Whip Up Health and Weight Loss Success in Minutes
Imagine if someone actually paid you to be healthy. Sent you a handful of dollar bills every morning to have fun. That’s what cooking
your own food is like.
Compared to eating out, cooking whole foods at home saves so much money that you can bank the difference. And even if you dread the task of preparing food now, a few simple insights and strategies can make the kitchen a favorite room.
In this era of manufactured, salt-drenched offerings in restaurants and supermarkets, cooking is a survival skill. If you flinch from preparing food, your health and weight will suffer.
Cooking is a major survival skill in the modern world. So you may as well learn to enjoy it. Here are twelve tips to get started on preparing your own home-cooked meals using whole plant foods.
1. The most important strategy is to be satisfied with simple foods. You don’t need an elaborate, multi-course meal. This time-consuming approach is fine for special occasions, such as birthdays or Mothers Day. The rest of the year you can train your taste buds to be happy with a couple of foods per meal. In fact, one-pot meals (such as soups or stir-fries) are ideal. Sandwiches and wraps are filling, inexpensive, and easy-to0prepare meals and snacks as well.
2. Have a positive attitude. Cooking is more fun when it’s your choice, and not something you feel forced in to. Close your eyes and visualize yourself as a successful cook.
3. Find easy, fast recipes. The McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook, by Mary and Dr. John McDougall, lives up to its title, and the recipes are oil free. If you want recipes to grab off the internet, the vegweb site has a quick and easy category. Google is your friend to find lots more.
4. Take a cooking class. Even if you never cook the recipe again, the instructor will be a role model. She’ll show you food prep as fun and easy.
5. Use your recipes for inspiration, rather than getting stressed if you lack an ingredient or want to cook a veggie more lightly. The fun of cooking is its creativity. Try your own recipe variations and new foods.
6. Cultivate cooking time as relaxation, or even a form of meditation. Focus on the task at hand to forget the stress of the day or upcoming events. Listen to music or a story while you prep the food.
7. Enjoy the aromas, colors, and textures of beautiful whole plant foods. Sample the foods as you cut and cook them. Sniff spices before you sprinkle them into whatever is on the stove.
8. Cook with family or friends. This is a great opportunity to socialize, cooperate on a common task, and spend quality time together. Food prep goes way faster when the tasks are shared. Even kids can help out – and they will learn to be more independent in taking care of their health as they grow when you set such a good example.
9. Make more food than you can eat in one day. The leftovers can be freshened by added some more ingredients the next day. For example, cut up and add those baked potatoes from a couple of days ago to the mushroom barley soup you made yesterday. Throw in some chopped parsley while you’re at it. Freezing leftovers means you have a home-cooked meal waiting to be enjoyed any time.
10. If you don’t have the time, energy, or ingredients to cook totally from scratch, jazz up a prepared food with fresh ingredients. For example, add your own fresh veggies and/or spices and/or leftover rice to boxed or canned animal-free soups. Have a salad with lettuce and one or two other salad vegetables with a frozen dinner. For the prepared food part, do your best to hunt down choices with less sodium than its competitors and no added oil. Think of this as “cooking lite.”
11. Small changes can make your kitchen more convenient. For example, maybe a new stainless steel pot, a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, a high-end knife, or some other gadget will bring more cooking options into range. A steamer for brown rice and vegetables makes dinner so much less time-intensive. Even an easily-used garlic press can make a difference. With the money you save by eating out less, you can afford some new kitchen tools.
12. You may enjoy cooking but hate cleaning up. Here’s the thing. When you cook oil-free with whole plant foods, clean-up is relatively easy. You don’t need to worry about the nasty illness-causing microbes that are virtually always in animal foods. So you don’t need to always be sterilizing your counters and sponge. Also, with no grease used in food prep, you can just wipe down your workspace, and pots and dishes come clean quickly with soap and water.
To motivate yourself to cook, look at the opportunity cost of the alternatives. If you eat out or pick up take-out, think of the time spent going to and from the restaurant or store. You need to find parking unless you do the drive-through (which means you are going for fast food, a nutritional wasteland).
After you look at the menu and order, you need to wait for your food. You might need to wait in line to pay. Then of course there is the cost of eating out – the dollars spent on gas to get there, food, and tips. Don’t forget the health costs, as restaurant food is often saturated with added salt and oil.
By the time you do all this, you could easily have put on a pot of lentils and steamed some brown rice for a healthy, low-cost meal at home.
This is not to say you should never eat out. Of course restaurants can be fun and a great change of pace. Supporting restaurants that serve animal-free choices is a wonderful way to encourage businesses to offer healthy, sustainable choices. The point is to not rely on other people for the bulk of your meals. When you do eat out or pick up take-out, this would be a truly special treat for you.
Remember, health grows out of your kitchen. You can choose to take back your eating and get slim, healthy, and energetic. You’ll enjoy preparing whole plant foods more than you think.
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Blog posting by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet, a nutrition book built on sustainable food choices. Enjoy six kinds of whole foods for permanent, hunger-free weight loss and health.