Healthy Cooking Without a Recipe

February 15, 2021

Want to learn how to cook without a recipe?  I actually prefer this.  Once you have the formula down, the possibilities are endless.  Plus, we address weight and health as a bonus byproduct instead of suffering from diet to diet.

If you feel intimated by what to cook, know that you’re not alone.  Most of my clients come to me not knowing how to make simple meals that tastes good.  Isn’t this why we end up gaining weight?  We don’t know how to feed ourselves and we rely on restaurants, packaged foods, processed foods that are full of bad oils, sugars, extra sodium, chemicals, preservatives, etc.  Here’s the basic cooking formula to a healthy body:

Vegetables + Protein + Carbohydrates +Flavor (country) + Cooking Method

This allows for thousands of combinations.  Even restaurants follow the same formula.  Check out the menu description and you’ll see the same basic structure.  Here are some examples:

  • Chinese ginger sesame (flavor/country) chicken (protein) sautéed (method) with broccoli, carrots, and bell peppers (vegetables) served over brown rice (carbs optional)
  • Grilled (method) Cajun (flavor/country) fish (protein) tacos (carbs) with shredded cabbage, tomatoes, avocados, and jicama (vegetables)
  • Peanut (flavor) tofu (protein) on soba noodles (carbs) stir fry (method) with mushroom, carrots, bok choy, and eggplants (vegetables)
  • Tunisian (flavor/country) turkey meatballs (protein) soup (method) served on wilted spinach (vegetables), with or without complex grains (carbs)
  • Mexican (flavor/country) black bean (protein) salad (vegetables) bowl (method) with optional quinoa (carbs)

Write down in the chart below all the things you like.  Here are some examples:












This list is so long so include a nice rainbow


Brown rice





Lemon pepper


Thai curry

Mexican chili




Stir fry





This overly simplified list below may help you.  I often think about the country I’m cooking.  It helps me decide which spices to use, and it feels like I’m shaking up my cooking from day to day.

  • Mexican: Chili, cumin, cinnamon, cilantro, oregano, onions
  • Italian: Garlic, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, bay leaf
  • Chinese: Ginger, star anise, red chili pepper, sesame, garlic
  • Thai: Basil, Chili, peppers, garlic, turmeric, galangal, lemon grass
  • Indian: Chili, saffron, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, cardamom
  • Greek: Mint, garlic, dill, oregano
  • Spanish: Saffron, paprika, garlic, cumin

Here’s to cooking delicious food but simplifying for our busy lives.   Home cooking is the only way to really be healthy, lose weight, and get fit.  Food is medicine so let’s at least make it delicious and build those habits so it becomes your new lifestyle.

Get a free health consultation.  See if this is the right match for you by addressing weight loss, cravings, emotional eating, balanced diet, disease prevention, nutrition, and getting to the root cause of what’s keeping you stuck.

For more articles, read

~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA