There are many clever cooking tips for making your recipes just a bit healthier. For example, we've all heard about substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream or baking French fries instead of frying them.
However, there are some tips from celebrity chefs that you might not have thought of on your own. After all, the top chefs spend decades perfecting their culinary skills, learning the ins and outs of vegetables, grains, and essentially any ingredient you can think of.
Who better to take advice from than a professional chef who dedicates their life to cooking? Rather than you spending time researching these different chefs and what their best advice is, you can find the best tips from them here.
With culinarians like Gordon Ramsay, David Chang, and Paula Deen, many of these chefs come from different backgrounds, giving this list a unique, well-rounded inventory of techniques for you to implement in your cooking. In fact, you can put many of these tips into practice as soon as today!
1. Carla Hall’s Tip: Avoid Putting Oil Directly in The Pan
When doing a cooking demonstration for Oprah Online, Carla Hall explains that it's much better to toss chopped vegetables in oil before putting them in a hot pan. She said, “I toss my vegetables in oil because when I cook them in the pan, they’re going to cook nicely…they’re not going to absorb a lot of oil.” When people put the oil in the pan first, they put much more oil than is needed. This simple trick decreases your oil consumption and saves your vegetables from being soggy!
2. Marcus Samuelsson’s Tip: Use Chickpeas in Meals That Need More Protein and Fiber
In an interview with Food Network, Marcus Samuelsson stressed that you should always have chickpeas in your cupboard. His reasoning for this is that “chickpeas are a significant source of protein and fiber that can be used so many different ways.’’ So, when you find that you make a recipe that seems to be lacking substance, throw some chickpeas in there. It makes it much more satisfying while providing your body with more nutrients, so it's a win-win!
3. Rachael Ray’s Tip: Use Kale Instead of Romaine for Caesar Salad
Everyone knows that a classic Caesar salad has romaine lettuce. However, one of Rachel Ray's top cooking tips on Food Network is to use kale instead. This is a clever swap since Versus reports that kale has more protein, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and magnesium. (if that long list doesn’t impress you, we don't know what will!) Although the traditional version of Caesar salad is already rather healthy, kale takes it up a notch. Specifically, Rachael advises chopping and blanching the kale first for texture purposes.
4. Bobby Flay’s Tip: Opt For Vinaigrette-Based Dressings Rather Than Mayo-Based
Bobby Flay has many healthy tips on Food Network, but one of his best is simply using lighter dressings for dishes such as coleslaw. You also skip out on preservatives and unnecessary fat by skipping the mayo. Don’t get it twisted, though. You can still have an unending flavor without the mayo dressing. His coleslaw recipe is described as “an exotic twist to a plain coleslaw recipe by dressing it with cumin, lime, and hot sauce instead of a mayonnaise-based dressing.” You can use this with other dishes, such as potato salad.
5. Gordon Ramsay’s Tip: Utilize Spices and Herbs to Add Flavor Without Adding Calories
Suppose you want to take your meals to the next level while keeping them healthy. In that case, Gordon Ramsay recommends simply using spices and herbs, such as cardamom, chili powder, cinnamon, coriander, or mustard seeds (via Masterclass.) When you use natural herbs, they don’t add a bunch of unnecessary calories to the dishes. So, instead of reaching for that stick of butter to make something heartier, you can use warm herbs to bring out the ingredients' natural flavors. Furthermore, many spices have health benefits.
6. Jamie Oliver’s Tip: Put Spinach in Pancakes
Spinach is a wonderful ingredient to utilize if you want to include more nourishing ingredients in your dishes. Chef Jamie Oliver has a healthy recipe on his website for Spinach Pancakes that “is colorful, healthy and, most importantly, fun. These pancakes work just as well for dinner as they do for a weekend brunch”. Ultimately, since spinach doesn’t have an overpowering taste, it doesn’t make the pancakes taste like pure vegetables. You can use them with both sweet and savory toppings, too!
7. Paula Deen’s Tip: Swap Hamburger for Different Kinds of Patties
Next time you crave a large hamburger, Paula Deen gives great advice on satisfying the craving with other ingredients. She says,” Try alternatives…such as ground turkey, tofu, veggie patties, fish melts, or chicken burgers”. You can still enjoy the toppings you want by replacing the beef patty with another lighter patty! Plus, you don’t have an overly full feeling afterward. Of course, if you choose turkey or chicken, you can choose the lean ground meat and form your burgers with herbs and seasonings.
