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cooking

Ditch the Take-Out, Dine In

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Ditch the Take-Out, Dine In

Calling all novice chefs out there! Your time is here! It is time for you to shine! Creating a healthy relationship with food and developing simple cooking skills can have so many benefits for you! I know we can all get into the habit of ordering too much Postmates, or participating in one too many happy hours and we can see the effects in our wallets and our pants, but look no further, I’ll let you in on some of my best at home eating secrets to pump you up for your next home cooked meal!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

1. Invest in a good couple of knives, or maybe just get some honing steel.

You really only need 3 knives: a chef’s knife, paring knife, serrated knife. A chef’s knife is a definite kitchen essential, you can do everything with it- chop veggies, cut meat, etc. The paring knife is for smaller scale things like mincing garlic and slicing strawberries. A serrated knife, also known as a bread knife, can be used to slice bread, but also handle waxy fruits and veggies like tomatoes and pineapple. Now once you have your knifes, please make sure you keep them sharp! A dull knife is never a fun thing, for you or your food. Invest in some honing steel, or you can always take your knives to get sharpened.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

2. Buy fresh ingredients.

There is such a difference buying fresh than frozen. If it is not feasible for you to buy all our your ingredients fresh, just choose a couple! If you are worried about not being able to eat all of your produce in time, choose the essentials to buy fresh. For example, I typically have frozen green beans in my freezer at all times in case all my fresh produce ran out, but once you buy fresh, it’s really hard to go back to frozen.

Photo Credit: Tookapic

Photo Credit: Tookapic

3. Follow a recipe!

There’s a reason why most people enjoy going out to dinner, it takes the work out of cooking. But there is something really satisfying about eating the food that you worked hard to make and knowing exactly what went into it. If you’re not the best cook, there are a ton of recipes online as well as food bloggers who show you step by step instructions on how to make a meal. Another benefit of eating at home rather than in a restaurant is that you are in control over how the ingredients are prepped and put into your meal. Another plus is that you can post a picture to social media and show off your skills!

Photo Credit: Kaboompics / Karolina

Photo Credit: Kaboompics / Karolina

4. Have a dinner party!

San Francisco is blessed with such great food, it is really hard to turn down dinner invitations. But one way to get out of dinner ( if you can) is to throw a dinner party. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to put something together, think of the rule of 3- an entree and two sides. Don’t get me wrong, it does take a little planning, but assign your friends to bring a side dish and all you have to worry about is the main course!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

5. Focus on one thing at a time.

The last and final tip to make home cooking fun and exciting is to focus on one thing at a time. If you cannot be bothered with revamping your eating habits just yet, get good at one meal. Focus on cooking at home for one meal- if breakfast is your thing, try recreating your favorite brunch meal! Who doesn’t love a good homemade eggs bennie? If brunch isn’t your thing, try pizza! Premade dough is sold at most grocery stores so now all you need to focus on is the toppings- here’s your chance to channel your inner Chopped winner and make some kooky combinations!

As you can see, eating at home does not have to be a chore. It can be fun! I challenge you on your next date night, or night out with friends- surprise them with dinner, and who knows, maybe a new tradition will be made!

Happy eating.


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5 Ways to Get Excited About Your Packed Lunch

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5 Ways to Get Excited About Your Packed Lunch

Day after day, we tend to be creatures of habit, and that will more often than not be reflected in what you eat. Bringing your lunch to work can seem like a drag and a hassle, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are 5 ways to spice up your packed lunch!

1. Ditch the salad.

Don’t dread what you eat - switch out your salad for zoodles (zucchini noodles)! They’re super easy to make, and you can top them with your favorite salad toppings. Zoodles can be treated like pasta, so you can top them with your favorite protein and sauce of choice to get your pasta fix. Grab a spiralizer on Amazon to help make your zoodle dreams come to life!

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2. Amp up the flavor.

If you’re bored of salt and pepper, try some other flavors to add to your protein or sauce. For those of you that like spice, adding in cayenne pepper or even smoked paprika can give your meal a nice kick. A quick teriyaki sauce only takes 3 ingredients: 2 parts soy sauce, 1 part rice vinegar, and a little honey.  

3. Fill your sandwich with color and texture.

If you’re a sandwich person, ditch the boring cold cuts. Treating yourself to shaved turkey from the deli adds a more rustic feel to your lunch and can alleviate your lunch box blues. Adding texture to your sandwich also helps - take a look at a banh mi: typically made with carrots and cucumber, which add freshness and a nice crunch.

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4. It's all about the presentation.

Who doesn’t like presents?! If you don’t want to change up what you’re eating, packaging your food differently can make you more excited to eat at work. There are plenty of great bento-style boxes to store your food on Amazon or other food-related websites. A little homage to the cafeteria tray can spark a friendly lunchtime conversation with co-workers. Using a bento box allows you to portion the components of your meal, giving you a better idea of just how much you’re truly eating.

5. Treat yourself!

You may occasionally be okay with the monotony of eating the same thing every day, but cravings may still arise. If you’re craving the ice cream, let yourself have the ice cream! Grab a friend from work and plan a dessert outing for later in the week - by the end of the week, you’ll have something to look forward to during lunchtime.

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These little tips can be very helpful when stuck in a rut with your food. Don’t be afraid to try a new recipe or to get out of your comfort zone! You never know - you may even inspire others with your creativity. Now, get out there and eat!


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Grocery Shopping With Coach Amber!

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Grocery Shopping With Coach Amber!

