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7 strategies to take the bland out of healthy cooking

Persadding ingredients skillet

Person adding ingredients to skillet

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Updated: December 15, 2012 6:02AM

“When you say healthy eating, a lot of people think lettuce, tomatoes, that’s it,” says chef Robert Irvine. Healthy eating is just the correct balance of foods — mostly healthy recipes with a few sinful treats now and then.

Do keep it simple. Flavorful, healthy meals don’t have to be complex, and they don’t have to include a main dish and two sides. “I love to cook lean proteins like chicken, salmon and sea bass on a grill, then top with a simple black bean salsa made with canned tomatoes, black beans, onions and a little hot sauce,” Irvine says.

Don’t deprive yourself. “A ‘diet’ implies that you’re depriving the body of something. I can eat French fries every day of the week if I want, but the time I eat them and what I eat in between and what exercises I do is the important thing,” Irvine says.

Do learn to regulate heat. Heat your skillet before you cook a protein so it spends the least possible amount of time cooking.

Do make friends with your blender. A blender is amazing — you can throw (almost) anything in to make a flavorful sauce. For a savory sauce, try red onions and olives atop roasted vegetables or proteins.

Don’t kill the vegetables. It only takes a couple of minutes to cook fresh veggies — any more and they start to lose precious nutrients, not to mention taste.

Do use healthy flavor boosters. “Rice wine vinegar and ginger are my go-to flavor boosters,” Irvine says. “They travel with me anywhere I go.” Stone-ground mustard also is a big one, because you need it to emulsify dressings.

Don’t get burnt out. Don’t try to eat chicken breasts and a salad every day — mix it up!

Courtesy Robert Irvine

Scripps Howard News Service

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