Eating healthily is something many strive for, but the task can be daunting. Many recipes call for long lists of unique ingredients that may not be available at the local grocery store. It is enough to make anyone throw in the towel. That is where Gina Homolka comes in. Homolka is the mind behind the hit website Skinnytaste and the author of seven cookbooks focusing on healthy eating. With her new cookbook, "Skinnytaste Simple: Easy, Healthy Recipies with 7 Ingredients or Fewer," Homolka took on the challenge of creating a whole cookbook of easy, healthy recipes with just seven ingredients or fewer.
Homolka knows that life gets busy, and not everyone has access to the ingredients many health advocates ask for. With "Skinnytaste Simple," Homolka aims to break down barriers to healthy eating and provide recipes that are both simple and delicious for the whole family.
We sat down with Homolka to find out more about "Skinnytaste Simple" and learn more about the tricks she uses to make our favorite foods healthy without losing out on the flavors and textures we enjoy.
Read more: 75 Healthy Dinner Recipes
Breaking Down Food Barriers
How is "Skinnytaste Simple" different from your other cookbooks?
"Skinnytaste Simple" is actually my seventh cookbook, and this one has recipes that are seven ingredients or fewer. It's my first time doing a book like this. I usually have very simple books, but this is my easiest book out of all of them.
What inspired you to write this book?
There's so many people telling me that they don't have time to cook healthy, they are trying to save money in the grocery store, they're on a budget, [or] they can't find fancy ingredients. I wanted something that anybody can use. There's no special requirements for cooking experience. Everything is super easy. There's a million one-pot dishes, so it's really simple. It's actually my favorite book yet.
Would you say that you're trying to break down those barriers to help people eat more healthfully?
I see on your website that you also have a number of recipes for cocktails and mocktails. How do you make those delicious drinks without loading up on sugar?
I use a lot of fresh ingredients, a lot of fresh juices. I don't have any mocktails in my book, but the mocktails are great because a lot of people are going dry. They're doing dry January. [Use] fresh ingredients, lots of juices and lots of flavor, lots of fresh herbs.
In your book, you utilize eggs frequently. How do you prevent eggs from sticking without loading up on all that oil?
[Use] a really good non-stick skillet and a little spray oil. [Keep] the heat not too high. I never really have an issue, but I have found that if you have a non-stick skillet that you have used improperly in the past on high heat, it loses that non-stick ability. Like a ceramic pan, you don't want to use it improperly.
Rotisserie chicken tends to get a bad rap sometimes, but in your book, you mentioned it as a very useful ingredient. What are some of the healthy ways you can utilize rotisserie chicken?
It does get a bad rap. Using organic rotisserie chicken is key, and I use it in so many ways. I make it in chicken pot pie; I make it for meal prep for lunches. The list is endless. I use it in many recipes in the book; I cannot think of it offhand. I tested the recipes in this book so long ago that now I have to memorize all the recipes.
You also mentioned in your book you always have cottage cheese in your fridge. For the people who tend to shy away from cottage cheese, why should they consider it?
Cottage cheese has gotten so much better these days. There is the Good Culture brand that is delicious, and it tastes like the inside of burrata. I don't know if you've tried Good Culture, even the full-fat one.
I have; it's my favorite.
It's so good. I do love the flavor. I use it in bowls; I use it for breakfast; I use it for lunch. I also have a chicken quesadilla in my book that I have added [it to], mixed it in with the cheese, and it adds protein, makes it cheesy. You don't even know it's there. It's great.
Flavor Without Frying
Everybody loves fried food, but we know it isn't healthy. What are some of the best alternatives to frying food?
Now that the air fryer is out, it's such a game-changer when it comes to frying. I do a lot of air-fried foods and get a good crisp with the flow of the heat, the air. [Give it] a good coating, something crispy like a breadcrumb and a little bit of olive oil spray. I never use propellant spray. I use the real deal, real olive oil. Spritz it on. It does better than cooking on high heat in the oven.
Do you use any particular spray bottle for your oils?
Bertolli makes a really good brand, and if not, I also use a spritzer. I forget the brand, but I have a spritzer where I fill my own olive oil in and spray it.
What are some of your tips for ensuring juicy and flavorful chicken dishes?
For chicken breasts, I love to either do a brine on the chicken -- sometimes a little mayonnaise coated on your chicken before you bake it will add so much juiciness and flavor to it -- or marinate overnight. I also have this meat tenderizer that I got from OXO that is such a game changer when it comes to making chicken. You tenderize it and then marinate it for a little bit, and it comes out super tender.
Versatile And Nutritious
What underrated ingredients do you think people should stock up on that are both nutritious and versatile?
I probably use chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds every day for my breakfast. I throw it in a salad. They're loaded with omega threes, they're full of fiber, and a little goes a long way. You don't need a lot. That's a part of my daily life. Also, avocados -- I probably eat an avocado a day, somehow, whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Your book also advocates for taking advantage of prepared foods. So what are some of the best store-bought prepared foods that people can stock up on?
For flavor, you want to use really great condiments like Harissa. In my book, I have used a really good quality marinara when you're in a pinch, store bought ... I also love Delallo, a really great brand for olives ... I'm trying to think. I wish I could go into my pantry right now, because I'm in my closet. What I love about this book is that I have a picture of all the ingredients. I have all the condiments photographed in this book ... Oh, a really good barbecue sauce. You want to use anything that's really good full of flavor. I also look at the ingredients, because I want to make sure that everything's not processed. Ingredients are really important so that everything is nutritious.
Pleasing A Picky Crowd
Cooking a healthy meal can be really challenging when time is tight. What tips do you have for getting a meal on the table quickly?
Everything in this book is really fast and simple. You cannot go wrong with using any of the recipes in this book. One of the things I love about this book is that you could see all seven ingredients or less, and you know exactly what you're going to need to make and have your dinner on the table fast.
What are you hoping that people are going to take away from this book?
I hope this helps people eat healthier, get dinner on the table faster, and get breakfast and desserts that are simple. Help get your children to enjoy the food, and get everybody on board.
On that note, do you have any kid approved recipes?
Yes, I have a ton. The turkey meatballs are a favorite in my house. The Parmesan pork chops we've been making on repeat. Tonight, I am making the sheet pan lasagna with eggplant, which is super simple. The air fryer salmon nuggets are a really great way to get your kids to like salmon, and they're so yummy. There's a ton, because I have two kids and I tested all the recipes on them and on my picky husband.
"Skinnytaste Simple: Easy, Healthy Recipies with 7 Ingredients or Fewer" is on sale now.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.