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 veggies a day. You can also learn about me and the health scare that got me eating (mostly) right. Otherwise, read on for fast fruit and veggie hacks!
Summer is the BEST. For 3 glorious months, mother nature gives you a warm hug every time you walk outside and fresh fruits and veggies galore. What’s not to love? (Okay, maybe the hair-wilting humidity, but it’s a small price to pay…)
Since I pretty much live for summer, I don’t want to waste a minute of it trapped in a kitchen. However, I also live for fruits and veggies, and I don’t want to miss a morsel of juicy watermelon or crisp bell pepper, either!
What’s a girl to do?
Why, find faster ways to prep produce, of course! So I tested a host of fruit and veggie hacks to get us all in and out of the kitchen fast, so we can get back to more important things. Like playing in the pool with the kiddos, or lounging in the hammock reading a trashy novel with a glass of iced tea.
Or wine, your call. 😉
4 Fruit and Veggie Hacks to Make Your Life Easier
Before we jump into the hacks, though, here are a few quick tips I picked up working in a commercial kitchen during my dietetic internship:
- Use a sharp chef’s knife. A sharp knife makes quick work of produce and is safer for you, because it’s less likely to slip while slicing. I like the 8-inch Shun Classic ($124), which a chef recommended to me as an “investment knife,” because it’s comfortable, sharp, and lasts for decades. This 8-inch Victorinox Chef’s Knife is another good choice at $45. Since I’m really bad at sharpening knives, I use this handy little sharpener that requires zero skills.
- Get a large cutting board, at least 15 x 20 inches. Having room to work saves time, especially with melons! I fell in love with this non-slip cutting board working in food service at American University during my internship.
- Keep a bowl for scraps right by your cutting board, or pull your trash can next to you so scraps can go straight in the bin.
Now, on to the hacks!
1. Chop a pepper in less than 1 minute
Bell peppers are summer superheroes! You can slice them into salads, grill them on kebabs, or stuff them with bean or pasta salad for a light lunch. However, I used to be slow as Christmas at chopping them. Then I learned some super-easy tips for chopping up these bad boys in no time! Here’s how:
- Cut off the top and bottom of the pepper.
- Make a vertical slice through the pepper.
- “Unroll” the pepper, slicing away the ribs (with attached seeds) as you go.
- With the skin side down on the cutting board, slice into strips for salads or chunks for kebabs. Use a rocking motion with your knife, and curl the fingers of the hand you’re using to hold the pepper into a “claw” when you get close to your hand. (Note I am NOT demonstrating that in the picture, whoops.) Slice/chop the top and bottom, too.
Bonus hack: How to prep a stuffing pepper in 15 seconds
- Cut the top only off the pepper.
- Yep, all the way off. (Can you tell this grid requires me to use 4 pictures? 😉 )
- Use your fingers to rip out the seeds and ribs. Super fast and surprisingly satisfying! Bonus points if you hold your pepper over the scraps container while you do this.
- Ta-da! Hollowed pepper. No worries if the edges are a little ragged where you rip out the ribs. No one will see ’em, because that pepper’s gonna be stuffed full of goodness like healthy pizza pasta salad.
2. Cube a WHOLE watermelon in less than 2 minutes
Did you know watermelon contains a substance called lycopene that helps protect skin from sun damage? Of course, watermelon is no substitute for sunblock, but I’m all about eating food that keeps my skin looking young. Better yet, watermelon is one of those glorious healthy foods that kids naturally love. However, I’ve learned said kids are much more likely to eat watermelon when it’s already cut up. (Go figure. 😉 )
So I tried (and timed) a bunch of “fast” ways to cube a watermelon. (Thanks, YouTube!) However, my original method was the fastest: it gets the job done in under 2 minutes:
- Cut the top and bottom off the watermelon. Then cut the watermelon across its equator as shown.
- Place the watermelon half face-down on the cutting board. Working around the edges, cut off the rind in strips, the same way you’d peel a pineapple. (Or a jicama, yum!)
- Turn the peeled chunk on it’s side and slice almost all the way through, leaving the whole chunk in one piece.
- Carefully place the chunk face-down again and cut it into a grid, slicing first horizontally, and then vertically.
Voila! Perfectly chopped watermelon. Enjoy it as-is, or get festive with this patriotic red, white and blue salad.
3. Chop an onion in 1 minute with NO TEARS
Sweet diced Vidalia or red onion adds a healthy and delicious kick to pasta salad, guacamole, and fresh salsa.
However, if your eyes are sensitive, cutting onions can literally be a pain. So a few years back, I started wearing swim goggles to protect my diva-ish eyes, and they worked great! However, they also left me with raccoon rings around my eyes, which wasn’t great when I was cooking for company.
Luckily I’ve since discovered onion goggles, which protect just as well without messing up your makeup. Bonus: They come in a rainbow of fun colors! 😀
Now you’re ready to hack your onion (literally and figuratively, lol!):
- Slice off the top. Then slice off just the roots, leaving the onion attached at the bottom.
- Turn the onion root-side up and slice in half vertically.
- Peel away the skin and first layer of onion underneath, which can be leathery.
- Place the onion half face down and make horizontal cuts in the onion, stopping short of the root. If you want ½-inch pieces, make cuts every ½ inch.
- Make vertical cuts every ½ inch, again taking care to keep the onion intact.
- Cut in “rainbows” ½-inch deep. Repeat steps 3-6 on the other half.
There you have it: Perfectly chopped onions in no time.
4. Keep avocado from turning brown with cooking spray
No one wants to eat brown avocado! To keep a cut avocado looking fresh, spray it with cooking spray like Pam before putting it in the fridge. The oil in the spray will block oxygen from reaching the surface of the avocado, keeping it green for 1-2 days.
The oil will solidify a bit in the fridge, giving the avocado a light sheen, but it’ll melt away at room temperature. You can also spray the top of prepared guacamole to keep it from turning brown.
So, what’re you waiting for? Go forth and enjoy every last minute of summer—and all those tasty fruits and veggies, too! 😀 With these quick hacks, you’ve got nothing but time.
- What will you make with those peppers and onions?
- What’s your favorite trick for prepping produce fast?
- Are you happy or sad that watermelons don’t have seeds anymore?