While I have never considered myself to be a fantastic cook, I love to embrace some good cookin' experimentations in the kitchen. We often find ourselves so caught up in a whirlwind of days with family, kids, work, the internet and all other things in between, that we rarely slow down enough to chop our own veggies. What if one of the best things we could be doing for our health, the environment's and our family is to simply mess around with good ingredients more often?
I truly believe we find time for the things we value the most. The values we have deemed important are at the root of the things that seem to control our lives; maybe it's money, relationships, kids, Facebook, the television, or other activities. With all the possibilities that fill our days, sometimes the last thing we feel like doing is cooking. So we have an endless amount of choices to do the work for us. While fast, frozen and take out food may be convenient and fulfill our need for instant gratification, it does no service to our physical and social health. The consequences of a diet filled with highly processed food with chemical additives and non organic ingredients are endless. Michael Pollan talks about this in an interview about his latest book on this subject, Cooked.
"We don't value cooking," he says. "We've fallen into this mode where we let the corporations do the cooking for us. The problem is, they don't do it very well."
His whole book focuses on the importance, history and culture of cooking. He argues that people who cook eat healthier diets regardless of what they are cooking. If we can set aside a hour a day for cooking with fresh ingredients we will automatically improve our diet and spend more time with the people important to us. The decline of home cooked meals can be linked to the wide spread damages we have seen to our health (think diabetes, obesity, heart disease) and to our land like decreased soil quality, biodiversity, and increased use of synthetic chemicals and on and on.
We also lose the sense of how cooking connects us to the rest of the world. Food is a common necessity shared by all humanity no matter where you call home or what spices flavor your food. Food holds history and identity for every culture. It is something to be shared and experienced together. We dilute and devalue food when we eat in our cars, while on the phone, or walking to the next appointment. Even if we can't cook or pack lunch every day, even making a small effort to prepare more meals at home can be a fun new adventure and really make a difference. Instead of supporting Big Ag and their poor practices, we can support our immune systems! Cooking can be cheaper than eating out all the time too. Pay a visit to the bulk isle and try out some grains like lentils, quinoa, or chickpeas and use the left overs to make new combinations for lunch the next day! The ease in which we can buy and eat is something we should be deeply grateful for. So why not spend a little more time cooking and counting our blessings?
My Summer Go-To Meal in 15 Minutes
When I'm in a hurry or not feeling like cooking I usually just throw a bunch of veggies together for a yummy salad or pita! This is great for summer because you don't have to turn on the stove.
If I have some kale on hand I will prepare that first to get it soften up a bit by adding half an avocado, some olive oil and lemon juice. Then let it sit while preparing the salad.
First I wash the produce and then chop all the veggies. I like to use tomato, bell peper, onion, cucumber and of course an avocado. Feta cheese gives it an extra kick too! I mix it all up in a bowl with lemon, olive oil and a little balsamic then stuff in the pita bread or eat alone as a salad.
Five great sites for cookin' ideas!