Kari: Cooking Up Creativity

I cook because I enjoy food and the community it creates, it shows you love someone, and it makes me feel creative!

-Kari
#KitchenHero

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Kari: Hero in the Kitchen via @CookSmartsEating healthy and delicious food is one of the perks of cooking, but Kitchen Hero Kari enjoys this kitchen time because of the love you show to people when you make them a home cooked meal, and also because it sparks her creativity. And we must say, we’re glad that Kari puts her creative efforts into cooking, because the results sound incredibly tasty! For example, her wine-themed Thanksgiving dinner incorporated each dish with wine, such as chardonnay gravy, sangria cranberry sauce, and apple pie made with port. Discover this Kitchen Hero’s passion for cooking with her Hero in the Kitchen story below.

Name: Kari Puleo
Age: 36
City, State: Utica, NY
I cook for: those who let me! (My boyfriend and my son, on a more regular basis.)
Outside of the kitchen I: work in development and marketing for a private school.
If I could have any superpower, it would be: Endless Energy
I cook because: I enjoy food and the community it creates, it shows you love someone, and it makes me feel creative!
Favorite Cook Smarts meal so far: So hard to pick!!! Maple-Dijon Panko Crusted Chicken, Pineapple and Cashew Curried Fried Rice, Chicken Enchiladas

How did you learn to cook?
I actually took a cooking class in 4th grade. It was a week long summer class, and we learned to make pasta from scratch. That same summer, I made an anniversary meal for my parents. I used every dish in the kitchen and a pound of butter to make fettuccine alfredo and chicken cutlets. It was a mess and they loved it. (Cleaning up is still my nemesis and partly why I don’t cook more than I do!)

What’s been your biggest cooking challenge?
My biggest cooking challenge is planning – which is the reason I have fallen deeply madly in love with Cook Smarts. They do the work for me, and if I don’t like something or need to readjust, it’s easy to do! I love the option of making things gluten free or vegetarian, depending what I may have or if I’ve eaten carb-heavy earlier in the day.

How has your cooking routine changed since starting Cook Smarts’ meal plans?
I look forward to seeing new ideas, or old ideas in fresh ways. That’s the part I look forward to the most.

“My biggest cooking challenge is planning – which is the reason I have fallen deeply madly in love with Cook Smarts. They do the work for me, and if I don’t like something or need to readjust, it’s easy to do!”

Tell us about your proudest kitchen moment.
I love hosting Thanksgiving. I have orchestrated budget Thanksgivings in NYC with limited access to supplies, I helped my aunt cook her first turkey ever, and I helped plan a family Thanksgiving in Napa Valley, in which every course had wine (chardonnay gravy, sangria cranberry sauce, port apple pie!).

What are your tips for a healthy life and success in the kitchen?
My tips for health in the kitchen is to always add veggies where I can. I love to add butternut squash to chili or sneak in spinach to a lasagna…anything that will add vitamins and an extra layer of flavor is my go-to jam.

I also would add that I try to use as many local products as I can – the flavor is more vibrant, it creates regional economic health, energy conservation, and your connection to the farmers and growers is ultimately good karma all around. (And if you create that connection, they will save the best and freshest produce for you and give you amazing tips + secrets!)


Kari, we can see that you are an amazing and creative chef who truly enjoys cooking. We, too, can do without the dishes and cleaning, but if that means tasty, veggie-filled, homemade meals and fresh, local ingredients, then we’re in! The only question we have for you is. . .will we be invited to this year’s Puleo Thanksgiving dinner?!

Kari's favorite @CookSmarts meals: Chicken Enchiladas, Maple-Dijon Panko Chicken, and Pineapple Cashew Curried Fried Rice
To join Kari and cook meals like her favorite Chicken Enchiladas, Maple-Dijon Panko Crusted Chicken, and Pineapple and Cashew Curried Fried Rice, check out our meal plan service. You can get started for free!

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