Healthy Kitchen Hacks is a weekly series on Teaspoon of Spice. We share fellow bloggers’ and our own favorite cooking shortcuts, kitchen tricks and “aha” ideas for making healthy meals a snap.
It’s Wednesday and I can’t wait to share five more Healthy Kitchen Hacks that I tried out this week – and that actually work. But first, in case you missed them, here are our first kitchen-tested hacks:
1) How to Ripen Green Bananas in 20 Minutes (for Banana Bread)
via Anjali @ TheKitchn
When gripped with a craving for banana bread – and only green bananas on hand – try this trick: Quickly Ripen Bananas in the Oven for Last Minute Banana Bread. I’m happy to report I was even able to shave 10 minutes off the original baking time suggested by TheKitchn. Sweet, mushy bananas are produced in only 20 minutes after baking at 350 degrees.
(And here’s my healthier version: Banana Crunch Bread with Toasted Millet.)
2) How to Cut 10 Minutes off Pasta-Cooking-Time
via Jackie @ Tasteovers by Jackie
Now, my Italian-blooded co-blogger, Deanna, may not bless this unconventional pasta cooking tip, but I swear by it. Now, I never wait for a pot to boil before adding noodles.
I first heard about it at a nutrition conference where Jackie explained she’d found a more energy-efficient way to cook pasta called ‘lid cooking.’ I’ve adapted her method a bit; here are a few tips to make sure you don’t end up with a giant lump of stuck together noodles:
- Start with very cold water in pot; add noodles and stir.
- Stir every few minutes as pot comes to a boil over high heat. (This takes about 10 minutes on my stove.)
- Once pasta boils, stir well, then cover pot with lid and remove from heat. Pasta continues to cook and will be al dente about 3-5 minutes after pot boils.
3) How to Make Canned Tomato Soup Taste Homemade
via @ Epicurious
On some hurried Saturdays, canned tomato soup is what’s for lunch. But we always add fixins. And this list of 12 Easy Ways to Dress Up a Can of Tomato Soup has some great inspiration.
Sometimes, I combine several of the veggie ideas: Like sautéed carrots, celery, onion, fresh spinach + bacon. Granted, bacon isn’t a health food, but it can help the kids (or adults!) consume all those veggies. And bonus: canned tomatoes – soup included – are loaded with the antioxidant lycopene.
4) Quicker Baked Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
Baked potatoes and baked sweet potatoes can take up to an hour in the oven but the yummy result is a crispy skin and soft creamy flesh. Here’s how to get the same results in less than HALF the time:
- Microwave potatoes first. On high power, microwave 1 potato about 4 minutes + 2 additional minutes for each additional potato – until you can pierce with a fork. (Example: 4 potatoes take about 8-10 minutes.)
- Then, bake in a 400°F oven for 5 minutes until the skin is crispy and flesh is soft.
Here’s the dietitian’s recipe for simple Homemade Protein Powder – using only three easy-to-find ingredients – one of them being a surprise budget-friendly protein source and a natural thickener. Plus, it’s sweetener-free!
Each 1/2 cup scoop has 140 calories and 10 grams of protein. Try it out in these 6 yummy smoothie recipes.