1. Seek Simplicity
Find an easy recipe that you’ll enjoy (and actually make!) Speaking as a chef this can be easier said than done.
While there are a lot of recipes that I enjoy, I have to be careful because I find cooking for myself needs to be a lot simpler than I’m used to cooking for others.
When cooking at home, I don’t want a huge spread of ingredients that I’ll only use that once. I do not want to be stuck with those ingredients in my pantry for the next few months. (Or years!)
Also a large spread of ingredients means a bigger mess, and nobody’s got time for that.
So I recommend keeping it simple and avoiding large recipes at home.
2. Consider Balance
Is this meal going to keep me fueled through to my next snack or meal?
Find recipes that make up a well-rounded meal. Some cookbooks plan a whole meal for you and some give you sections like:
- Protein and Sauces or Toppers
- Grains and Starchy Vegetables
- Vegetables and Sides
With books like this, you can pick and choose what you would like the end result of your meal to be. (Also look for this type of categorization on recipe blogs!)
Balance is important for me because I know that if I don’t eat a well-rounded meal, I’m more apt to overeat throughout my day.
Check out Green Mountain’s Guide to Supportive Eating to understand the mix of foods that help satisfy..
3. Practice Mise en Place (Everything in its Place)
Mise en place means everything in its place. Better put, it means gathering all of your ingredients prior to cooking your meal. This is one of the more important rules of cooking.
You may ask, why?
Well, when you assemble your ingredients prior to cooking, it makes the actual cooking process go a lot smoother and more quickly.
There is nothing more annoying than getting to a stage of cooking a meal and realizing that you don’t have an ingredient.
Sometimes it can make you feel like you ruined the whole meal – which is most likely not the case, but it can feel that way at times.
So do as the French do and mise en place!
4. Ditch the Measuring Cup
Really, do it, see ya later, good bye.
It might be hard at first, but in the end you will find that you have a more personalized meal that you prepared with a lot fewer dishes to wash after.
So in the long run you have more time to attend to your busy life.
My blogs all summer will be part of the cooking beyond the measuring cup series so jump on board and try something new with me!
5. Be Satisfied
Being satisfied means different things to different people.
For me this statement of being satisfied falls into the whole process of cooking and the people I’m around while preparing a meal. The end result may not always be perfect, but I’m always satisfied when I try to cook a great meal for myself or for my friends.
I try to find the good in the meal, even if it’s just the thought of, ‘wow I cooked this!’ when it’s not something I would normally do.
These rules are easy to follow with this year’s summer trend of bowls, whose construction has five rules of its own!
Bowls are a fully rounded, layered meal that follow all of the rules outlined above. Bowls can be made with many different ingredients and be based on endless cuisines.
But here is that basic layout and how to layer them:
- Start with a base. Grains like quinoa make the perfect base but you can use any grain or starchy vegetable.
- Include vegetables and fruit. Use a nice variety of vegetables – not just greens, unless that’s what you’re craving.
- Add some form of protein. Red meat, poultry, or a vegetarian protein like beans or tofu will do.
- Add a dash of something saucy. Sauce will pull everything together as your flavor of the dish.
- Sprinkle on the topper. The topper is meant to add texture like nuts or seeds, and give it color – so use some herbs!
South West Salmon Bowl
- 4 handfuls of quinoa, cooked
- 4 large handfuls of chopped romaine lettuce
- 2 handfuls of shredded carrots
- 2 handfuls of cubed jicama
- 1 handful of cooked corn kernels
- 1 handful of chopped red onion
- 1 handful of canned kidney beans
- 4 salmon filets, each about the size of a deck of cards, cooked
- 1 recipe of mango pineapple salsa (preparation below)
- 1 handful of chopped almonds
- 1 handful of sliced scallions
- Make mango pineapple salsa (preparation below).
- Gather 4 bowls if at home, or large mason jars or sealable containers if you plan on taking it to go.
- Divide the quinoa evenly into the bowls, then layer the romaine, carrots, jicama, cooked corn, red onion, kidney beans, the salmon fillets, mango salsa, chopped almonds and scallions. (In that order, or so!)
- Seal container and keep cool if for travel, or grab a fork and enjoy!
Mango Pineapple Salsa
- 1 handful of chopped pineapple
- 1 handful of chopped mango
- 2 palms of peeled & chopped lime
- 1 palm of finely chopped jalapeno
- Zest of one lime
- 2 palms finely chopped red onion
- 1 palm chopped cilantro
- 2 pours lime juice
- 2 pours honey
- 3 grinds salt
- 2 grinds pepper
- Combine in a mixing bowl pineapple, mango, lime, jalapeno, lime zest, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, honey, salt and pepper and mix well. Serve with your bowl or over fish, pork or chicken.