8. David Chang’s Tip: Steam Food Quickly in The Microwave
Believe it or not, you can utilize your microwave for quick, healthy cooking. “Cooking vegetables in the microwave is not only fast but is also healthier because it preserves nutrients and doesn't require any oils,” David Chang told People Magazine. You can easily steam potatoes and other types of veggies in your appliance by adding a small amount of water to the container and covering it to retain the moisture! Check on the food periodically and flip it over if needed.
9. Sunny Anderson: Make Your Almond Milk Homemade
Almond milk is likely one of the refrigerator staples that you can easily make. Frequently, we overlook how impactful it is to make everyday foods homemade, like condiments, sauces, and nut milk. Sunny Anderson posted on Instagram with this exact message: “Never forget... you can make stuff.” Followed by her simple almond milk recipe containing almonds, water, vanilla extract, and agave nectar. Who would’ve known it could be so simple? All you need is the minimal ingredients, a blender, paper towels, and a sieve!
10. Anne Burrell’s Tip: Avoid Sodium from Canned Food, But Cook With Salt
If you want to know a little tidbit that will make you feel better about using salt to flavor your food, Anne Burrell says,” When cooking from scratch, you can use as much salt as you like, and you won't come close to the sodium levels in packaged and canned foods.” (via House and Whips). Of course, don’t use so much that your food is salty to the point where you can't enjoy it. But her point is that homemade cooking will always be much healthier than any canned foods you use. Stick to fresh produce if you can!
11. Marc Murphy: Thicken Soups with Pureed Vegetables
Next time you want to add richness to that homemade sauce or soup, consider using Marc Murphy’s approach. “Instead of using cream or butter, you can thicken the sauce by using pureed vegetables and chicken stock, which is much healthier,” he said in a Food Network Interview. Naturally, when you do this, you introduce your body to nutrients you wouldn’t have received. Moreover, it gives a deeper flavor to the meal, too. You can always stick to light-colored veggies if you don’t want them to alter the color of the dish too much!
12. Masaharu Morimoto’s Tip: Learn How To Heat Your Ingredients Without Destroying Their Nutrients
When you’re on a mission to cook healthier, Masaharu Morimoto says to Food Network, “Know the basic nutritional information about ingredients so that you can prepare each ingredient in the best way to keep their nutrients.” it’s easy to just prepare ingredients however without thinking twice about what it does to the nutritional value. Unfortunately, some cooking methods can decrease food’s best attributes. If this seems overwhelming, try focusing on the dish's primary ingredient and the healthiest way to cook it!
13. Giada De Laurentiis’s Tip: Use Olive Oil In Oatmeal Instead Of Sugar
Now, this tip is certainly a unique one! Rather than loading your oatmeal with a ton of brown sugar or maple syrup to make it enjoyable, try Giada De Laurentiis’s tip. In a video, she says she always adds olive oil to her morning oatmeal instead. This is quite clever since olive oil is rich and can give a complex flavor and silky texture. If you want to try this out, you don’t need much! Just about a tablespoon will do.
14. Rocco DiSpirito’s Tip: Replace Burger Buns With Portobellos
If you are trying to consume less bread daily, it can be hard to find alternate solutions. If you still want to assemble a burger, don’t fret. You absolutely can. Of course, lettuce wraps are available, but Rocco DiSpirito suggested in a video to use portobello mushrooms instead. Unlike lettuce, it doesn’t fall apart as easily, it can hold weight, and the large mushrooms give you that hearty feel. That’s not even touching the fact that portobellos are good for you!
15. Jose Garces’s Tip: Only Use Half Of The Cheese In Recipes
Trying to encourage your kiddos to eat more veggies? Check out Jose Garces’s Food Network tip: adding healthy ingredients to foods that kids already love. Jose Garces says, “Replace half the cheese with healthy goodies like veggies or greens (my kids love roasted red peppers and pea greens). You’re adding vegetables into a crave-able snack food.” We love this idea and think it’s great, even for adults. Next time you make a quesadilla or grilled cheese, omit half of the cheese and supplement it with your favorite greens!