Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN
Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, takes an all-natural approach to healthy cooking. Her whole foods-based recipes are full flavored and true to the philosophy that "fresh is best." Newgent is the award-winning cookbook author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook: The Flexible Approach to Flavorful Diabetes Cooking and the newly updated The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook: The Whole Foods Approach to Great Taste and Healthy Eating.
Chef Jackie's Recipes
When raw, onions can be pungent. If you like your onions on the mild side, tone down the sharpness by soaking diced or sliced onions in cold water for up to 20 minutes, then draining well and patting dry before use.
Be boring! Variety isn't always the spice of life. When a recipe calls for four types of beans, three types of bell peppers, or two types of berries, it's often for color variety. But these recipes will still taste good with only one type of bean, bell pepper, or berry. It'll save shopping and prep time !
Balance and uplift flavors with citrus juices, vinegars, or wines. Try matching by color: Lemon pairs well with fish, orange with chicken, and red wine with beef. Add a few splashes of aged balsamic or red wine vinegar to bottled spaghetti sauce when simmering or to fresh tomato slices when serving.
Marinating ingredients before cooking them can help boost nutrition, tenderness, and flavor. If you're marinating food at room temperature, marinate for no more than two hours. Ideally, you should marinate foods in a covered container in the refrigerator. Try marinating poultry breasts in buttermilk or yogurt; it creates more juicy meat.
Be liberal with herbs! Fresh herbs can add fragrance and flavor along with antioxidants to a finished dish. For the freshest, fullest flavor, add fresh herbs toward the end of the cooking process or just before serving a dish.
Experiment with different sea salts. Try Celtic gray sea salt, Italian sea salt, or fleur de sel. Each has a unique taste. Or try naturally-flavored sea salt flakes, such as citron or wild garlic flavors. By finding a salt you love, you may be satisfied with less of it.
Experiment with aromatic oils, like truffle, toasted sesame, hot chile, or garlic- or herb-infused extra virgin olive oil. A little healthful fat can go a long way in added flair.
I recommend leaving the edible peel/skin on most veggies and fruits. That's because it can provide a boost of texture, color, and overall nutrition, including fiber, to a recipe.
Along with nutritional goodness, vegetables add texture, visual appeal, and natural savory flavor (and sometimes slight sweetness) to meals. Don't hunt for perfection. Sometimes the most delicious vegetables are those that appear a little odd or that still have a little dirt on them, which is the way nature intended. Just clean and love these vegetables like any others.
Once you bring tomatoes home from the farmers' market or grocery store, keep them on the counter, not in the refrigerator. Refrigerating unripe tomatoes halts the ripening process and adversely affects their texture and flavor.
If you're having difficulty finding a certain fresh fruit or vegetable, it may be out of season in your area. When produce is out of season locally, it's often better to purchase it frozen, not fresh. Frozen produce is picked and frozen at its peak of ripeness, nutritional value, and flavor.
When produce is in season, it's at its peak of ripeness, nutritional value, and flavor. It's usually least expensive then, too!