5 Super-Easy Cooking Tips Every Aspiring Chef Should Know


Something I talk about a lot on this blog is the importance of learning the basics of cooking. It’s great being able to cook a complex recipe, but to truly feel comfortable cooking you need to know how to peel an onion quickly…how to cook asparagus without it being too hard…or when to add a drop of lemon or pinch of salt.

With that in mind, here are five easy cooking tips that I think everyone should know about.

1. Slow Cookers Are Your “Cheat Code” for Healthy Foods

It would be great if we all had time to cook healthy meals every evening – but most of us are too busy (especially when you factor in washing up). With longer work days and less free time, it’s not surprising many people favour junk food.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to cook large batch meals without needing to spend your evening in-front of a cooker. It’s called a slow cooker – and it’ll change your cooking life.

The big thing to remember is that slow cooking requires less liquid than regular cooking. So when you’re cooking your favourite stew or casserole, reduce water by around a half a cup. Also, make sure you cut the vegetables to the same size, otherwise they won’t cook evenly.

2. Don’t Crowd the Pan

A common mistake many beginners make is to crowd the pan. If you put too much into a pan, the heat won’t be able to distribute as effectively. This doesn’t just reduce the flavour of your dish – it can also stop food cooking through, which could be dangerous.

For this reason, make sure there’s at least a couple of inches between things in the pan.

3. Add Salt When Boiling Pasta

When you’re making pasta, remember to add salt before you start cooking. This adds some extra flavour that’s sealed inside the pasta – which you can’t get from adding salt later.

Don’t add too much though. One tablespoon in a pot of water is enough. It can make a big difference to the taste of your meal though.

4. Cut Onions Correctly.

When you’re cutting an onion, don’t remove the root. Peel the onion while keeping the root in one piece, then slice horizontally. You can then cut vertically to create small and evenly sized pieces (try that without keeping the root intact – I bet you can’t do it!)

5. Allow Red Meat to Sit

Do your steaks often taste dry? If so, you may need to let it sit longer before you cut it.

In fact, all red meat should be allowed to sit in foil for around five minutes. This lets all the juices inside the meat settle before you start cutting.

Keep in mind that the steak will carry on cooking in the foil. So if you want a medium-rare stake, you’ll need to take it out of the pan fairly quickly.


What is the Paleo Diet?

As regular readers will know, I’m a big fan of the paleo diet. It’s changed my life for the better by helping me cut out all the crap and synthetic products I used to eat.

But I’m aware that not everyone understands the paleo diet, or has even heard of it. There is a lot of bad information out there too, which can make it even more difficult to start. I get particularly annoyed by the “sales people” of the internet who try to make paleo as complicated as possible, just so they can sell a new book or product about it.

It’s really not that hard to eat paleo!

Here’s a simple guide to get started.

It’s all about the VEG


If you don’t like vegetables but want to do the paleo diet, you better start liking them as soon as possible! Some people say that lean meats are the bedrock of paleo, but I disagree – it’s vegetables. They contain an abundance of nutrients that are essential for proper health. Fruits are also good too, but they are much higher in sugar.

Eat lean meat only


The protein you get in meat is ESSENTIAL for proper bone growth, strong muscles and a variety of other functions, so paleo includes a lot of it. The great thing about protein is that it gives you that satisfied “full” feeling, so you’re less likely to snack between meals.

Get healthy fats


We need fats, especially monounsaturated and Omega 3. They help protect against many diseases, including certain types of cancer, and can even limit decline in brain function. All of this might sound far-fetched, but only because the media long ago decided that fats were the devil if you wanted to be healthy.

The paleo diet recommends eating only lean meats for fats, but you can also get it from seeds, nuts, avocados and olive oil. If necessary, you can supplements omega 3.

