You are what you eat. Literally. Eating healthy affects every aspect of your health & wellbeing.
Eating healthy is a lot easier when you spend some time in the kitchen preparing most of the food you eat from healthy whole foods like vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices.
There’s simply a lot of people out there that either:
A) Are not comfortable in the kitchen.
B) Are comfortable in the kitchen cooking the way they always have, which isn’t very healthy, and have no idea where to start to improve on their skills.
C) Cook a lot of their meals at home, but most is prepared from boxes, bags, cans, & jars of already processed foods, and the thought of preparing meals without those things makes them feel lost.
D) Religiously follow recipes to feel comfortable cooking a meal, which takes a lot of planning and time.
Are you one of the above? If so, this post is for you!
I grew up preparing a lot of convenience meals from already processed foods.
Before the enormous influx of processed foods on the shelf, and the introduction of the Betty Crocker Cookbook that found it’s way into most kitchens sometime in the 50’s, there was a lot more cooking being done with whole foods. The Betty Crocker cookbook taught us, it’s easy to prepare meals with a bunch of already processed ingredients, right? Marketing did a great job of convincing america to start cooking differently with the influx of processed & convenience food on the shelf and America's kitchens started looking a lot different.
As a society we've forgotten how to cook from scratch ingredients, and with the introduction of so much convenience food, many people never took on cooking at all. Decades later, it seems we know how to cook from convenience and processed foods, and cooking from scratch with whole ingredients can feel intimidating!
What has been forgotten is that whole food ingredients can be just as easy, taste a lot better, and from the influx of food related disease, I think we can safely say that it kept us a lot healthier too.
Here are my 3 top strategies for learning to cook and eat healthy from your own kitchen:
#1. This is HUGE: Don’t fear failure in the kitchen! Just like anything else in life, if you want to get really good at something you have to practice, and especially when you are starting out, It’s likely that you’ll mess up. Be okay with that! Allowing yourself some room to mess up will allow you to feel more adventurous and try things that you maybe wouldn’t otherwise. As much time as I spend in the kitchen cooking, I still mess up sometimes. It just is what it is! Sometimes you don’t know that something doesn’t work together until it’s done, and you find out. We can learn the most from our mistakes in life, and that same rule applies in the kitchen. If you can learn to laugh off the disasters that happen, then you are more likely to keep being adventurous in the kitchen, and with time you'll become much more pro! Just stating that you can't cook will get you nowhere, except maybe on a run for take-out every night.
#2. Once a week, try one new whole food recipe. Follow the recipe, and as you enjoy your meal, think about how you could make it more to your liking. Think about different variations you could make, or how you could incorporate your personal favorite vegetables into the dish rather than the ones called for. Try to choose recipes that have a new grain, or bean, or vegetable to you. This way you are not only trying a new recipe each week, but you are trying a new whole food to you as well. Even if you don’t like 1/2 of them all that much, after a few months, you would have 6 new meals and 6 new whole foods that you love in your repertoire. Learning to adjust recipes more to your liking by adding your favorite veggies or spices will allow you to create your favorites, which will not only encourage more home cooked food, but it will help you to develop more creativity in the kitchen as time goes on.
#3. Once you get more comfortable in the kitchen, begin to experiment more. Use ingredients that you love and combine them with ideas from recipes you've tried. Be creative with coming up with your own combinations of things, and take note of the ones you love. Soon you will begin to feel more confident in whipping things up without strictly following a recipe, and with ease, that you really enjoy!
I like to think of it like art. Just like a painter knows how his favorite colors blend together and which brushes to use to get a desired effect, Once you have some experience, you will know how your favorite spices blend together, and which grains, or nut butters, or vegetables work well in whatever you are preparing. Experience not only leads you to being a better cook with ease, but allows you to confidently be more creative in the kitchen. Getting to a point of feeling creative in the kitchen is not only fun, but damn tasty!
I share this writing with you because this is exactly how I began to learn how to navigate cooking most of my meals at home from whole food ingredients in a tasty way that I enjoy. It's taken time to acquire the creativity I've gained in the kitchen, but it was a fun journey that I still enjoy. I still mess up sometimes. I still try new recipes sometimes, but I mostly I now walk into my kitchen confident that I can grab whatever is available and create something tasty & healthy on a whim, and boy is that a good feeling!
Wishing you Wellness!