Know These Three Terms Before Getting Creative in the Kitchen

Any cook knows that for a dish to turn out as intended, he or she needs to have a clear understanding of the recipe. That includes knowing the different common ways to cut and slice ingredients. Here are three terms you should know before getting started in the kitchen.

  1. Pare. Preferably done with a paring knife, to pare a fruit or vegetable means to peel the outer skin from it. Apples and potatoes are often prepared this way.
  2. Mince. You can do this with a sharp knife or kitchen scissor, just so long as you cut or chop the ingredient into very fine pieces. Mincing often applies to herbs and spices.
  3. Dice. If a recipe asked you to dice an ingredient, it means to chop it into small, uniform pieces. Chunky salsas and fruit salads often employ this action.

The Basic Kitchen:Glossary of Cooking Terms [Le Petites Gourmettes]
Glossary of Cooking Terms [Better Homes and Gardens]
Cooking Terms [Recipe Goldmine]
Glossary of Cooking Terms [Cookery]
Culinary Terms: Food Dictionary and Glossary of Cooking Terms [Culinary Arts]

How to Eat Healthy When Dining Out

You really never know how a meal is prepared when you’re eating out, and even the healthiest seeming salad can be packed with fattening cheeses, heavy oils, and excessive amounts of sodium. Instead of boycotting restaurants, use these smart tips for eating healthy while eating out.

  1. Know the lingo. When navigating the menu, recognize that words like “crispy,” “au gratin,” “creamed,” or “battered” are just as bad as “deep-fried.” Instead, look for dishes that are “grilled,” “poached,” or “roasted.”
  2. Choose restaurants with healthy or light menus. If you want to make navigating the menu even easier, research which restaurant chains offer separate menus of healthier dishes.
  3. Avoid appetizers. Instead of ordering extra food before your meal even arrives, eat your healthy entree and then reevaluate to see if you’re still hungry.
  4. Ask for sauces on the side. If you order a salad with dressing or a sandwich with a creamy sauce, ask for it on the side and only use as much as you need.
  5. Ask for a to-go box with your order. If your biggest challenge is overindulging, there’s no shame in packaging a portion of your meal up before you begin eating. This will ensure that you don’t go overboard.
  6. Don’t skip dessert. No, you don’t have to pass on dessert; just opt for healthier treats like fresh fruit, sherbet, or flourless cakes.

Deciphering the Menu [American Heart Association]
Ordering Your Meal [American Heart Association]
Tips for Eating Healthy When Eating Out [USDA]
It's About Eating Right [Eat Right]

Refuel and Replenish by Eating These Foods After a Workout

The foods that you eat before your workout help to increase your energy level, but it’s the food that you eat afterward that’s really important. What you eat after exercising helps to repair muscle tissue and to replenish glycogen, which is an important aspect of building the lean, toned body that you strive for. Here are some of the best foods to refuel with after a workout.

  1. Bananas. Bananas are high-glycemic carbohydrates, which provide you with an instant boost to replenish your energy quickly. Try slicing one up and eating it with peanut butter on top of a rice cake.
  2. Greek yogurt with berries. Greek yogurt is packed with protein, which is very important in building muscle. Your muscles are depleted of their usual amino acids after lifting weights or performing an intense cardio workout, and this healthy snack helps to build them back up.
  3. Tuna sandwich. The combination of healthy carbs and proteins is one of the very best things to eat after working out. Spread some tuna on whole wheat bread to refuel after that gym class.
  4. Water. Replenishing your body’s fluids is just as important as replenishing its food supply. Be sure to drink plenty of water after working out to avoid becoming dehydrated.

6 Smart Snacks to Eat After Your Workout [Fitness Magazine]
What to Eat After You Work Out [Spark People]
Food as Fuel – Before, During and After Workouts [American Heart Association]

Get Into a Fitness Routine With These Motivational Tips

You’re certainly not the first person to admit that sticking to a fitness routine is hard, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. All it takes is time, patience, and a reliable fitness plan that works with your lifestyle. Here are some great tips that will help you to get in shape and feel better about your body.

1. Stop beating yourself up. Many people enter into a workout regime with a negative mindset because they feel bad about their bodies, but this isn’t a healthy way to begin. You need to think about the good things rather than focusing on the negatives.

2. Something is better than nothing. Don’t feel like your workout was a failure if you couldn’t complete it. We all have off days, and just getting onto the treadmill is a small victory in itself.

3. Make it a habit. Begin by telling yourself that you’ll work out every day for 30 days. While at first you may just be counting down until those 30 days are over, you’ll eventually become used to working out and it will become a part of your daily routine.

4. Make exercise possible. Sure, you could work out at 5 a.m. before work, but are you actually going to? Schedule your workouts at times that are accessible and easy to manage with the rest of your schedule.

