If you cook at home regularly, you might eventually find yourself running out of ideas – or making the same things over and over again. Even if you love these dishes, they may eventually become stale and boring, both in terms of taste and preparation.
Fortunately, there are several strategies that can help you be more creative in the kitchen – and find more inspiration for dynamic food preparation.
Experimenting in the Kitchen (and Beyond)
These are some of the best ways to get more creative with your home cooking:
- Ditch the recipes. Recipes are great. They make it easy to replicate dishes at home, they provide straightforward instructions that are difficult to mess up, and they provide you a system of organization that can remind you of things you’ve made in the past. But if you’ve spent enough time cooking and baking, you probably know most of your favorite recipes by heart – and you understand the fundamentals of cooking well enough to experiment on your own. Stop depending entirely on recipes and start coming up with your own creations. Deviate from the instructions and trust your own culinary instincts.
- Invest in a wood stove. A wood burning stove is an excellent source of heat – and you can even cook with it! If you’re used to preparing most of your meals over the stove, in the oven, or in the microwave, this can be a dynamic new way to cook almost anything. Even if you’re using the same ingredients, you’re going to be using a different preparation method and you’ll end up with a finished product that tastes at least slightly differently.
- Buy ingredients from multicultural markets. Multicultural markets are one of the best ways to find new, exotic ingredients that you can’t normally find in your local grocery store. Some of these ingredients may not be palatable, and some of them will be so strange that you don’t know how to use them properly, but sometimes, this extra novelty is exactly what you need to spice up your old favorite dishes or break out of your rut.
- Experiment with seasonal produce. When produce is in season, it tends to be much more plentiful and much less expensive. Use this as an inspirational opportunity to experiment. Create some new dishes out of whatever produce happens to be in season – and find the perfect ingredients to compliment them.
- Create a competitive challenge for your family. Iron Chef and similar competitive cooking shows have been popular for decades now, since people love food, cooking, and the thrill of competition in the same setting. Why not create a competitive challenge for you and your family? For example, you can have you and your spouse create two similar, yet distinct dishes and call upon the kids to judge which one was better.
- Invest in a new spice. Visit a local market and buy a spice or herb you’ve never tried before. Taste it carefully and try pairing it with various other ingredients to see how it fits. Then, start incorporating it into dishes where you’ve never had it before.
- Make your own signature spice blends. It’s not hard to find recipes for homemade spice blends, but have you ever considered making a blend that’s entirely your own? Take a handful of your favorite spices, preferably ones that complement each other, and mix them all up. Once you stumble upon a formula that works for your taste buds, you can mix a larger batch and add it to a wide variety of foods.
- Coordinate with colors. You’re probably used to cooking with your senses of smell and taste at the forefront. But what about vision? Consider cooking entire dishes based around a color, or a set of complementary colors; it’s a great way to force some creativity.
- Find outside inspiration. Are you struggling to come up with creative new ideas on your own? Consider branching out by visiting new restaurants, watching new cooking shows, and talking to skilled chefs in your own life.
- Splurge on a new piece of cooking equipment. Finally, consider splurging on a new piece of cooking equipment. A new appliance or tool, like an air fryer or multicooker, could be exactly what you need to make the kitchen feel refreshingly new.
Committing to Creativity
The best way to keep things fresh in your kitchen consistently is to commit to your creativity. Make a plan for more culinary experimentation and stick to it. For example, you can set Fridays as a total experimentation day, where you try a new recipe, tinker with a new ingredient, or do something crazy in the kitchen. As long as you keep trying new things and adjusting old formulas, you and your family will never be bored with your food.
A Guide to the Best Food in San Diego
It’s one of the first questions every person asks when they are traveling to a new city for the first time.
Where is a good place to get a bite?
Food on a trip might even be a major component that you plan an entire vacation or day around. That is especially true in big cities like San Diego, which always seem to have the biggest and best local and chain restaurants.
San Diego in beautiful California is one of the ten largest cities in the U.S. and is known for its top-notch cuisine. Everyone loves a good food tour, and San Diego is somewhere that has numerous can’t-miss places to eat you will want to read about.
Continue reading for a comprehensive list and guide to the best food in San Diego broken up by category.
Seafood is Tops in San Diego
There’s no doubt that one of the first things on anyone’s mind traveling to San Diego is to try the fish. Sitting right on the coast, and arguably the biggest city right on a coast, San Diego can offer fresh seafood that other places simply can’t. If you live in the U.S., odds are you do not live near a coast, so take advantage of this unique situation.
One of the restaurants heavy into seafood with a top reputation is George’s at the Cove. They were once voted San Diego’s top restaurant!
Another is The Fishery, with some of the best main courses you can find on any menu in town. Their fresh catches are so good that they not only serve their own supply but they are a distributor for other restaurants.
