I know, I know. My sink is never not full of dirty dishes lately either. It’s endless and the obvious way out is to order in and spare ourselves the clean-up. Believe me, I love our takeout nights, but I try to keep it to a minimum so that it’s something we look forward to, not just an average weeknight meal. Instead, I try for most of our meals to be healthful and homemade. To make sure that process isn’t a total bore, I have a few ways that I keep it fun around here and think it might help you too.

1. Simplify the process, amplify the flavor

When I’m just getting a client started on their wellness journey, often the idea of healthy cooking is assumed to be either a total drag or an overwhelming assignment. It’s almost expected that I will recommend complicated recipes, demanding that they suddenly become a seasoned home chef. On the flip side, it’s often thought that I’ll insist they adhere to a baked chicken and steamed broccoli diet. I’m proud to say that I belong to neither of those camps. Instead, I like to take the approach of healthy cooking as an opportunity to create new experiences, skills and an arsenal of feel-good dishes. That being said, KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Think about these 4 components landing on your plate, and you’re good:

1) Protein - meat, fish, eggs, beans + rice...

2) Plants(fiber) - mostly green is best, but incorporate as many other colorful veggies as you can too

3) Fat - avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts...

4) Flavor - things like chimmichurri or pesto (TJ’s vegan pesto is my fav), hot sauce (Cholula is my forever ride-or-die), clean dressings, sauces and marinades (Tessemae’s, Primal Kitchen and The New Primal Noble Made are my favorite brands if I don't feel like making my own. I get mine delivered to my door from Thrive Market)

To give you an example, my simple everyday tuna salad seen above

has these four components:

Protein: Tuna

Plants: Red onion, celery, grapes

Fat: Avocado mayo

Flavor: Hot sauce, pink salt/cracked black pepper

2. Stay inspired

I’m someone who could watch cooking shows and peruse cookbooks endlessly, but I realize not everyone shares my love. Sometimes you just need a few good people to turn to when you’re fresh out of original thoughts (like me, almost every day by 5pm;)

Here are some resources for when you hit a creative wall:

  • Giada’s Feel Good Food – I was so hooked on her show, Giada at Home back when my oldest daughter was a toddler and my second was a baby. Truly, I learned most of what I know about cooking from her during afternoon naptime. This cookbook is a compilation of her favorite healthy dishes and I turn to it all the time.

  • The Defined Dish – This busy mom of 2 lives in Texas and knows how to marry flavor with simplicity. This cookbook is Whole30 endorsed and has so many dishes I make on the regular.

  • True Roots - Kristin Cavallari's take on nutrition and mine align so I love anything she puts out. I especially adore her asian-inspired and kid-friendly dishes.

  • My Recipes click here

3. Get "away"

Another one of my favorite ways to create new dishes at home when I’m stumped for ideas is to think back to a favorite dish I had on vacation. You can recreate those experiences all over again…but the challenge is to see if you can “healthify” them somewhat. When I was in Southern Italy one summer, we often snacked on marinated artichoke hearts while waiting for our mains at the cafes all over the island. Most jarred artichoke hearts here in the States are soaked in inflammatory canola oil, so instead, I marinate my own. I take plain artichoke hearts, drown them in good olive oil, sprinkle them with fresh or dried oregano and instantly I’m transported back to those sun-drenched days on Ischia. More or less;) Another favorite are smoothie bowls, which instantly take me back to Hawaii. I play around with whatever frozen fruit I may have on hand, blend it with almond or coconut milk and add healthy fat and protein from plant-based protein powders and almond butter (I love Orgain Protein powders).

>> As always, you can use my code KMARIAS30 for 30% off your order

I hope this helps inspire you to keep pushing your creative limits in the kitchen...so pour yourself a glass of wine, make it fun and remind your housemates of the “I cook, you clean” rule whenever necessary.

Xo, Kristen

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©2017 by Kristen Marias, RDN/LDN