By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
As a nutritionist I often hear complaints about the time and effort it takes to prepare and eat healthy foods. As a mother and the family chef, I understand. Sometimes after a long day the last thing you feel like doing is making dinner. Ordering in seems so much easier. Unfortunately take out and restaurant food includes unhealthy ingredients. High cost and calories aren’t good for your health, your wallet or your waist line.
Eating healthy does not have to be difficult. Here are some great tips for cutting down cooking time and improving kitchen skills to help you prepare healthy meals more easily.
1. Pre-cut your vegetables.
Throw your chopped vegetable ingredients in a pot of stock for a quick easy soup, or saute in a pan for a quick tasty stir-fry, or of course just add them to your juicer! You can also grate raw beets or carrots, dice onions, slice tomatoes, cut peppers, carrots or celery and store them in a glass air-tight containers to retain their freshness.
2. Don’t throw away half used produce.
Once you’ve cut tomatoes, onions, pineapples, lemons, etc. store them cut side down in a glass container to avoid oxidation and avoid wrapping in plastic. If not using right away, cube them and freeze them for later.
3. Make your own salad dressings & store for easy quick drizzling.
Make salad dressings and sauces yourself without all the added sugars, flavor enhancers and artificial colors and preservatives. Try making this Honey Sesame Dressing and store in the fridge in an airtight container for easy dispensing.
4. Peel garlic with ease.
Now this has driven me mad for years until someone showed me how to simply peel garlic without getting my fingers all over the clove. Hold a knife on its side on top of the garlic clove and hit the flat part of the knife with the heel of your palm to slightly crush the clove so the skin then slips off easily. Try it, it’s life-changing and your fingers won’t smell as much!
5. Peel ginger with a spoon.
Scrape your ginger skin with a spoon edge. This reduces ginger waste as sometimes using a knife takes more than just the skin.
6. Wash produce before it goes into the fridge.
Then store it in a proper container. Your veggies will be ready when you need them. Don’t do this with berries as they can go bad faster when pre-rinsed.
7. Don’t cry over cut onions.
Slightly cooling your onions by putting them in the freezer for 15 minutes or running them under cold water can reduce the tearing jerking fumes that cause irritations to the eyes while chopping.
8. Perfect the art of cutting an avocado.
Cut the avocado through the middle and around the seed and twist the halves apart in opposite directions, then hit the seed with the sharp side of the knife carefully and pull the seed out with the knife, then slice the avocado up in the skin then scoop out with a spoon. So easy!
9. Ripen your avocado faster.
I need to do this regularly when there are no ripe avocados around as they are a staple for my kids. I think my little boy would live on avocados and berries if I let him. To ripen them quickly, place them in a bowl with bananas.
10. Cut stone fruits like a pro.
Stone fruits such as plums and nectarines, can be sliced around the middle into two equal halves, then twist the halves in opposite directions and pull out the seed.
11. Roast vegetables (& the pan).
To avoid flipping vegetables half-way through cooking and reduce the cooking time, preheat the baking dish while you’re preheating the oven. This makes them cook well on the face side down and a touch quicker. Be careful not to burn yourself on the hot dish.
12. Boil over no more.
I’ve done this many times with pasta, quinoa and other ingredients. Place a wooden spoon across the top of the pot to keep the water from boiling over.
13. Save fresh herbs.
Place chopped herbs in an ice cube tray in water, oil or stock and freeze for easy way to use and store herbs.
14. Blanch vegetables the right way.
Quickly add to cold/iced water to stop the cooking process immediately. This helps retain the nutrients and the vibrant color.
15. Invest in a good slicer (or food processor or mandoline).
This helps when making a big pot of vegetable something, it will slice and dice quickly and efficiently.
16. Roll your citrus fruits.
Rolling citrus on a table or counter before juicing will increase it’s juice. Freezing juice portions in ice cubes trays makes lemon water in the morning a bit quicker. Add hot water and wham it’s done!
17. Don’t let peppers burn your fingers.
To avoid chili or peppers’ spice sticking to your fingers, rub oil onto finger tips before chopping peppers.
18. Cut baby tomatoes all at once.
Place tomatoes between two flat surfaces, such as 2 small plates and cut through the middle with a large knife.
19. Chill drinks without ice cubes.
Use frozen fruit such as berries, pineapple chunks, grapes, diced mango to chill your drink so it doesn’t dilute it. This will give the drink a nice flavor while also cooling it down.
20. Use your cauliflower leaves.
Roast them, steam them and/or throw them in with your soup. They are full of nutrients!
21. Pre-soak grains.
To reduce cooking time by half or more, soak grains such as oats, quinoa, rice or barley in water overnight or for six to eight hours. This not only makes them more digestible but it also reduces the cooking time substantially,
Incorporating these simple kitchen hacks will help make cooking both quicker and easier.