Today’s post comes from Chef, Health Coach and Friend, Teri Hull. Teri graduated from The West Culinary Institute, a Le Cordon Bleu School in 2008. She recently moved to Portsmouth from the west coast, where she ran her own company called the Good Plate. Her mission at the Good Plate was to provide fresh, healthy and wholesome home cooked meals for busy families.
Teri reached out to me shortly after moving to the Seacoast and I had the pleasure of getting to know her over tea. As February rolled around I wanted to provide the members of my Recipe Club, as well as people who resolved to cook more this year, with some tips and tricks to easy and healthy cooking. Teri told me some of hers and I knew everyone would benefit from them as much as I did! Here are Teri’s tips:
Teri Hull, CEC
I love cooking almost as much as I love eating. And like so many, I too resolve to cook more this year. A little strange coming from a chef, but having cooked healthy food for a living at my small business on the west coast, family mealtime often meant fending for oneself after a long day of me cooking for others. Now that I’m settling into life on the east coast sans business, I’m eager, no ecstatic for the mind space to focus on nourishing my own family with delicious, healthy food.
Back to the shared resolution. Changing old habits or starting new ones is a daunting task but this needn’t be with cooking. Let’s break it down with a few pointers.
Start with something you’re comfortable with. Whether it’s making a salad, grilling meat or frying eggs, try adding a few new ingredients to the salad, grilling more lean, organic animal protein or veggies, or fry an organic cage-free egg in a healthy cooking fat like coconut oil or a light olive oil.
Find a recipe buddy, or better yet a cooking buddy. Your spouse, your children, Mom, Dad, sister, brother or best friend. Swap recipes. Assign tasks. Share horror stories. Even if your buddy lives in a different time zone, technologies like Skype make it easy to connect. Support and accountability are key but more importantly, friends make it fun.
Plan a prep day with your buddy or enlist the help of family and friends. Chop veggies and store them in the fridge to be eaten raw, roasted, steamed or stir-fried. Hard boil a dozen eggs for a quick breakfast, protein for your salad or a snack. Make a large batch of quinoa or brown rice. Clean chicken breasts and pop into a freezer bag with a homemade marinade of fresh citrus juice or balsamic vinegar and light olive oil. You can freeze for up to three months or refrigerate if you plan to cook it in the next few days.
If it grows together, it goes together. This is almost always a fail proof method for planning and preparing a meal. Think seasonally and regionally. Any mix of autumn root vegetables is fantastic chopped and roasted. Luscious summer crops like cucumber, tomato and watermelon are a delicious combination eaten raw. But don’t try mixing golden beets with watermelon. That’s what fancy restaurants are for.
Find a flavor combination that works for you and stick with it. My favorite is lemon, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic, which works on almost any roasted or grilled veggies, as a marinade for poultry and fish, as a salad dressing and even mixed into certain grains. Keep it simple.
Experiment with new foods but if you don’t like it, don’t force yourself to eat it. I can’t stress this one enough. Eating well is supposed to be a pleasant experience. The same rule applies for feeding your children. You want them to develop a healthy relationship with food, not one of anxiety.
Take risks and make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to fail. We learn by doing. The more recipes you try, the more relaxed you become in the kitchen and the more you build your intuitive sense of cooking.
Have fun and avoid self-criticism! Why is it we nurturing souls are so hard on ourselves? Relax, appreciate your strides toward better health and give yourself and your cooking buddy a warm hug.
Now tell me, which one of these tips will you be implementing?