How Blue Apron Helps KathEats Cook Balanced Meals Full of Love

Welcome to On the Table, Blue Apron’s spotlight on home cooks. This column is all about the challenges and joys of cooking. We’re exploring how busy, food-loving families get dinner on the table every day. This month we’re talking with Kath from KathEats. Kath is a registered dietician, a blogger, and a mother of two young boys. Here’s how she uses Blue Apron as part of her healthful and balanced lifestyle. 

a healthy dinner with KathEats

Blue Apron: What does a typical weeknight dinner look like for you?

KathEats: I have two kids ages 2 and 8, a husband, and a dog who is always in the kitchen. Dinnertime can be quite chaotic, which is why I try to do as much prep as I can during school and nap time. My husband and I both cook, and we often divide up the prep and active cooking steps so we split up the meal. Luckily we make a great team.

BA: How did you end up working in the world of health and wellness?

When I graduated from college I started shopping and cooking for myself, and I started losing the college weight I had put on. Through cooking for myself, I started to learn more about nutrition, and decided to go back to school to become a registered dietician. Meanwhile, I had started my blog in Sept of 2007 as a hobby. Before I knew it, it started bringing in ad revenue! When I graduated from RD school, it made more sense for me to focus on my blog full-time than to go get a job in dietetics.

I always wanted to help others realize how fun and delicious healthy eating can be. Now, I feel like I’m doing it in a unique way—through blogging.

BA: What does being healthy mean to you?

KathEats: My blog title began as “Kath Eats Real Food.” The book Superfoods HealthStyle was a big lightbulb moment for me. It helped me realize that nutrition wasn’t about deprivation, but it was about nourishing your body with healthy food. I have no food rules except to focus on real food and how you feel.

BA: What is your strategy for eating to support health?

KathEats: I don’t believe in diet restriction, or eliminating food groups unless you have a medical reason to do so. I eat everything. I think diversity is super important in a diet, so I like to think about eating a rainbow of foods. Often this means fruit, protein, and grains at breakfast, salad or leftovers for lunch, and lots of different dinners. I try to choose humanely raised meats and veggies at each dinner.

BA: Aside from healthful eating, what are some things you do to support your health?

KathEats: For me, it’s essential to get enough sleep and exercise. I exercise every day. I also try to make time to read, relax, and connect with family and friends. Those things really help my brain reset. I’ve started trying to mediate with my kids. It’s not something we do every night, but when we remember we’ll go do a meditation together. There’s one that we do on YouTube that’s designed for kids, and it’s like, “Now you’re walking in your tree house, and you feel so warm, and safe, and happy, and you have no worries in the world. And what are you going to put on your tree house wall?” It’s a perfect kid one. We did another one, and they didn’t respond as well to it. I think they really liked the tree house.

BA: How often do you cook with Blue Apron?

KathEats: I’ve been using it on and off since 2014. I’ve learned so many good techniques from Blue Apron recipes, and I’ve really enjoyed trying new spices. I love that I don’t end up with any food waste, or extra jars of spices that don’t get used. 

During quarantine we haven’t been going out to dinner, so much so our Blue Apron meals are our special ones. 

BA: On the nights you’re not cooking with Blue Apron, how does your cooking routine change?

KathEats: Our meals are definitely not as delicious! When we’re left to our own devices I think we tend to take more shortcuts.

My kids love all the classic kid foods: Pizza, mac and cheese, quesadillas. I think my best tip for kids is to deconstruct the meals. A couple of weeks ago we had steak with a mushroom herb sauce on top. For my son, I cut his up into little pieces with no mushroom sauce, and then the grown-up version had all the sauce and everything. So I can get them to eat deconstructed noodles here and steak here, pull the chicken out, that kind of thing. Overall, if we had pizza every single night, they would be super happy.

BA: What would you make on a night when you felt too tired to cook, but needed to get something on the table? 

KathEats: If we’re in a hurry, sometimes I’ll just make a big dinner salad with a protein from the freezer. It’s easy and healthy. Sometimes we’ll turn to spaghetti. We always have ground beef in the freezer and noodles and sauce in the pantry. We’ll usually add baby spinach or frozen mushrooms to the sauce to get a vegetable in there.

BA: How does cooking with Blue Apron make you feel?KathEats: Blue Apron makes me feel like someone else is cooking for me. I’ve always said that I think food made by other people tastes better than my food, because I really do believe in that sprinkle of love, the magic. When I’m making a Blue Apron recipe, because I’m following someone else’s steps to a T, when the meal is ready, it really does kind of feel like someone else made it for me. And I think it tastes better because of that.

