Keep Your Cooking Creative


Cook often and use these tips to liven up your meals.


It’s easy to get stuck in a cooking rut while you’re trying to cook healthy options at home. Save your taste buds and diet by varying how you cook. Try these six popular methods:

  • Bake protein sources and vegetables by using minimal olive oil and fresh herbs. Use one large baking container to cut down on dirty dishes. Try pairing salmon with broccoli or chicken with sweet potato wedges.
  • Slow cook a meal or two per week in the slow cooker to save time after work while stocking up on leftovers for the next day or two. Slow cookers are for more than just soup—you can make a pot roast, shredded pork for barbeque, and even lasagna!
  • Steam your side dishes. It takes less time to steam vegetables than to roast them in the oven. Stem a variety of vegetables together if they are roughly the same size and density. Easy-to-prepare packs of vegetables are available in your grocery store’s frozen section.
  • Boil other ingredients besides pasta noodles to better utilize kitchen space—use this method to cook chicken or potatoes or even handfuls of kale or spinach.
  • Sauté fresh vegetables and blend your favorites, like onions, squash, and zucchini. Serve these sides with salmon, lean pork loin or chicken breasts.
  • Stir-fry your meat and vegetables to blend flavors and create a simple meal that is healthier than takeout and just as tasty.

Plan to Organize

Cooking healthy is half of the battle. Other small decisions make a huge impact:

Dinnerware prep. To stay true to your diet, use salad plates rather than traditional dinner plates, or select plates half the usual size. Eat up to 30 percent less food by following this one hack and choosing your own portion sizes.

Stay disciplined. If you don’t want to eat something, either don’t buy it or hide it deep in the pantry and out of eyesight.

Keep it clean. Unwashed dinner pots and pans may entice you to grab a fast-food breakfast sandwich on the way to work in the morning instead of scrambling an egg and heating up a piece of Canadian bacon. Wash the dishes after every meal.

Small Changes

Little decisions matter. Try incorporating one of these tips each week and keep building good habits.

  • Transition to fat-free milk by shifting from high-to-low fat dairy options, as recommended by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
  • Limit processed meats and eat more lean meats or nonmeat options to gain protein.
  • Reduce the amount of sauce you use—many contain high levels of sodium—or substitute by spritzing meals with citrus fruits, as recommended by Consumer Reports.

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