Committing to healthy eating is a big deal and it can sometimes feel like too much work. Especially when it’s so much easier to just go through a drive-thru and order the dollar burger. However, choosing to eat better is one of the greatest things you can do for your body, no matter how many shopping trips or failed recipes it takes.
When you cook your own food, you are 100 percent in charge of what goes in your body. Every single ingredient or substitute ingredient is completely up to you. You can choose to use less salt and add more natural herbs, or you can go ahead and completely do away with the any added fats. According to dietician, Ben Atkinson of Harborview Medical Center for the University of Washington, “When we cook at home, we are in control. McDonald’s fries have 19 ingredients. We can make them at home with far less — and they will taste just as good.”
If it’s your first-time cooking, seeing all those specific tablespoons or ounces in recipes can become overwhelming really fast. There are tons of ways to simplify cooking habits, though. It doesn’t have to be a strenuous or stressful activity. Take these 25 brilliant kitchen hacks for healthy eating and you’ll find cooking for yourself and eating healthier is definitely not as hard as you thought it was and can actually be a relaxing process.
25 Store Onions In The Freezer
A lot of great recipes make use of onions.
These layered vegetables literally bring tears to your eyes, so any chance you get to skip the chopping process is a true gift.
If you ever find you're left with more chopped up onion than your recipe calls for, go ahead and bag the leftovers in a freezer-safe bag. You can use these the next time your recipe involves cooking onions, and they will keep in the freezer for at least three months!
24 Brown Bag Your Fruit
Fresh fruits and veggies are a great snack for those trying to eat healthily. Sometimes, though, finding the perfect fruit in the supermarket can be hard. A quick trick to getting your fruit to ripen faster is to stick them in a brown paper bag and seal it up real good. You can also add a banana to the bag to really speed up the process, according to Huffington Post. Bananas give off more ethylene, a natural plant hormone used to force ripening.
23 The Pineapple Leaf Test
Pineapples are a great low-calorie source of vitamins and antioxidants. But with that super tough exterior how can you be sure you’re buying a good one? A good pineapple test for ripeness involves tugging at one of the middle leaves.
If the fruit is ready to eat, the leaf should be pulled out easily.
Another way to detect a pineapple’s ripeness is by smelling the bottom of the pineapple. If you can smell the fruit’s sweetness, it’s a ripe pick.
22 Prevent Browning With Lemon Juice
The moment an avocado, an apple or a potato is cut, and the insides are exposed to oxygen, they start to turn brown. No one finds any of those healthy ingredients appealing when they start browning. An effective way to prevent the browning of those items is by using a little bit of lemon juice. The citric acid of a lemon prevents oxidation. According to Leaf, by soaking the cut ingredients in some water with a splash of lemon juice, the enzyme reaction will slow down significantly.
21 Smash And Shake Your Garlic
If you’ve ever tried to peel a head of garlic, you’ve probably realized how difficult it can get with all the outer layers. This will definitely help. First, take your head of garlic and smash it with the heel of your hand to open up the casing.
Then, place the entire thing in a bowl and cover with another bowl.
Shake the bowls hard for a few seconds. When you look inside, you’ll find a bunch of wonderfully peeled garlic cloves.
20 Preserve Tomatoes
Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium. They have even been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. It’s only right you learn how to properly care for this red fruit. According to Anastasia Cole Plakias a founding partner in Brooklyn Grange for Glamour, tomatoes will last longer if you store them stem side down. They will also do a lot better if your store them out of the refrigerator and leave them at room temperature.
19 Easier Cheese Grating
Did you know that by freezing your cheese for just 15 to 20 minutes before you are ready to grate it, the whole thing will go a lot smoother? This works great with super soft cheeses like fontina and Monterey Jack. According to A Homemade Living, the exact time in the freezer depends on the softness of the cheese, but typically you can tell it’s ready based on the firmness. Cheese is high in protein and calcium; when eaten in moderation it can be a great healthy snack.
