Hello Good Morning Washington viewers! If this is your first time here, check out these easy recipes and reader favorites like The Lazy Way to Eat 2 Pounds of Vegetables a Day. You can also learn about me and the health scare that got me eating (mostly) right. Otherwise, read on for cooking hacks to save you time in the kitchen—and make you look like an ace doing it!
Now, I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been at a dead run trying to keep my to-do list under control. Because at the age of 36 (!), I just started my 9-month nutrition and dietetic internship with Virginia Tech. It’s the final step of training to becoming a registered dietitian nutritionist. And it means working 4 days a week in a hospital that’s 1½ hours away, spending a full day in class on the 5th day, and doing lots and lots of homework. Oh yeah, and blogging too!
So you can understand why my last post was 5 Stress-Busting Tips. 😉
Yet I’m guessing life is just as busy at your house! Whether you’re getting your kids settled into school, going back to school yourself, or bracing yourself for new projects at work, you probably don’t have extra time to spend in the kitchen.
But just because we’re all short on time doesn’t mean we should order pizza for dinner every night. (Om nom, so tempting…)
No, wait, we should cook healthy food like the upstanding citizens that we are! We just need to find quick-and-easy shortcuts for making healthy food fast.
Luckily, since I figured all heck was going to break loose when internship started, earlier in the summer I test-drove some the cooking hacks floating around the internet to see which ones really worked. I figured the faster (and more fun) I could make prepping a healthy meal, the more likely I’d be to keep doing it when time got tight.
Of course, a few of the cooking hacks I tried flopped completely—for instance, peeling a kiwi with a drinking glass works about as well as flossing your teeth with a USB cable. But in the end, I found 7 cooking hacks I think you’ll love. And not only will these tricks save you time, but you’ll feel like MacGuyver in an apron!
So, are you ready to cook healthy food the fast—and fun—way? Pull up a cutting board and let’s get started!
7 Cooking Hacks That Would Make MacGuyver Proud
UPDATE: Watch me demonstrate these hacks in person on Good Morning Washington!
1. Pop the tops off of strawberries with a drinking straw
Everyone loves strawberries, which is great because they pack over 150% daily value of vitamin C! But prepping them is a pain. Luckily this hack makes it super easy. All you need is a straw!
Directions: Fluff up your berry’s leaves so it has a little strawberry mohawk. Then push a sturdy drinking straw up through the bottom of the berry, twist gently, and pop out the hull. If a leaf or two is left behind, nip them off with your fingernails. Best of all, you can make your kids do this, since there are no knives to worry about! 😀
2. Slice strawberries with an egg slicer
While whole strawberries are great for lunchboxes or fruit salads, you can’t beat sliced berries for cereal. Cutting up berries by hand, though? Slow and boring! Luckily, you can speed things up using an egg slicer. (I like the Westmark egg slicer—it slices clean through berries and mushrooms too.)
Directions: Put the berry in the slicer and push down firmly. You’ll have cereal-ready slices in seconds!
3. Slice a cup of grapes all at once
Moms (and dads), you’re going to love this one! Your pediatrician has probably told you that whole grapes are a choking hazard for young kids. So you end up spending lots of time slicing grapes in half lengthwise, or into quarters for really little kiddos. Well, get ready to save some time by cutting up an entire cup of grapes at once.
Directions: (1) Turn a dinner plate upside down. Put a big handful of grapes on the upside-down plate inside the rim, making sure all the grapes are lying on their sides. (2) Place a second plate right-side up on top of the grapes, sandwiching the grapes between the two plates. (3) Pressing down on the top plate with one hand, bend down so you can see what you’re doing and slice halfway between the plates with a sharp bread knife. (4) You’ll end up with perfectly sliced grapes in no time! Works for cherry tomatoes, too.
Tip: Check that your grapes are cut evenly lengthwise before giving them to small children (or cut them again into quarters as recommended by your pediatrician).
4. Peel ginger with a spoon
Fresh ginger adds a healthy kick to stir-fries and salad dressings, but it’s a pain to peel. I feel like I almost lost a finger trying to do it with a veggie peeler! The MacGuyver trick? Peel your ginger with the side of a spoon. The skin comes off with zero waste, and you can even get down in those tough-to-reach crannies.
Directions: Hold the ginger against a cutting board and scrape with the side of a spoon, using just enough pressure to peel the skin off.
Tip: It’s easiest to start at one of the rings and peel down.
5. Remove pomegranate seeds the easy way
Pomegranates are a superfood! They’re anti-inflammatory and contain a substance that may lower breast cancer risk. Better yet, the seed pods are delicious on salads or stirred into almond milk yogurt. Yet many people don’t buy them because they don’t know how to get the seed pods out quickly. Here’s how…
Directions: Cut the pomegranate in half across its equator, crack it 1-2 times to break its back a bit, and whack it with the side of a spoon. The little juice pods fall right out. (It’s also really good for stress relief!)
Tip: Try not to hit yourself on the hand. 😉 Been there, done that, and it’s not even a little fun.
6. Peel a whole head of garlic in 30 seconds with a mason jar
Peeling garlic is a huge pain in the you-know-what. Luckily this hack is not only fast, but it’s a great party trick! However, there’s a catch: It only works on garlic that’s been sitting around for a couple of weeks.
Directions: (1) Smash the garlic head with heel of your hand to break up the cloves. (2) Put the cloves in a Mason jar and screw on the lid. (An old spaghetti jar works fine, too). (3) Shake hard for 20-30 seconds. Seriously, give yourself a workout. (4) Dump out the jar. The garlic cloves will have separated from the skins like magic!
Tip: Remember, this trick only works if your garlic is at least 2 weeks old!
7. “Unroll” a tangerine
This is a great hack for kids’ lunchboxes, because it makes tangerines fun to eat. It’s also perfect for taking them to work, because you won’t make the entire office smell as you peel your fruit. Plus the end result is much cooler.
Directions: (1) Cut the top and bottom off the tangerine. (2) Slice through the skin only above a spot on the tangerine where two segments meet. (3) Carefully pull the tangerine apart at the point where you sliced the skin. Separate each slice away from its friends with your thumbs. (4) Completely unroll the tangerine into a ribbon. Eat it as is, or roll it up and pop it in a baggie for easy eating later.
Tip: It’s easiest to separate segments starting at the ends, not the center as shown. (Live and learn!)
There you have it: 7 tips to save you time and make healthy cooking fun! I’d love to get to know you, so leave me a comment below. It may take a little while, but I try to reply to everyone!
Tell me what’s on your mind:
- Which hack do you want to try most?
- What’s your favorite shortcut in the kitchen?