Having Fun With Food

As children, we are often told not to play with our food. When we grow up, play is the ticket to keeping food fresh and fun, and to avoid falling into a rut. Have fun in the kitchen by introducing new ingredients and methods to remember that eating can be exciting, creative and educational. Following are seven ways to have more fun with food.

1. Incorporate New Ingredients
Have you ever cooked with buckwheat soba noodles, nori or kimchi? What about panko breadcrumbs, tahini, eggplant, oyster mushrooms, edamame, or green curry paste? Maybe you usually make hummus with chickpeas. Try black beans instead! Perhaps you have heard about turmeric’s health benefits but are unsure how to use it. Venture down new aisles and pick up a few items that are outside of your comfort zone. Allow them to be your inspiration for new dishes by looking up recipes that include these ingredients.

2. Rethink Old Ingredients
That peanut butter that you usually put on toast would be delicious in a Thai satay sauce on thick rice noodles. You typically include zucchini in stir fries but have you tried spiralizing it to make “noodles” or grating it into chocolate-zucchini muffins? The maple syrup you usually drizzle on pancakes is a great substitution for refined sugar in baking and salad dressings. Look in your fridge and pantry and reimagine the use of old standbys.

3. Recreate a Favourite Restaurant Dish
If you have a favourite restaurant menu item, recreate it at home! Try to recognize the flavours in the different elements of the dish and identify the ingredients. Guess the preparation methods and look up similar recipes to piece together the closest re-creation you can. You will have fun doing it and chances are it will be less expensive.

4. Get Inspired by Cookbooks… Then Wing It
Drool over cookbooks and blogs, take in the food photography, read the ingredients, and understand various methods. Learn by identifying patterns in baking recipes, which flavours and spices are complementary, and how to substitute certain ingredients for others. Then, put the books away and go with your gut! A little of this, a little of that. You will likely have a few flops but you might also invent something delicious that is all your own.

5. Learn a New Technique
Use a slow-cooker or food processor. Bake bread for the first time. Try your hand at rolling sushi or making homemade pasta. Dehydrate, ferment, pickle, roast, spiralize, mash, boil, or blend. Try any cooking method that is new to you to expand what you know about how food can be prepared and enjoyed.

6. Get Together
Have regular potlucks with friends where you each bring a dish. You can assign a theme for everyone to follow, like Italian food, Family Favourites, or desserts only. You will be introduced to new dishes and share recipes, tricks and ideas.

7. Try a New Way to Eat
Change up your diet paradigm and try a new way of eating for a day, a week, or a month. Maybe you have been curious about the paleo diet, going vegetarian, or vegan, or incorporating more healthy fats into your diet. Perhaps you only want to buy high-quality meats, dairy, and eggs. Whatever it is, do your research and pay attention to how the shift makes you feel. A different diet will push you to try new things and you may just find it agrees with you.

Whether you are trying kimchi for the first time, throwing away your measuring spoons, or hosting a monthly potluck, having fun in the kitchen will keep you interested and inspired by food. Experiment with a new way of eating, dig out that old pasta maker, or use peanut butter in your savoury dishes. Go on… it’s okay to play with your food!