Do you remember Chef Christine Hà?
She was the first-ever blind contestant on Master Chef who won the third season in 2012.
A blind chef! Amazing, right?
She used her senses — taste and smell — to guide her preparation of mouth-watering entrees.
Using your senses to cook is freeing, and it enables creativity to percolate.
Some of the best chefs like Christine use their senses to select the freshest ingredients for their menus. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to grill freshly caught fish, or eat vegetables and fruits fresh from the farm, the resulting sensory experience is pure joy.
In addition to trusting your taste buds and nose to guide the way, cooking, like anything else, is about confidence that comes with practice.
But cooking doesn’t need to be a time-consuming hassle that requires numerous ingredients, tons of recipes, meal planning spreadsheets, and lots of money.
What is Freestyle Cooking?
Freestyle cooking means that you don’t rely on recipes (except for baking), and when you do peek at a recipe for inspiration, you always tweak it, and use your sense of taste and smell to guide the final outcome.
Ah, so freeing!
Here’s are some steps to pave the way to freestyle cooking:
- Stock your pantry with good quality dried spices and spice rubs. Make sure your spices are fresh, and have not been sitting in your cupboard for months (or maybe years).
- Stock your pantry with healthful staples such as whole grains, nuts, nut butters, legumes, organic tofu, an assortment of beans, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, good quality canned tomatoes, and tomato sauce without added sugar.
- Stock your refrigerator with fresh fruits and vegetables. (Frozen is fine, too)
- Each week, use your fully stocked pantry, and refrigerator filled with seasonal produce to guide your “freestyle” menu selections. (more on that in the next section)
- Use the weekend to prepare some weekday meal add-ins. For example, I sauté a shallot, add sliced cremini mushrooms, and season with salt, pepper, oregano and basil. Then, during the week, I use this mushroom mixture in several “freestyle”ways: top grilled chicken, add flavor to a stuffed pepper entree, or enrich a tomato sauce.
Simplify Meal Planning by Freestyle Cooking
When your pantry and refrigerator are stocked, you can free yourself from the meal planning grind.
Simplify further by designating a meal theme for each day of the week, and letting your creativity roll.
Serve your entrees with lots of veggies (especially good if sautéed with olive oil). And complete your meal with some fruit for dessert.
Always remember what we learned from Chef Christine – taste and smell as you cook.
Here are some daily themes to organize your meal planning. Feel free to mix them up, or to eliminate options, and add others.
- Sunday – Chicken (grilled, stir fry, cacciatore, mushroom sauce)
- Monday – “Meatless Monday” (Tofu Chili, Bean and Cheese Tacos or Wraps with Guacamole, Tofu-Vegetable Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce and Quinoa, Ratatouille over Brown Rice)
- Tuesday – Fish (Salmon, cod and trout, plus other fatty fish) Fatty fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, known to lower the risk of heart disease.
- Wednesday – Stuff It (Bell Peppers stuffed with cooked lentils, rice and tomato sauce, Zucchini stuffed with meat sauce topped with grated mozzarella cheese, Acorn Squash stuffed with quinoa, walnuts, apples and raisins)
- Thursday – Pasta (Pesto with Walnuts, Beans and Greens, Meat Sauce)
- Friday – Soup (Lentil, Cannellini, Black Bean, Split Pea). You can make these ahead on the weekend for a quick and easy end to the week.
- Saturday – Ethnic-Themed Cuisine (Introduce new flavors and expand your tastes.)
Why Cooking is Important for Curbing Added Sugar From Your Diet
Stocking your kitchen with quality ingredients and fresh produce, and freeing yourself from recipes and complex meal planning opens up an opportunity to embrace your inner creativity.
- Cooking puts you in control of what foods and staples are in your home, and therefore what foods you prepare, and what snacks you grab. By choosing healthful foods, you start to minimize sugar intake.
- Cooking means that you become more aware of ingredient labels and ingredient lines. This helps you to understand what’s inside the foods you buy and eat. It’s an important step toward the elimination of processed foods, and foods/drinks packed with sugar.
- Cooking helps you lower your consumption of sugar, fat, and salt — the three ingredients that are used generously in restaurants and take-out.
Chef Christine Hà is an inspiring role model who has powered through her disability, and taught us to leverage our senses while freestyle cooking.
If she can master her culinary skills as a blind chef, I know you can, too.
Inside the private Lady Moxy member portal, I will help you master your innate culinary skills.
We start wherever you are in your cooking journey, and I provide personal guidance and shortcuts to make you a winner in your kitchen. Sign up for a free 15-minute consultation to learn more.