Eight Food Tips to Spice up Your Kitchen

You know that cook who always seems to know how to prepare delicious food with ease? That's our Lindsay Ford, RD, Skyterra's Dietitian. For the next eight days, she'll be sharing some of her favorite tips and tricks.

Tip #1: Chocolate!

It is hard not to love chocolate. Chocolate contains antioxidants that support heart health, small amounts of magnesium and a compound that is similar to caffeine that can help boost energy levels. In addition, chocolate helps release feel-good neurotransmitters that support mood. When choosing chocolate, consider a darker chocolate of 75 percent cacao and higher; darker chocolate varieties contain less added sugar and more nutrient density.

Tip #2: Dressings

What takes most meals from good to great? A sauce, dressing or condiment. Making your own dressings and sauces is typically easier than perceived, and can most likely be frozen or kept in the fridge for more than a few days. Common dressing or sauce ingredients include extra virgin olive oil, vinegars, honey, herbs, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, yogurt, coconut milk and nuts.

Tip #3: Activate your Recyclops

If you’re looking to cut back on plastic use, items such as glass tupperware, silicone food storage containers and reusable "saran" wrap can be worth purchasing. Glass tupperware such as pyrex or snapware are great for leftovers and food storage while silicone food storage containers are a relatively new kitchen item.

When evaluating what you need, take time to go through your current kitchen and take inventory of what you consider valuable.

Tip #4: The Comfort of Oats

When thinking of oats, it is easy to only think of oatmeal. But oats can be used for so much more! Use oats in recipes like granolaenergy bitesbean burgers and more. Oats can be purchased as extra thick rolled oats or instant oats, and are high in a type of fiber, beta-glucan, connected to heart and GI health.

Tip #5: Try a New Whole Grain

Getting tired of rice? There is nothing wrong with rice; but trying different whole grains can add more food variety while also providing micronutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium and dietary fiber. Farro is one of many whole grains that works well in pilafs, egg bakes, non-traditional oatmeals, salads and bean or lentil burgers.

Tip #6: Don't Forget to be Sweet

Added sugar can serve a purpose by adding flavor to recipes and make a dish more complete (e.g., balancing out a vinaigrette). Instead of using refined sugar, consider using honey, maple syrup, agave nectar or minimally processed sugars. These sugars have a more unique flavor profile and contain more micronutrients than traditional sugar. When purchasing, look into supporting local companies.

Tip #7: Nuts for Coconut

Coconut can be consumed as coconut milk, unsweetened shredded coconut, dried coconut meat, coconut oil and more. Coconut milk can be a great dairy or milk alternative as it is typically creamy and satisfying, especially in smoothies and sauces. Shredded coconut or dried coconut meat can be used in trail mixes, energy bars, oatmeal and desserts. Coconut oil works great in high-heat cooking, and works great for pan-searing fish, chicken and sauteed vegetables. When choosing coconut products, look for minimal added ingredients such as sugar or numerous thickening agents.

Tip #8: Try Something New

Food isn't supposed to be boring or bland! Elevate your meals by making one to two new recipes on a weekly basis or pulling out family recipes that you've been meaning to try.

If you are looking for a resource, check out Skyterra's Cookbook!