Kitchen Confidence in 5 Easy Steps
If I could carve out the best path to health and happiness for you I would put the start line right in your kitchen. No matter how you want to slice it you just can’t REALLY transform your health if you don’t turn on your stove or oven, or at the very least blender.
You don’t have to be Julia Childs or Rachel Ray, but you really do need to know your way around a whisk.
In the past decade or so I have spent literally thousands of hours teaching folks just like you how to embrace their kitchen and cook with gusto. It is, without a doubt, the thing I love most about my job. You see I am a nutritionist, but I am also a great lover of food. If you’ve read any of my posts on this blog I frequently reference my family and my rich and beautiful food upbringing. It shaped me. It saved me. I encourage you today to put down your fear and pick up your wooden spoon. We are about to build some super sexy kitchen confidence.
Kitchen Confidence in 5 Easy Steps
- Play. Play in the kitchen. Don’t take cooking so seriously. I promise mistakes will happen. You will make some crappy meals and some that are surprisingly good. The more you give yourself permission to play the more success you will have. If you are totally new to the cooking world then start with a super simple recipe like: Creamy Asparagus Soup make it the first time as written then allow yourself to change one thing the next time. What if you made it with zucchini? or broccoli? What if you took out the curry powder and added fresh basil? Encourage the sensibility to play. Cooking is a creative endeavor, and should be fun.
- Begin with flavors you love and work from there. I hear frustration from a lot of clients that they spend hours cooking a dish and then they don’t like the taste of it. Frustrating. Begin working with flavors you know you like. Are you a fan of traditional Italian food? Try making your own tomato sauce: Saute garlic and onions in olive oil until tender. Add dry oregano (a pinch) salt and pepper and 2 dry bay leaves. Add 3 large cans of organic tomatoes (I use both crushed and whole tomatoes) and let simmer for an hour or two stirring frequently. Let the smell of your homemade sauce fill your space with love. Use this sauce on veggies, grains, protein. Then pat yourself on the back for not just opening a jar and use that pride to motivate you to try another dish. Maybe tomato sauce but this time you throw in some olives or capers and a pinch of crushed red pepper at the end for a bit of heat. Bam! You just made your very own puttanesca sauce! Begin in a familiar place and build on it.
- Use recipes as guidelines. Its perfectly fine if you are an exacting/mathematical type of person that likes very specific instructions and hence follows a recipe exactly as written. But what if a recipe calls for 1/4 tsp of salt and you really don’t like your food to be salty? To gain kitchen confidence you have to allow for some flexibility. We all have different palates, it’s impossible for me to create a recipe with all people in mind. Use recipes as guidelines and take note if something doesn’t turn out quite right, it may be a simple tweaking of one ingredient to suit your fancy.
- Use your nose. 70% of what we taste comes from smell. Your nose is really your best tool in the kitchen. My college boyfriend used to open every dry spice container (he only had about 10) and sniff combinations to see what smelled good together. Then he would use that combo on whatever he was eating. I thought he was strange, but then I secretly starting doing it and wouldn’t you know I have come up with some of my best recipes through a sniff test. Over time you will develop a natural sense, instinct, and inclination but you have to work that smell muscle.
- Keep it organized. The least sexy of my tips but one of the most important. As you can tell from my kitchen picture I have quite a small space to work in. No sprawling suburban kitchen here! Well, it is small but mighty. I have tested each and every recipe on this blog in this small space. I can do that because I keep it organized. A cluttered kitchen is not a space that you are going to feel inspired in. Take a bit of time to clear the decks. You don’t need a lot of tools but you need easy access to them. If you have to dig through 10 pans to find the right one then you can probably ditch 8 of those pans. Simplify your tools and keep it organized.