The key to salads is the dressing. Let’s face it, greens are boring unless paired with a delicious dressing, and you can change it up to make them taste entirely different each day. For example, a classic salad dressing consists of lemon juice and olive oil. If you substitute the lemon juice with balsamic vinegar, though, suddenly you have an Italian-inspired salad with a more complex taste. Little tweaks like that will make the ultimate difference. Often, you can create consistency in your meal by marinating your meat in whatever dressing you use for your salad.
Remember, you eat with your eyes first! Salad is all about color and variety. Instead of loading on the calorie-dense croutons, cheeses, and dense bottled dressings for taste, try adding color to create a more visually appetizing meal. Add red with tomatoes, yellow with bell peppers, purple with red onion, and green with avocadoes. Your salad will look like a work of art and your taste buds will love it!
The key to cooking beef, chicken, and fish is to lock in the moisture! No one likes chewing dry meat. First, marinate your choice of meat in some olive oil, lemon juice, and desired spices. While you prepare other aspects of your meal, let the meat sit and marry with all the flavors in the marinade. Bring a pan to medium high heat, add a few tablespoons of olive oil, and cook the beef or chicken on each side for 3-5 minutes. This is called “searing”. You are essentially creating an outer coat on the meat that will prevent the juices from escaping while you bake it. While searing the meat, you don’t actually cook it all the way through. After searing both sides, you take the pan and pop it in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until the meat is cooked all the way through. The amount of time depends on the thickness and type of meat. Usually it’s about 10-20 minutes.
Fish, on the other hand, cooks much quicker than chicken and beef. You can sear fish, especially the meatier types, such as salmon, halibut, and cod, but generally you can just bake them in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. While cooking, try to see for yourself when your meat is ready. Eventually, you’ll acquire the intuition to realize when to pop that baby in and out of the oven with ease.
Baking is easy in that if you follow the recipe you have word-for-word, there is no way you can mess up! Once you are more comfortable baking, you can tweak recipes to your liking based on your experience in the kitchen. I like to tweak traditional recipes to make them healthier. I’ll replace egg yolks with egg whites, butter with oil, sugar with agave nectar, and white flour with wheat flour. I’ll also add nuts, dried fruits, and dark chocolate to some recipes to make the flavors more complex and exciting! Go here for some inspiration.