Kitchen Revelations

It’s been a great start to the New Year. Here’s a little background: It all started in December when I read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eaters Manifesto. At the same time I decided to honor my dairy allergy and make my own non-dairy cheeses and soy yogurt and I found Myoko Schinner’s Artisan Vegan Cheese.

It’s like to two collided and created fireworks of inspiration. The cooking odyssey began and I ordered all the gear and supplies (from a yogurt maker to agar powder!). I got back into the kitchen with a new purpose: to create healthy and homemade food on a consistent basis. I was unsatisfied with the quality of food available to me at work and I was spending a fortune. And I really wanted to create some non-dairy alternatives to my favorite foods (if you’ve ever tried some of the commercial vegan cheese on the market, you know what I mean). Finally, I really missed my favorite unsweetened soy yogurt that was no longer available in the grocery store (not even Whole Foods carried it anymore). I digress…

in-defense-of-foodThere are three main tenets to In Defense of Food: “Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants.” He urges us to return to our food roots and eschew eating what he calls “edible food-like substances” that is the mainstay of the debilitating Western diet peddled by many a grocery store. He asks us to return to the kitchen and the dining table, to savor the satisfaction, tastes, and smells of whole foods.

That is exactly what I did! In the last month, I learned how to may my soy yogurt, how to make rejuvelac from sprouted wheatberries for cashew cheese, had an epic fail of “brie,” a rounding success with provolone, created restaurant-worthy vegan lunch bowls, made my own seitan from scratch and a few slow cooker meals from lamb to lentils!

I also started to bring my lunch to work which is one of the reasons that I am writing this post. I can’t tell you how much better I feel eating fresh, healthy food every day!

I come from a FOOD family. To say that my father cooked unbelievably delicious meals is an understatement. He was entirely self taught. We’re talking about paella, caldo gaellego, chili, lasagna, roast pork, roast beef, stuffing, you get the idea. He was a magician in the kitchen. My mother was also pretty good too. She made a killer quiche and amazing tomato sauce. What was most obvious growing up was that there was VERY LITTLE junk food. Everything was fresh. My mom, who was a librarian, was home a little earlier on the weeknights and took care of dinner Monday through Friday and again, everything was home cooked.

My parents were pretty laid back with us except for one rule – during the week, the family sat down for dinner every night at 6:00pm. This lasted from my earliest memories to the end of high school. The only exception was eating at a friend’s house. If you were going to be late, you better call!

Why am I telling you all this? Because shopping, cooking, and sitting down to eat is very important to your wellbeing. It took me 30 years and an apartment big enough to fit a dining room table to get this right. I’ll say it again:

SHOP, COOK, and SIT DOWN AT THE TABLE

For those of you already doing the shopping, cooking, and feeding your family – I applaud you and please leave your comments here about how you do it! Just make sure you are all sitting down together at some point during the week.

For the rest of you, I implore you, it’s more important to cook and feed yourself wholesome, home-cooked food than it is to plop down in front of the TV. It’s never been easier to prepare healthy meals – I mean everything is already cleaned AND chopped for you!

There is something immensely satisfying to be able to feed yourself. It’s something that we’ve lost in our convenient modern day society. It seems to me that it would be as basic as learning to drive, getting a job, and paying your rent. You’d be amazed at how many folks I’ve worked with who have never learned to cook.

Here’s how to get started without feeling overwhelmed:

  • Decide on which meal you’d like to cook (breakfast, lunch or dinner)
  • Decide on the kinds of foods you like the most, for example, I love lunch bowls, a combination of a carb, protein, and lots of veggies with a healthy dressing.
  • Search the internet for simple recipes and look on Amazon for cookbooks that have the word “easy” or “quick”
  • Make a shopping list of the ingredients you need
  • Schedule a time to go to the grocery store with your list
  • Schedule an hour to prep and cook
  • Invite friends and family if you like
  • When you are ready to eat, sit down at a table and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

You’ll be amazed at how satisfying a home-cooking can be. And you’ll feel fabulous to boot!

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