I've seen it time and time again: clients come to me wanting to lose weight, have more energy, balance their hormones, create a healthy home for their kids, optimize pre-pregnancy health, heal digestive issues and more, all without spending any time in the kitchen.
Studies show that in 1900 in the US only 2% of meals were eaten outside of the house and today Americans eat 50% of their meals outside of the house, on average.
I sincerely believe that preparing your own food can save and improve your health. The past 2 generations have had it all wrong with all of our convenience, process and packaged food products (notice I didn't call it food?). Let's get back to throwing on an apron, rolling up our sleeves and spending more time in the kitchen.
Sure, you're thinking, I'll spend more time in the kitchen when you give me more hours in the day, Deena! Well, I challenge you to think about 1) what is more important that your health and the health of your family and 2) what you could spend less time on elsewhere. Since cooking can save your life and improve your health, can you say the same for other activities that might be filling your time?
Generally those people who prepare their own food are thinner, healthier and have a better relationship with food.
Food is so fundamental to our day-to-day and it's crucial we know how to create delicious and healthy meals. Pick out your food, clean it, store it, cut it, saute/roast/bake/eat it raw, enjoy your food in a way you simply can't when it isn't a labor of love.
Today cooking is a part of my everyday life in some capacity, but it wasn't always this way. My mom and I marvel often that I actually know how to cook (and often give her ideas!) because growing up it really seemed like I was going to go in quite a different direction. I didn't know how to cook anything. Sure I spent time in the kitchen with my mom, licked the bowl when she baked and loved her food, but once I was on my own, what I did was a far cry from cooking. There were many botched attempts. When I was in my 20s, I worked for a company that provided 3 meals/day and my kitchen was the size of a closet, but then I lost that job and without an income or free food, this city girl had to learn her way around a store, the farmer's market (more than just apple cider!) and a kitchen. It didn't happen overnight at all and I am still learning and experimenting (and screwing things up) all the time, but it's fun! I find it inspiring, empowering and the best thing I could do for my body.
You're not going to be a great chef overnight,
but investing a bit of time here and there goes a long way.
Here are my tips:
- Watch others cook. Whether in someone's house, in a restaurant, on TV or online, check out the way people move around the kitchen, how they handle food and various tools and the way in which they interact with the food. It's really inspiring!
- YouTube is your friend. YouTube is my inspiration all the time. If you find a video with tons of hits, good comments and feedback, give it a try. Once you find people/YouTube channels you like, subscribe. Check them out regularly. I prefer this over cooking shows because 1) these are typically regular people in their kitchens and 2) they are much shorter snippets.
- Combine home-cooked food with food prepared by others. This is a tip I give to many clients and it works fantastically well. If you tend to buy lunch or pick up dinner on your way home, start with combining that food with something homemade. Perhaps get roasted chicken at Whole Foods, but combine it with homemade whole grains, roasted veggies and/or sautéed greens. It's amazing how easy this is and really makes you feel part of your food.
- Go slow. No need to create a 6-course meal at the start. Add veggies to your morning eggs, play around with smoothies at home, make a simple raw soup in your blender...
- Find cookbooks you love. I've added a lot of my favorites over on my Amazon store so you can check those out.
- Find blogs you love. If you have a specific health condition, food allergy or intolerance, philosophy around your food, etc, there's a blog for it. I gurantee it! Spend some time one evening or when you're bored at work looking through blogs and asking your friends what some of their favorites are. "Like" these pages on Facebook, "Pin" recipes on Pinterest, follow on Instagram and Twitter; anything for that dose of inspiration.
Remember, everyone starts somewhere. No one ever started out as a fantastic cook! The beauty of cooking is that we all have it us to make yummy food.
What got you started? Please share in the comments below.