thickened with flour.  Combine 1 cup low-fat milk with 4 tsp. flour, then whisk over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, to create a velvety sauce. For creamy salad dressing, opt for using low-fat mayo or substitute half of the mayo for low-fat sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.

6. Get Crispy Foods Without Using a lot of Fat.

Try oven-frying instead of deep frying in oil.  Dip chicken, fish, or veggies in milk or buttermilk, then dredge in seasoned flour or panko crumbs, then coat with non-stick spray.  Place onto a wire rack set over a baking sheet and bake, uncovered, at 425 – 450 degrees F. until browned and crispy.  Using this technique can reduce calories by about 40%.

7. Use Whole Grains in Baked Goods.

Replacing half the all-purpose flour in baked goods with whole-wheat flour adds fiber (12 more grams per cup) and boosts essential B vitamins, zinc and magnesium.  Or, substitute whole wheat PASTRY flour, cup for cup, in any recipe.

8. Add Grains and Veggies to Meaty Dishes.

When preparing ground meat dishes, such as burgers or meatloaf, add whole grains (such as bulgar or brown rice) or more veggies (such as minced mushrooms and bell peppers) to the meat to bulk up the portion size.  A good measure for this is 1 cup cooked grains or veggies for each pound of meat.

9. Use less cheese!

Reducing the amount of cheese you use in any dish immediately gives you a healthy boost by reducing the fat and calories.  By using cheeses that are more
bold and tangy in flavor, such as sharp cheddar, goat cheese, or feta, you have more flavor pronunciation with fewer calories and fat.  Trying using cheese as a garnish instead of an ingredient in recipes whenever possible.

10.  Cook like a pro:  Use good tools.

There’s no way around it – cooking is work.  Instead of making it painful drudgery, why not invest in the three tools that immediately ensure efficiency? A good, sharp chef’s knife, a large wooden cutting board (this supports your knife), and a 12” heavy-bottomed skillet or saute pan. If these tools are high-quality, they will be lifetime purchases and make your time in the kitchen much more efficient and enjoyable. Yes, there are lots of other great cooking gadgets out there, but begin with these three and add to your kitchen collection as you go.

Let’s Get You Cookin’ Healthy,
Chef Alli

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Chef Alli

Chef Alli is a home-grown Kansas girl on a mission to strengthen families through enabling kitchen confidence, educating the family cook, and encouraging better food relationships. She believes with her whole heart that time spent with our loved ones and our overall quality of life is greatly enhanced by nutritious food made at home with simple, wholesome ingredients. She loves being able to connect and share this passion with others through her website, her social media presence, and her coveted speaking engagements.

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