If the only thing you know how to make for dinner is reservations, you might need to read this!
March is National Nutrition Month and this month is all about getting Canadians and Americans cooking. Why bother? When you cook at home, you control the quality and the nutrition benefits of the foods you choose to eat. No icky chemicals. Way less salt, sugar and junky fats. Way more fruit and veg. You also save a ton of dough!
Here are some of my favourite tips to make a home-cooked meal a reality. What is your favourite home cooking tip? Let me know on twitter, where I will be sharing cooking tips all month long!
1. Make it easier with pre-prepped and ready to eat foods.
Foods like frozen chopped kale or cubed butternut squash, canned lentils or pre-cut veggies make it easier to get a soup, stirfry or salad together in no time. Just make sure you read the ingredients to ensure that there is no added salt, sugar or preservatives. Need a snack? Munch on an apple, raw almonds or pop cherry tomatoes like candy. Feel virtuous and energized in no time flat!
2. Embrace meal assembly.
Think you have to be a master chef to cook at home? I have been cooking for 25 years and am nowhere near that level of fancypants cuisine. Instead of thinking you have to create masterpieces, why not just assemble simple meals from simple ingredients? You can make a quesadilla from a sprouted grain wrap, wilted spinach and refried beans in 5 minutes. Add black beans to a fresh carrot soup and serve with whole grain rye crackers for a 5 minute supper. Make a salad with cherry tomatoes, baby bocconcini, chick peas and basil leaves. Keep meals simple by searching for 15 minute meals on the internet….there are literally thousands to choose from.
3. Plan it out.
You need to have food in the cupboard in order to cook. Keep staples on hand that make putting a meal together a cinch!
Here is a good pantry start with endless meal opportunities: whole wheat pasta, quinoa and sprouted grain bread and wraps; a variety of canned beans, tomatoes, fish; frozen greens, corn, peas, berries and edamame; pre-washed spinach, cherry tomatoes, carrots, onions, bananas, apples, lemons; organic tofu, miso, frozen sustainable fish filets; skim milk or vegetarian milk, plain yogurt, eggs; olive oil, salt and pepper.
4. Embrace the smoothie and set the tone for a healthy, homemade day.
It takes 5 minutes to make and you can cram a whole bunch of fruit and veg into it to get your engines running. Try this simple berry smoothie: ½ cup frozen blueberries, ½ cup packed baby spinach, ½ banana, ½ cup plain Greek yogurt or plain silken tofu and 1 cup water. Ready to move on? The internet is filled with free recipes.
5. Start small.
The easiest dinner in the world? Boil water, add pasta. Cook until al dente, drain. Warm a natural pasta sauce. Toss with pasta. Serve with a side of spinach dressed in oil and lemon juice.
Commit to cooking at home at least one meal a week. Have fun, be experimental. Some will taste amazing…others maybe less exciting. Cooking at home is the foundation of a healthy diet.