Cooking at home is the perfect way to elevate your diet and eat more healthfully. You control what goes into each dish and can modify recipes to suit your tastes and nutritional needs. You can also save considerable cash over ordering takeout.
However, things can get stale when you get stuck in a rut, eating the same dishes week after week. How can you bring more excitement to mealtime? Here are five tips to spice things up and get more creative in the kitchen.
1. Try a New Plant-Based Dish
Have you made friends at your local farmer’s market yet? It is the harvest season. Why not go on a mission this weekend to find the most unusual plant-based food you’ve never tried and add it to your dinner menu?
For example, you can fry some lotus chips instead of the traditional potato to pair with your mackerel or cod. You’ll still get a heaping serving of fiber with a uniquely nutty flavor. Fiddleheads are delicious as a side dish, especially when paired with a bearnaise sauce the way you might asparagus — the taste is similar. Jicama strips sound exotic but add a slightly sweet, tangy and satisfying crunch to wraps and salads.
2. Reach for the Salsa
What elevates many restaurant meals from ordinary to extraordinary? The secret often lies in the sauce.
If you’re trying to cut calories, salsa makes a fabulous alternative to butter and sour cream as a baked potato topping — why reserve it for chips? You can also ladle it over chicken for a spicy kick.
Heart-healthy olive oil makes an excellent base for other sauces. You can go with an avocado lime for topping fish or a french sauce for marinating cauliflower steaks.
3. Experiment With Different Pairings
You might treat your kitchen like a gourmet restaurant, but you don’t have to follow every rule. While hearty reds such as cabernets traditionally pair with meat dishes, who says you can’t enjoy a glass of the full-bodied stuff with a lighter meal? Experiment a bit. An earthy pinot noir pairs perfectly with a mushroom pizza — but a chardonnay can also create an intriguing contrast.
Wine isn’t your only choice when it comes to marrying your main dish with a beverage. You might enjoy a rich and citrusy IPA with a meal like lobster mac and cheese. Nor must you go with an alcoholic drink. If you prefer tea, a light chamomile pairs beautifully with white fish, while floral varieties like passionflower and lavender set off acidic dishes like pasta.
4. Get Out Your Foraging Basket
Is your grocery budget a bit tight? You might have noticed prices at the store creeping up of late. Why not leave your wallet at home and hit the wilds with your foraging basket to see what local goodness you can add to your meals?
You might not have to look much further than your backyard. Dandelions have long played a role in food and even wine, and all parts of the plant are edible. Do you live in the desert southwest? Prickly pear fruit makes an incredible jam or chutney, and it contains compounds that can lower your blood pressure.
If you learn a bit about wild greens, you can make an entire salad from what you find in waste areas. Be sure to avoid any regions your community might treat with toxic pesticides — the idea is getting back to nature, not falling ill.
5. Bring a Little Fusion Magic to the Table
Fusion dishes wed two or more diverse cuisines into one to create a new, eclectic and altogether delicious dining experience. Celebrity chefs such as Ignacio Solano gain fame and fortune by uniting food cultures in a fabulous burst of flavour.
Why not take inspiration from such masters and incorporate fusion principles into your kitchen? You could pair Spanish rice with tandoori chicken for a unique and spicy meal. Instead of using Kashmiri chiles in that curry, why not substitute jalapeños for a Mexican twist? Make taco Tuesday unique by stir-frying veggies in a wok instead of stuffing them with ground beef.
Spice Things Up and Get More Creative in the Kitchen
Cooking at home is one of the best ways to improve your health, but you don’t want to get stuck in a rut. Try one of these five tips to spice things up and get more creative in the kitchen tonight!
Lets us know how you go, in the comments section below.