Did you know preparing your meals in advance is very beneficial to your diet? No? It is! Meal prep is an excellent tool you can use both as an individual as well as in a family or other group setting. Let’s dive into a few of the key benefits of meal prep now:
Sometimes groceries can get expensive. It might surprise you, but if you are only ever cooking for yourself, you can encounter a ton of unnecessary expense. Unfortunately, this is a result of buying a lot of food in order to introduce variety into your diet. Variety is good, but there are certain ways to go about it if you want to ensure you maximize your budget. Meal prepping helps ensure you are eating well while also conserving as much money as possible. For instance, you can do sheet pan chicken and vegetables for the whole week of lunches. Need variety? You can change the spices on your chicken if you would like, or separate your vegetables differently.
Cooking your own meals every day can get quite time consuming. Things often get a little complicated too, no doubt about it. You can easily simplify things and save yourself a lot of time over the week through meal prep. Even just planning your meals or doing simple things like pre-chopping the vegetables helps you be able to throw together a meal at the last minute. Of course recipes like sheet pan chicken and vegetables or slow cooker meals are perhaps the best at saving you time over the course of the week. You can make them once, portion them out, and you are good to go!
Sometimes when we are stuck for ideas on what to eat, we turn to unhealthy options. Meal prep helps us avoid this since we already know what we are going to be eating. Of course, you can do flexible meal prep to introduce variety, but what it comes down to is you are better able to stay healthy if you pick healthy options in meal prep.
Are you thinking about engaging in clean eating? Want to improve your diet? If you are considering clean eating, there are quite a few things you need to know. Let’s review three key rules for this diet now:
Go Organic When Possible
More often than not, organic produce is the best choice for your new clean eating diet. This helps to ensure they are as free from chemicals as possible. With this said, however, some non-organic produce may still be just fine to include in a clean eating diet. All you really need to do is check the standards around where you live to help you determine what your specific options are.
Be Able To Pronounce Ingredients
Looking at some packaged food options is fine for clean eating, but only if you do so carefully. Some of this will come down to your judgement about what you are looking at, but the golden rule is asking yourself if you are able to pronounce and recognize the ingredients on the list. If you can do this, chances are this packaged food is fine if you are eating clean. If you cannot, however, we would almost always rule it does not fit the requirements of clean eating, regardless of anything else.
Cook At Home
The best thing you can do for your clean eating diet is to cook as much of your food at home as possible. This helps ensure you truly are eating clean. When you go out to eat at a restaurant, chances are there is at least one part of the meal that does not meet the standards of clean eating. This is raised even more so when you are at fast food restaurants. On occasion you can find suitable options, but this still makes your choices limited, which is why cooking at home is the best choice.
With all the diet advice out there, it’s no wonder people get overwhelmed with all the choice. When it comes down to it, no one diet is going to work for everyone. So what can you do? Unfortunately, many people revert to unhealthy decisions if they feel overwhelmed with the amount of choice out there. However, we’d like to offer clean eating as the default choice. Why? Here are three key benefits of clean eating for your perusal:
Increase In Energy
When you eliminate the processed foods and chemicals in a normal diet, you get clean eating. But did you know the processed food and such most people eat actually slows them down? You can increase your energy by simple eating clean without processed foods as much as possible. You may also find you experience fewer “sugar crashes” and similar during the day, because your dietary choice will have less of the processed element, which is often the culprit behind these crashes.
Reduction In Cancer Risk
Did you know eating a lot of processed food actually puts you at a higher risk for cancer? Some of the chemicals and such involved do, at least. Thus, it stands to reason that clean eating, without all of those processed choices, would mean you are eliminating a big part of the risk. Of course, there are still many different factors contributing to the risk of getting cancer, and you cannot unfortunately eliminate all of them, but every little bit helps, right?
Of course, clean eating is also a great way to manage your weight. Since you have to eliminate a decent amount of food—you would be surprised at how much processed food we eat when you really look at it—what you are left with really helps with maintaining a lean and healthy diet. A diet like this is a major player in losing and managing your weight, so why not make it the best it can be?
Have you heard of bannock? This is primarily known as the traditional camping bread. All you need to make it is flour, baking powder, some milk, and vegetable oil. A good starting point is six cups flour, six tablespoons baking powder, three and a half cups milk, and a quarter cup of vegetable oil. Essentially, you just need to mix these together into a dough. But then what? How do you cook bannock?
There are actually three major ways you can cook this basic camping bread. Here are the details on each:
For this method, start by preheating your oven to approximately 400 degrees. Spray a loaf pan or casserole dish and place the bannock dough in it. Once your oven is preheated, you can slide the dough and pan into the oven. Let it bake until golden—this should take about 30 minutes, but can shift based on the oven you are using.
