Just the Tip…kitchen tips you’ve never heard before
Yeah, I’ve been there…somehow, someway, something motivates you and you are DYING to start a new way of eating. You have new resolve, a new attitude, and you hit the grocery store with all the enthusiasm of a south Texan at Walmart on Boxing Day. You buy a shopping cart stuffed to the gills with enough fresh food to last you two weeks. The week starts out perfectly, your food is as delicious and exciting as the new wardrobe you’re envisioning your bad self in. Salads are crisp, fruit is crunchy, oatmeal is creamy and life is good…’til about Thursday. You reheat a bunch more stuff, and somehow, your excitement wanes. Your veggies aren’t as crisp, your oatmeal is separating, and you’re not even sure where the gel on the fish came from or what it is. Your high hopes turn into high drama as you wonder how on Earth you’ll stick to this plan that you’re hating four days in. Relax, daydream believers, I have a few tricks up my sleeve…
When you’re eating healthy food, attention to detail goes a long way. Slightly shriveled blueberries or wilted veggies just won’t cut it. Eating clean means appreciating and enjoying the subtle flavours of real food, and doing what you can to preserve those flavours. So what’s the best way to make sure your food tastes fresh-off-the-vine? No threat to MENSA with my first fresh tip, but read on anyway…
#1 GET FRESH: Keep food fresh by buying fresh! Don’t buy more than three or four days worth or produce at a time, ever. Your local greengrocer will sell local produce that is in season, and they tend to rotate stock more often than larger chains. Take a stroll every few days, or stop on your way home to snap up something fresh daily.
#2 FRESHEN UP: Cut the stems or stalks of any vegetables and place them in a deep bowl of fresh cold water. Let them soak while you prep other foods, then remove them just prior to steaming, grilling, roasting or chopping. Now, I’m no botanist, but I do know this much: vegetable cells are different than our own and water causes them to swell, which makes our veggies crispier and keep better for longer. Whether it’s a quick soak after buying, or a longer soak in the fridge, treat your veggies like flowers and they’ll stay perky. Don’t want to take my word for it? Watch this 1m video.
TURGOR IN CELERY STALK
#3 HAUNTED BY GARLIC GHOSTS: You’ll have ghosts in more than just your closet if you don’t heed my advice in this kitchen tip…There is nothing worse than prepping food, portioning it responsibly, packing your lunch, then wondering who’s idea it was to make a garlic infused apple crisp. Don’t let old flavours haunt your food, designate some containers for savoury or strong flavours and others for leftover fruit, apple crisp, or whatever doesn’t go well with onions or garlic. Colour code your storage containers or use a Sharpee to mark them.
#4 KEEP YOUR FRUIT FLY: This one gets a bit trickier, as some fruit will get mealy and weird if refrigerated. If left too long to ripen, it will pass it’s prime before you can consume it. So buy fruit one or two items at a time. You shouldn’t eat more than one serving per day if you are trying to lose body fat anyway. I’ve made a list below that cuts the confusion over what goes where….well, with fruit anyway.
Fruits to ripen at room temperature:
- Melons (all varieties)
- Passion fruit
Fruits to put in the fridge:
Just like those unfortunate souls who peaked in high school, these fruits are at their prime when picked (or purchased). They stop ripening at that time and will only go downhill from there. Leaving them at room temperature only shortens their lifespan so refrigerating them is the best way to go.
- Currants (all varieties)
Fruits that don’t really matter where you put them:
These fruits obviously last a little longer in the fridge, but can stay out for a while without putting them at risk. Citrus fruits, for example, peel better at room temperature, and if you are juicing them, they extract more juice when they’re warm. Quick tip: If you do put your lemons in the fridge, pop them in some hot water for about 25 seconds before giving them a squeeze and you’ll get more juice.
#5 KEEP A TIGHT WRAP ON YOUR PACKAGE: Throwing a good piece of meat anywhere and not expecting bad things to happen to it as its exposed to all kinds of nastiness is just not smart. Real food dries up, breaks down, and loses quality quickly! Make sure you protect it from exposure to the elements by wrapping it well, and storing in air tight containers. This is one time where I will say not to be too environmentally friendly, and use Ziploks if the situation warrants them. You can also purchase high quality glass containers with airtight lids, but still pre wrap your food in cellophane before placing in the glass.
#6 DEORODIZE: Those garlic ghosts in tip #3 will invade your entire fridge and be joined by fish, onion and fruit poltergeists if you’re not careful! Use boxes of baking soda to neutralize odours-one for the fridge and one for the freezer. The fancypants “fridge flow” ones are cute, but any open box will do. You can also use a sprinkle of soda to some of your storage container lids to restore some freshness and stop the haunting.
#7 KNOW YOUR FRIDGE: Different places in the fridge have different purposes. The butter keeper really is for butter and the egg cups really do hold eggs nicely, and those places are tempered to keep stuff fresh longer. The top shelf tends to be warmest, and the back of the fridge coldest, and some fridges have cold spots, so pay attention and move stuff around often. It’s best not to overstuff your fridge too, to ensure that air circulates.
#8 KEEP YOUR NUTS CHILLED: Raw or roasted, nuts have oils that will go rancid at room temperature. The best way to avoid this, especially in the summer months, is to keep them refrigerated, even slightly cooled will do. From tip #7, a good spot for nuts in the fridge is the top shelf, as you will remember they are there, and they don’t need the prime real estate of coldness, just a little chill.
#9 COMPARTMENTALIZE: What might not be good for feelings is great for food. Have a designated place in your fridge for things. Keep all eggs, egg white cartons, hummus or other perishables in one spot so you remember to use it up or check it often for expiry. I use the crisper for nuts, jars of fruit preserves, bottles of maple syrup, leftover baking ingredients and other things I don’t use often. Since I heed my own advice, veggies and fruit don’t last more than four or five days, so I don’t find it necessary to stash it too far away.
#10 LINE IT UP: Moisture and condensation will degrade fruits and vegetables, so line your crisper or other fridge areas with paper towel. This will help to collect any excess moisture and will also serve as a fast and easy clean-up tool. Remember: little clean-ups along the way will prevent a four-hour one later.
Besides having an extensive background in the health and fitness industry, Jules Lieff founded Fit Organix Inc., a food brand that specializes in high nutrient-dense, hypoallergenic meal delivery and retail products. She can be found in her Cabbagetown Fit O headquarters, in a Mount Pleasant Village cafe, or every Monday at 7am and 6pm on 103.9 Proud FM. A recipe revamper and chef personality at Loblaws PC Cooking School, Jules is also the ambassador of the Naturally Delicious pavillion at the Delicious Food Show, 2013.
If you think you can keep up, follow her on Twitter @FitOrganiX, and visit the Fit Organix page, www.facebook.com/FitOrganixInc, or tune in weekly to hear her blunt yet sound advice.
Ultimately, if you show your fridge some love (not in a My Strange Addiction kind of way), your food will taste better, you’ll stay motivated longer and you’ll look more crisp in that new wardrobe than the garden salad you packed with your lunch.