Are you used to opening cans, packages and boxes for meals? Perhaps you are ready to start cooking with whole foods and dread all the steps it takes to prepare. Or maybe you feel like you’re not good at cooking. Well, I’d invite you to change your perspective! When I started cooking, I was a busy executive in a big company working 12 hours a day and most weekends (yes, it was definitely an out of balance lifestyle!). This left me little time to cook or really, do anything to take care of myself.
Now if you’ve read my story in the about me page on my website, you know that I had 16 years of bulimia and as I sought answers to cure this so-called “incurable” disease, I finally found them in the kitchen. Actually, the big trick for me was healing my digestion and I found out that digestion doesn’t heal from packaged foods or fast foods full of fake, “food-like” chemicals and non-food additives. We are beautiful human beings (or as Louise Hay likes to joke, we are the upright animal) with bodies built by nature, not in laboratories. To feed my body and help it heal, I had to enter the kitchen. I learned to find and cook vegetables I had never heard of. I opened cookbooks or looked online for how to use ingredients that I had never used before. I found a world of other clever home cooks learning to do the same as they healed their digestion.
Time in the Kitchen Heals
And interestingly, even miraculously, I learned that I matter. That time spent taking care of me mattered. Time in the kitchen was one way to take care of me and I had to embrace the fact that I was good enough to take that time for myself. I began to realize that touching these beautiful whole foods connected me to nature in a way I hadn’t experienced before. I mean, I hiked and spent time in nature, but I had never experienced the daily contact with nature in my own home that comes from handling foods from the earth.
The other big change was that I learned to prepare foods that deeply satisfied MY taste buds, instead of the mass-produced manufactured foods that are designed to excite your taste buds into overeating (I’m serious — the food manufacturers are trying to keep profits up when the population is not growing as fast as they need it to, so they modify foods to get us to eat more). The more time you spend in the kitchen, the more you learn how to create foods that satisfy your body and soul.
I love being in the kitchen and apparently, I’m not the only one — when is the last time you had people over and everyone ended up in the kitchen? It’s a center of fuel for the body, it’s headquarters for making us healthy and it’s where we create a love letter for the body — each ingredient is telling our bodies how much we care about it.
So I hope this article inspires you to spend a little time in the kitchen. You can do a lot in 5 or 10 minutes that will provide lasting rewards for your body and mind!
5 Tips to Make Cooking Fun!
Award-winning Copenhagen chef, Rene Redzepi, changed the focus of cooking at his restaurant and for this, he won some coveted Michelin stars. One of the big changes was using local, little-known ingredients, but the big change was that he added FUN to the kitchen. Now, if you’ve ever worked in a restaurant (or watched Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares) you know that working in a kitchen can be incredibly stressful. A lot of adrenaline is pumping as they produce food from morning to night. Yelling and anger is not uncommon, so Redzepi decided to make some changes. I’m going to share what he did and modify some of it for us home cooks:
- Play music in the kitchen – When I started playing music I love or listening to Hay House Radio, The Splendid Table and other uplifting podcasts, kitchen time became a time of joy and learning. Give yourself a sensory experience. Watch a movie or listen to something that brings you joy!
- Ditch things you don’t love – There are many ways to do this. One of the things I did was invest in a food processor. I have a Kitchen Aid food processor that does my pureeing, chopping, slicing, julienning and just about everything I need except peeling vegetables! I am all about keeping things fast and easy and seriously, who wants to cry when dicing an onion? You can find second hand food processors at garage sales, on eBay, in a thrift store or maybe in a friend or family member’s kitchen, pushed back into some cupboard where it’s dusty and never used. Sometimes people want to get rid of theirs and if they do, grab it! If you don’t love watching things on the stove, consider a crock pot. You can get them for as little as $19 or even less second hand. In this way, you can make decadent, healthy family meals by throwing some ingredients in, setting it for 4 – 10 hours and letting it do all the work, no burning! Here’s a crock pot chicken recipe that you can prepare in 10 – 15 minutes and have a family meal and leftovers.
- Invite friends over to cook with you (or have your kids and spouse cook with you!) – If you have some friends you love being with, invite them over. Learn to make something new together, experiment with healing, delicious spices, have everyone contribute ingredients, then share a meal together! Not only is this great fun, if you make plenty of extra food, everyone can take home leftovers and have them for days. Food brings us together and when we cook together, it’s a bonding experience. When you eat the leftovers, the joy of that experience comes back to you. This is just one of the ways that food is a love letter for your body.
- Experiment! Think of making food as an adventure – Know that it’s OK to make mistakes and laugh about them. Mistakes happen, even with the best of chefs. It’s part of the process and sometimes, “mistakes” end up being so delicious that they become exciting new recipes. This is how many great recipes came about.
- Keep it simple – start with something easy and build from there. I am all about easy recipes. You won’t catch me making a 7-layer cake or even piping frosting into beautiful shapes. I’m more likely to put fruit on top to decorate something. Unless you love lots of steps (and some people do — they are the ones I’d invite over for the 7 layer cake!), choose simple healthy recipes that look delicious. Start with one dish and go from there. Ask for help with cleanup. When my sister and I were 6 and 7 years old, my parents got us stools to stand at the sink and wash dishes. Years later, we thanked my mother for teaching us responsibility and skills in the kitchen that we’d need for our own adult lives. If you find that you give more than you receive, this step is incredibly healing to learn to ask for help…even when throwing a dinner party — get the guests to help clean up so that your kitchen is back in order when they leave. There’s always one or two people who love to help with this! If you are have no idea where to start, ask a friend over who is an experienced cook and have them show you how to do something. Or watch a YouTube video (that’s how my husband and I learned to cook Thai food). If you want a super simple 5-minute dessert recipe, click here!
Food Tastes Better When Made With Fun & Love
The biggest change that Rene Redzepi found in is kitchen was that when they emphasized fun, the food got better. He explains that it was because the chefs felt more relaxed and that allowed them to be more creative if they had to shift some of the ingredients (they weren’t afraid to do what they felt needed to be done). I think that’s pretty interesting…when we aren’t afraid, we are more open to creativity and experimenting. When we look at life as an adventure, it’s easier to drop fear and just jump in and see what happens.
On top of this, my friend Caroline Barringer, wonderful chef, natural healing expert and founder of Immunitrition, can tell you many stories about how food responds better when you make it in the energy of fun and love vs. when you make it with anger or fear. She has a first hand account in her cultured vegetable business. When she was angry one day, she made her typically delicious cultured vegetables the same way as usual and they all turned out black, moldy and only fit for the trash. That was all she needed to realize that she always had to walk into her kitchen with love and fun. This is one of the many reasons she makes the best cultured vegetables on the market today!
If you go to Caroline’s website Immunitrition.com, you can see a great interview on gut health and probiotics she did with Dr. Joe Mercola. It’s very insightful and worth a listen!
So there you have it…the kitchen is headquarters for your health and if you can make it a fun and joyful experience, your taste buds and your body will thank you!
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