To Cook or Not To Cook??

I get this question ALL the time: "Do you like to cook?" The short answer: "No." The longer answer: "I like to eat good food therefore I cook." So I guess in a way I do like to cook? I'm still trying to figure it out, so the verdict's still out.   My mom is someone who loves to cook & bake. She rarely uses the same recipe twice. & when I do want her to repeat something that she made (that I liked) she can't find the recipe because she has so many new ones waiting to try out. Yeah, that's not me. The other thing about my mom is she can read a recipe & just know if the recipe sounds good. Again, not me. Cooking is just something that has never come easy for me. I remember when I went away to college & was in my 1st apartment . I had my mom give me a few recipes to get started so I wouldn't be eating ramen noodles every night. Next to each ingredient she would write the brand name of the item. This way when I was shopping at Publix I'd know exactly what to buy. The store is confusing even for me & I'm a dietitian!  That's when I first started cooking & I've been cooking ever since. I think in this last year I've been cooking even more & really trying to make that saying, "let food be your medicine & medicine be your food." Food really can be medicinal if we use it that way (food can also be misused in many ways, but that's a blog for another day). 

To Cook Or Not To Cook - Food as Medicine.jpg

But it got me thinking, how many people really truly cook?? When I have patients in my office & I'm counseling them on weight loss that is the #1 thing I tell them - check the frequency of their eating out. If you're eating out you have NO control over how the food is being prepared, not to mention the crazy portion sizes you see that you start believing are real.  Morgan Spurlock got criticized for his movie Supersize Me, but he was simply showing how people eat out three meals a day, easily.  And while this might not be within a month for some people, it might not be too far off from what people may do in a three year period or three months for that matter. The point being we've gotten away from cooking & if your goal is to be healthier or if you're wanting to lose weight, the bottom line is that cooking, at home, has to happen.  Home economics isn't a mandatory class anymore. Kids these days aren't learning how to cook. Granted there are many famous chefs on TV that have helped the movement maybe somewhat.  But the truth is if we all used as much salt (butter, cream, etc.) as they do on TV it'd almost be like we're eating out. Yep, I said it. It's the truth. 

I'm not here to tell you it's going to be easy. In fact I was cooking yesterday & I should've taken a picture to show you what a mess I made. I by no means am glamorous when it comes to the kitchen (note to self: maybe I should document my cooking so people can get a laugh.) I have a small kitchen, I make a LOT of dishes, & I celebrate if I don't cut my finger/grate my finger (yes, that happened last week.) But I keep my focus: I want to eat healthy, good for me food. And that's why I go back week after week.  My goal with each & every dish that I make is to optimize the nutrients. I don't get fixated on each & every vitamin but I do pay attention to the 3 main nutrients: carbohydrates, protein, & fat.  If the meal is balanced I know I'm getting the nourishment that I need. Many people believe that for vegetarians it's hard to get enough protein for the day. That's one of the biggest myths out there. However, I will say this, as I've been perusing many blogs/recipes/websites recently, there are many vegetarians/vegans that are not getting enough protein. So it is a fine line. I'm not asking for you to do something like that, but I do encourage people to look at their meal & make sure they're balancing their plate - half the plate should be vegetables, a quarter of the plate the protein source (a deck of cards for size, roughly), & the remaining quarter of the plate, carbohydrates. On the myplate graphic they show a fruit & milk at the meal - your choice where the carbohydrate is coming from. One could choose only grains to be their carbohydrate at that meal. The key point being that sometimes we go overboard with the carbohydrates. (I could pick on any culture, but I had a Hispanic lady in my office the other day & when I was showing her how her plate stacked up her 1st response was, "bomba!" A bomb it was - rice, beans, yuca, plantains, & a soda!) The key really is balance. I'm not here to make this cooking thing harder. My goal is to get people thinking. Yes, I want you to cook, but I also want you to cook things that are healthy for you as well provide the nourishment you need in the right proportions. Sometimes my patients joke that I just need to go home with them & show them how it's really done. Not a bad idea, but as of now it's hard enough to get insurance to pay for a dietitian visit IN the clinic. 

So I leave you with this: explore on the Internet. Find recipes that sound good to you, plan for the week, & get those little kiddos in the kitchen learning how to cook! Sounds easier said than done I know. It's easy to get in a rut when it comes to food. I always tell people get a rotating menu going & start planning your meals that way - this way you rotate so you're not eating the same thing week after week. We all have our go to recipes. My encouragement, explore a little, try a new recipe, you might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. That's what keeps me motivated - finding good recipes to pass on.  These are my go to pages for finding new recipes recently:

Every recipe I've ever tried from Cooking Light has turned out.  I love them even more because they have the nutritional analysis below the recipe for you to be able to know exactly how much and what you're eating.  Their section on quinoa recipes has a few of my go to recipes that I use all the time.

I'm not sure how I came across this website, but I'm glad I did!  While some of her recipes are a little time consuming, some are not. The best part - her food is SO flavorful and delicious.  Some of the flavors that she marries together are ridiculous!  Delish!

I've found many a recipe on this lady's website as well.  Her fruit tartlet was amazing!!  See my picture below - if I can do it, so can you!