If you have gone fishing yourself and caught something tasty, or want a closer look at the catch you elect to eat, head to El Pescador Fish Market. A traditional beach hangout, they’ll cook your fish for you, or you could head on in with nothing and sit down and eat too.
A couple more seafood restaurants of note are Civico 1845 and Seafood La 57.
San Diego Pizza
Beyond fresh fish right off the ocean, San Diego is also known for its strong pizza selection. Definitely try either the pizza or seafood as some of the best food in San Diego when you head over.
Civico by the Park has wood-fired pizza and pasta that is unmatched across the city and even the state. This restaurant combines the flair of pizza with the best wine selection as well.
If you are feeling homesick on your trip, try Tribute Pizza. They feature and imitate some of the most well-known pizza places around the country, so maybe they picked one from your hometown.
Tex-Mex in San Diego
It’s all in the name as you can get the best tacos not just in town but in the solar system at Galaxy Tacos.
Some taco spots are right next to each other and competing, but that offers a great chance to try them all. Taco joints Corazon de Torta, El Comal, and Las Cuatro Milpas are all in downtown San Diego.
For more great tacos and burritos, there is also Tuetano Taqueria. They coat their special tacos with a blend of seasoning to give it a different tone and unique taste.
More Great Restaurants
While seafood, pizza, and tacos may be some of the most irresistible food around, there is still plenty more to take in on your trip to San Diego.
If sushi is your thing, try Yakitori Hano or Yakitori Taisho. Try it as the nightcap, as they are only open for dining at dinnertime. A couple of other strong sushi options are Soichi, Sushi Ota, and Sushi Tadokoro.
With a name that stands out, Crack Shack has a giant chicken out front indicating their food of choice. Fried chicken and wings like you have never had before are available there.
Everyone loves a good steak, and a food tour would not be complete without mentioning the best place to get a porterhouse or filet cut. Born and Raised takes cooking steak back to its roots.
Italian-based Civico by the Park is probably the highest-rated and most sought-after pasta establishments in the area as well as pizza. Buona Forchetta is one more pasta place that some really love.
Beyond the highly-acclaimed In and Out Burger, the best hamburger restaurant is certainly Swagyu Burger. They even have another version of their place that is Swagyu Chop Shop that combines Japanese food with American burgers.
Upscale San Diego Cuisine
One of the best things about San Diego food is that they have something for everyone. If you are looking for more of a higher-scale dining experience, look no further.
When you give this level of restaurant a try, you will also get to experience food you might have never tried before. Like at Jeune et Jolie, one of the highest-rated establishments in the city and a French masterpiece.
If you are into golf and find yourself out near the famous Torrey Pines course, there are some incredible options right near you. Try the A.R. Valentien, an eatery built right into the golf course’s lodge. Walk the same grounds Tiger Woods did when he won his 14th Major championship on a leg with a torn ACL.
The Best Grub Around
In addition to being one of the most beautiful cities to visit in the U.S., San Diego has some of the best food in the country as well. You’ll want the best grub when you are soaking up the sun, enjoying the beach, and watching some of the best sports.
There could be no better place than to head on a food tour in sunny San Diego. Now that you know the lay of the land, go out and find the best meal today.
For more articles on food, culinary, and travel, head to the rest of our blog.
Healthy Travel Snacks
Theres no reason to go hungry or wreck your diet when you’re traveling or stuck in a hotel room without room service. Take along these healthy snacks suggested by Charles Stuart Platkin, nutrition and public-health advocate, and author of The Diet Detectives Count Down.
Healthy Travel Snacks
Just because you are traveling, doesn’t mean that you have to ruin your diet. There are many pitfalls that we as travelers fall into, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Late nights in hotels and constantly eating out can wreck any healthy diet, but if you play it smart, traveling and eating healthy can go hand in hand. A good snack should be somewhere close to 100-150 calories, anymore than that and you are creeping towards a whole meal’s worth of calories.
I think the key to eating healthy in general is proper planning and meal preparation; this is no different when traveling. If you meal prep for your weak at home then why not meal prep for your trip as well? We all know that eating late or eating on the go often requires eating fast food, unless you plan ahead. Fast food is the death to any healthy diet, so a simple key to remember is PLAN AHEAD.
Another aspect to healthy eating and travel involves self-control and portion control. When traveling its easy to act like what we eat doesn’t matter, since we are technically on vacation. This is a terrible routine to fall into, just because you are on a trip doesn’t mean your diet has to go on vacation as well. Portion control is a great way to combat this problem. If you only eat a little bit, then it doesn’t matter technically what you eat.
Here are my favorite travel snacks that will help you avoid room service and keep you on your diet.
