If you’ve been following me through my emails and here at Earlytorise.com, you’re probably already cooking lots of delicious food. But how do you make it look as amazing as it tastes?

The truth is, we “eat with our eyes first.” Sure, food has to taste good. But it also has to look good.

I’ve been teaching awesome people like you how to cook for a long time, and one of the questions I’m asked most frequently came up again this week:

“What are easy ways to make food more visually appealing?”

Great question! Do you know how to make your food look like it’s coming out of a 5-star restaurant? If the answer is “no,” then let me share these 8 secrets that will impress your friends and make you look like a real pro.

SECRET #1 – Get inspired

Look at food magazines, watch the Food Network, browse the Web, and read cookbooks to draw inspiration. It’s OK to reproduce what chefs are doing, or imitate something you find attractive.

Cook inspiring, exciting food that makes you feel great.ThinkstockPhotos-57576138

SECRET #2 – Use the right technique

Your food won’t look good if your technique is sloppy. In fact, this is what differentiates a home cook and a chef. A chef has a precise understanding of techniques like sautéing, grilling, roasting, making a pan sauce, or even dicing an onion. These skills guarantee that food will look the way it’s supposed to look.

So your best bet is to “borrow” cooking techniques from the chefs and reproduce them faithfully if you want to get:

  • Beautiful grill marks on a steak.
  • Golden-brown crust on a roasted chicken.
  • Bright and colorful vegetables
  • Fluffy-looking mashed potatoes, etc…

SECRET #3 – Choose the right plate

The plate you choose to showcase your food is important. Imagine a fancy restaurant plating food on paper plates. Yikes!

As a rule of thumb, large, white, plates work best. Colored plates or worse, heavily patterned plates, only provide a distraction and take away from your gorgeous food.

SECRET #4- Use white space

Go to a museum and look at artful photographs. You’ll notice that they are all framed within a white matte board that provides a white space, with the photograph in the center. That white space is meant to draw your eye to what’s important: the photograph.

Same goes with food. Use your large, white plate as a canvas. Plate your food at the very center, and make sure you leave a wide area of “white space” around it, so that your guests’ eye is drawn to your food.

SECRET #5 – Create focus

We just talked about creating a focal point using white space. Next, find something interesting for your guests. Maybe that means using beautiful tomatoes from your own garden, unusual fruits like yellow raspberries, or cooking black rice. Whatever you choose, capture your guest’s attention with something that creates focus and interest.


SECRET #6 – Add color

The number one mistake beginners make is overcooking things, so that food loses color, becomes brownish, and looks unappealing. Shorten cooking time when appropriate, so that your veggies remain bright, colorful, and exciting (you’ll also preserve their nutrients). Monitor cooking so that proteins — like chicken, fish, or meat — achieve a nice golden-brown crust rather than becoming a plain, boring failure or dark, overcooked mess.
Bonus chef tip: Add chopped fresh herbs at the very end, just before plating. Sprinkle bright green chopped herbs on the food, not on the plate.

SECRET #7 – Composition (variety)

This includes adding color, texture, and variety, choosing appropriate portion sizes, and deciding how to cut ingredients. These are all parts of the creative process that you’ll need to go through in order to compose your plate. Think about composition before you even start cooking.

SECRET #8- Be thematic and seasonal

Spring is here and Summer will be soon. Think fresh, light, exciting, bright colors, and try to reproduce that with your plate.
In the winter, think comfort casseroles and thick soups.
If you’re cooking Thai food, use Asian dinnerware, serve tea, and eat with chopsticks. Serving beautiful food is also about creating a mood.

More importantly, make sure your food is healthy, fresh, and ultimately, fat-burning. I help you do that every single day. Don’t miss any of my emails, where you’ll find tips and recipes to reach your most awesome cooking and fitness goals.

To your ultimate body,


The post 8 Secrets to Great-Looking Food appeared first on Early To Rise.

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Here is Why It’s Never Too Late for You to Achieve Something Worthwhile

Have you ever asked yourself if it’s too late to achieve something worthwhile in life. These two most upvoted responses by Marcus and Jim respectively on Quora will help you if you still have doubts about what you can do at any stage of your career.

1. Marcus Geduld, Shakespearean director, computer programmer, teacher, writer, likes dinosaurs.

Too late for what?

If you slept through your 26th birthday, it’s too late for you to experience that. It’s too late for you to watch “LOST” in its premiere broadcast. (Though, honestly, you didn’t miss much.) It’s too late for you to fight in the Vietnam War.

It’s too late for you to go through puberty or attend nursery school. It’s too late for you to learn a second language as proficiently as a native speaker*. It’s probably too late for you to be breastfed.

It’s not too late for you to fall in love.

It’s not too late for you to have kids.

It’s not too late for you to embark on an exciting career or series of careers.

