STYLE

Cooking class, culinary magazine or new ingredient can provide inspiration

02/24/2014 07:10 EST | Updated 04/26/2014 05:59 EDT
If you're cooking for one or two, here are some tips from registered dietitian Shannon Crocker of Ancaster, Ont., to provide inspiration when making meals:

— Stir-frys, sandwiches and dinner salads can easily be tailored to one or two and varied with different vegetables and proteins.

— Sign up for a cooking class. Try the local college, a kitchen shop, small cooking school or community centre. If you need help with basic technique, go for a class that focuses on cooking skills. For new ideas, look for a class focusing on cuisine that you enjoy eating, such as Mexican or Thai.

— Subscribe to a cooking magazine or borrow one from the library. The recipes, photographs and stories can get your creative juices flowing.

— Challenge yourself with a new ingredient. Look for an ingredient in the grocery store or specialty food shop that you haven't cooked with before and find new and tasty ways to cook with it.

— Cook with your grandkids. It's a great way to spend time with your grandchildren and pass on family recipes or traditions at the same time. Let them choose foods they'd like to create with you. "I still have my grandma's shortbread cookie recipe!" Crocker says.

A few simple tools can also make life easier when it comes to cooking:

— Citrus juicer: "Citrus juices add such amazing flavour and lets you cook with a little bit less oil, a little bit less salt and that's really great because then you can cook healthier for sure," she says.

— Steamer basket: "The steamer basket is quick, it's easy and can be used for a variety of vegetables and it's inexpensive."

— Box grater: This inexpensive multipurpose tool lets you grate small amounts of cheese, vegetables, citrus zest and chocolate.

— Immersion blender: This tool can easily puree healthy soups, create small-batch smoothies and quick sauces. "Saute some cherry tomatoes, garlic, onions, then use an immersion blender to make sauce in no time," Crocker suggests.

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