Do you find yourself eating take out more often than you would like? Or do you find yourself never having food in the fridge?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, keep reading!

With everyone’s busy schedules, it's hard to make time to make a home-cooked meal. Most of people don’t even cook on a daily basis, which is something I struggle with as well. It’s much easier and more time-efficient to go out and order food everyday, but the downside is that you don’t always know what goes into your food. The benefits of having home-cooked meals are significant: you are able to choose what you fuel your body with, you save money, and you get the satisfaction of being your own chef! Don’t know where to start?

Here are some tips:

1. Don’t go shopping hungry.

This is probably the last thing you want to do. When you are hungry, there is more of a chance that you will buy more food than you need and in turn, settle for more unhealthy foods.

2. Make a list!

Make a list and stick to it. This way, your grocery shopping time is cut down in half because you won’t be walking up and down aisles searching for the items that you want to get.

3. Avoid prime times!

AKA Weekdays after work 4pm-6pm

Sunday at ALL TIMES, unless you try to go when they first open.

4. Lastly, purchase simple food.

If you find yourself struggling to make a meal at home, don’t go and buy lavish ingredients that only serve one purpose. Purchase ingredients that can be used for multiple dishes that way nothing is going to waste.

Here’s an example of a week's worth of simple ingredients for easy-to-prepare meals at home. If you are cinched for time and really don’t have the time to go shopping on your own, you can try productivity apps and services such as Instacart, AmazonFresh, and CurbSpace that allow you to choose your groceries and have them available for pickup/delivery to save time! Listed below is a solid, go-to shopping list as well as a few recipes that can be easily made with those ingredients.

Sample grocery list: Eggs, milk, yogurt, berries, banana, onion, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, chicken/other protein, grain (brown rice), avocado, garlic , tortilla (corn), black beans, lemon/lime

 

Here are some example recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Breakfast

Veggie Omelette

Prep time: 5 minutes. Total cook time, 10 minutes. Serving size 1

Ingredients

2 eggs

2 Tbs chopped onion (yellow)

1 clove garlic minced

3 cherry tomatoes chopped

2 mushrooms chopped

Handful of spinach

¼ avocado

1 Tbs olive oil ( other cooking oil)

Salt and pepper to taste.
 

Directions:

Heat up pan to medium heat. Add olive oil. Chop up onion and garlic. Add to heated pan. Stir until soft and brown, about 2 minutes.  Keep stirring so that you don’t burn the garlic. Then add the tomatoes and mushrooms. Saute for 1 min. While you wait, crack the 2 eggs into a bowl and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Whip with fork so that the yolk and white come together. Add the handful of spinach into the pan and stir for about 30 seconds, or until wilted slightly. Finally add the eggs. Carefully stir the egg and veggie mixture until it starts to come together. Once cooked thoroughly on one side, flip over with spatula. Once flipped, then add ¼ of the avocado slices to one side of the omelette. After 1 minute or the other side of the omelette is cooked to your liking, fold in half and serve! Enjoy!

Quick Breakfast Smoothie 

Ingredients

½ cup yogurt

¼ cup berries (fresh or frozen)

Handful spinach

¼ cup milk (almond, soy, coconut)

Handful of ice

Directions:

Put everything in your blender of choice and blend until smooth.

Lunch/Dinner

Wannabe Chipotle Burrito Bowl

I love chipotle just as much as the next person, but with all of the controversy regarding the health of their restaurant I don’t want to take any chances. This would be a great recipe for date night in! Or to double up for a lunch and dinner!

Prep time: 10 minutes. Total cook time: 20 minutes. Serving size 2.

Ingredients

6 oz chicken, preferably tenders because they are easier to cook evenly ( fresh or frozen)

3 TBS onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic minced

4 mushrooms chopped

6 cherry tomatoes chopped

½ zucchini chopped in small squares

½ avocado

½ can of black beans, drained and rinsed

4 tortillas (corn or flour)

1 cup uncooked rice

Cayenne, paprika, cumin to taste.

Directions:

Chicken prep: Time to season!  Add 1-2 TBS of each seasoning: cayenne pepper, paprika, and cumin as well as salt and pepper to taste.

While your chicken is absorbing all of the good flavors. Start chopping up your veggies and put to the side as well as draining and rinsing your black beans.

Now you're ready to cook!

Start the rice next!

Add 1 cup of uncooked rice into a sauce pan. Turn on heat, then add 2 cups of warm water. Bring rice to a boil, then simmer (low heat) with lid until rice is cooked through and no more water is left in the pan. Check occasionally and stir.

Time for veggies!

Turn on pan to medium heat. Add 1 TBS olive oil. Then add the onion and garlic. Stir until brown and onions are translucent. Next add the tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini. After 2 minutes, or veggies are soft but not mushy add black beans and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then remove from heat and place aside.

In separate pan, time to cook the chicken! Turn on pan to medium heat. Add 1 TBS olive oil. Then add seasoned chicken to pan. Cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes depending on the size of the tender. Once cooked through, remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes before you cut into bite sized pieces.

Time to assemble!

In a bowl, add ½ cup of cooked rice, ¼ cup of the veggie mixture, and ½ cup of the diced chicken. Top with sliced avocado. Feel free to enjoy with a tortilla, a squeeze of lime, or a dollop of plain greek yogurt for a healthier version of sour cream! Enjoy!

Now that you have some easy staple meals, there are no excuses! These recipes use up all the groceries I listed above, which saves you a ton of money and nothing goes to waste!

 

 

Learn more about Coach Amber here

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