After you get the 'healthy' part of cooking down, it's time to focus on taste!
'Cause let's face it - if you tell someone you made an exceptionally healthy meal, they're probably going to assume it tastes like cardboard, right?
If you know the right techniques, your healthy meal can have so much awesome flavor you'll blow them away.
My tip - let them take a bite and say "Wow!" and then you can tell them how healthy it is after ;)
It did take a while for me to learn how to make healthy meals that taste amazing. I had to practice a lot, and make a lot of mistakes. So if that's where you are, don't get discouraged. It will get better, I promise!
Luckily, my husband Phil stuck it out through my learning process. Now, every time I serve him a meal, he tells me it's the best thing he's ever eaten.
And when we go to restaurants, he's often disappointed because it doesn't live up to what I make him at home. It's such a great feeling to have him appreciate my cooking.
Trust me, it tastes WAY better than anything from a box or a bag when you learn how to bring out and work with the amazing natural flavors of fresh whole foods.
Once I got the hang of it, I started having so much more fun cooking because I loved the results!
I found the biggest improvement came when I took some healthy cooking classes. They gave me the confidence I needed in what I was doing in the kitchen, with flavor combinations and cooking techniques.
And it's always awesome to hear from you that your family loved one of my recipes that you made for them! It's so rewarding to me that I can help you make healthy food that's fun and tasty :)
There are lots of things you can do to add flavor to your cooking, but I wanted to share one that I've found to make a huge difference - using spices and herbs.
When it comes to spices and herbs, quality is crucial. Ground spices lose their flavor over time, so buy them often.
You can keep them fresher by buying the whole spice (like coriander or cumin seeds) and then grinding them in small quantities. You can use a coffee grinder to do that.
Herbs are best when they're used fresh, but dried herbs are a lot easier to keep on hand and are fantastic as well. Just buy them often to make sure they're as fresh and flavorful as possible.
The best way to learn what combinations of spices and herbs work together, and with which foods, is to start by looking at recipes. There are some flavors that generally work well, and are always used in the same combination.
But also keep in mind that everyone has slightly different tastes and you might prefer to swap something - maybe ditch coriander for cinnamon. Start from the tried and true as a base and try experimenting a little bit on your own. Over time, you'll figure out what you like.
In my online cooking classes, a lot of what you learn is how to uses spices and herbs, combine flavors, and make dressings and dips that really make a meal special.
Plus, I put together a cheat sheet for keeping on your fridge with all the best spice, herb and flavor combinations that you'll get as a bonus when you sign up.
But for today, I just want to give you one of my favorite simple flavor combinations:
There are a few great combinations like that to remember. And then I also love showing you how to experiment and improvise on a recipe. It's hard to get into that in my short recipe videos, so I had a lot of fun showing the techniques in more depth in the online cooking classes.
Even when you make the same basic dish, if you understand the technique behind a recipe, you can make it in a different way every time.
Make your salad with carrots, cucumbers, avocado, black beans and a creamy dill dressing one day. Then make it with snow peas, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, quinoa and a zesty orange-ginger dressing the next.
Here's a recipe for a creamy dressing that tastes great with that awesome flavor combo above:
Puree all of the ingredients until smooth and creamy. For a milder ginger flavor, squeeze the juice from the grated pulp rather than adding it all. Add a pinch of salt if you need it, but if you use fresh ingredients you might not need any.
This dressing works really well drizzled over sweet potatoes and tossed with some fresh greens. Or, you can leave it thicker and use it as a dip for some fresh cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes. Try it with different dishes and see how you like it. The best way to learn is to experiment!
This dressing is the kind of thing we did in my live online cooking lessons earlier this year, but we got into much more detail on how it all works, making variations and how to use it in creating a meal.
I got such great feedback from everyone who took part that I wanted to give everyone a chance to take them, but it gets hard to coordinate time zones around the world.
So I've put the recordings of all the classes together, and you'll be able to get access through a private membership site. In there, you can watch the cooking classes online any time you want (day or night), download the videos and recipes, upload photos of your meals, and ask me questions about any of the recipes or techniques.
In each class, I go through a recipe and a general topic. For example, I make a sweet potato quinoa chili and talk about how to make soups in general. I also get into the nutrition of the foods while we're cooking - and of course have a little fun, too!
You can sign up for the classes right now, over here.