Hey Babes, It’s common knowledge that getting the body of your dreams doesn’t just come down to spending hours sweating it out in the gym. The way you fuel your body is equally (if not more) important! Taking control of your nutrition can be a really empowering and educational experience, helping you to understand what your body needs to be healthy. I love cooking and I find the better I get, the less I want to choose unhealthy takeaway or restaurant meals. So because of this, I wanted to give my #WBKgirls my top tips for gaining culinary confidence!
1. Pre Plan
The golden rule of making any changes to your lifestyle is to approach it with a plan, remember ‘failing to plan is planning to fail!’ And cooking is no different! Take some time to list your favorite meals, then do a little research to see what is involved in the creation of each of them. From that list choose one or two simple options to try in your first week. As the weeks progress try to repeat meals that were successful, as well as add new ones to try to the list. Once you have your list of meals, write a shopping list of all the ingredients required and stock up! When planning your meals for the week, it often helps to choose meals that have similar ingredients. This makes prep a lot easier plus it can save you $$$ off your bill! Getting this right may take a little practice so remember to be patient with yourself! If you are busy throughout the week, do your shopping and meal prep when you have time to concentrate on getting it right, most people use Sunday as their food prep day. Other things you can do to help with cooking is pre chop your veggies for the week, as well as make a big batch of salad, so it’s ready to be added to all your meals. All of my meal plans, both regular and plant-based come with step by step guides to cooking each of the meals. My clients have used my meal plans to help them improve their cooking skills as well as for inspiration on what healthy meals to cook. You get to keep of the recipes forever so you can continue cooking my delicious, healthy, balanced meals even after you have completed your plan!
2. Keep It Simple
When you’re starting out it’s always a good idea to stick with simple meals that you may know really well or that don’t need a lot of prep, cooking or ingredients. Create a simple meal schedule and shop for the ingredients for all meals at once, rather than shopping multiple times throughout the week. Purchase simple ingredients and focus on lean proteins, veggies, fruit, whole grains, and healthy fats. Be wary of recipes calling for exotic ingredients or foods you’ve never prepared before, and don’t be afraid of using prepared ingredients to streamline the meal process. Microwave rice, frozen veggies, and other packaged foods can be super handy if you are new in the kitchen or tight on time, and can often be almost as healthy as fresh ingredients.
3. Choose Your Equipment Carefully
It’s really hard to cook when you have a tiny sticky old pan, a blunt knife, and no utensils to help you! Having the right tools in the kitchen makes such a difference to your ability to work wonders!
Make sure you have the basics:
• A big, non-stick pan or wok •
At least one sharp knife, but preferably two if you are working with meat and vegetables (to avoid cross contamination)
• A large chopping board
• A large mixing bowl
• Storage containers - use these to store your prepped meals, left-overs, pre-chopped veggies and ingredients, anything really. You can pop these in the fridge or the freezer depending on how soon you will need the contents. There are a few things in my kitchen that I absolutely cannot live without:
• Blender/Food processor - use this to make amazing Blessed vegan protein smoothies, juices, nice cream, even pesto sauce for your pasta!
• Spiralizer - so handy for turning your vegetables into healthy pasta and noodle alternatives, for making veggie chips, cut up fruit, and so much more!
• Slow cooker - so great for busy days and in winter, you just throw everything in there, put on the lead and leave it to cook all day
4. Cook with a Friend
Cooking is so much more fun when you have company! You might be cooking for them, or they may have an amazing recipe you want to learn, either way you can have an amazing time in the kitchen, all the while getting better at cooking!
5. Don’t Skimp on the Seasoning
It’s hard to over-season a dish, so don’t be shy with the salt and pepper. It’s a great idea to stock up on some key herbs and spices so you can just throw them in if your meal needs a little extra flavour. I try to make sure I always have the universal seasonings - salt and cracked black pepper, plus I have chili flakes or ground chili, oregano, cumin, coriander, paprika, mustard powder and mixed herbs, ready to go. Try these combinations for different kinds of cuisines:
• Italian - basil, oregano, parsley, sage, salt and pepper
• Mexican - Cumin, oregano, paprika, coriander, salt and pepper (and chili if you like it spicy!)
• BBQ - paprika, black pepper, mustard powder and salt
• Middle Eastern - paprika, coriander, parsley, oregano and pepper
• Indian - cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, turmeric and cardamom
• Mediterranean - saffron, thyme, basil, rosemary, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper
(6. Have a Backup Plan)
If you are trying something new or particularly challenging, make sure you have a back up plan in case all or part of your meal doesn’t quite turn out. This could mean having some frozen veggies handy in the freezer, an alternative source of protein (such as frozen veggie burgers) or a pack of microwave rice or a quick pasta dish. This way if your experiment fails you (and your guests) won’t go hungry! If you are getting creative in the kitchen, make sure you tag me in your pics @WorkoutsByKatya so I can check them out!