Advertising
Advertising

20 Basic Cooking Hacks Everyone Should Know

20 Basic Cooking Hacks Everyone Should Know

Wise old women will tell you that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but any experienced man will also tell you that one of the best ways to impress a lady is to cook for her. We all need some kitchen skills, from young students living alone to moms and dads feeding their family. If scientists are to be believed, our food choices are even linked to our character. While some may be naturally gifted, or have had the pleasure of growing up with some talented cooks who were happy to give them a few pointers along the way, there are a lot of people out there who shy away from the kitchen because they find cooking complicated, and even a little bit confusing.

Fortunately, there are tons of great little tricks that can help anyone greatly improve their cooking game, and perhaps get a few people interested in further developing their skills. Here is a run-down of some of the most useful cooking hacks that can benefit everyone, regardless of skill level.

1. Put ice cream in a bag before putting it in the freezer

Bagging ice cream

    Ice cream can get rock hard in the freezer and it takes ages to thaw out just enough that you can eat it. A simple trick to keep it just the right consistency is to put the container in a plastic zip lock bag before throwing it in the freezer.

    2. Freeze a banana to use as base for a healthy ice cream

    Frozen banana ice cream

      When frozen and then mashed up, bananas create a perfect creamy ice cream base that you can be mixed with other fruit and various toppings to create a super-healthy home-made ice cream.

      3. Mix pancake batter in a plastic bag to save time and make less of a mess

      Pancace batter in plastic bag

        A zip lock bag or a pastry bag can be used to mix up pancake batter. Make sure to make a small cut in a corner of the plastic bag if you don’t have a pastry bag. You have to clean up less afterwards, and you can make some very creative shapes.

        4. Cut softer foods using a dental floss

        Advertising

        Cutting with dental floss

          Things can get messy if you are cutting a particularly large cake and only have a small knife, but even things like cheese and Swiss rolls can be difficult to cut precisely. You can use dental floss to make quick and precise cuts and avoid the trouble.

          5. Cook up enough food for several days on Sunday and store it in the fridge

          Prepping food in advance

            You can spend a couple of hours on a lazy Sunday and cook up enough frozen veggies, chicken, fish, steak, rice, baked potatoes or whatever else you like to eat, and store the food in plastic containers. Mix it up, and you will have quick meals ready to go for the next few days or the entire week.

            6. Use protein powder, almond milk, oat flour and frozen fruit for healthy snacks

            Protein pancakes

              People often view pancakes as a dirty pleasure, but you can make healthy and diet-friendly pancakes using protein powder, almond milk, oat flower, different fruit and other healthy ingredients.

              7. Freeze a fresh herb mixture in olive oil to add to your meals

              Freezing herbs in oil

                If you are the kind of person who likes to add fresh herbs to meals, you can stock up on herbs, chopped them up, put them in ice cube tray, cover them in olive oil and freeze them. Next time you are cooking something, just drop a cube in and have yourself a treat.

                8. Dry out herbs in the microwave

                Drying herbs

                  For a more permanent storage solution, you can buy a bunch of herbs at the flea market – make your own unique blend of herbs – and then dry them out in the microwave. Put them in for 20 second intervals, and keep turning them over until they are completely dry, at which point you can crush them up.

                  Advertising

                  9. Throw a slice of apple in with baked treats to keep them soft and moist

                  apple slices

                    Baked treats tend to get fairly dry and don’t taste so good after a while. A good way to combat this is to keep them in a plastic container with an apple slice, which will help them preserve moisture and stay yummy for much longer.

                    10. Let you eggs sit in the fridge for a few days if you want them to peel easily

                    Eggs with funny faces

                      Boiled eggs are sometimes notoriously difficult to peel, but that’s just fresh eggs. Week old eggs are perfectly fine to eat, but they are incredibly easy to peal, so make sure you buy eggs well in advance and let them sit in the fridge for a while before boiling them.

                      11. You can use a spoon to help you peel fresh eggs more quickly

                      Peeling an egg

                        In case you just have to eat some boiled eggs right now and you only have fresh ones, you can add a little salt in the water with them and then use a spoon to crack one ends slightly and start peeling the shell from the inside. It’s incredibly quick and simple.

                        12. Soak eggs in white vinegar for several minutes when making poached eggs

                        Soaking eggs in white vinegar

                          To make perfect poached eggs you need to keep the eggs in a consistent shape when boiling them in water. A simple, trick to ensure that the egg whites keep a consistent shape is to soak the eggs in white vinegar for several minutes before breaking them open.

                          13. Weave bacon strips into a square shape and bake them in the oven

                          Advertising

                          Bacon weave

                            Bacon is actually cooked much more evenly in the oven than in the frying pan, and to go a step further you can weave them into a square shape first. It’s a great shape for sandwiches, and you won’t have chunks falling out.