It’s not too late for you to read the complete works of Shakespeare; learn how to program computers; learn to dance; travel around the world; go to therapy; become an accomplished cook; sky dive; develop an appreciation for jazz; write a novel; get an advanced degree; save for your old age; read “In Search of Lost Time”; become a Christian, then an atheist, then a Scientologist; break a few bones; learn how to fix a toilet; develop a six-pack …

Honestly, I’m 47, and I’ll say this to you, whippersnapper: you’re a fucking kid, so get over yourself. I’m a fucking kid, too. I’m almost twice your age, and I’m just getting started! My dad is in his 80s, and he wrote two books last year.

You don’t get to use age as an excuse. Get off your ass!

Also, learn about what economists call “sunk costs.” If I give someone $100 on Monday, and he spends $50 on candy, he’ll probably regret that purchase on Tuesday. In a way, he’ll still think of himself as a guy with $100—half of which is wasted.

What he really is is a guy with $50, just as he would be if I’d handed him a fifty-dollar bill. A sunk cost from yesterday should not be part of today’s equation. What he should be thinking is this: “What should I do with my $50?”

What you are isn’t a person who has wasted 27 years. You are a person who has X number of years ahead of you. What are you going to do with them?

* What I’d intended as a throwaway comment, about the difficulty of second-language acquisition after childhood, has generated interest and disagreement. I will admit upfront I am not an expert on the matter, and was mostly informed by research I’d read about.

It claimed there’s a window of childhood, after which the brain stops being able to hear certain sounds—one’s not used by a child’s native language—which is why it’s so hard to learn to speak a second language without an accent.

Some people may master it, but not many. (How many people do you know, after 25, learned a foreign language and can speak it so well, natives have no idea they’re listening to a foreigner?) It’s also challenging to learn all the idiomatic expressions that native speakers have known since they were small children.

However, since having written this answer, I’ve learned that the Science behind this is very controversial. As I’m not an expert, let me refer you to the wikipedia article (and it’s linked resources).

“In second-language acquisition, the strongest evidence for the critical period hypothesis is in the study of accent, where most older learners do not reach a native-like level.

However, under certain conditions, native-like accent has been observed, suggesting that accent is affected by multiple factors, such as identity and motivation, rather than a critical period biological constraint (Moyer, 1999; Bongaerts et al., 1995; Young-Scholten, 2002).”

2. Jim Lawrenson, Still driving…

Unfortunately for ‘real’ people, the media is obsessed with the tiny minority who succeed early and display this very publicly.

This is then amplified by the high profile ‘subject’,  for PR purposes, to perpetuate their success.

Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, River Phoenix, Justin Timberlake, Bill Gates, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Jobs, James Dean, Richard Branson, Whitney Houston, One Direction, Amy Winehouse, Mark Zuckerburg. Need I go on.

Notice a trend in there somewhere?

You are probably being influenced, (like all of us), in how you assess your own progress, compared to these people. It can be a dangerous game to play.

It takes a tremendous amount of luck, as well as talent, to get into the right position at the right time. Not many people who make it will tell you that, often preferring to put it down to their hard work.

That is because they believe that this is the case, not because they are intentionally misleading you. I know that because, to an extent, I’ve done it.

You also may not have considered that even if you were on the list of young successes. It is very hard to follow that early success later in life. Your expectations of yourself are higher and based on that youthful virtual reality you experienced once, you can never improve on your past.

That can be a tough pill to swallow and despite all the money in the world, many struggle with that.

Look at any list of young successes from just 10 years ago and count the number who have disappeared, died or been in rehab. Lots.

Half the list of super successful people above are dead for a start off.

This is not an excuse for you to give up trying however. 

Try to think of life as a long road journey.

The journey can be as exciting or as boring as you choose to make it.

Wherever you are on the journey, there are new experiences, as long as you welcome them and seek them out. Some you can plan in advance.

Often, you need to get out of the car to experience them. Otherwise, you will see them flash past the window and feel like it is too late to stop.

  • Do something every day which contributes to your progress on the journey and always be learning and experiencing new things.
  • Don’t put off experiences which can be done today by getting out of the car, for a tomorrow which may never arrive.
  • Build a vision of where you want to get to in 1, 5 and 10 years and then think about the steps you need to complete in the next 30 days to move towards it, but don’t set deadlines that are too harsh. Do the first step on the list today.
  • Like any long journey, you will hit diversions, obstacles, traffic lights, speed bumps, closed roads and all manner of other problems. There will be crashes – you might be involved in them. Like any long road journey, if you want to get the destination enough, you won’t turn back, you will reroute. The car might break down or need repairing. Just accept it will happen now, and carry on.

Most importantly, don’t wait for all the traffic lights between your house and your destination, to turn green at the same time, before you set off.

They won’t!

Get in the car and start driving.

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