RK Tip of the Week|If you don’t enjoy making it, you won’t enjoy eating it

Posted on November 4, 2009


cookingI didn’t always love cooking. In college, we didn’t have pots in pans in the dorms, so my roommate & I made grilled cheese by making toast then putting cheese in between the toast slices & microwaving it. Innovative, I know. My take-aways of this fond memory:

1. At some point, everyone needs to outgrow grilled cheese,

2. If you think hard enough, you can figure out how to make something, so don’t not do it just because you don’t have a grill or a special knife or some special utensil,

3. When you’re a hungry college student, you can imagine anything into tasting good, even microwaved-toasted-grilled-cheese. And when you have fun making it, it just tastes better.

Many of you whom I’ve spoken with & educated on nutrition have said that you don’t enjoy cooking or you’re too tired to cook. I hear you, every once in a while, I’m exhausted & pick up hard tacos (without the sour cream!) from Chipotle & bring them home-one of few ways to go gluten-free at Chipotle. But knowing how many calories & fat are in those little guys- and to be honest, even though they sound good in my head on that tired-out evening, while eating them, I’m completely aware of how much better my own food tastes. Fresher. Cleaner. Flavors in tune with exactly what I like. Just…better.

But that did not happen right away. Do you avoid cooking because you hate the way your own food tastes? Well keep reading, because I have a goof-proof recipe for you this week that will help you get on the road to loving how your food tastes!

Do you think your food isn’t disgusting, but it really isn’t all that spunky either & thus you rarely cook (or if you do, it’s chicken-again)? Or do you only make 1 dish because you don’t have a grill/food processor/name your cooking tool? There’s a few tricks to getting more out of yourself & your kitchen when it’s time to cook:

1. Love what you’re creating, how you’re creating it, how good it’s going to taste, what benefits it will offer you. (i.e. clean protein, low fat, low sodium, 2 servings of veggies, a colorful plate,etc.)

2.  Practice enough at 3 key meals that can act as brainless accomplishments when you really are tired & want dinner on the table in less than 20 mins with minimal prep. (Mine all center around ground turkey, a grill or saute pan, & whatever veg is in the house- what are your staple meals?)

3. Explore 1 new thing at a time – building your spice rack & actually knowing how to use turmeric in a meal, buying a mandolin to expand on your uses for veggies besides just steamed broccoli (just watch how much time this saves you!), learning different cooking methods for proteins & veggies. If you do it all at once, you’ll never use your spices, you’ll still be eating steamed broccoli & you will make baked chicken for the hundredth time because you won’t be spending enough time practicing with each new thing.

Here’s my goof-proof recipe for one heck of a dinner that can be done in 20mins if you’re good at prep work, 25 if you stink at chopping & mixing things. It uses Barramundi, a fish very popular in Australia & Indonesia & is one of the most sustainable fish in the world, which means we won’t eat it into extinction any time soon. It’s a flaky white fish with a mild taste & texture that adapts well to whatever marinade you put over it. Eat it & you’ll get a dose of vitamins B2 & B3, phosphorous, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, & magnesium. It is available in frozen form in many grocery stores in the frozen fish section, I find mine in prepackaged bags alongside the bags of frozen shrimp & salmon. Expand the post by clicking here to get the recipe.

Citrus Coconut Barramundi

– 1 filet of barramundi per 2 people, thawed either in fridge or in packaging under cold water

– 1/2 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, diced into little squares

– 1 slice of whole yellow onion, diced into little squares

-1 Tbsp coconut oil per filet of fish*

– Juice of lime or white grapefruit (my personal fave)**

– 5 stems of cilantro, stems removed, using leaves only, diced (can also use mint for an alternative)


-Preheat oven to 400 or preheat the grill to medium heat & get a grill pan out***.

-Make sure fish is mostly thawed. Put it on a large plate, stick holes in it with a fork.

-In a bowl, put coconut oil in & if oil is hardened, microwave for 1 min to liquify it. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature & liquid below 76 degrees, so to work with it as a marinade, you need to make it liquid first.

-Add to the coconut oil the diced pepper, diced onion, diced cilantro & citrus juice.Whisk together with a fork or mini-whisk.

-Before marinating fish, sprinkle with black pepper to taste & a little chili powder for added flavor, but if you don’t have chili powder, no worries, just use black pepper.

-Pour marinade over fish keeping most of on top of the fish to cook through. If you have time to do this marinade even 30mins before, even better! Just stick back in the fridge to marinade & take out just before cooking.

-Put fish in oven for 15mins at 400 or on grill pan over grill heat for 7 mins per side.

-Fish is done when it flakes in the  thickest part, which will really be no more than 15mins from your start of cook time. Talk about fast food!

-A good go-along for the oven would be roasted broccoli since they will cook at the same temp & be done at the same time. A good go-along for the grill would be grilled zucchini. Just pour a small amount of olive oil over either veg, sprinkle with a little salt & pepper to taste & cook.


*Coconut oil is one of the most healthful oils you can consume & has been heavily consumed by those native to tropical climates for thousands of years; it was given a bad rap in this country years ago when someone decided that all saturated fats were “bad,” which is not the case at all. Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid that is also found in mothers’ breast milk & that supports a healthy metabolism. Coconut oil also has anti-fungal, anti-viral, & anti-microbial properties- which means it aids the body in warding off fungi, viruses, & microbes- the very things that lead to dys-function & disease. You should purchase virgin coconut oil that has been cold-pressed. It will say so on the label. It will come in a jar & look like Crisco when it’s hardened. You can find it online, & in health food stores. My favorite brand is Nutiva. I use this in place of olive oil or butter regularly- spread on toast, in a pan to saute veggies, on the baking sheet when roasting bison burgers, as a marinade for fish (especially tropical fish), anywhere you can think of- and no it does not overwhelmingly taste like coconut unless you eat it straight out of the jar, which I’ve done…it tastes like a Mounds bar.

**White grapefruit will have a green skin. The meat of the fruit is sweet with a slight bite. The juice is like a mellow red grapefruit, not too crazy on the bite, but still definitely grapefruit. With a big fruit like this, you can use 1/2 for the juice & cut out the other half to use as garnish for the meal.

***If grilling this recipe, the grill will smoke because of the coconut oil, so don’t worry if you see that. The grill also gives the edges an awesome crisp-ness & it is my hands down fave way to make this meal.

I’m confident that this will become a quick-fix goof-proof dinner for you the first time you try it. With cooking, remember the three tricks I gave you to start enjoying what you make & you’ll find yourself coming home to cook more often, which can help your waistline get smaller & your wallet get larger. This meal at my grocery store, for all ingredients, cost me just under $6.00 to feed 2 people generously. You have to feel good about that!