The Art of Improv in the Kitchen

The Art of Improv in the Kitchen - One Drop

It’s always fun to plan ahead and make time for a new, deliciously healthy masterpiece recipe. Not to mention, during the midst of COVID (and potentially having more time on our hands than normal, now is the best time to get into the habit of cooking our way to better health.

But what cooking may mean to one person may not mean the same to another. It can mean trying out a new recipe a day, or it can simply mean setting aside time to learn the basics; cooking at home means all sorts of different things! Wherever you are on your at-home cooking journey, know that you’re doing amazing things to your body simply by consuming wholesome, all-natural foods in just about any form.

Using Improvisation While Cooking

Perhaps the most important lesson in cooking is improvisation. Improv in the kitchen is the golden ticket. Or, perhaps, crème de la crème is the more appropriate superlative here.

Once you’ve got your roasting and chopping basics down, and you’ve got a pantry full of your go-to spices and powders, it really comes down to improv. It’s all about dicing and splicing together whatever you’ve got on-hand (assuming what’s on-hand is wholesome and nutrient-dense) to concoct a thoroughly delicious meal in a matter of minutes.

Posting, pinning, and replicating Pinterest recipes is great in theory. But in actuality, what happens when you have ten minutes to come up with something to eat before you’re totally famished or you have to go into your next Zoom meeting?

More often than not, many of us find ourselves in that latter (hurried) situation. It’s in those moments that improvisation is not only key, it’s necessary.

Real-Life Recipe-Less Cooking

One Drop user Rami came to us with such a scenario:

So this is my story about a challenge I had this week. I got a new project, and had to attend a series of meetings, including one from 1-3pm. This is usually my lunch time, and I always manage to take a walk -- albeit, a short one -- to stabilize my blood sugar post-meal. But on that Wednesday, I was stuck in back-to-back meetings. I had a short time to prepare lunch, gobble it up just before 1pm, and then sit down immediately for 2 hours on a Zoom call.

I knew it was time to resort to my "mix-and-match" leftover skills. I had a small tilapia fillet (from the previous day), about 2/3 cup of cooked rice, and not much else. A quick search in the drawer yielded a kirby cucumber, a small piece of pineapple, and some greens. I had never mixed all these ingredients together at once (nor had I ever thought to), but there was little time to act. So, I used what I had; the result -- perfection!

Grilled Tilapia served on a steamed spinach bed, accompanied by basmati rice with pineapple and kirby cucumber topping, and fresh mesclun greens.

Prep time: 3.5 minutes
Cost: less than $3
Carbs: 38 (rice = 30, pineapple = 8)

whats in your fridge - improvisation while cooking - recipeless cooking - cooking without recipes

I would ditch the rice altogether -- I know (from personal experience) that rice does not work well for my body. My blood sugars do not know the difference between rice and sugar (it's carbs!). But if you know that rice won’t impact your blood sugars, it could be the perfect accompaniment to your dish!

Rami was faced with a challenge, one that many of us (more than likely, all of us!) deal with regularly, if not daily. And he dominated it. Not just in taste, but in blood sugar.

He was 106 mg/dL before lunch; he took his usual dose of Admelog -- and his Tilapia -- back to his desk to start his meeting. About an hour later, his blood sugar peaked to 145 mg/dL, and then (on its own) started a steady descent to roughly 65 mg/dL about 2 hours post-meal.

Rami’s grilled tilapia mix didn’t come from a Pinterest board or New York Times bestseller cookbook. It came from real-life improv in the kitchen.

Go With Your Gut

Truly! You know what tastes good to you. Once you learn the art of roasting your vegetables and grilling your chicken, you’ve got a really good base going.

From there, mix, match, and sub-in whatever ingredients you have on hand that you know you like! It may not be the perfect match for a cookbook recipe, but it’ll be your recipe. One that requires little time and low stress, but yields heaps of creativity, enjoyment, and overall blood sugar goals.

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Mary Elizabeth Adams
Jul 22, 2020

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