During the holidays, we all want the comfort of our favorite foods without sacrificing our family’s health. This year, preparing healthful dishes that bring us together is more important than ever as we find new ways to connect during a difficult time. Whether you’re making a holiday meal for the first time, scaling down your cooking needs from many to a few, or simply looking to add healthy flavor to your favorite recipes, Knorr is partnering with renowned chef Millie Peartree to bring you her best tips for this year’s festivities—and to help create flavorful, better-for-you meals, always.
For most of 2020, Millie’s expertise in the kitchen has been largely devoted to helping those impacted by the pandemic. With her team, the chef has prepared more than 40,000 donated meals to date for families in the Bronx. Millie says that while this year is far from ordinary, food remains a comfort and a chance to try something different. As for the holidays, she says, “I will be both celebrating virtually and sharing meals with a few loved ones. I’ll be cooking some oldies (but goodies) and some new recipes.” Here are her top three foolproof hacks to help you in the kitchen this holiday season:
1. “Cut it once, use it twice.” “This is an old kitchen saying that always helps me out,” says Millie. “To streamline my meals, I prep all of my ingredients ahead of time. This includes everything from chopping veggies in bulk and storing them to defrosting stocks in the refrigerator before you need them.” By getting prep work out of the way all at once, you can avoid last-minute rushing and unhealthy fast fixes while feeling calm and confident when it’s time to get a meal on the table.
2. Layer in the flavor. Ever wonder why restaurant food tastes so good? Any professional chef will tell you that the secret to special dishes is adding flavor at every step of a recipe. An added bonus is flavor that comes without loading up on fat and sugar. “I love to use Knorr bouillon in my rice, soups and braised veggies to give them an extra burst of flavor that really stands out at the holiday table,” says Millie.
3. Add a quick sauce to elevate a dish. “Another way to add some extra flavor to a beloved dish is to create a quick vegetarian gravy by bringing Knorr veggie bouillon to a boil (based on cooking instructions), then thickening it with a mixture of equal parts cool water and cornstarch.” When ladled over holiday staples such as stuffing or mashed potatoes, this quick and easy addition adds a sophisticated polish to holiday eating.
Most importantly, know that festive, healthy food doesn’t need to be complicated. “Food doesn’t have to be fancy to be good!” Millie says. “Trust and believe that when your heart is in a dish, it will be delicious. If you only know how to make eggs, make the very best egg dish you can. My favorite dish to make during the holidays is good old Southern baked macaroni and cheese. It’s based on my late mother’s recipe and it’s my family’s most beloved part of the holiday meal.”