Want to make use of your barbeque? This is yet another way to cook bannock well. Similar to your oven, you want to have your grill at about 400 degrees. However, you won’t put the dough directly on the grill. Instead, oil a cast iron skillet well, place the dough in that, and then place it on the grill. The cooking process will take about 202 to 25 minutes. If you want to have a crust all around your bannock, be sure to turn it over and cook for a couple more minutes at the end.
Of course if you are camping, there really is only one way to cook bannock: over a campfire! You can do this in a few ways: in a pan over the flame or speared onto a stick or metal rod with a handle (such as something you might use to roast marshmallows). Heat the stick without the dough first (remove bark if you are using a stick) but do not allow it to burn. Slice off a piece of the dough and wrap it around your stick before holding it over the fire as you would when roasting marshmallows. Cook until golden brown on the outside—this should take roughly ten minutes, but will vary based on your campfire.
Sometimes when we get home at the end of the day, we just do not want to cook dinner. Maybe we’re lazy. Maybe we just don’t have a lot of time on our hands. Either way, it is important to have dinner recipes you can pull out at a moment’s notice and whip up a meal without a ton of effort or time taken. Here are three top examples:
Okay, so the most popular is grilled cheese. All you need for this is a few slices of cheese, bread, and butter. Butter the outside of the bread, fil the middle with cheese, and grilled it on a frying pan (or sandwich maker). If you want more to your sandwich, you can add ingredients like spinach, ham, bacon, even apples! This adds interest to your sandwich, along with additional nutrients (depending on what you chose to add).
One of the most popular salad choices, especially when it comes to eating salad as a meal, is chicken Caesar salad. This salad normally consists of chicken (grilled, sliced), romaine lettuce, Caesar dressing, croutons, and parmesan cheese. You can go for any other type of salad, like a Cobb salad. We just do not recommend relying on the lettuce and dressing alone—add some protein into your salad for dinner!
When it comes down to it, you can easily get away with cooking noodles and dumping canned sauce on them. If you need a little more substance or nutrients, and most of us do, try buying a package of frozen vegetables and some precooked meatballs. These will need a little more prep (e.g. in the frying pan, oven, or microwave) but it will add more to your simple spaghetti meal without you needing to exert a lot more effort.
So you’re diving into the world of loose leaf tea? Loose tea is better in quality than bagged tea, no question. The leaves are more flavourful, fresher, et cetera. Regardless of the tea you have, it is important to understand how to brew tea properly. Ready? Here is a handy loose leaf tea steeping guide to help:
Amount Of Tea
First thing’s first: how much tea do you need? This does depend in part on your personal taste, but roughly one and a quarter teaspoons is a good starting point. You can lessen the tea if its too strong, or add more if it’s not strong enough. This amount applies to an average mug of tea—not those super-sized mugs. You’ll need more tea leaves for those!
The steeping time depends entirely on the type of tea you have. More often than not it will fall between one and seven minutes, with the average being three to five minutes. We suggest steeping black, white, and green teas for three to five minutes (for most varieties). If you want to re-steep your tea leaves, which you can do for many varieties, increase the steeping time by at least 30 seconds (no more than a minute) each subsequent steep. Another not is if you are making pu-erh tea (specifically tea cakes), you should rinse them with hot water before steeping the first time.
The other major component of this loose leaf tea steeping guide is the temperature of the water. If you boil the water too hot for certain teas, you will burn the leaves and end up with a bitter taste in your mouth. You do not want to go over 185 degrees for white or green tea, whereas with black tea 185 degrees is the minimum, and you can often go up to around 200 degrees if you wish.
Are you entering the world of tea, the world’s oldest hot beverage? Tea is a wonderful drink for social gatherings, to warm up on a cold winter’s evening (or morning!), provides comfort to a person in distress, et cetera. You can find tea for just about everyone, especially when you dive into the world of loose leaf tea and the vast array of tea types out there. But for now, let’s discuss a little bit of information regarding the top three tea types now:
Green teas are relatively unoxidized, which means the pure varieties maintain their gorgeous colour when you steep them. The leaves undergo a heating process to eliminate the enzyme responsible for oxidization. This process is often roasting the leaves (China) or steaming them (Japan). The Chinese method results in a citrus or smoky flavour, whereas the Japanese method results in a vegetal or herbaceous quality. The former often means pale yellow tea and the latter a light green to deep green.
Perhaps the most popular type of tea (think Earl Grey, Orange Pekoe, and English Breakfast) black tea is fully oxidized. Though this tea originated in China, it is now cultivated around the world, and some of the most famous blends come from regions in India (e.g. Assam, Darjeeling). The best black teas are done by hand, though the use of machines to produce tea is becoming much more common.
