Lots of people find having to cook three meals a day a very stressful experience. It can raise your stress level even higher if you’re cooking with a diet in mind. When there are many regular ingredients that you aren’t allowed to use, you’ll find that it puts all kinds of regular recipes out of your reach. You can always think creatively, however, and find ways to get around the limits of your diet. Here are several ideas to get you started.
Get your foods crispy without the frying
If you love foods such as fried chicken for the wonderful crispiness that deep frying brings, there is a way to get it without the grease. All you need to do is to learn the oven-frying method. It works for all kinds of foods. With chicken, for example, you get great crispiness when you coat each piece in a mixture of egg, flour and breadcrumbs, and bake at 450°F. It takes no time to cook this way, the crispiness is just as inviting as with conventional deep frying, and you have about half as many calories.
Get the creamy flavor without the cream
It’s far easier to make foods tastier when you get to lavish your recipes with ingredients like cream. Since this would destroy your diet, however, you need some kind of substitute. You don’t need to go with the strange chemical concoctions that the supermarkets sell for dieters. You can fashion your own substitute with natural ingredients, right at home in a minute.
Whisk four teaspoonfuls of all-purpose flour into a cup of low-fat milk, and cook for a couple of minutes until it thickens. It makes a convincing cream substitute. You save about 600 calories to a cup of cream, this way, and it can go on every recipe that you need — wonderful, velvety sauces for mac and cheese, and fettuccine alfredo, among others. For salads, it’s always possible to use low-fat sour cream or mayo in place of regular, heavy cream.
Cheat on your meat recipes
You like your burgers and meatloaf, but worry about the calorie content. If a restaurant were to try to sell customers burgers with plenty of brown rice, bulgur and vegetables mixed into the meat, they would get sued. You could do that yourself, though. Try replacing the meat with these healthy alternatives, in your mincemeat recipes. Since half of what you’re eating is meat, it’ll be convincing enough.
Look in new places for your flavor fix
Most diets have you cutting down on your salt intake. The USDA recommends that even a regular diet never include more than a teaspoonful of salt a day. This can make life tricky, especially if you are on a diet, and are struggling to find ways to bring flavor to your food. It’s easy, however, to mimic the boost that salt brings to foods. You only need to go with flavorful items such as lemon, chili and fresh herbs.
Buy a crockpot
Crockpot meals are magically flavorful. From simple, low fat recipes to ones that skimp on salt, slow-cooking has the ability to boost flavor in wonderful ways. There’s less work to do, as well. These recipes are routinely elementary to make (here are several ideas by PaleoHacks), they are delicious, and they work well for most diets.
Try every interesting cooking method out there
If you haven’t much experience poaching, broiling, braising, grilling or roasting, you should try every one of these methods. These are cooking techniques that require very little intervention; they let you put your meal on autopilot. These are also cooking methods that bring out a great deal of the natural flavor of any food. You don’t need to rely on complicated techniques to make your meal palatable.
Look to other cultures
You don’t have to limit yourself to the kind of recipes that you’ve grown up with. The world is full of spectacular culinary traditions, many of them both lean, and easy. From the Far East to South Asia, Africa to Latin America, exploring the world of great taste can both enrich your life, and make your time in the kitchen far easier. You’ll find yourself forgetting to think about how you’re depriving yourself of the rich foods that you love.
A diet doesn’t have to mean bland, tasteless food, when you make the mistake of not looking beyond what you’re used to. Once you begin to think a little creatively, there is simply no reason you can’t enjoy a very interesting diet at all times.
Poppy Armstrong has struggled with her weight for years, but finally, after trying numerous diets she has cracked it and is leading a healthy, happy lifestyle. She shares her dieting tips and tricks to help others shed the pounds.