Nuts travel so well and are just a great, healthy snack. They also come in such a huge variety that they keep you from becoming bored. As we all know, when boredom creeps into your mind, you stray from your diet. I try to stick to unsalted and raw nuts, because they have the most nutritional value. Nuts are low in calories but high in protein, so they are the perfect tool to keep in your diet’s arsenal. An ounce portion usually rounds out to about 120-150 calories, so that’s a perfect snack.
Energy bars are generally a good meal substitute, but stay away from the ones that are filled with sugars and unnatural products. I recommend Cliff bars as they are made with natural sugars and don’t have too many preservatives. The best part of energy bars are their portability and how easily they can be packed for long periods of time. I tend to keep a couple bars in my suitcase at all times, because you really never know when hunger can strike.
Fruit is readily available all over the world and travels so nicely. Fruit is natural so you don’t have to worry about preservatives and the portion control is built in. One apple or a bunch of grapes are usually around 100 calories, so they are the perfect travel snack.
Can of Tuna:
Cans of tuna are another perfect travel snack, they are made to be portable and don’t leak, so toss them in your overnight bag. I like mine with some crackers to make mini sandwiches out of and also keep my fingers from smelling like fish.
Cold Cut Sandwich:
The perfect travel meal, a classic sandwich is always portable and always a favorite. I can’t recommend a sandwich more; they can be made ahead of time and easily packed away for a few hours. I tend to make a sandwich when I fly since they are allowed through security and are cheap.
Remember fellow travelers; planning ahead and packing smart are key to eating healthy while traveling.
Don’t Get Food Poisoning While Traveling
The last thing you want to happen when you are traveling is to get extremely sick. Many foreign restaurants don’t have the same food safety guidelines and the possibility of getting food poisoning is very high. How do you know where to eat when you are traveling? You are in a strange new city, the […]
The last thing you want to happen when you are traveling is to get extremely sick. Many foreign restaurants don’t have the same food safety guidelines and the possibility of getting food poisoning is very high. How do you know where to eat when you are traveling? You are in a strange new city, the sights and sounds are all over stimulating your brain and you have no clue where to eat. It can be quite daunting to be in an unfamiliar place already and then throw in the fact that there are bad restaurants everywhere, oh boy, what to do. First, don’t panic, everyone has to eat to survive so if you are in a place where other humans are living, then I think we can find you somewhere to dine.
First things first, ask the concierge at the hotel or resort you are staying. What’s a concierge you ask? The concierge is a hotel employee whose sole job is to assist the weary traveler by acting as a personal assistant. They can tell you where to eat, but be specific when you speak with them. Tell them your budget, preferences and any dietary restrictions you have. If your hotel doesn’t have a concierge, then the front desk staff should be able to help you out. I always pick the concierge’s brain the instant I get to the hotel; they are masters of their domain and know the city better than anyone.
The World Wide Web
Google it! Isn’t that what anyone says nowadays when they ask you a question. But seriously, get online and digitally ask around. Check to see if there are any travel warnings to where you are going and if any otf those are food related. Remember a few years ago when the bird flu broke out in asia or the mad cow disease? These are perfect examples of how a little due diligence can do a lot of good. I can’t be everywhere for you, so this you will have to do on your own. I prefer to hop online and go to TripAdvisor, they seem to always have good restaurant reviews and recommendations. Yelp is now catching on in Europe so give that a try. Most of the reviews are coming from fellow travelers so this may be a great resource.
This goes along with the World Wide Web because I’m sure this is where most of us will do the research. You could also get a travel guidebook like a Lonely Planet or Thomas Guides; they are great resources for your trip.
Pinterest is a great tool as well, many people have been where you are going and many have made Pinterest boards of their trips. It can’t hurt to do a little internet stalking on your travel destination.
Blogs, blogs and more blogs! People just like me are posting their stories and experiences all over the web, do some legwork and find out about where you are traveling.
Who knows the town better than locals? If you want to find out the best restaurants a place has to offer, then get to communicating. Chat up some friendly locals and get the inside scoop. Use your judgment, because some people just don’t want to be bothered and it’s best to leave those locals alone.
When you are out exploring don’t be shy, talk to people and if you are pleasant and cordial, then they should help you out.
Smell it out
This one is easy folks, let your nose guide you to deliciousness. I let my nose lead the way often and its always taken good care of me. Believe me, if a restaurant smells good then the chances are the food it pretty good. Don’t be afraid to ask a local if you smell something divine. They usually will know what you are talking about and direct you in the right direction. I have very fond memories of walking down a street in Phuket, Thailand and the smells were so overpowering that my senses were overloaded. The street food was incredible there and I let my nose do the shopping.
I hope you find meals so amazing that the memories last a lifetime.
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