Tag Archives: healthy

The Secret to Cooking Good Healthy Food

Last year a culinary instructor named Todd Mohr gave a free webinar on how to cook like a chef.  It was not what I expected.  Instead of talking about all the “secrets” and difficult recipes we think professional chefs know he talked about how home cooks make things too difficult.  The focus of his webinar was learning basic techniques, cooking methods and spices then using your own fresh ingredients to create original dishes.

My Rocky Beginnings

When Bob and I first started living gluten free I was scared to death.  There were already a number of foods we didn’t eat for health reasons and I was sure there would be nothing left to eat…  So I started with stir fry and kept working on figuring out all those difficult gluten free recipes and exotic ingredients.   I eventually began to convert my own recipes and realized it really wasn’t that difficult, but I kept collecting recipes trying to find new, different and perfect recipes that met our needs.

Already Heading in the Right Direction

When I heard what Chef Todd had to say I realized I was already heading in that direction.  I was already putting together my own ingredients to create new soups and salads. I rotisserie whole chickens and use the meat for various dishes and boil the bones to make stock. Then I realized I had my “magic mixture” which was usually black beans, onion, corn, salsa or canned tomatoes and chili spices and sometimes chicken.  This ends up on baked potatoes, gluten free pasta, spaghetti squash, salad greens and most recently with rice rolled into a gluten free wrap for burritos. Sometimes I add rice for the closest thing to a casserole I do now.  I like to make a big batch to have on hand.

The Gluten Free Wraps and a Discovery

The gluten free wraps were part of a prize package from Toufayan Bakeries which I won through a drawing at the Gluten Away Online Expo.  The first couple of days after the package arrived we enjoyed some wonderful deli style sandwich wraps.  I even made a special trip into town for good deli meat, goat cheese and condiments.

Then I started looking for different ideas and went to the Toufayan website where I found the recipe for Chicken and Black Bean Freezer Burritos. When I realized I already had the basics down all I needed to do was think a little outside the box and wrap the stuff up in a tortilla or other flat bread, I felt a little embarrassed. But this was an excellent illustration of Chef Todd’s point just a few days after listening to him.

When I made these I cut eat one in half and wrapped them in plastic wrap then put in a freezer bag.  I ended up with two bags of these. Quite a bit of work, but good to have on hand for a snack or meal emergency.

Burrito wrap w/ filling.
Copyright 2017

 

Burritos ready for freezer.
Copyright 2017

Do you Make Things too Difficult?

Home cooks do make things way too difficult. We try to impress people with our skills or some sort of secret recipe or knowledge that only we have. Add food restrictions such as wheat or dairy to the mix and things can really get crazy. It is easy to panic and wonder what on earth you are going to eat.

My suggestion.  

  • Focus on techniques. Review or learn basic cooking methods such as baking, roasting, steaming, sauteing, braising, grilling, stir frying, etc.  These I have mentioned can all be done gluten free and dairy free.
  •  Then bring in your own fresh ingredients and seasonings and mix and match to your hearts content.  You might also want to play around with sauces and toppings.

The benefit of cooking this way is that you get to choose your own ingredients.  I think this is the easiest way to cook for special diets.

All you have to do is get started. It is a different way of thinking about food and cooking than many of us are used to. Take that first step and get started. Don’t be afraid to play a little and get creative.  Things will get easier as you go along and you will eventually find yourself thinking, I really made this?  This is so good!

What is your secret to cooking good, healthy food?

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Have Yourself a Healthy Little Holdiay — Free Book

Today (Dec. 20) only my holiday e-book Have Yourself a Healthy Little Holiday is available free in the Amazon Kindle Store.  Please help yourself to a copy and tell your friends, especially those with food restrictions.

If you have read the book please consider leaving an honest review at Amazon.com.  Remember to mention you received a free copy in your review.

Still Christmas shopping?  While you are there click on my name and take a look at my other books which are regular price today.

Thank you and wishing everyone a happy and healthy little holiday!

National Soup Month

 

Wouldn't veggie chili be good for lunch? Copyright 2014 by R.A. Robbins
Wouldn’t veggie chili be good for lunch?
Copyright 2014 by R.A. Robbins

January is National Soup Month.  This is great for those of us who are trying to eat healthier this year, especially those of us who live where January is typically cold and snowy.

Soup is a good way to start on the path to healthier eating.  But remember not all soups are created equal.  Some are healthier than others.  I believe the healthiest way to be sure I am eating a healthy soup is to make it myself.  That way I know exactly what is going in the pot and don’t have to worry about something not so good for me slipping by me.

So what are a few ingredients I want to include to make my soup healthier?

Start with a low sodium broth — check the label or make your own.  Don’t forget vegetable broth. You can also use water.

Add lots of veggies.  Try to include some dark green leafy veggies such as broccoli, spinach or kale.  An easy way to include veggies is to use a bag of a frozen blend such as a California blend or stir fry vegetables.  And don’t forget cabbage soup — just don’t overcook the cabbage.

Add whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat groats or barley (barley is not gluten free).

Add beans and lentils for extra fiber.

Make cream soups without cream by adding some pureed pumpkin, squash or carrots.

Watch the garnishes.  Try to slow down on the croutons, sour cream and cheese or replace them with healthier options.

Spice it up.  Herbs and spices are always a good way to add flavor to anything.  If you use packaged blends be sure to read the label for added sugar, salt, gluten, etc.

Start on your path to a healthier way of like with a bowl of nice hot, healthy soup for an easy way to work in those much needed vegetables.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making the Church Fellowship Hour Healthier

Lutherans love coffee hour
Lutherans love coffee hour (Photo credit: Tatiana12)

In many churches Sunday morning fellowship hour means coffee, some sort of sweet drink and doughnuts with nothing for those with special needs.  Stewardship includes keeping our bodies healthy and including people rather than excluding or inadvertently leaving them out.  Keeping this in mind let’s consider these points.

1. It isn’t about food. The purpose of the fellowship hour is to encourage people to talk, get to know each other and welcome visitors.  No one should feel left out. Food and drink are used to encourage interaction.  If food is driving people apart we need to think of other ways to accomplish this.

2. Add healthier foods instead of taking away the doughnuts.  Steer away from having nothing but sweets. Take known special needs into account.  Given choices, fewer people may eat doughnuts.

3. Add pitchers of fresh water.

4. Change may not happen quickly — we are talking about church.   Don’t be demanding, just casually bring it up.  Take a  fruit or veggie plate on your turn to provide food.  Remember we are talking about adding healthy options, not taking away the doughnuts.