                            14. Grill your fish on top of lemon slices

                            Grill fish adn lemons

                              Fish will tend to stick and even break up when placed on the grill, but if you put it on top of lemon slices and grill it like that it will be much easier to prepare, and it will get that nice zesty flavor.

                              15. Slap some wet paper towels on bottles of soda or beer to cool them much faster

                              Cooling beer with paper towel

                                You have guests arriving any minute now, and your beverages are all lukewarm? Well, have no fear, just take a few wet paper towels and wrap them around the bottles before throwing them in the freezer. It will cool your drinks down incredibly fast.

                                16. Make the perfect hash browns using a waffle iron

                                Hashed browns

                                  Making hash browns can be a bit of a hassle, but a very simple trick is to just throw them on a waffle iron and slam it shut. That golden brown color you are going for will be nice and even, and you won’t have to do much work at all.

                                  17. Microwave oysters for 10-20 seconds to make them much easier to open

                                  Opening oysters

                                    Oysters can require quite a bit of brute force to open, and you don’t want to be pressing hard on something with a knife and risk having it slip and hurt you. The simple solution is to microwave them for 10-20 seconds, which loosens them up and allows you to open them using much less force.

                                    Advertising

                                    18. Run some water over stale bread and throw it in the oven to make it fresh and crunchy

                                    Loaves of bread

                                      If all you’ve got is a baguette or a loaf of bread that is getting a bit stale, but you don’t have time to run to the store and get some more, just run it through some water and put it in the oven for 5-10 minutes. You can also wrap it in a damp towel and then pop it in the oven. It will be fresh and crunchy like you just baked it.

                                      19. Drip chocolate over a balloon to create edible dessert cups

                                      Chocolate bowls

                                        Melt some chocolate into a bowl and then dip an inflated balloon in it so that the chocolate sticks all around it in a semicircular shape. Once it has cooled down just pop the balloon and take it out. Voila! You now have chocolate bowls to serve your dessert in.

                                        20. Use two plates to slice cherry tomatoes in one smooth motion

                                        Plates and cherry tomatoes

                                          If you are making a salad and need to chop a whole bunch of cherry tomatoes in half, just trap them between two plates and slice through them with a knife. You can slice a dozen or more of them in one clean movement.

                                          Make sure to arm yourself with these great cooking hacks, as well as a little bit of patience, and you will soon become the master of your kitchen, cooking up decent meals and flaunting your new-found skill in front of others.

                                          More by this author

                                          Ivan Dimitrijevic

                                          Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

                                          50 New Year’s Resolution Ideas And How To Achieve Each Of Them 5 Exercises To Improve Intimacy and Create a Better Relationship 8 Fun and Unique Birthday Party Ideas for People in Their 20s 50 Cleaning Hacks for Your Home That Will Make Your Life Easier 40 Amazing Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

                                          Trending in Leisure

                                          1 The 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime 2 How to Quit Your Job and Travel the World After 40 3 The 25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are 4 25 Truly Amazing Places To Visit Before You Die 5 30 Fun Things to Do at Home

                                          Read Next

                                          Advertising
                                          Advertising
                                          Advertising

                                          Last Updated on February 21, 2019

                                          Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

                                          Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

                                          Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

                                          If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

                                          When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

                                          In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

                                          1. Salmon

                                          Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

                                          It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

                                          Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

                                          Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

                                          Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

                                          Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

                                          Advertising

                                          2. Blueberries

                                          Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

                                          Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

                                          Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

                                          Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

                                          Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

                                          3. Turmeric

                                          Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

                                          Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

                                          Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

                                          Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

                                          Curcumin has also been shown to:

                                          Advertising

                                          • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
                                          • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
                                          • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
                                          • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

                                          4. Coffee

                                          Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

                                          Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

                                          Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

                                          Coffee can also:

                                          • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
                                          • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
                                          • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
                                          • Improve your memory.
                                          • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

                                          5. Broccoli

                                          What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

                                          Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

                                          Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

                                          Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

                                          Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

                                          6. Bone broth

                                          Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

                                          Advertising

                                          Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

                                          Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

                                          Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

                                          Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

                                          With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

                                          Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

                                          7. Walnuts

                                          Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

                                          Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

                                          Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

                                          Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

                                          Advertising

                                          8. Eggs

                                          For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

                                          Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

                                          Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

                                          9. Dark chocolate

                                          You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

                                          Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

                                          Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

                                          Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

                                          Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

                                          Conclusion

                                          Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

                                          In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

                                          If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

                                          More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

                                          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

                                          [1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
                                          [2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
                                          [3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
                                          [4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
                                          [5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
                                          [6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
                                          [7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
                                          [8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
                                          [9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
                                          [10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
                                          [11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
                                          [12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
                                          [13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
                                          [14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
                                          [15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
                                          [16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
                                          [17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
                                          [18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

                                          Read Next