5 Easy Cooking Tricks to Simplify Your Life

Simplify your cooking routine.

Photo Courtesy of ChefDay.com
Photo Courtesy of ChefDay.com

Want to make cooking easier and more enjoyable? Try these fun and surprising tricks I found in my foodie travels this week, from my two favorite new (and still under-the-radar!) sites.

1. YouTube it with experts.
Why cook and screw up when you can learn from the chefs themselves?  Newcomer ChefDay (A fun start-up that delivers pre-measured fresh ingredients you need to cook chef-designed recipes) features step-by-step tutorial videos with chefs walking you through the recipes.  (Stri-fried Green Bean Vermicelli or Parmesan Veal Milanese, anyone?) Most dishes take around 30 minutes total to prepare, and they’re sorted by level of difficulty to make things easier for even the most amateur chefs.

2. Get creative about salt substitutes.

I always thought the only swap for salt was, well, saltless salt. Until now. In talking with Sodium Girl Jessica Goldman Foung, my eyes were opened to a slew of awesome alternatives. Did you know that air chilled chickens make for great, low-sodium roasted meat? To brighten the flavors in salads, soups or roasted veggies, use a lemon or other citrus fruit. And when making pancakes, trade high-sodium milk for low-sodium coconut milk or even some Greek yogurt. Oh, and to serve with that brunch,how about salt-free Bloody Marys?

Photo courtesy of Jessica Goldman Foung of SodiumGirl.com
Photo courtesy of Jessica Goldman Foung of SodiumGirl.com

3. No veggie peeler? No mallet? No problem!

Chef Jehangir Mehta shares on ChefDay, “If you don’t have a vegetable peeler, use the back of a spoon to peel root vegetables like ginger and turmeric.” And Chef Victor Laplaca advises, “if you don’t have a mallet  you can use the bottom of a pan to pound the veal. The large surface of the pan makes the process quicker than with a mallet. Place a plastic wrap on top of the veal before pounding.”

4. You can cry over spilled milk, but smile over re-used boiled water.

“Keep the nutrient filled water in which you cook asparagus in order to boil other veggies, noodles, or rice. It will save you the time of boiling another pot of water and your dish will be healthier and more flavorful,” suggests Chef Mehta.

5. Make the most of leftovers

Don’t stress yourself whipping up a new dish from scratch. Cooked grains can last in the fridge for up to a week, and who doesn’t have a few portions of rice from previous meals hanging around?  Sodium Girl offers  a variety of creative ways to turn that ubiquitous leftover into a meal. Some easy options: Toss it in some broth with tortilla strips, lime and avocado for a quick tortilla soup; stuff it in mushrooms with ground meat for an easy app; roll it in a lettuce wrap with whatever other produce is in your fridge for an easy-breezy spring roll.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest