Nicole: Good Mood Makes Good Food

Remember that even mistakes are progress. Not everything you make is going to be the most amazing thing you’ve ever tasted. You made it, and that in and of itself is an accomplishment to be proud of. And a great reason to try again tomorrow!

-Nicole
#KitchenHero

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Nicole: Hero in the Kitchen via @CookSmartsHaving a positive attitude is a crucial element to cooking, which is why Kitchen Hero Nicole has had so many successes in the kitchen. It’s all about trying and learning, and as Nicole says, that is already an accomplishment. It’s okay if things turn out a mess or you weren’t a fan of a new ingredient. The important thing is that you keep your spirits up and have fun! Whether Nicole is cooking a simple dinner for the weeknight, whipping up a buttercream for dessert, crafting an elaborate Beef Wellington for a holiday party, or even working to help feed hungry kids in Toronto, you can bet that she is having fun and proving that having a good mood will create good food. And that right there is a cooking success! Read her Hero in the Kitchen story below.

Name: Nicole S.
Age: 33
City, State: Toronto, Canada
I cook for: myself and my partner, Eric.
Outside of the kitchen I: work for a non-profit helping feed hungry kids in Toronto.
My favorite type of cuisine to cook is: anything I can add cheese to.
I cook because: I feel better when I eat a nutritious dinner, and using Cook Smarts keeps the result delicious without taking hours to plan.
Favorite Cook Smarts meal so far: This is an extremely difficult choice! We’d go with Classic Tacos or Kung Pao Chicken, depending on the day.

How did you learn to cook?
I spent a lot of time hanging out in the kitchen when I was a kid, and I was lucky enough to have grandparents who liked to cook and didn’t mind me occasionally over-salting when they weren’t looking.

What’s been your biggest cooking challenge?
We made Beef Wellington for Christmas (pastry from scratch and no tears this time!), and that’s been the most ambitious thing to date.

How has your cooking routine changed since starting Cook Smarts’ meal plans?
Our cooking routine has changed a great deal! Before Cook Smarts, we didn’t really plan our meals, especially through the week. We’d wing it with what was in the fridge, so it was a lot of baked potatoes for dinner on weeknights.

I started a new job in the fall, and having a plan has been hugely helpful for a) making sure Eric and I are eating a healthy, balanced meal throughout the week and b) keeping our shopping trip to once per week. This means we get more time together, and it’s less stress on weeknights when we’re short on time.

I also love that there isn’t a bunch of limp produce in the fridge at the end of the week. Because we’re planning, we’re actually using everything in our fridge. I much prefer looking at an empty crisper versus celery that’s about to hit puberty.

“I feel better when I eat a nutritious dinner, and using Cook Smarts keeps the result delicious without taking hours to plan.”

Tell us about your proudest kitchen moment.
The first time I made Swiss meringue buttercream, I was giddy with joy. Watching it come together in the mixing bowl makes you feel like an evil genius for hiding that much butter in something so fluffy.

What are your tips for a healthy life and success in the kitchen?

  • Having a plan for everything in your fridge makes a big difference. You can buy kale, but if you don’t have a plan for it, you’re not necessarily going to eat it before it goes limp. (I recommend this Italian Sausage and Chard White Bean Soup if that happens, which makes even past-the-point-of-no-return kale edible.) It also means you can set your grocery list before you go into the grocery store and are less likely to make impulse buys, helping you stay on budget.
  • Have fun, and don’t be afraid to stray from the recipe! I use Cook Smarts recipes as a guide – I substitute if we don’t have something, change or switch out the spices based on preferences, and throw in a little of this or that if I need to use up something in the fridge. (I’ll throw the last handful of spinach into almost anything.)
  • Lastly, remember that even mistakes are progress. Not everything you make is going to be the most amazing thing you’ve ever tasted. You made it, and that in and of itself is an accomplishment to be proud of. And a great reason to try again tomorrow!

Thanks for these wonderful cooking tips, Nicole! You truly have accomplished success in the kitchen with your positivity, and the best part is that you’re getting better every time you cook. We’re so happy to be a part of your cooking journey and to help keep the stress low, so that you can focus on the most important thing – enjoying the food!

Nicole's favorite @CookSmarts meal: Classic Tacos

Nicole's favorite @CookSmarts meal: Kung Pao Noodles with Chicken

To join Nicole and cook meals like her favorite Classic Tacos and Kung Pao Noodles with Chicken, check out our meal plan service. You can get started for free!

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