This month’s hacks come to us from Rick Bayless, an award-winning chef, star of the PBS series Mexico: One Plate at a Time and a winner of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. Learn more cooking secrets from Bayless later this month at the SOBE Wine & Food Festival, February 24-28 in Miami.

Spice Things Up
Toss a can’s worth of chipotle chilis into your blender, turn them into a paste and store
it in your fridge for adding a smoky, flavorful taste to everything from meats to veggies. A lot of people equate healthy food with bland food. Adding a little kick to everything from your go-to chicken dish to a pot of steamed broccoli can help get everyone excited about even your same-old healthy recipes. The best part? You can add a little or a lot, depending on your audience.

Blend Ambition
Buy a cordless immersion blend- er. It’s one of the most amazing kitchen appliances that not enough people own. You can use it to grind spices and chilis, or to make a healthy soup—in fact, the list is endless. Often it’s much quicker than using the regular blender, because cleanup is a lot easier.

Know the Cheats
To capture the essence of the Japanese word umami in your cooking, you want to eat food at the peak of its deliciousness. In the middle of winter, however, this can be tough to do. A recipe that calls for fresh tomatoes just isn’t going to be as good when you’re chopping hothouse tomatoes that have traveled long distances to get to your grocery store.

So I say, know the cheats. Using canned organic fire-roasted tomatoes in my recipes saves me time (no chopping required) and tastes a lot better. The same goes for frozen corn in winter. Essen- tially, when foods aren’t in season, look for the best-quality canned or frozen version—to save yourself time and add a whole lot of flavor.

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster is the editor in chief of IDEA’s award-winning publications. She is Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified and is a Rouxbe Certified Plant-Based Professional cook.

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