6 healthy changes I’m making to my cooking game

It’s that time of year again when thoughts turn to shape and diet. The moment I hear the word “diet,” I immediately think of deprivation, boring food, and no wine. This year, I won’t do that for me. After doing a few press trips that included food and wine and then coming home to discover I hadn’t gained weight and sometimes lost a pound or two, I realized there was something to eating farm-to-table fresh food and wine with a meal. This year I’m making changes to my cooking game, so eating healthy doesn’t sound like a punishment. It’s important to me because of the recent health scare that emphasized the importance of nutrition to me.

I received a Seasider gift set from Ciao Italian Food Artistry to try and it is mentioned in this article.

Note: I am not a nutritionist. I am writing from my own experience.

Inspiration from Stanford, Tacoma (Image source: Peggy Cleveland)

1. Mental

This is a big change for me. I focus on healthy eating and wellness versus dieting. Instead of thinking I can’t eat that and feeling deprived, I started to think I could eat this because it’s a good quality healthy ingredient. I constantly remind myself of how good I feel when I eat better. I choose the foods I love so I don’t feel deprived. This was the key for me. Instead of following a strict diet that often includes meals I’m not really excited about, I plan my own. This allows me to look forward to a meal knowing that it is a food that I love. For example, decadent avocados are packed with nutrients like vitamins C, E, K, and B6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium and potassium. They also provide lutein, beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids. Avocados contain healthy and beneficial fats that help you feel full and 6-7 grams of fiber per serving. It’s a great tasting nutritional powerhouse. So dip in that guacamole without any guilt.

Excellent ingredient.
Peggy Cleveland

2. Premium ingredients

I recently received a gift box from Ciao Italian Food Artistry. The Seasider was full of excellent ingredients that they used to make their Salsa Cruda pasta. In Italy, the sauce you don’t cook is known as cruda sauce. I was skeptical about using tuna in a pasta dish, but oh my gosh, the difference when using the premium tuna As do Mar. To make this dish, I peeled tuna in a bowl and added roasted San Giuliano artichokes, Agostino salt capers, whole red Gentile Piennolo Vesuvio tomatoes, and Le Ferre lemon extra virgin olive oil. When Marella Pasta del Mare was finished, I put them together. I added a little pepper and grated Pecorino Romano. This was a simple dish to prepare but incredibly delicious. The excellent ingredients elevated this humble meal into something I will present to guests. that was good.

The lesson I learned is that the premium ingredients are well worth the extra cost. My husband and I are now empty colonists and only cook for two, so I use less which helps justify the cost. Shopping is half the fun. Love the upscale grocery store to browse for new ingredients. Find a place that offers cooking shows. You can try the dish and get the recipe if you like it. My new motto is: “Does it taste worth it?” I wouldn’t waste calories on something average.

Meal combinations, while not premium ingredients, are a good way to experiment with new ingredients and recipes. I will order occasionally when I get a deal. Everything you need comes with the kit. I have the opportunity to learn a new recipe and love the suggestions on how to prepare it for visual appeal. Meals are portion controlled, and on looking, I thought, “Oh, that’s not a lot of food,” but by eating slowly it’s plenty. It helps to know the appropriate portion size. I have recipes from meal kits that are now in my permanent rotation because they were so good.

A carrot dish at the lodge in St. Edward's State Park.
Roasted carrots (Photo Credit: Peggy Cleveland)

3. farm to table

In the Pacific Northwest, I’ve noticed more restaurants are turning toward the farm-to-table style of sourcing ingredients. Chefs search for the freshest ingredients from local farmers and suppliers. When eating out, this is where you want to go for a healthy meal without feeling deprived. One of the trends I’ve noticed this year is what I call “gourmet vegetables on the menu as an appetizer.” The most common are Brussels sprouts and roasted carrots. I’ve tried many different versions of these dishes and loved each one. How cool is it that you can enjoy healthy vegetables you’ll love versus fried calamari?

The takeaway is that you can make these dishes at home. Whenever I’m in a restaurant, I photograph and jot down ingredients. When I’m at home, I try to remake the dish. I found great recipes using a search engine and it listed all the ingredients plus the word recipe. Roasted carrots taste like this treat. When they are roasted, they soften and caramelize the outside. Mixed with spices and seasonings, it’s a good dish. Brussels sprouts taste much better when sliced ​​thin and roasted in the oven. I prepared them sweet and savory, and both are equally good. The sweet version had a maple syrup butter sauce which was very good. To make it even healthier, my homemade version had a drizzle of the sauce.

With creativity, pizza can be healthy.
Peggy Cleveland

4. Professional Equipment

To up your cooking game, you really need good and quality equipment. In my opinion, the most important is a well-designed cutting board and a well-made knife. Healthy eating involves a lot of chopping, so you want tools that can handle the task. You will also need stackable containers that can be placed in the refrigerator to use for meal prep. I like to plan my meals for the week, and it’s good to have all the ingredients ready to use. Look for Mediterranean diet books. Experts considered it one of the healthiest diets in the world, which is what nutritionists recommend.

I received a pizza oven for Christmas and can’t wait to try it out. In addition to pizza, you can cook steaks and other meats on a cast iron skillet. I want to see what he can do with vegetables. Can pizza be a healthy dish? Yes, if you exercise portion control. Traditional Neapolitan pizza is a thin crust made with flour, yeast, water, salt, oil, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. It is a simple dish and can be part of a healthy diet. You can boost the nutritional value by using whole wheat flour for the dough and covering it with nutrient-rich vegetables and lean proteins like grilled chicken. Reduce the amount of cheese.

Shrimp and eggs for breakfast.
Peggy Cleveland

5. Breakfast

I find that I eat better during the day when I have breakfast. Eggs are a filling protein but can be a bit boring. I eat a frittata most mornings. I assemble it filled with a mix of leftover fresh veggies. Anything that tastes good in a frittata is a great way to avoid food waste. Love leftover roasted sweet potatoes, asparagus, or zucchini with fresh onions, peppers, and chopped spinach or greens. I add a little more meat and usually some bacon or sausage. Fry all the fillings in a safe non-stick pan, then pour over the beaten eggs with a little milk. Cook on the stove for 2 minutes, then grill until the eggs are cooked through. I put the rack in the middle of the oven so that the pancakes do not burn.

Wine from the Alto Adige wine-growing region in northern Italy.
The Alto Adige region in northern Italy (Image source: Peggy Cleveland)

6. Wine

I love a glass of wine with dinner, and it’s good to know that it has positive effects. Article in JAMA Internal MedicineThe researchers concluded that, “Compared with non-alcoholic beverages, women of initially normal weight who consumed a light to moderate amount of alcohol gained less weight and had a lower risk of being overweight and/or obese during 12.9 years of follow-up.” The interesting thing about this study is that the subjects were women between the ages of 39 and 89, from the population. I have read other studies showing the positive effects of red wine on blood sugar. In my experience, I’ve found this to be true when I do a blood test two hours after drinking a glass of red wine.

In terms of upping your cooking game, having a glass of wine with your meal encourages you to slow down and savor your food. Set the table every night and enjoy a meal you cook that you know is good for you.

If your New Year’s resolutions include losing weight, consider refocusing on wellness. Make healthy eating a part of your routine with meals you’ll love to eat by upping your cooking game.

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