The Kitchen: Not so Scary

I have talked a few times about cooking.  Clearly, I love all aspects of food.  I love the buying, prepping, cooking, eating, and nutrition that food gives me.  I probably wouldn’t write this blog if I wasn’t passionate about food and all that it entails.  I want to talk about the kitchen yet again and make a simple, yet important plea: Get back in your kitchens people!

This past week, I read about how Dr. Mark Hyman worked with a family that had major health issues due to obesity.  In short, this family relied on packaged, processed meals or fast food for the majority of their diet.  They admitted that they really didn’t know what to do in the kitchen and it was so much easier to just open a package than to cook their own food.  I have heard a lot of excuses about why people do not cook their meals:  too busy, don’t like to cook, too long, they’re bad at cooking, etc.  I have even heard that people really don’t know what to do in the kitchen, so this article didn’t totally shock me. Then I really started thinking about it.  As we rely more and more on packaged food or restaurants, there is an entire generation that is missing out on learning how to cook.  Children know how to work the microwave like a pro, but can’t boil water and make pasta.

I don’t want to sit here and play the blame game on this issue.  In all honesty, blame can probably be evenly distributed to all concerned parties.  The parents, food companies and industry, eating establishments, pretty much all the usual suspects.  I’m not going to waste my time here demonizing anyone, as plenty of other people have done that for me.  What I really want to get across is the importance of bringing the slowly disappearing tradition of cooking back.  As Dr. Hyman stated in his article, it could be one of the keys to getting healthier.

When you eat a meal out or pop a store-bought dinner in the microwave, you really don’t know all the ingredients that go into that food.  That can be a very dangerous game to play.  McDonald’s recently released an ingredient list for their french fries and it wasn’t pretty.  It had 17 ingredients, with one of them being an anti-foaming agent.  Last time I checked, french fries only need about three ingredients (potatoes, oil, and salt) and none of them were an anti-foaming agent.  Yes, McDonald’s fries are like crack and taste good.  They are also really easy to obtain, but they do absolutely NOTHING good for your health.  It is really simple to make your own french fries right at home and they will be a whole heck of a lot better for you.  Plus, you will get the satisfaction of creating something with your own hands that does not contain 17 hard to pronounce, dangerous ingredients.  This can be applied to so many other meals as well.  Some of the food that you are paying other people to make for you, can easily be made at home for less money, have better health benefits, and be much tastier dishes.  Below is the ingredient list and nutrition facts for a Lean Cuisine BBQ Chicken Enchilada.  Another simple dish that shouldn’t have more than 5 or six ingredients, has a huge ingredient list.  Do you really want to be ingesting some of those ingredients or would you rather know exactly what is going into your food and you by making it yourself?

Ingredient list for Lean Cuisine BBQ Chicken Enchilada

Ingredient list for Lean Cuisine BBQ Chicken Enchilada

lean cuisine2

More than just eating better and healthier food, cooking at home can be valuable time spent with your family.  Kids get to spend quality time with their parents, learn new things, and create something the whole family can enjoy.  Even if you don’t have kids, cooking with your spouse can be a great time to catch up on your day while preparing a delicious meal to be shared and cooking with friends is a fun way to share stories as well as recipes.  Your kitchen can give you so much more than just good health, it can give you good memories and lift your spirits.  It is fairly simple to learn how to make quick meals and there are so many benefits that can be gained.  I’ve said it before, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel in the kitchen.  You don’t have to be creating new and fancy meals every single night or slave over a hot stove preparing dishes with exotic ingredients.  Find a few recipes (maybe one of mine, I post a new recipe each Wednesday!) that you can handle and really learn how to make those well.  Once you have those few dishes down, you can branch out to others, or tweak the recipe with new flavors or ingredients.  By just having 3 or 4 core recipes under your belt, you can improve your eating habits and your health.

The kitchen isn’t scary, it might seem intimidating, but it is just begging for you to come in and learn how to prepare delicious, healthy food.  Don’t let an entire generation grow up without learning how to make at least one meal without the help of boxed food.  Cooking is an important aspect of a healthy and happy life, and I hope that my blog helps that just a little.  Most of my recipes take less than 20 minutes to make and are made of simple ingredients that are easy to find and use.  I don’t want to intimidate you with my meals, I want to invite you to join me in the kitchen and cook up a healthier life!

julia child