In a time when home cooking is more important than ever, it can be hard to be creative or inspired when you don't think you have skills in the kitchen. What makes it even harder for dancers and athletes is that it's important to eat healthy in a stressful time. The better you take care of your body, the better your mental health will be. Exercise and eating healthy do go hand in hand.
It's easy to just grab a salty or sweet snack and call that dinner. I honestly haven't met a bag of chips I didn't like, but the truth is that cooking isn't that hard if you keep it simple and flavorful. With a little preparation and planning ahead, you might have a few signature dishes before long.
Here are three tips to get those culinary skills sizzling:
1. Prepare before you shop: I usually pick three different recipes and then build a shopping list around it. I know that these recipes will provide a warm meal at dinner, along with a few days of leftovers. This usually carries us through a few weeks since our household is only grocery shopping every two weeks. Find a recipe that will give you a lean protein, vegetables and a carb to fill you up.
2. Cooking: Don't let recipes intimidate you! If you are missing an ingredient, google for substitution options. If you don't know how to convert measurements, use CulinarySchools.org's handy ingredient conversion calculator. I use it all of the time to help me convert everything from measurements, temperature and weight. It's a lifesaver in the kitchen.
3. Listen to your body: I always know when I need more iron because I crave broccoli. The more whole foods you nourish your body with, the better it responds when it comes to physical and mental health.
After years in a leotard, I find that counting calories or grams of fat, weighing myself, or tracking the number of calories burned, does nothing but cause me anxiety. I know when my pants are tight and I also make sure to go for a checkup each year so my doctor can monitor any changes. So do what works to keep you mentally and physically fit and strong.
To kick off your adventure in the kitchen, here's a fun recipe for Ground Turkey Teriyaki Rice Bowls that you can alter to suit your taste buds. The recipe calls for sugar in the teriyaki recipe. If you are trying to cut down on sugar, add a little less — it will still be tasty and sweet. If you need more veggies in your meal plan, throw whatever you have from your fridge like bell peppers, snap peas, spinach or celery.
If you don't want to use brown or white rice, cauliflower rice is the perfect alternative and adds another vegetable to the meal. This should provide you with plenty of leftovers, too. And remember, if you get stuck with measurements, the CulinarySchools.org's ingredient conversion calculator should do the trick!
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar or less as desired
2 tablespoons granulated sugar or less as desired
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 pound ground turkey
1 cup finely chopped broccoli
2 large carrots peeled and chopped
Garnish: cilantro, basil or green onions
Mix soy sauce, 1/4 cup water, red wine vinegar, sugars, garlic and ginger in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir with a whisk until sugar is dissolved.
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons warm water and cornstarch until cornstarch is completely dissolved.
Heat sauce over medium-high heat. Slowly whisk in cornstarch mixture and simmer until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add diced onions and cook until soft.
Crumble ground turkey and garlic into the pan and cook until turkey is about half- cooked.
Add carrots, broccoli and other veggies, and continue to cook until turkey is no longer pink.
Pour teriyaki sauce over the cooked turkey and vegetable mixture and stir. Simmer for about five minutes to combine the flavors.
Spoon meat over rice or noodles. Garnish with your favorite herb and serve immediately.
Don't forget to tag me in your cooking photos!