Food Network host Claire Robinson admits that even she gets into a food rut.
"I do get in a rut. It's sort of like writer's block. I cruise to the store and wander around the produce aisle to snap out of it," she says with a laugh during a break from her series, "5 Ingredient Fix," which features eclectic recipes made with just five ingredients or less.
I asked Claire for a few simple ingredients that midlifers should keep in the house at all times to snap out of their food ruts. Here are her best healthy food recipes and kitchen tips:
START WITH OIL
But don't rely on just extra virgin olive oil. "Maybe you like to cook with butter or EVOO or canola oil like Bobby Flay because he doesn't want to add flavor," Robinson says. "I like to keep plain olive oil on had to add some flavor."
ADD SOME ACIDITY
"I've teamed with 100 percent Florida Orange Juice because that's an ingredient I keep in my fridge at all times. I cook with it a lot," Robinson says. "I know that the oranges in Florida are consistent and I like the flavor of them because they work as an acid and add sweetness."
"I also like to make sure I have vinegar in the house. White distilled vinegar is one of the most under-used pops of acidity. A touch goes a long way," Robinson says. "Grapefruits are another great option for acidity in a dish."
THROW IN SOME SWEETNESS
"I always keep sugar, honey and agave syrup around for a sweet flavor," she says.
DON'T FORGET THE HERBS
"Mint is a great fresh herb that people forget to keep around. Just pop it into your dishes to add a flavor. I also like to keep basil and tarragon on hand," she says.
STOCK ONIONS, TOO
"You can't go wrong with garlic and onions. It's always a wonderful mix," she says. "I cook with a lot of Vidalia onions," she says. "They offer sweetness and a wonderful onion flavor rather than Spanish onions where it's hard to get that sweetness."
OTHER KITCHEN TIPS FROM CLAIRE
BE CAREFUL AT THE FARMER'S MARKET. "Everybody likes the idea of going to the farmer's market. It's a romantic thing," she says. "But we all have bowls filled with things we don't need.
"Even I'll get a giant stalk of brussel sprouts. A week later they are still on the stalk like these creepy looking alien plants that are taking over my kitchen," she says. "Then I feel bad and guilty for wasting food. So make a list before you go to the farmer's market."
HAVE A RECIPE GOAL
"My goal when writing a recipe is to have a balanced bite," she says. "I want to satisfy on every level with enough acidity, saltiness and texture."
GO FOR WHAT WORKS
"A Caprese salad made with gorgeous tomatoes is so beautiful," she says. "It begs someone to take a bite. Put a little salt and pepper on top. You have a gorgeous dish with just a few ingredients."
CREATE HER FAVORITE HEALTHY FOOD RECIPE:
Robinson calls it Turkey Robinson. She says to add your last name after the word "turkey" and make this your own fast fix meal.
- 2 tablespoons garlic-infused olive oil
- 1 pound ground turkey
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 (5-ounce) bag triple washed spinach
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
- Brown rice or pasta, for serving
Heat the oil in a large skillet over moderately-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the ground turkey and, using a wooden spoon, break up the clumps and cook until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the stock and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring up to a boil, and then let simmer until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cannellini beans and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over brown rice or your favorite pasta.
EXTRA: Try adding some red pepper flakes to the turkey for a little spice and finely grate some Parmesan cheese to serve.