It is time to get back into your kitchen so you and your family will eat more healthfully. Take yourself out of the frenzy of “what’s for dinner” by working smart in your kitchen. Follow these suggestions for eating better at home:
Cook and freeze ahead.
We are not suggesting any marathon cooking day. Just think ahead a little more.
• For example, instead of cooking and serving a pound of spaghetti, cook 2 pounds and freeze one pound for later. All you have to do with a bag of frozen cooked spaghetti is microwave with pasta sauce to reheat and serve. It doesn’t take any extra effort to cook 2 pounds of spaghetti noodles versus one.
• The same principle applies with rice. Instead of cooking 1 or 2 cups of rice, double that and freeze the extra. You can heat frozen rice easily in the microwave. Serve it with home-made chili, a veggie stirfry, beans, lentils, baked fish or chicken.
• It is easy to cook 2 dinners at the same time. Serve one tonight and one the next day. Just be sure that you refrigerate extras promptly in a shallow pan for food safety sake. Reheat quickly and thoroughly.
Make fruit easy to eat.
My sister asked everyone in her house if they wanted some grapes. Her whole family said no. So what did she do? She took them out of the package, rinsed them in cold water, and put them in a pretty bowl on the counter. They all disappeared!
You can use this strategy too.
• Keep the deli drawer full of apples, pears and small oranges.
• Bowls of freshly rinsed cherries and grapes can be stored on counters and in the refrigerator.
• Sliced melon can be ready to go on plates.
• If you don’t like to peel, slice or dice, you can buy ready-to-serve fruit in most grocery stores.
• Another great way to get kids and the rest of your family eating more fruit is to serve them fruit for dessert. Take a bag of frozen blueberries, or those peaches or apples that are now too ripe, and place in a large bowl with a little sugar or Splenda. Microwave on high for 3-5 minutes. Spoon into dessert bowls, cover and refrigerate. We like to keep a little whipped cream on hand for the topping - this makes a great dessert or snack.
Keep it easy when it comes to veggies.
• Make a large salad without dressing and serve for 2 days. Serve salad while everyone is waiting for dinner. A variety of “add it yourself” items like nuts, croutons, vinegars and dressings keeps everyone interested.
• Keep bags of baby carrots on hand for those before-dinner-I-am-starved snacks.
• Keep bags of frozen veggies on hand. They are easy to heat and serve from the microwave or to add into pasta and rice dishes. Green peas and carrots go into most everything. Ditto with frozen corn.
Keep staple dry goods on hand. You can often find better prices on bigger packages of dry goods like rice, lentils, oatmeal and dried beans. This way you can do a brush-up shopping spree every other week where you just buy produce and a few other items like yogurt and fish or poultry.
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.