Danica Patrick: How to make an easy (heart-healthy) dinner that looks complicated

February 15, 2017 | by Danica Patrick

My kitchen is one of my favorite places on earth.

It’s my lab for culinary creativity. It’s where I cook most of what I eat so I know what’s going into my body.

Cooking every day may sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be. If you prefer to keep it simple, there are tons of healthy, quick options.

Of course, when you love cooking (or any hobby), the time spent doing it doesn’t feel like work. I block out hours to tackle a difficult project in the kitchen. But I realize not everyone shares my joy of recipe experimentation!

One benefit of all my time spent in the kitchen, though, is that I know how to make a dinner for two that looks fancy and tastes good, but isn’t hard to make. I’ll tell you how to do it.

I always start from scratch. I’m not a fan of processed food -- especially when it’s so easy to prepare real food in your own kitchen! It’s easier than it sounds to cook raw, whole foods, and it’s worth it. This way, you know every ingredient.

A simple main course of meat in the crock pot is a no-brainer. I use my slow cooker all the time. You just put your meat in at the beginning of the day and let it cook for up to 10 hours on low. It makes the meat so tender! When it’s done, shred it up in the crock pot in its juices.

For a heart-healthy meal, follow the American Heart Association recommendation and choose 6-ounce portions of fish, shellfish, skinless poultry or lean meats, trimmed.

Any kind of roasted vegetable makes a delicious side dish, like potatoes (sweet or not), butternut squash or carrots. Cut and toss them with some rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil. You could also try sautéed greens, like spinach, kale and chard.

Pull your meat out of the slow cooker, take your veggies out of the oven and you have a healthy, uncomplicated meal in a snap.

If you don’t plan ahead, an easy meal is still possible. Start with any kind of meat again, but grill it. Take it out of the fridge before you cook it so it’s close to room temperature before you start. That way, when you sear it you’re getting the char marks.  Let it sit on your counter for at least 20 minutes before you grill.

Pop some potatoes in the microwave for seven minutes or so, then mash them up. Bam – you could have steak and potatoes! That would probably take you a grand total of maybe 30 minutes. And you can easily adjust these recipes to feed a larger group.

Don’t be intimidated by your kitchen! It’s easy to get the hang of cooking. The more you do it, the healthier you’ll be.

Healthy eating shouldn’t be boring or tasteless! Get our flavorful, easy, healthy-driven recipes.

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