Remember the shopping rushes of 2020? Only one family member could head to the grocery store. You’d wait your turn standing in a line six feet apart. Then you’d weave through the store, following the arrows, picking up the things you needed.
My husband was our dedicated shopper. He’d come home with bags of food, multiples of everything we needed and wanted.
We converted a hall closet into a makeshift pantry. We had food stashed everywhere.
But it probably looked different than most. We had:
- Organic canned beans of every type
- Organic tomatoes of every consistency
- Organic grains like farro, barley, and bulgar
- Organic dried beans
- Organic rice
Our refrigerator was always stuffed with:
You get the picture.
We created some of the most delicious meals. We experimented with so many recipes.
We also became closer as a family. Each night, we were all in the kitchen chopping, stirring, sautéing, and plating nutritious entrees that we fell in love with.
I remember the first time we went for a drive around the city, just to get away. We passed a fast-food restaurant with a line a mile long wrapped around the building.
I’m not judging. I was truly shocked. Wasn’t everyone doing what we were?
We’re a nation that eats out because it’s what we’re trained to do
If you’re reading this, you’ve already made the connection between good eating and good health.
According to an article in Blue Zones, we’ve finally reached a point where the average American spends more money eating out than eating at home. Most eat almost five meals a day cooked outside of the home. And I would say this number is rising with the convenience of delivery services bringing food from anywhere right to your door.
Let’s talk about the standard American diet (SAD). It’s filled with unhealthy foods laced with chemicals. They include highly processed foods lacking in nutrition, artificially colored and sweetened to the point it’s toxic to the liver and other vital organs. They’re laden with hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, low in fiber, pro-inflammatory, high in sodium and refined sugars.
One recent study found that eating a SAD diet for one week decreased learning. It also increased the desire for SAD foods. Yep, in just one week, people became addicted to SAD foods.
Imagine what happens when you eat it throughout your life!
The energy of good food
Bite into a delicious home-grown strawberry. It’s grown with love. Picked at the peak of perfection. Your teeth sink in, your tastebuds light up as the flavor envelopes you. The juice dribbles down your chin. Mmm…
My grandmother grew up in a farming community. Her mother died when she was just a young girl, and as the oldest, she resumed the “housewife” role. She cooked and cleaned, maintaining a house for three older brothers and a younger sister. She quit school after the eighth grade to keep up with her chores.
She married and had three kids, continuing her role as chief homemaker. Her cooking and baking skills were out of this world! She was a person who “put in a little of this” and “added a pinch of that.” Her love came through in her food.
I LOVED her blueberry pie. She’d whip up a pie crust, make her own filling, and bake it with care. She knew how much I loved it, and would always save me the last piece.
Even today, when I think of her pie, it’s because of the love she put into it. Her hands carefully folding the dough again and again until it was just right. Pushing dough into every corner of the pie tin, and filling it with love and perfection. Crimping the edges and adding little decorations on top that were uniquely her own.
I could taste that love in every bite.
Just reading this makes you hungry, right? I bet you have had experiences like this in your past too.
You can experience this in restaurants – have you ever visited a Farm To Table, or a Michelin-rated restaurant? The chef carefully hand-crafts every plate for the experience.
They hand-select every ingredient that goes into a meal. They spend hours combining tastes to find the perfect combination.
And when the plate is put in front of you, all of your senses come alive.
Compare that to the experience of a drive-thru, scarfing down the “food” on the way to your next appointment.
How to develop a cooking habit
When you care about something, you commit time to it. You study it. You find ways to become better at it.
While a select few take the time to become chefs and perfect the skill of cooking, the vast majority of us rely on our current SAD food system to guide us throughout our days.
I’m not talking about going back to chef school to better understand how food comes together. What I am suggesting is to get more familiar with the food you work with. Add energy and love back into your meals.
It’s time to put all of your gadgets and appliances away.
Start with a simple salad.
Salad these days starts with a bag. The greens and veggies are chopped – simply pour it into a bowl, squeeze the dressing from the packet, mix – and voila, salad is served.
What I suggest is creating it yourself, seeing and tasting the difference.
Head to the store and buy three to five leafy greens:
- Green leaf
I usually select based on what’s in season, and what makes a visually pleasing salad. Mix colors, shapes, and tastes.
Then select three to five fruits and veggies to put on top. For this experiment, avoid the standard “in the bag” produce you can find chopped and ready for consumption. Find beautiful fruits and veggies you might not have a lot of experience with:
- Heirloom tomatoes
- Easter egg radishes
- Watermelon radishes
- Blood oranges
- Asian pears
Now let’s add a dressing. No, not from a bottle. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is.
Start simple – I love a tablespoon of olive oil mixed with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Add salt and pepper, and you will taste the crispness of every ingredient.
Step it up a notch with olive oil mixed with vinegar – it creates amazing flavor. And with so many vinegars on the market, you can easily find one suitable for your tastes:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Coconut vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- White wine vinegar
- Red wine vinegar
- Champagne vinegar
- Sherry vinegar
Here’s a tip. Have your greens in a large bowl. Mix your oil and vinegar dressing in a separate bowl, then toss it with the greens. Get your hands in the mix and massage it into the leaves – you’ll notice a big change in the flavor.
Once your salad is complete, you can top it with extra goodness:
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Dried cranberries
- Dried blueberries
- Medjool dates
- Macadamia nuts
With every added ingredient, you’ll fall in love with the process a little bit more. You can continue to add love by changing up the presentation.
I often plate the salad, then add a few extra veggies or fruit for a pop of color.
Presentation is everything!