If you’re craving homemade meals created with balance in mind, explore Blue Apron’s new signature wellness menu here.

How to Clean the Bottom of Pans & Pots

The best part about cooking in your own kitchen? A delicious, homemade meal you can be proud of. The worst part? Now you’ve got to deal with a sink full of dirty dishes. And even if you swore you only took your eyes off that pan of searing steak for just one teeny tiny second, you could end up with scorched pans, caked-on foods, or a greasy mess at the end of your kitchen session. But that grease is no match for you, your soap, or your sponge. Here’s our tried-and-true guide to how to clean the bottoms of pots and pans, no matter how dirty.

BA boil method 5 actual size 1000 px

Boiling Water Method

For scorched, blackened stainless steel pans and burnt on foods, turn up the heat. Add water to your pan and bring to a boil for 5-7 minutes (don’t worry about covering the dirty sides with water – the steam will take care of that). After the food loosens and easily comes off the pan, pour out the hot water and wipe any remaining food with the scrubby part of a sponge. For glass or metal baking dishes, add boiling water and let sit for several minutes before using the scrubby side of a sponge to easily wipe away any residue.

Blue Apron soak method 1000 pxHot Water Soak

A hot water soak can loosen baked, caked on food from dishes like cheesy lasagnas or rich chocolate brownies. Fill the dish with warm to hot water right away, covering the sides. Let soak for 15-20 minutes or until food loosens. Didn’t get around to soaking your dish the moment the food left the pan? That’s ok. Add hot water later and let soak overnight. Then, wash in the morning.

BA lemon vinegar actual size 1000 px Baking Soda, Vinegar, & Lemon Juice

Head to your pantry to get your pots and pans extra clean and shiny. Baking soda, distilled white vinegar and fresh lemon juice are a triple cleansing threat. Add a dash of baking soda or vinegar during the boil method to help clean scorched saucepans. Soak pots, baking dishes or cookie sheets in hot to boiling water with baking soda and fresh lemon juice for an accelerated clean. Rub half a lemon around the bottom and sides of stainless steel cookware for extra shine; rinse and let air dry. Finally, a squirt of vinegar followed by a rinse of water is great for removing any residual odors.

For the really tough stuff, try adding a dash of store bought cleansing powders like Bon Ami, Zud or Bar Keepers Friend. Don’t feel like heading to the store? Use Alka-Seltzer (really)! To help loosen stuck on foods and lift stains, add hot water and a tab or two of Alka-Seltzer or other effervescent to your dish.

BA tomato soup actual size 1000 pxCleaning Cast Iron Pans

Everyone wants to know: How do you actually clean cast iron? If there is one thing to remember, it’s to never use abrasive sponges! It will ruin the seasoning (the oil-treated surface that protects the pan and your food). Instead, rinse your cast iron with hot or boiling water. If there is still anything stuck to it, use kosher salt, warm water and a soft sponge to loosen residue and rinse again. After the dish is totally dry, run some vegetable oil in a thin layer onto the bottoms and sides to keep it lubricated and prevent rusting.

Wash wood by hand using regular dish detergent– don’t place in the dishwasher. If your wooden spoons have stains from a curry or tomato sauce, wash and let air dry in the sun to take out some of the smell and color.

Keep copper away from water and regular soap or else it will oxidize (turn your beautiful cookware green)! Instead, dip your copper in boiled water with a good amount of vinegar or use the vinegar-water solution to wipe the copper clean.

Prevention

To prevent hard-to-clean dishes in the first place, keep your eye on the stove! Line pans with aluminum foil, parchment or wax paper or use a nonstick cooking spray for certain recipes to avoid the sticking of any food that will later burn to the dish. Watch the food in your pots and pans – make sure the temperature isn’t too high and stir occasionally to avoid future cleaning problems. And dry your food thoroughly before searing. Wet or even slightly damp proteins (think chicken, beef, etc.) will stick to your pan!

But if your chow does start to burn or appear to cake on, you can still save yourself from cleaning a mess. First, lower the heat and throw a little water onto your pot, pan or dish if you can. Then, make sure to stir and scrape down the sides of your pan or pot with a wooden spoon (especially when filled with stews, soups or sauces) or wipe any splatters on baking sheets or dishes that are going into the oven. Liquids or splatters will cook off and leave markings. The longer the markings stay on the side under heat means they will caramelize, brown, blacken and burn.