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Easy Home Cooking - 10 Secrets For Cooking Up Better Weight Loss Results

From eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource

For a great meal that won't cause the numbers on your scale to skyrocket through the roof, there's no place like home.

Unfortunately, not everyone buys into that sound philosophy. According to the National Restaurant Association, the average person consumes a little more than four meals per week prepared away from home. That's 218 meals a year!

You don't need to be a mathematician to calculate how quickly the dollars and the pounds add up.

One study discovered the average person spends about $900 a year dining out. If fast food joints are your favorite dining room away from home, you're probably on the fast track to extra fat. After all, a Big Mac and a large side of fries add up to 1,130 calories and 60 grams of fat.

The nutritional dangers of dining out still aren't a deterrent for men and women who detest cooking. Were talking about those who can rationalize their outside-the-home eating habits with excuses like, "I'm tired!" "I don't feel like cooking tonight!" or "Its already too late to start dinner!"

Some folks have buried their head even deeper in the sand. They've convinced themselves that restaurant cuisine helps lighten their workload.

Not so, says celebrity Chef Kathleen Daelemans, author of Cooking Light With Chef Kathleen (Houghton Mifflin). Daelemans, who also serves as host of the Food Networks Cooking Thin show, wants you to stop spending dollars and start making sense!

She says the first step to proper eating is eliminating costly restaurant meals. By making the most out of the food resources in your refrigerator and pantry, you're already minimizing the effect on both your wallet and scale.

"There's just no way that you would ever use high-calorie ingredients in the quantities that restaurants do," Chef Kathleen tells eDiets. "We'd all go broke!

"Besides, it's just a habit you need to embrace. The only way to control what goes into your body -- and your overall health (as much as we can) -- is to eat most meals at home."

Daelemans is living proof her kitchen tips work. She dropped 80 pounds practicing what she preaches.

Chef Kathleen says once you've made your kitchen user friendly (i.e. you've stocked it with the right tools and ingredients) you've already won half the culinary battle.

In our time-crunched society, most people are quick to argue they just don't have the time to cook up a meal from scratch. But Chef Kathleen is just as quick to point the proven ways to get around time constraints.

"Everyone can master a few basics!" she insists. "Once you get the hang of things, it's just practice, determination and common sense. Cook recipes with ingredients you like. Read the recipes through start to finish, visualize yourself going through the motions, make ingredient checklists, get out your tools the night before, and challenge yourself to get ahead on some of the prep.

"Sometimes I start the next night's meal as soon as I get the supper dishes washed and put away or right after breakfast."

We believe that no matter how kitchen-challenged you are, you'll want to kiss the cook once you get a taste of Chef Kathleen's 10 secrets for cooking light and easy.

1. Lose the complicated entrée mindset!
Keep dinner simple, especially if you're starved for time. Oven-broiled fish with a side of microwaved veggies make for a fantastic dinner.

2. Who’s on the sauté station tonight? Build your culinary team!
Enlist help, divide up the chores, make lists, delegate tasks and follow through. Every able-bodied family member should participate in some aspect of the meal whether it's planning, shopping, cooking or cleanup.

3. Build menus around naturally healthful ingredients!
Three ounces of steak can be consumed in a few bites and a few minutes. A heaping bowl of Sesame Ginger Shrimp and Spicy Black Bean Salad will keep your mouth moving a lot longer. Never underestimate the psychological and emotional reasons we eat -- they're just as important as our nutritional needs, Chef Kathleen says.

4. Cheat any way you can, but don’t compromise your waistline!
Any shortcut you can pull off is worth it. If something from a can, bag or box will mean the difference between your eating in or ordering out, by all means go for it. Read product labels carefully though and make the healthiest choices you can.

5. Fill up on the good stuff!
Increase good calories wherever you can. Can you get an extra serving of veggies by tossing a handful of corn into your salad? How about peas and mushrooms in the mac 'n' cheese? Roast asparagus in the same pan as the potatoes and you've got two veggie sides in the same amount of time.

6. Utilize high-impact flavor ingredients!
Resuscitate, invigorate and acidulate your diet with sea salt, kosher salt, ginger, citrus, vinegar, garlic, anchovies, olives, fresh spices (no, they don't have the shelf life of books) and freshly cut herbs. Grow your own. They're pretty and cheery. If the plants die, just plant new ones. Seeds are cheap and dirt is free.

7. Pare down prep time!
Ten minutes in the kitchen after dinner tonight is easier to pull off than 10 minutes before dinner tomorrow when you're tired and starving. Peel the potatoes tonight. Cook the noodles. Whip up the dressing. Wash the veggies. Marinate the chicken. Were not talking about making the entire meal ahead of time. A task or two done in advance makes for a more appetizing meal preparation.

8. Morph your meals!
Plan tomorrows supper today by making a double batch. A salad can become an entrée if you add a piece of chicken or fish. Grill extra veggies tonight and top your pizza with them tomorrow. When you're cooking black beans from scratch, they can morph from soup to chili and from salad to salsa. Challenge yourself. See how many meals you can make from a single recipe.

9. Make your own TV dinners!
Attack an overscheduled week head-on. On the nights you're not so rushed, make a double batch of something you know freezes well. Store the leftovers in microwave-proof containers, clearly marked with the full title of the dish and the date. A sumptuous title will inspire you to actually take the frozen dinner out of the freezer and eat it on one of those nights you're tempted to pick up the phone and call for delivery.

10. Work with the right tools!
Use the right tool for the task and you'll slash culinary frustration. Dull knives, the wrong spoon, a melted spatula, a fork with a broken handle, or a pot that's too small creates kitchen stress. Who needs it? Keep your tools handy and in good working condition

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