May 3, 2011

Home Cooking Rocks!

Studies continue to report that fewer and fewer people are cooking at home, which makes me sad. The truth is that many Americans spend more time in traffic these days than in the kitchen.
We are eating in our cars, in front of the TV, but we are not sitting down as families. I was once overweight and I know it is not easy to break old habits.
We are more sedentary than we have ever been, and we are fatter than we have ever been.
Many people say they barely have time to exercise, let alone fix dinner. The world is fast-paced today but your nutrition does not have to follow suit.
People consume 50% more calories, fat and sodium when they eat out than when they cook at home. Restaurant customers often miss out on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and other vitamin-rich "powerhouse foods”. And overeating, which is harder to avoid at restaurants, will lead to obesity.
The basic truth is that the more you eat in, the more you can control and the healthier your plate is going to be.
Clearly, we are much more interested in and knowledgeable about food these days, as reflected in the increasing popularity of cooking shows, magazines, and cookbooks; yet we seem to be cooking at home less and less... Why?
I think all the emphasis on chef-inspired food porn has skewed the reality of what home cooking is all about and may have scared people away from the kitchen.
However, home cooking recipes taste so much better, are full of nutrients and you are in charge of every ingredient used. It is quicker to prepare dishes than you might think! It is also healthier and more economical, which can be especially important these days.
Yes, it is not all sexy… It takes some planning and prioritizing so you’re don’t get caught in that vicious cycle of asking yourself at the end of a long day, “What’s for dinner?”
Basic home cooking is about shopping only once or twice a week, planning, cooking extra, creative use of leftovers, having a reasonably well stocked pantry, and easy do-ahead dishes.
It is also deeply satisfying to be able to nourish yourself and those you love with tasty simple home cooking.
Cooking does not have to be a chore. Remember you do not have to make a gourmet meal every night.
It is all about creating simple meals that comfort, nourish, and please, not trying to impress with overcomplicated dishes full of expensive ingredients that you use only once. Cooking dinner does not have to leave you feeling depleted.  Simple meals are just as well balanced and will be appreciated. This saves you energy and time.
If you keep things simple and learn some basics, it can actually be a very pleasant transition out of your workday.
You can turn it into quality time spent with your children if you let them help you. Of course, they will need to be supervised, however it can be a time where you can talk and enjoy each other's company. It will be a time that your children will remember forever, and possibly even pass down to their children. Another advantage is that children who frequently eat dinner at home with their family eat more fruits and vegetables and get better grades in school.
So, if you use cooking a family dinner as family time, you will know that your family's nutrition requirements are being looked after.
Here are a few excellent books that I use in my everyday home cooking adventure: The Paleo Recipe Book, Secret Restaurant Recipes at Home and The Diet Solution Program.