What to avoid

Now you know what to eat, what shouldn’t you eat. You can throw away pretty much anything that’s processed, and get rid of sugary snacks. Here’s a quick run-down of other things not to eat:

  • Grains – these weren’t a part of the human diet in ancient times, so shouldn’t be now.
  • Dairy – for the same reason as grains.
  • Legumes
  • Alcohol
  • Starches

If you’re new to paleo, these rules can sound restrictive – and they are, to a certain extent. But don’t let that put you off. Once you start feeling the energy that comes with eating proper paleo, you’ll never want to go back to the sluggish feeling of eating processed, sugary foods that’s also slowly killing you.

I don’t say this to preach – I have only eaten paleo for the last year or so. But it’s made such a difference to my life that I want everyone to at least give it a fair try!

If you want more information than this introduction guide, check out this post on Nerd Fitness. It’s one of the best beginner’s guides I’ve seen.



3 Essential Appliances for any Kitchen Worth its Salt

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s cooking in a kitchen that isn’t properly equipped. Like any craft, cooking relies on having the right tools for the job. Poor quality tools (or even no tools at all) can make it impossible to cook tasty food in a reasonable amount of time.

Aside from the obvious items, like an oven, good set of sharp knives, pots and pand and so on, there are some essential items I think every kitchen needs to have.

I’m also an impatient person. If I want something from the kitchen, I want it now. So with that said, here are three items I believe everyone needs in their kitchen.

Water dispensers are faster to boil and more energy efficient.

High-Quality Kettle

I don’t understand why people are so reluctant to pay a bit extra for a great kettle! It doesn’t make sense to me – especially if you drink a lot of tea. The best kettles boil much faster, leaving you more spare time to drink your delicious tea.

Even so, I like to go one step further and look for one cup dispensers. These are like the dispensers you find in waiting rooms, and can provide hot water REALLY quickly (far faster than a regular kettle).

I recently bought a Morphy Richards Red Accent, and haven’t looked back since. It reduces energy bills, because you’re only boiling the water you actually need, and it boils water in less than a minute. If that doesn’t sell you on it, I don’t know what will!

Combination Microwave

Microwaves are bad for cooking – at least most of the time. They often make food soggy and unappetising, which is the opposite of what we all like.

What most people don’t realise is that you can buy microwaves with grills and convection ovens included. This means you can cook crispy bacon, baked potatoes and more without worrying about sogginess. That’s why my kitchens always have a combination microwave.

They call it a nutrient extractor for a reason...


It’s hard to get all your vegetables, isn’t it? Especially as we apparently need TEN a day, not the 5 we’ve always been told.

To get my nutrients, I use the Nutribullet. Yes, it’s over hyped (it’s really just a food processor, not the secret to eternal life), but it makes it so easy to get your 10 a day. Just chuck in some fruit and veg, mix it up and drink it. Job done.

So there you have it, my three recommended appliance purchases. Have a I missed something? Or do you think I’m an idiot? I want to know in the comments form!

RANT: The Rise of “Food Challenges”

In an era where people are becoming increasingly overweight, more likely to have diabetes and generally less healthy, it seems like there are some people who haven’t received the memo.

I’m talking specifically about YouTube “Food Challenges.”

If you haven’t seen one before, food challenges involve buying and eating as much food (usually junk food) as possible in a short amount of time. Check out the video below, where a guy eats over 8000 calories of fast food in a single sitting (yes, 8000).

Now, I can see the fun in the video – and the food actually looks really nice (just because I love great food doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the occasional junk meal).

But is this really the message we want to be sending people? That it’s OK to stuff your face with food, as long as you call it a challenge?

Maybe I’m being too overly worried about people’s eating habits, but it’s something that I think society has to address. You don’t need to stuff your face or eat to bursting when you have a meal. It’s actually more enjoyable just to eat a until you’re not hungry anymore, instead of forcing as much food as possible down.

I don’t blame the guy in the video for doing it. He looks like he keeps himself in shape, and he’s probably making decent money from the videos.

The problem is people who will copy the video who aren’t in shape or who don’t understand how bad this type of eating really is for me.

Not to mention that I would be very surprised if he didn’t throw up after he finished recording!

Anyway, rant over for me. Look out for my next post which will be on a more fun topic.