There is this great gal who takes my Pump class and she is interested in loosing weight. She rarely misses a class, but is still struggling to take off some pounds. I am so psyched that she has already ingrained the good habit of exercising into her routine. But recently she mentioned that she wanted to start using some of my recipes to help slim down. I think that is great and I am beyond flattered, but I have an even better place to start to make healthy cooking easier. As in 30 seconds easy.30-second-things-to-make-healthy-cooking-easier on Healthy Seasonal Recipes

 

I think since I write this blog and am always posting the perfect world recipes people get the wrong idea about the way I eat every day. A lot of people ask me if I make a big dinner from scratch every day. Or if I always make complicated meals. The short answer is no I don’t. Let’s be real. I don’t have time for that. I doubt you do either. I do make dinner from scratch every night but I don’t fill the plate with complicated multi-ingredient recipes. Usually I focus my attention on one part of the meal, say roasting a chicken with lemon and herbs. Then I will throw together a salad and steam some brown rice with a little this or that added in.

 

So today I wanted to talk about a few “cheats” that I have up my sleeve that help me do the whole healthy cooking thing night after night. I also want to share some ways that I deal with all of the seasonal produce that don’t involve an actual recipe. And also how I systematize and streamline the whole cooking from scratch thing.

 

I’m not just talking about dinner either. I really make an effort to eat breakfast and lunch at home too. Or I pack my lunch if I am not working at home. Eating lunch from scratch is really a great way to loose weight. Listen to this, my husband after buying his lunch every day for years and years, has started to pack his lunch every day. {He also added in a second BodyPump class every week} and he has lost fifteen pounds since November. Go Jase go! I am so bursting with pride!

So anyway here is my list of ten things that are 30 second tips, tools and cheater ingredients to make healthy cooking easy. I really want to hear from you too. Do you have any good tips to share? I would love to hear from you.

 

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  1. Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt

    This is the original cheater ingredient that my mom always had on hand. It’s like salt plus flavor. We always called it “Krazy Jane’s.” My ma used it in her salad dressings: Olive oil, vinegar, a clove of crushed garlic and Krazy Janes. That’s it. Easy Peasy. No excuses, and no weird stuff in it. I always have it on hand. I had it on my egg this morning. I steam broccoli, drizzle on some good olive oil and sprinkle on the Krazy Janes.

 

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  1. Teeny Tiny Spice Company Spice Blends

    These are hands down my top favorite cheater ingredient. I love these spices so much and cook with them several times a week.

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    I was lucky enough to do their photography for their website, so I got free cans of every one of their blends. So I have tried them all. I have too many favorites really, but if I had to choose favorites I’d say my top five are the Shepherd’s Herb Mix, Montreal Seasoning, Hot Italian, Tolucan Chorizo and Zaatar. But I think the British Curry and Harissa are worthy of being in that group as well. Okay I am bad at picking favorites. Oh man then there is the Szechuan! Okay I’ll stop. I buy the Montreal for gifts for people. I tell them, just sprinkle this on a steak and you are automatically the best chef in the world! I am not joking.

     

    All the blends are certified organic and are made in micro batches right here in Vermont. The idea behind their blends is that they put a world of flavors at you fingertips. I use these to season simple vegetable dishes. I’ll just cube up veggies or potatoes, toss them with these blends, olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them or grill them. It is so easy and flavorful. There is so little effort required and they don’t add any calories.

     

    In addition to sides, I also use them to make the main event too. Like in chicken marinade or for grilled steak. We also love the Mexican blends to make meat for taco salad. Or I use the zaatar to spice up a turkey burger. Okay I’ll shut up about these, but for realz you should check them out. $10 well spent.

 

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  1. Micro-plane zester

    Adding a little lemon or citrus zest to steamed vegetables adds flavor without calories. It takes thirty seconds to do it, and it makes otherwise boring sides taste great. I also use my zester to grate ginger  or garlic into a dressing or marinade or other recipes if I want to be sure not to have any large pieces no dirty cutting board or knife involved. Oh, and I also use it for Parmesan. If you have ten minutes you can go a step further and make this lemon garlic broccoli recipe. It is one of my daughters favorite recipes on my blog, and it takes ten minutes.

 

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  1. Immersion blender or mini prep for salad dressings

    I am a dressing snob and always make mine from scratch. But to make it easier I only do it once or twice a week. I do a big batch in my mini prep or with the immersion blender. Then I store it in the fridge in a jar. I use it for my lunch salads or for dinner. The mini prep or immersion blender helps it keep its emulsion longer. FYI, a blender also works, but sometimes it is hard to get the mixture going because the blade is above the liquid level. The mini prep or immersion blender works no matter the size of the batch.

 

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  1. Glad bags

    In case you hadn’t heard, we eat a ton of salad, so to make life easier I prep the lettuces when I bring them home from the farmers market or CSA or bring them in from the garden.30-second-cheats-bags-1I cut and wash them and then store them in re-sealable Glad bags. Then when it comes time to make dinner I just dump the greens out of the bags into the bowl. Not just greens, but when I harvest vegetables and herbs from the garden I try to clean them and then put them into the bags ready to go so that dinner prep is faster. I like the Glad storage bags better than Ziploc for produce because I think it keeps the produce fresher longer. I use the Ziploc freezer bags for the freezer. {Yes I am also a bag snob.}

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  1. Soy Vay marinade

    I don’t buy many sauces or things like this, but this is one that I really love. I really think this is a great prepared ingredient. It is the kind of thing to use when you’re on a ski vacation staying in a rental condo or something like that. It is really strong so you don’t need much, and it marinates quickly. OR for beef and chicken you can leave it in for 12 hours. I always have some on hand because it is one of those ingredients that works when you just don’t have time to deal. Obviously, if I do have time to deal I like to make my own marinade from scratch in a big batch and then freeze smaller portions of it.

 

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  1. Canned Sustainable Tuna and Salmon

    I eat this for lunch a few times a week. I have it with salad (of course) or just with crackers. I know this sounds really obvious. But having a stack of these in your pantry can really make a difference between eating a home-made healthy lunch and buying one.

 

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  1. Ice cube trays

    When you make pesto or chimichurri freeze tablespoon-fulls in the ice cube tray. Once it is frozen you can pop them out into a re-sealable freezer bag. They are great to pop into pasta or defrost and spread on pizza. Or to toss with steamed vegetables. I also use the trays to freeze pureed canned chipotle in adobo sauce, tomato paste and when my girls were little baby food.

 

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  1. Whole-wheat pizza crust

    I keep a few balls of pizza dough in my freezer for fast dinners. I just defrost them a day ahead in the fridge. I love using up odds and ends from my fridge to top pizzas. Even when the cupboard is bare, I will top pizza with balsamic caramelized onions and shredded cheddar cheese. So yummy and easy and much healthier than greasy take out.

 

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  1. Glass Snap Lock Storage containers

    With all of that from-scratch cooking I am always strategizing for left-overs. I try to store leftovers in glass when I can so I really love these glasslock containers. My husband takes his lunch to work in them every day. When we clean up from dinner, I pack the left overs into a portion for his lunch right there on the spot.

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Do you have any thirty second tips, tools or cheater ingredients that you love? Please share by leaving a comment below.