White tea is the most delicate out of all the teas detailed on this list, and also undergoes the least amount of processing. Varieties of this tea often have delicate smells and flavours associated with it, featuring floral or fresh and earthy flavours. You can add fruit and other flavours into a white tea, but in doing so you run the risk of making it taste artificial. You must also be careful about the temperature of the water, since it is very easy to burn white tea.
Whether you have to run to catch a bus to campus, have kids to wrangle in the morning, or need to rush off to work, mornings can get very busy! However, just because you are dealing with busy mornings does not mean you can let breakfast fall to the wayside. With this in mind, here are 3 breakfast options for busy mornings so you can still get the fuel you need even when you are running around:
Have you seen recipes for overnight oats around? These are excellent for a grab and go breakfast on a busy morning. For the most part, all you need to do is add milk to quick cooking oats and a selection of berries and cinnamon for your overnight oats. Other recipes will include elements like chia seeds or other superfoods. Find a recipe you like the sound of and go for it!
You can pack a lot of nutrients into a smoothie, making an excellent breakfast you can drink as you go about your business. Most smoothies will have either an avocado or banana as the base, and then a selection of berries, yogurt, and milk. If you want to go even healthier, add spinach, flax seed, et cetera. Out personally favourite healthy smoothie recipe is one avocado, some mixed berries, almond milk, spinach, and flax seed. Mmm, good!
Of course, you cannot go wrong with the classic breakfast: cereal. This is very easy to do since all you need is put the cereal in a bowl and fill it with milk (or your liquid of choice). Done! Now it’s time to eat it! Though you can eat any cereal, we recommend choosing something healthy so you get all the required nutrients. Eating sugary cereal might taste good, but you won’t be getting a lot out of it in the end.
Having the ability to cook your own food is an important life skill. You can save a lot of money by being able to do it, and you can then cook for other people (e.g. a significant other, your parents, et cetera). You can look up how to cook, but chances are there will be varied instructions depending on where you look. We recommend avoiding the ones that ease you in and only focus on concepts like boiling water or how to fry something. You can briefly read up on how to do these things, but learning to cook requires more than that. Let’s review three of the most important tips on learning to cook now:
Don’t Leave Kitchen
Regardless of what you are cooking, while learning you should never leave the kitchen for a second. Granted, even when you are very good at cooking, you should still remain in the kitchen as much as possible, but you do have a little more leeway for certain tasks. Staying in the kitchen helps to ensure you catch mistakes quicker, don’t end up with burnt food as often, et cetera.
Master Basic Recipes
Sometimes people make the mistake of trying to tackle complicated recipes when they are just learning to cook. Complicated comes later! We recommend picking out two or three basic recipes (e.g. a basic spaghetti sauce, fried rice, et cetera) and mastering those first. Then you will have a couple recipes under your belt to pull out when necessary! The basic part not only makes it easier as a beginning, but also helps build your confidence for the future.
Cook Food You Love
When it comes down to learning to cook, you should cook food you love to eat! You might not be able to handle complicated recipes right away, but you can still use the same ingredients and find other similar, but simpler, recipes to help. For instance, if you happen to enjoy rice and eggs, why not find a simple friend rice recipe? Enjoy pasta? Simple spaghetti recipes would be great!
Onions are in many different recipes from sauces to stir-fries. Anything you can think of, onions might play a role in! However, chopping onions is not the most pleasant task around, since almost 100% of the time someone chopping onions will end up with a flood of tears in their eyes. Want to avoid the tears? Here are three tips to help you get through chopping onions without too much discomfort:
Sharpen The Knife
The sharper your knife, the easier it will be to cut into onions, which gives the fumes less time to float up to your eyes and make you cry while chopping. Sharpen your knives on a regular basis to make them perform at their best. We also recommend chopping faster rather than slower, but you still need to be careful, which is why the emphasis should be on the sharpness of the knife you are using instead.
Circulate The Air
The fumes from the onions are why your eyes water when chopping onions. Help reduce the amount of fumes reaching your eyes by turning on an exhaust fan (e.g. on your oven) or setting up another fan in the kitchen near to where you will be chopping. This way you can circulate the air and help reduce the fumes. This way, you should cry less during the chopping process.
Refrigerate The Onions
Another great way of lessening the impact of the fumes and the tears in your eyes when chopping onions is to refrigerate them beforehand. This should chill the onions and slow the release of the fumes when you cut into them. The extreme of this is to freeze the onions, but this makes them much harder to chop, so stick with refrigeration instead. Put them in your fridge for at least half an hour before chopping, but ideally for up to two hours.