18 No More Tears
Chopping up onions can be seriously painful. Your sensitive eyes sting as tears uncontrollably stream down your face. It doesn’t have to be this way.
It might look pretty silly, but you can fight away the tears by putting a slice of bread in your mouth, partially sticking out to absorb the onion gas before it reaches your eyes.
Another quick fix to prevent the tears is to freeze your onion for at least 30 minutes before you chop it up.
17 Wooden Spoon Control
If you’ve ever experienced boiling water overflowing your pot, you know how scary it can feel. The simplest of solutions can prevent this. Place a wooden spoon over the top of your pot. Seriously, that’s it. According to Life Hacker, the idea here is the spoon will end up popping the bubbles before they get too high. This will give you more time to reach the stove and turn down the heat. Over time, the heat can warp your wooden spoon, so don’t use something of sentimental value.
16 Save Fresh Herbs
Not many things are more satisfying than growing your own healthy ingredients in a little garden, especially herbs.
However, once you pick an herb, they start losing the freshness you fell in love with in the first place.
Sure, you can dry herbs like rosemary and basil, but you can’t do that with cilantro or parsley. You can prolong the life of your herbs by freezing them in ice cube trays with some water or oil until you’re ready to use them.
15 The Best Roasted Veggies
The best veggies to roast are potatoes, carrots, squash, and broccoli. You can add your own touch of special flavors with seasonings and olive oil. The key to really making some awesome roasted veggies, though, is to put them in the oven before it is fully heated. When you start preheating your oven, put the pan of veggies in from the get-go. Think of it as letting the vegetables get a jump-start on the browning process of roasting.
14 Zap The Butternut
Butternut squash is more than just your ordinary vegetable. It can be turned into soup, spaghetti, and even a lasagna.
The first step to many squash recipes involves peeling and cutting up the vegetable. However, you might find it tough to peel through the exterior of the squash.
Your microwave can seriously help with this task.
By poking several holes around the squash, slicing off the top and bottom and microwaving for three and a half minutes, you will find the skin comes off much easier.
13 Save The Greens
Shopping healthy is not exactly the cheapest activity. It becomes painful watching your green ingredients just welt away to rottenness. If you are left with too much spinach or kale than you need for the night, go ahead and stick the remainder in a zip-top freezer bag and freeze it if you're afraid it's going to start going bad. This probably won't work in a fresh, salad-like recipe, but you can definitely use is the next time you're in need of the ingredient for any cooked recipe.
12 The Perfect Fish
Fish is one of those high-protein, low-fat foods. They are full of great health benefits, including tons of the "good" fats, according to EDF Seafood Selector.
The key to finding the perfect fresh fish is by smelling it.
If it smells like the ocean, it's good to go. If it smells super fishy, it's probably not too fresh. When you try to cook the perfect fish, place each filet at least two-inches apart on a foiled baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
11 Cold Not Warm
The simple idea of a nice salad being healthy is something many people agree with. However, there are many different things that go into the health value of a salad and its lettuce. One great salad tip is to eat crisp, cool lettuce rather than anything room-temperature. The idea here is the lettuce will take up more place on your plate and take longer to chew. You'll also want to be conscientious about what you're putting on your salad.
10 Bagel Flats
Bagels are my favorite to-go breakfast item. However, they can be loaded with tons of calories. Lots of people opt for scoping out the center of bagels to take away calories, but then they just add a bunch of unhealthy filling.
Another option is to go for flat bagels.
These are thinner than normal bagels and don't open up a bowl for any excessive toppings. If you've got to add some kind of spread to your bagel, choose something non-fat or a nice fresh fruit.
9 Unsweetened Almond Milk In Your Coffee
The first thing a lot of people do in the morning is drink a cup of coffee. The hot beverage can get become pretty unhealthy, though, if you're adding a lot of flavored creamer or sugars. A small splash here or there doesn't seem like much, but those splashes add up real quick. A great substitute for normal creamer or whole milk is almond milk. It goes great with a nice cup of coffee and doesn't have all the unhealthy side effects.
