Amber: Healthy Cooking Made Tasty

I really enjoy cooking now – it’s fun for me and doesn’t feel like a chore like it used to. I never knew I had it in me to make so many different things.

-Amber
#KitchenHero

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Amber: Hero in the Kitchen via @CookSmarts
You don’t need to fry food in butter or have each meal dripping with fat for it to be considered a delicious meal. (To be honest, though, once in awhile won’t hurt!) Southern gal Amber knows what it’s like to grow up eating tasty Southern food that wasn’t necessarily the healthiest. But being the Kitchen Hero that she is, she took the steps needed to eat healthier and feel better about herself, even if that meant cutting down on all that make-your-food-tastier-fat. Throughout her cooking journey, she learned how to make food that was healthy and delicious at the same time, not to mention also pleasing to her fast-food-loving husband! Read her Hero in the Kitchen story below.

Name: Amber Tilghman
Age: 24
City, State: Marietta, Georgia
I cook for: myself and my husband.
Outside of the kitchen I: work as a statistical analyst, sing for fun, and play with my dog J.
The one kitchen tool / equipment I cannot live without is: my immersion blender! I use this thing all the time.
I cook because: I know exactly what I am putting into my body when I cook meals instead of going out for food. It’s much healthier and more economical. Plus, it’s fun!
Favorite Cook Smarts meal so far: Pesto Pasta with Peas. I haven’t let myself make this in a while because of how much I ate the last time! So delicious.

How did you learn to cook?
My mom taught me basics when I was younger. However, she cooked with lots of grease and butter (typical southern food). I wanted to learn to cook healthier meals that still tasted good, so I turned to Cook Smarts to help me do this. Since then, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about cooking through the tutorial videos and tips.

What’s been your biggest cooking challenge?
Cooking husband-friendly healthy food. My husband grew up on fast food and southern cooking and would be happy to eat that for the rest of his life. So, I have to find pretty clever ways to get him to eat greens and other vegetables for dinner.

How has your cooking routine changed since starting Cook Smarts’ meal plans?
Honestly, I did not cook often before I joined Cook Smarts. I was a graduate student with a full-time job, and I really struggled to stick to a meal planning / grocery shopping / cooking routine.

I started Cook Smarts when I was still in school because I was gaining weight, wasting money, and couldn’t figure out how to make meals that were healthy AND tasty. I needed to try something that would keep me organized and on track, and Cook Smarts is exactly what helped me do that.

“I wanted to learn to cook healthier meals that still tasted good, so I turned to Cook Smarts to help me do this. Since then, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about cooking.”

Since starting, I buy groceries every Sunday and prep all the food that I can prior to the week, so that I can just go home, cook, and relax on work days. I really enjoy cooking now – it’s fun for me and doesn’t feel like a chore like it used to. I never knew I had it in me to make so many different things. I’m now the one giving my mom some cooking tips!

Tell us about your proudest kitchen moment.
Probably the first time I ever finished prepping all the vegetables and other meal items for the week. I was so proud that I had taken the first step to getting my diet and health back on track. Prepping really made it so much easier for me to cook and have healthy dinners every weekday – even when I had class after work and did not feel at all like cooking.

What are your tips for health and success in the kitchen?
Introduce yourself to new things and try to step outside of your comfort zone! You will learn so much about yourself in the process.


Amber, what makes us really proud is to hear that you enjoy cooking so much, you guys even took a cooking class during a vacation to Italy! With all that you’re learning, we hope that we’ll be able to try your healthy versions of classic Southern and Italian foods someday. Now that sounds like some really good eating!

Amber's favorite @CookSmarts meal: Pesto Pasta with Peas

To join Amber and cook meals like her favorite Pesto Pasta with Peas, check out our meal plan service. You can get started for free!

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