Kitchen tips to bring out your inner-chef

by Alec Graves on Sunday 09 July 2023

3 min read

We all know cooking healthy, nutritious meals is a great way to support what we’re doing at the gym. But cooking at home comes a little easier to some, than others. Remember though, just like the gym, start simple and build your way up as you get ‘stronger’ – look for small wins early to help you build confidence.

Check out our simple kitchen tips and bring out your inner-chef!

Salt, season, and use spices

Even just a pinch of salt at the right time can make a real difference in your home cooking. Proteins such as steak, chicken, and fish all benefit from an early dose of salt, as salt actually breaks down protein cells when it’s absorbed in the meat – which creates brilliant flavours and a tender texture. The difference in flavour and aroma can be huge!

Pepper (salt’s partner in culinary crime) can be a little tricky to time well as it tends to burn easily. So, pepper is often best added right at the end of the cooking process. On the other hand, some spices really need heat to come to life.

For more info on how you can use spices to elevate your home cooking, check out another article we put together: Never eat bland food again.

Sharpen your knife skills

Cooking doesn’t need to be super technical, but it helps to have a few key skills dialled in. Getting good with a knife will make you faster, safer and more consistent in the kitchen, which will definitely help you build confidence.

There are countless videos out there, but the main skills to focus on are:

  • How to grip your knife properly (firm but relaxed)
  • How to make ‘the claw’ and hold the thing you’re cutting safely
  • How to ‘rock’ the blade for nice and consistent cuts

Safety is the number one priority, so don’t worry about your carrots being perfectly julienned. It’s much easier to enjoy a healthy and nutritious meal when all your fingers are intact! For an expert look at each of these techniques, check out Jamie Oliver on Knife Skills from his 30-Minute Meals series on YouTube.

Prepare your ingredients and clean as you go

Good cooking is clean cooking, so keeping your space neat and tidy is something you want to focus on while you’re learning to cook like a pro. Taking a few minutes to find and prepare your ingredients before you start cooking is a great way to keep your stress levels down and minimise any mess.

Chefs call this ‘mise en place’, or ‘putting in place’. It’s a big part of the difference between a rushed and stressful cooking experience bound to disappoint, and a pro-level effort that’s a delight to eat.

Set the scene, and keep it tidy by cleaning as you go. Side benefit: you’ll be much more likely to stick with a new cooking habit if you aren’t left with a bombsite of a kitchen at the end of every evening as well.

Experiment and have fun with it

Besides the obvious health benefits, cooking can also be a chance to experiment a little. Try taking some risks, practice and welcome the occasional failure – that’s how you learn and enjoy the art of home cooking.

You might be more science-y in your experimentation, or you might like to cook more with your feelings and make bold choices. Whatever interests you, there’s always something to play around with whenever you cook:

  • Play with the balance of savoury, sweet, and acidity. Popular ways to do this include soy sauce, a dab of honey, or a squeeze of citrus.
  • Add, subtract or replace ingredients with alternatives. This is a great way to adapt recipes to be vegetarian, vegan or gluten free.
  • Use specialised equipment to add an extra layer of control. Think: meat thermometers, pizza stones, tortilla presses and pasta machines.

Don’t hesitate to look to the wealth of free online recipes, videos and more for inspiration. We even have a Soy and Sesame Soba Noodles recipe that you might like to try!

Reach out for more tips on nutrition and fitness

The team at Virgin Active is here to help you find ways to reach your goals. We can even help you make it happen sooner with a Personal Trainer. Reach out today to find out more.

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