Creativity in the Kitchen

August 8, 2017 in Cooking & Baking Hints, Psychology of Food, Uncategorized by Joyce Bunderson

Let’s imagine that you have not been gifted with music talents; nor do you write books; and on top of that you can’t draw worth beans. Maybe you have a gift for creativity in the kitchen; this gift can be a main ingredient in healthy, tasty dishes. You may be able to make recipes that improve your health and also for those for whom you cook.

You don’t have to start at the creative genius level; the Internet has jillions of ideas for most of the goals that you may want to adopt; just search on the subject that you’re striving to make as a goal. For example, let’s say that you want to make a low salt snack….. you check…….. and internet, and voila – there are pages and pages of ideas for you to try!

Cutting back on salt

If you’re a little apprehensive about being too creative, then incrementalism may be the ticket for you. Let’s just say that you’ve decided that you want to decrease salt in your diet. It’s hard all at once, but pretty easy to do gradually. First start with about one-fourth less, then a half and so on. Consider in your astute, creative mind that limejuice, lemon juice; vinegar and many herbs (none of which have significant salt) can replace some of the flavor for salt. As related to salt, be careful with reducing salt in yeast breads, as the salt is necessary to work the gluten and hold the bread together.

Cutting back on sugar

There are many ways to reduce sugar in the diet. Probably the biggest one is to learn what’s in the processed items that you purchase; consider starting with your cereal choice. In addition, sugar is often added to recipes that you would never think to add sugar.

Fat – choosing the healthiest type of fat

There are two issues as related to fat; one is to have the right amount and the second issue is to get the right kind. The goal is for about one-third of the calories that you take each day to be from fat. That’s fairly easy to do; since fat has nine calories per gram and carbs and protein each have about 4 calories per gram. There’s fat in lots of foods so be careful not to over do it on fat. Don’t cut fat out completely because it is involved with getting certain nutrients into your body; and in addition, it is important in satiety (keeping you from feeling that you need to eat too frequently.)

Animal sources of fat are often great sources of saturated fat; which should be less than seven percent of your daily calories. A few examples of saturated fat sources are: cheese, meat, milk, butter, and sour cream. So if you’re eating quite a bit of these items, you may decide to make some substitutions. Sour cream for example can be replaced with low-fat Greek yogurt. The Greek yogurt has four times as much protein and reduces calories by more than half. That’s definitely a win-win.

Also, you may want to switch butter with vegetable oil and choose the low or non-fat versions of animal products.

Reducing meat

Reducing the serving portion size of meat is one easy way to cut back on saturated fat. Choosing leaner cuts of meat and removing the skin of poultry are two ways to reduce saturated fat in meat. Instead of burger in common recipes like tacos, casseroles, chili con carne and spaghetti with meat sauce, try grinding chicken breast in a food processor and substituting all or part of the burger with ground chicken. Also, you can become creative by combining or replacing some or all of the meat in some recipes with beans or tofu; neither of which have saturated fat. Using beans and tofu will not only reduce saturated fat, but also will increase the fiber content of the recipe. You don’t have to go all the way; don’t forget incrementalism; you can mix tofu; ground chicken and some beans for your tacos.

Reducing or eliminating processed meat

If you’re trying to get away from processed meat; try using chicken tenders (little strips of breast meat) or shrimp.

One thing that I do is making sausage-tasting ground meat; the following is the recipe that I use:

Sausage-tasting ground turkey or ground chicken spices- (Good with greens and white beans; pasta sauce or any recipe that you would use sausage.)

¼ to ½ teaspoon fennel seed

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon dried minced garlic (or add the garlic when you cook the ground meat

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon rubbed sage

½ teaspoon thyme

Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients with extra virgin olive oil, fry about ½ pound of ground turkey or chicken, turning frequently, until browned.

Hint: I generally make 10 or 12 sandwich bags of spice packets and then they’re already mixed when I’m ready to use them. Getting the spices out once saves me time.

Increasing fiber

One easy way to increase fiber is to switch to whole grains. If you make your own pancake mix and quick breads it’s easy to make the switch. There are excellent whole grain pasta choices now; so that’s not a problem. I made brown rice for my grandchildren a few days ago; they like my rice better that the white rice that is served at home. I’ve discovered with multiple grandchildren from different families, that brown rice is an easy switch.

Boosting nutrition

The other day I was cooking for a couple of grandchildren; I know that zucchini is not their favorite. So I grated a food processor container full of zucchini and added it to pasta sauce. I added some extra garlic, oregano, basil and a little extra pepper. They loved the recipe. I didn’t discuss the zucchini, but I guess that I could have, because they liked it.

I know that I could continue writing and sharing ideas, but enough already, start cooking! You can become a creative chef in your own kitchen. Incrementalism is a great way to get going on making some changes. Decide what your goal is and begin in that area. A change here and a change there will gradually help you accomplish your nutrition goals – let your creative juices flow.