Cook More.

One of my favorite messages from the recent Achieving Optimal Health Conference in DC was made by Georgetown University Professor Thomas Sherman: “Buy real food and cook it.” Some day, I’ll write another post inspired by one of his other comments that day: “Olive oil — pour it on like gravy.”

(c) BB&R Wellness Consultiing
(c) BB&R Wellness Consulting

You can read Dr. Sherman’s commentary on his speech, “Finding a Diet You Can Live With,” on the Georgetown Food Studies blog. There he summarizes how we ended up with an “all fat is bad” approach to what we eat and higher rates than ever of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. It’s definitely food for thought.

A few days after I heard Dr. Sherman speak, I had a conversation with my employer-provided health coach (yet another future post). I think we were probably talking about kale recipes, and she made the comment, “You would be surprised how many people just don’t cook.”

Why cook? Because you’re likely to eat more fruits and vegetables. You can also control what you’re putting into your body (and you don’t even have to be fanatical). And, let’s face it: Meals taste better when they don’t come out of a package.

Now I know some reasons not to make a meal from scratch: no time, no know-how, no one to share it with, and no interest. If you hate to cook, read the NY Times Opinion Pages from last spring to find a kindred (and very funny) spirit. Then find someone to cook for you so that you can enjoy the benefits of real food. 

If you are willing to “stand facing the stove” as Joy of Cooking author Irma Rombauer instructed, here are my suggestions.

Read cookbooks. 

Cooper likes Jamie at Home.
Cooper liked Jamie at Home a bit too much.

Flip through them, check out recipes, get inspired. Maybe I’m the only one who reads cookbooks in bed. It’s a cheap past-time because the library is full of cookbooks. Check some out. Flag some recipes to try. Or don’t. The more recipes you read, the more you will get the sense of how flavors and textures play together.

“Like” food blogs and “friend” friends who like to cook and eat.

Social media has made our dinners more interesting. I’m inspired by photos that our vegan friend Olga posts. Just the pictures will set me in a certain direction. Most of my friends are generous with their recipes. I’m sure yours will be, too. I also love having new recipes pop up in Facebook by bloggers I follow, like Louisa Shafia or Smitten Kitchen.

Make more than you need. Then eat the leftovers.

I just realized it’s 6pm and I need to practice what I’m preaching. I think dinner tonight will be inspired by Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking.Something with chicken. And ginger. And chiles. And cumin. A lot of it, so we can have a fast lunch tomorrow.

Let me know what you’re cooking!

Postscript Sunday Night: Too hungry to wait for chicken to cook. Used Jaffrey’s Gujerati-style Cabbage with Carrots as the base and added a can of black-eyed peas for protein. Fast and yummy! Heat 3 T of oil (I used coconut), add a pinch of asafetida if you have it, then 1 T of mustard seeds, and some red pepper flakes (I didn’t have a dried chili). When seeds start to pop, watch out! Add shredded cabbage, grated or chopped carrots, and finely chopped jalepeno. Cook on medium heat. After 5-7 mins, add black-eyed peas, big handful of chopped cilantro, 1+ t salt, 1/2 t sugar…. let cook. Add 1+ T of lemon juice at the end. Serve with brown rice.

2 thoughts on “Cook More.”

  1. Nice job with this. Thanks – I am a full believer of cooking real food nearly all the time, and if you don’t have time to cook have a backup plan in your freezer for those busy nights

  2. I love Maddhur Jaffrey – I grew up in an indian household but it wasn’t till I bought her book that I realised what a huge difference the right spice in the right quantity makes!

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