THE BLOG

5 Tips for Having Fun in the Kitchen

06/04/2015 03:41 pm ET | Updated Jun 04, 2016

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Photo Credit: © Monkeybusinessimages

Did you know that one of the easiest ways to eat healthfully is to cook at home? And when you cook at home you can typically make better choices about what and how much to eat and drink. It can also be fun and a way for you to spend time with the family (USDA, Let's Move Into the Kitchen).

In 2003, my graduate school thesis was entitled Why Cooking Is A Critical Component of Nutrition Education (and of course overall health and well being). My conclusion as a chef and budding nutritionist -- if we don't connect with our food and cook for ourselves, it is highly unlikely that we will get healthy and stay healthy.

I get it, finding the time and energy to cook can be tough. After a long day of work and homework duties with my kids, sometimes cooking is the last thing that I want to do. But I do it, and so can you -- and you can have fun while you do it, I promise! After years of working with folks in their kitchens and teaching large groups hands-on cooking classes, every single person has said, "Stefanie, I didn't know that cooking could be so much fun!"

So let's put the fun back into cooking! With these five tips, you can unlock your "kitchen door" and step into real nourishment (with some serious light and laughter along the way):

  1. Cook with Company

    Share the cooking experience with someone you love -- whether it's a friend or family member. I love to invite my kids to join me in the kitchen, and I enjoy preparing healthy, delicious meals for close friends... in my kitchen or theirs.

  • Turn Up the Tunes

  • Atmosphere is everything. Turn on some good music and groove while you cook. I will often sing and dance while I prepare a meal. It makes cooking feel like the celebration it should be -- and I typically urge my students to do the same. For a dreamier atmosphere, create a "culinary spa" by lighting a candle or two!

  • Let Your Tools do the Work

  • Whenever I'm cooking, I make sure I use a good knife (Global is my favorite) and bamboo cutting board. By the way, a sharp knife is faster and safer to use. And my ideal tool of choice is the trusty Cuisinart. The ability to purée, chop, shred and slice with one machine makes food preparation easier and fun for everyone.

  • Simplify Your Meals

  • A simple way to take the stress out of cooking is to keep it simple. Nutritious can meet delicious with a basic salad, a baked sweet potato and roasted chicken. Preparation for a meal like this is 10 minutes, max. Cooking time about an hour plus. Consider these simple, tasty recipes as well -- Skillet Broccoli and Cauliflower Cheese Soup, both from What The Fork Are You Eating? And be sure to make extra for storage -- fill your culinary bank account and save yourself time and energy the next time you cook.

  • Share the Food and Fun

  • People love photos of food! Sometimes it's easier to appreciate your food when you see it through the eyes of others. When your friends see the delicious and healthy food you've created and cheer you on, it can inspire you to do more. Trust me! So shoot while you shop and cook, and post on Instagram (also check out Feed Feed, a social media platform that connects people who love to cook or want to learn how to love to cook).

    To stay connected with Stefanie, sign up for her blog -- bi-weekly ruminations, radio shows and recipes, and follow her on: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Her book, What the Fork Are You Eating? (Tarcher/Penguin Random House) is available wherever books are sold. You can also catch Stefanie's recent TEDx Talk here.