Pre zest and juice citrus

It is officially summer, although in Arizona it’s always summer!  This calls for fresh citrus zest and juice.  

Lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits….

Simply zest, then juice all the citrus

I like to keep these in the fridge and freezer; especially keep the zest in the freezer so it lasts longer and doesn’t get moldy 

Juice Shelf Life:

3-4 days fridge

3-4 months freezer

Zest Shelf Life:

1-2 days fridge

3 months freezer

Your kitchen is going to smell so good and fresh; beautiful aromas!

Photo Credit:

Photo by Bruna Branco on Unsplash 

Photo by Andre Taissin on Unsplash

Photo by Skyler Ewing: https://www.pexels.com/photo/ripe-lemons-with-zest-and-grater-on-table-4600746/


How to cut a bell pepper

A simple and quick way to cut a bell pepper is 

  • Cut both ends off
  • Stand the bell pepper straight cut (on the flat cut end)
  • Slice one of the sides
  • Then place the bell pepper back on its flat side and start cutting the inside “ribs” off
  • Accomplish this by rolling the bell pepper as you cut, cutting the ribs and seeds
  • Then you have a nice flat surface to work with and cut either strips or diced pepper

Cutting the bell pepper using this technique is even a great way to prep the pepper until you need to use it.  That way it’s all cleaned and ready to go in the refrigerator.

#bellpepper #vegetables #ingredient #personalchef #nutritionist #chef #nutrition #weeklymeals #mealprep #healthy

Photo Credit:
Photo by Vino Li on Unsplash

Photo by srinivas bandari on Unsplash

Photo by Irene Kredenets on Unsplash


Storing herbs in the refrigerator

Tip of the Week

How do you keep fresh herbs alive?!  One way, possibly the best way, is to wrap herbs in a damp paper towel and place in a zip lock bag.  Make sure it’s a damp paper towel, not wet so no mold grows.  This will absorb moisture from the herbs, preventing them from wilting too quickly.  You are also able to store fresh leafy greens this way, wrapped in paper towels!  

Another way is to store herbs in a mason jar, placed like flowers.  Fill the jar with water and keep it in the fridge uncovered.  The only downside is that the jar can take up room in the fridge. 

If you’re in a pinch, like I usually am, simply keep the herbs in the produce bag from the grocery store.

Photo Credit:

Photo by alleksana: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-assorted-herbs-4113898/

Photo by alleksana: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-different-herbs-4113889/

Photo by alleksana: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-green-leaves-on-top-of-marbled-surface-4113885/

Photo by alleksana: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-green-leaves-on-top-of-wooden-surface-4113884/


Partially freeze meat before cutting

Tip of the Week

Why would you freeze meat?  This is a trick to make it easier to cut and slice.  Especially helping to cut meats into thin slices, strips, cubed, etc.  Place the meat in the freezer for 15-20 minutes which gives it enough time to firm up.  Otherwise if you don’t, the meat can be hard to cut through and slippery, making it difficult to work with.  If the meat is pre-opened, place it into a plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap before putting it in the freezer (just as if you would cover the meat in the refrigerator).  Overall, this will save you time in the kitchen, particularly when prepping dinner in a hurry.  Plus, when slicing the meat first the cook time is reduced.  

One of my favorite ways to cook meat when I’m in a hurry is to slice fairly thin, then cook it in a sauté pan.  I typically add Asian flavors and vegetables to create a stir fry.  The meat takes no time at all to cook (without over cooking) and gets dinner on the table fast!    

Photo Credit: 

Photo by Marina Utrabo: https://www.pexels.com/photo/sliced-meat-on-wooden-tray-4661503/

Photo by Becerra Govea Photo: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-shot-of-slices-of-raw-meat-on-a-wooden-chopping-board-5774153/

Photo by Yash Maramangallam: https://www.pexels.com/photo/slices-of-pork-meat-over-a-brown-paper-6442608/Photo by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron on Unsplash


5 Ingredients I Can’t Live Without

With there being so many ingredients out there, I love these 5 especially.  Keep a variety of each one on hand to create magical meals!  There is such fun in utilizing ingredients in many different ways and cooking methods.  I’ve excluded the simple pantry staples such as spices, flour, sugar, oils – the ones you normally think of. 

  1. Nuts
    • A very healthy snack and so many applications
    • Use as a crunchy topping, contrast of textures, add protein to a dish
    • Make a sauce with soaked nuts, perfect to make vegan sauces and cheeses (flavor with your favorite spices)
  2. Fresh herbs – my favorites are rosemary, thyme, sage
    • Herbs can brighten up any dish and take it to the next level; use in food or drinks to create unique combinations; simply having the smell in the kitchen or refrigerator is like a breath of fresh air
  3. Low sodium broth
    • This ingredient is so versatile because I can make a quick sauce, soup, to thin a dish out, add flavors; I especially like using this instead of water for grains and rice
    • Other ideas- use to reheat dishes and add moisture (instead of water), deglaze hot pans to keep things from sticking, when making white sauces or cream sauces use some broth to cut back on fat
  4. Beans
    • A great source of protein and great vegetarian/vegan meal option; so many to choose from with all different applications
    • Besides making great mexican food, other options are hummus, sandwich spread or dip, pot pies, in cold salads
    • They are so creamy and can easily be whipped into a recipe
  5. Cheeses
    • Snack attack, melty gooiness, sharp, ages, creamy, moldy – so many to choose from, there’s an abundance of different cheeses
    • Very unique flavors, shapes, colors from regions all over the world
    • Create a fabulous charcuterie board

Photo Credit:

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

Photo by Lindsay Moe on Unsplash

Photo by Süheyl Burak on Unsplash

Photo by Kevin Doran on Unsplash


Shred Chicken Easily

Two ways: stand mixer or two forks

The quickest and most efficient way to shred chicken is in a stand mixer, such as a Kitchen Aid.  First, bake chicken or poach/simmer in a pot for about 20-25 minutes, then while hot, add to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  Turn on and let the machine do the work for you!  (Cook chicken until internal temperature 165 F.)  You will have beautiful shredded chicken you can use for many meals – like in my post Batch Cook Proteins For More Meals

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Variety of Flours

There are so many different types of flour, all with specific names.  What is the difference?  The most common type is all purpose flour (unbleached and bleached) you can use universally.  Great for baking, thickening sauces or soups, breakfast foods, making pastas and homemade bread, etc.  I set out to find out all the differences on flour – specifically wheat flour – no gluten free and nut flours (I’ll save that for a different post)!

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Swap Proteins to Try Healthier Dishes

Many different types of proteins can be substituted whether it be for health, flavor, or availability.  Trying new proteins, especially lean proteins can decrease your intake of fats and salt while still achieving great flavors.  Explore new options and recipes; I know I’m always researching how I can change a recipe or create a new one with ingredients I have!  Many recipes you can easily change the main protein while still using the same seasonings and marinades.  Also, changing the form of cooking such as using the grill, smoker, oven, stovetop, or braising pot can alter the flavors and textures.

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Portion seasoned meats into individual bags

This falls into the category of make-ahead meals, which has many options!  Prep and marinate fresh meats like chicken or beef, then place into ziploc sandwich bags, gallon bags, or storage containers.  

For example, I like to add my marinade to chicken, place into sandwich bags, let marinate all day or overnight in the refrigerator, then if I’m not going to use it all, I’ll place the extra bags in the freezer.  Flatten the meat and stack them (as much as possible) so you can utilize the best freezer space.

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