How To Motivate Yourself Into an Exercise Routine [Lifehacker]
15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit [Lifehack]
7 Habits of Highly Effective Exercisers [Fitness]

5 Ways to Cut 100 Calories

Deciding to go on a diet can be a big commitment. All of a sudden you have to exhibit self-control over all the temptations you encounter. Say goodbye to those office donuts. Instead of forcing yourself to change the way you eat, which can be nearly impossible, make small, healthier choices throughout the day, and watch the pounds melt away. You'd be surprised how just swapping one food for another can cut up to 100 calories without sacrificing taste.

Watch Your Beverages
Our drinks have a sneaky tendency to add hundreds of calories a day to our diet. That regular soda you drink with lunch and dinner adds up. Try cutting down your soda intake. Swap your soda with a glass of sparkling water. Instead of drinking a full glass of orange juice in the morning, cut it down to half a glass or switch your regular orange juice to one with half the sugar. Switch your milk from whole milk to 2% or skim, and use less cream and sugar in your coffee.

Drink Water
Speaking of water, drink more of it. If you take the time to drink a six to eight ounce glass of water before lunch and dinner, you'll find yourself eating less at meals. The water takes up space in your stomach, so you'll feel fuller longer, and you'll automatically reduce the amount you eat, and the calories you take in.

Control Your Condiments
Those dipping sauces and dressings can be adding a lot of unnecessary calories to your day. Instead of using ketchup or mayo switch to mustard, or go half and half. That way you'll still get the taste, but with less calories. Instead of pouring ranch all over your salad ask for dressing on the side, or go with a lighter option like oil and vinegar. Opt for hummus and salsa instead of heavy dips like spinach and artichoke.

Monitor Your Portions
We've all heard that the portion sizes in America have grown tremendously over the years. Well, it's true, and remember, you don't have to eat everything on your plate! Be more conscious of the amount of food you're eating, and try only eating half of your bagel in the morning. Cut your sandwich in half — eat the first half, and then check in with your body. Are you still starving? Probably not. Save the other half for your next meal. You'll save money and calories.

Don't Super Size
Fast food is convenient. When you're always on the go, it's hard to find the time to cook a meal. You don't have to eliminate the drive thru from your life just make better choices. Go for a regular cheeseburger instead of a quarter pounder. Better yet, choose a grilled chicken sandwich. Skip the large fountain soda for a small or a bottle of water. Just these small changes can have big results over time!

Cream Of The Crop: Essential Farmers’ Market Eats

Farmer’s markets are cropping up all over the country, as people become more and more interested in getting food from local sources. Producers are bringing fresh food at great prices. Here are five foods you should certainly try from the farmer’s market next time you go:

Eggs are one of the best things to get fresh. The difference in consistency and flavor between a store-bought egg and one fresh from the hen is jarring. The yolk is brighter, firmer, and much tastier. If your farmer offers duck eggs, try those too – they fluff up amazingly and are great for baking.

Potatoes might seem like a funny thing to buy from a farmer’s market, but they are amazing. Usually much smaller than store-bought spuds, fresh potatoes are deeply flavorful and complex. Slice them thinly and roast them with onions.

Seasonal tomatoes are some of the best things to buy at the farmer’s market. In the late summer and early fall, when they’re coming fresh off the vine, you can get enormous heirloom tomatoes that are great for sandwiches or just eating with a little salt and pepper.

One of the best things to do with farmer’s market produce is teach yourself about pickling and canning. If you’ve never made pickled beets, they’re a delicious treat – sweet, tangy, salty, and savory all at once.

Local cheeses can be delectable as well. Many dairies produce artisanal cheeses that are robust with flavor. They also often provide samples to try before you buy.

Slow And Green: Vegetarian Cooking In The Crockpot

We all know how good slow cookers and crockpots are great for dealing with tough cuts of meat, but did you know that there are also tons of amazing recipes that use the device for vegetarian ends? If you’re looking for some fun new meal ideas, here are five to get you started.

Chili is one of the best things to make in a slow cooker, and it’s easy to do a vegetarian version. Use several different kinds of beans for hearty flavor and mix in a variety of chopped vegetables, including bell peppers, celery and kernels of corn. Flavor with paprika, parsley, oregano and basil and add chili powder to your desired level of heat.

If you’ve got summer squash, it’s easy to make a delicious, cheesy dish in the slow cooker with it and some cheese. Simmer the squash and onions in a pot until softened, then mix in the slow cooker with a bit of soft, flavorful cheese such as Gouda. This is an awesome side dish.

Some grains do really well in the slow cooker. One favorite recipe is mushroom, lentil and barley stew. This dish harnesses the deep and complex flavors of mushrooms to add interest to the lentils and barley. It’s a robust and earthy dish that is filling on a cold winter’s afternoon.

Slow cookers are exceptional for making applesauce, as they keep the fruit at a stable temperature and allow it to break down evenly without lumps. To make your applesauce a little more flavorful, try adding allspice or pumpkin pie spice.

A traditional French cassoulet requires a lot of meat to prepare properly, but you can make an excellent vegetarian version in your slow cooker. Soften onions and carrots in a skillet and add mushroom broth, bouillon and bay leaves as well as white beans. Stir occasionally as they cook.