8 Replace Mayo With Greek Yogurt
According to Food Network, one cup of mayo has about 1,440 calories and 160 grams of fat. A good recipe for a tuna salad is going to call for a cup of mayonnaise. You can easily lose the majority of those calories by using a Greek Yogurt instead of mayo.
A tablespoon of low-fat yogurt has less fat and less sugar than the traditionally called for mayo.
You will have to test the yogurt out in different recipes because the taste won't always work out the way you want.
7 Avocado "Butter"
Avocados make a fantastic, creamy spread and are way more beneficial than butter. According to Medical News Today, avocado is the only fruit that gives a great amount of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. There are also nearly 20 vitamins and minerals with each avocado. A super healthy hack for toast is to do without your typical butter spread and make a very tasty avocado spread. In addition to the avocado, you utilize some extra virgin oil, which is also excellent for your health.
6 Shred Chicken
Shredded chicken can be a great staple in a healthy recipe. Chicken is a protein that has less saturated fat than most red meats.
You can add shredded chicken to your salads, or to your soups.
But getting a nice shredded chicken isn't always the easiest task. A cool hack for shredding chicken is to use your electric mixer. Start by breaking the cooked chicken a little with your hands, then get those beaters at it on a low speed until it's fully shredded.
5 Stuff Your Grilled Cheese
Grilled cheeses are a classic childhood favorite. As you age, though, your tastes change and you are required to make better health choices. When you start to crave that gooey sandwich, remember you can add more ingredients other than cheese. You can seriously stuff your grilled cheese with any vegetable and not even realize the veggie is there once you're eating it. My favorite grilled cheese additions are tomatoes and spinach. They go great inside a warm grilled cheese.
4 Open-Faced Sandwich
A single slice of bread can push 100 to 200 calories and 20 to 40 carbs.
By going open-faced, you are eliminating one of those pieces of bread and still getting all the great tastes of a good sandwich.
A piece of whole grain bread topped with mashed avocado, red onion, sauerkraut, sprouts and a tomato is a delicious open-faced sandwich recipe, but obviously, you can make any type of sandwich healthier by taking away one of the pieces of bread.
3 Mashed Cauliflower
It’s no secret that mashed potatoes are delicious. However, even though they are a vegetable they are full of carbs and calories. Instead of using potatoes, try some cauliflower. They taste so similar, you’ll barely notice the difference. Cauliflowers are way more nutritious than potatoes, too. They are one of those “nutrient dense” vegetables, according to Consumers Compare. Cauliflowers can improve digestive health and boost weight loss. Just because you have to cut back on the carb-packed potatoes, doesn’t mean you have to give up that great taste.
2 Swap Out The Oil
Your favorite yummy deserts can be made into a healthier product by switching out the margarine or oil ingredients for with a nut or seed butter.
“The swap boosts healthy fats, fiber, protein, and antioxidants (for about the same number of calories) and creates a treat you can feel better about indulging in,”
explained Sharon Palmer, RDN, and author of Plant-Powered for Life to Health. This especially works great in banana bread or cookie bar recipes.
1 Applesauce In Everything
You can substitute butter with a bunch of healthier options. A popular butter alternative is avocados, but not everyone loves avocados. Did you know you can also use applesauce instead of butter? Using applesauce instead of butter will lend a natural sweetness and fiber to your food. According to Fitness, you should keep striving to “replace half the fat in a recipe—quick breads, muffins, cookies—with applesauce.” By doing this, you could be turning your once fatty desert into a nutritious snack.
References: PopSugar, Fitness Magazine, Consumers Compare, Health, Boredom Therapy, BuzzFeed, Greatist, Cooking Light, Cosmopolitan, University of Washington, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Huffington Post, Live Science, Cookin' Canuck, Leaf, Business Insider, Glamour, A Homemade Living, Life Hacker, HGTV, CBC, Mercola, Miko Coffee, Environmental Defense Fund, Seattle Times, Medical News Today, My Recipes