I am not a good cook. I LIKE to cook, but my knife skills scare most chefs, I can’t follow a recipe without getting distracted, and I hate having to buy 100000 ingredients just to make one dish. This means that I have become a pro at making simple, quick meals from few ingredients! And you can too…
First, start off with good quality ingredients- (read my post on how to grocery shop if you need a bit of help with that!). A good understanding of how to use spices and condiments can really help anyone looking to lose body fat- you can add a ton of flavor without the calories, and can make the same basic ingredients taste totally different! People often tell me that they don’t want to ‘eat the same thing’ and they get ‘bored’ with their meals, but with less than TEN simple spices and condiments, you can make hundreds of flavor combinations. No excuses for food boredom!
I always have a short list of spices and condiments at home, and these are the ones I use most often:
Garlic and onion (fresh or powdered!) These are must-haves in any kitchen! Although I love the flavor that fresh garlic and onion adds to a dish, powdered is SO much easier. My go-to spice mix for any basic dish from eggs to veggies to fish is onion powder, garlic powder and a bit of salt. Want to seem like a real chef? Just add a bit of lemon. SO GOOD over sauteed greens like spinach, chard or green beans.
Curry powder. I LOVE a good curry… but have you ever stopped to read how many ingredients you need? One of my favorite homemade dishes of all time uses an easy mix of curry powder, garlic, salt, lemon and yogurt for a marinade (check it out here). Curry powder is a simple choice to add spice to meat or veggies, and I love making cauliflower rice with some curry powder and tamari to add to my winter work lunches! Try pairing curry powder with sweet potatoes for a sweet and savory mix, or add it to a simple blended soup for a bit of spice.
Tamari. I usually buy tamari (gluten free soy sauce)- its less salty than normal soy sauce, and the flavor is much more balanced. A bit of tamari can be a great way to add a little “umami” to a dish- try it in soups or sauces! One of my go-to meals is a bag of frozen veggies sauteed with tamari, garlic powder and a couple of eggs on top. I also love it with peanut butter and a bit of lemon or lime juice to make a tangy dressing or sauce to use on my salads.
Mustard (the whole grain kind!). I’m not talking about the stuff you find on the table at a burger restaurant… go for a good grainy mustard like dijon or stone ground. A bit of olive oil, mustard, honey and lemon or vinegar is great to marinade meats, or make a quick dressing with balsamic vinegar, mustard and some garlic powder.
Lemon. I try to make sure I always have fresh lemons in my fridge, but honestly it can be much easier to just buy lemon juice in a bottle, and add a spoonful or two to dishes as you need it. Lemon and garlic is a classic combination, and perfect to add to fish or as a ‘finishing touch’ for many dishes! I also love the combination of lemon with curry powder- try it over sautéed veggies!
I know pretty much EVERY kitchen has salt on hand, but I think it is worth it to spend money on a good quality flake sea salt! My recommendation is to season with regular salt while cooking, and then finish off with some Maldon flake salt. And no- salt is NOT bad for you. In fact, sodium is a mineral that we NEED in our diets. The issue with sodium is not the salt you use to salt your food at home, it’s the added sodium in processed, packaged foods. If you are eating mainly home cooked meals, don’t worry about adding a bit of salt to your food.
Just these few ingredients can really change the way you cook- remember, it doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective! Good nutrition isn’t about the fancy dishes you make, or about changing up your meals every single time you eat… it’s about making sure you are doing the basics EVERY day.
Need help to understand how you can better structure your meals, or feel like you would like to learn more about what healthy nutrition can mean to you? Send me an email and we can discuss my coaching programs!