Quit outsourcing the kitchen - it's the secret to good gut health!

If you don’t love cooking, maybe I can help to make it more fun for you? I know that sometimes I don't find cooking to be all that fun. I can get into a rut just like everyone else, trust me. But because I know that being and staying healthy, especially digestive health, starts in the kitchen, I try to enjoy it as much as possible by making it simple and doing lots of batch cooking for our family.

So that's why I've listed my best "fun" cooking tips for you, plus a recipe below that will have your kitchen smelling like heaven on earth!

Tip #1

Check out new recipes. Sometimes just seeing the beautiful food photos and reading the recipe can spark some inspiration and fun in your kitchen. Stick to recipes with a small ingredients list – nothing turns me off more than a recipe with a long list of fancy ingredients that I’d have to buy and never use them again, it is just not the way I operate!

You can head to your local bookstore or library for a pretty recipe book. Or look up your favorite nutritionists, chefs, bakers, and other online foodies online on Instagram. Maybe do a quick search on Google or Pinterest to see thousands of new ideas that start with “easy recipe for _____”, honestly, that’s what I do for the most part.

Perhaps you have some ingredients in your fridge that are just waiting to be used.

Pro Tip: Searching through recipes can be so fun and inspiring, and can also end up taking waaaay longer than planned. So, consider setting your timer when you start browsing. The last thing you want is to take too much time looking, that you don’t leave enough time for cooking.

Tip #2

Make grocery shopping fun and inspiring. When you’re at the grocery store, try something that you haven’t had in a while. Is there a seasonal fruit or vegetable you haven’t had for months? What about a childhood favorite? Did you come across something totally delicious at a restaurant or get-together lately? How about you use that as inspiration? I often do this; I will whip up a simplified eggplant dish that I might have tried at a Chinese or Indian restaurant.

Or, browse around the store looking for something you haven't had before; something that is completely new to you. When I go to Whole Foods, I love picking up an organic salad kit that includes several kinds of lettuces and cabbage, nuts and sees and a spicy dressing; I never have all those things on hand to make my salad taste like that! So to me, that is a treat, and I will eat that in 2 days for lunch during the week. Be adventurous and open to possibilities, and you never know what might pop at you at the store when you’re least expecting it.

Tip #3 - Keep it simple!

Sometimes when I see a great food picture, I immediately get inspired to make it. But if I look at the ingredients or instructions and they're too long, I stop. While there are times when I'm inspired and dive into a new great recipe; when I'm not all that inspired, I need to keep things simple.

A few ways to keep things simple are to:

●      Search for recipes with 10 or fewer ingredients, perhaps with a few from the pantry isle (organic, non-bpa cans, etc.)

●      Search for recipes that can be made in one pot or pan, I just love these, and the recipe below is just like that

●      Buy ingredients that are pre-chopped or diced (pre-washed salad greens, diced squashes, frozen vegetables, diced onions, etc.) I find tons of stuff like this at Trader Joe’s and any local supermarket.

Tip #4

Put on some music and invite someone to join you. Do you have kids that need to learn the critical life skill of cooking? Perhaps your partner would love to help chop up some veggies? What about having a “cooking party” where everyone brings something and pitches in on the process? My kids love to help when I make home-made pizza, it turns into a fun little activity and they feel proud and included.

Tip #5

If none of the other tips work for you, invest in some kitchen swag! I can’t tell you how exciting it is to get new spatulas or how motivating to make a certain dish becomes once you have all the right tools!

Having proper kitchen tools makes cooking so much easier and faster. When's the last time you sharpened your (our bought yourself a new) knife? Could dicing carrots with a dull knife be draining the fun from cooking? Or is blending a smoothie with a crummy blender, leaving it too chunky to enjoy, making you feel less excited to try new smoothie recipes? I know it does for me.

In short:

You know that cooking is key to healthy eating, and, yes, it does get boring from time to time, I know that for a fact. Try one (or all) of my fun cooking tips to inspire you to get over to your kitchen and cook yourself some great dishes. I find myself reaching for one of these tools often to help keep me on track.

Getting in the kitchen to cook your own meals is the best way to ensure that you are using the best ingredients without all the fillers and additives in processed foods and that restaurants use to make food taste good. You get to take charge of what you eat and how healthy you make it. You know your gut will thank you for it!

You can find recipes like the one below in my FREE Kick Sugar for Good 5-Day Challenge - I created this program to make it easy to get back in the kitchen so that you can start detoxifying your gut from the effects of sugar, because that is where you need to start, my friend, so go check that out if you haven’t already…

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Chicken and Butternut Squash Curry

serves 4

Ingredients:

1 lb chicken (boneless thighs or tenders)

1 lb cubed butternut squash

1/2 large onion, chopped

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 can full fat coconut milk

1/2 cup chicken broth or water (or more to taste)

Curry powder to taste

Salt and Pepper

1 Bay leaf

Herbs for garnish like cilantro, parsley, basil (optional)

Method:

Sauté onions and coconut oil in a wide pan. Once translucent, add in chicken and brown for a couple of minutes on each side. Add butternut squash and continue to sauté for 5 more minutes.

Add in can of coconut milk, broth or water and spices including the bay leaf. Make sure the liquid covers the ingredients to allow them to gently come to a boil; cover and simmer for about 45 min or until squash is tender and chicken is cooked through.

Garnish with cilantro, basil or parsley on a bed of cauliflower rice or on its own and enjoy, friends!

'til next time,

Mirna