Archive for the ‘Information’ Category

Cook, Eat, Enjoy

A couple of posts ago I commented on eating in, and I’d like to elaborate a little more on that. Eating in, and helping people realize the benefits of eating in, is one of my passions. I have reaped so many benefits from cooking for myself, and I’d like to share those with others.

Anyone you ask can tell you about America’s obesity problem, and it’s only growing. It’s a combination of poor eating habits and a lack of physical activity. Since it’s my goal to help America eat healthier (quite a lofty one, I’ll admit), I have spent a lot of time thinking about this problem. Let’s talk about the poor eating habits.

As you can see from the stats I quoted in my other post below, Americans are spending much less time in the kitchen today than they did years ago. As Americans are getting busier and busier, we devote less time and energy to food. That leads to eating out more and turning to convenience foods (prepackaged items, fast food, etc.) more frequently. The problem is that those types of foods and meals are not in accordance with the goals of healthy eating.

Restaurants tend to load their dishes with unhealthy ingredients to excess, often to make them more extravagant and make them taste richer. Convenience foods and fast foods are created with poor-quality ingredients (and in some cases addicting ones!) in order to reduce costs. They also use preservatives and manufactured ingredients that are shown to have negative health effects in humans. Yes, at times it seems like fast food is cheap. But it adds up and it is not worth it. None of this is good for us.

Therefore I’m devoting my time, energy, and passion to promoting healthy cooking and eating in. Why? I believe in it and I believe it can change people’s lives. The benefits, which I’ll attempt to enumerate below, are so numerous and can affect so many aspects of our lives.

1) It’s healthier

This is the number one reason for eating in and cooking your own meals. First of all, you have ingredient control. You get to pick what goes into your food, and anything you cook for yourself will not include trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, food coloring, or other preservatives and harmful ingredients. You know when you pick up a packaged food at the grocery store, turn it over to see the ingredients label, and read a lot of ingredients that you can barely pronounce, let alone recognize? That won’t happen if you cook your own food.

You can also control your portions when you cook your own food. When you eat at a restaurant, often you’re served a portion that is sufficient for two or three or even more people. This problem disappears when you cook your own food. And taking care with the atmosphere in which you prepare and eat your food increases your mindfulness, which generally means you’ll eat slower and eat less.

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2) It’s cheaper

Eating out in restaurants or even picking up fast food often is expensive. Spending your money on high-quality ingredients in the grocery store and taking the time to cook your own meals (especially freezing the leftovers!) is much better for your wallet, especially if you plan well. If you’re still uncertain, budget it. Study the numbers, and you’ll see that eating in is much more economical.

Eating in is also much friendlier to the environment. If you buy your own food, you can control the quality of the ingredients. If you’re able to buy organic foods or shop at a farmers’ market, all the better. You could even grow your own fruits and vegetables. Also, you’ll save the gas by driving to a restaurant!

3) It’s good for your soul

Simply put, cooking is fun. It increases your appreciation and gratitude of the food that is available to you. When you take the time to choose your meal and then prepare it and share it with others, food takes on much more meaning and through this it can enrich our lives.

Cooking is a great way to express your creativity. Looking around for recipes based on your preferences and which ingredients you have, or even creating your own recipes, is fun and if you’re not used to it, it stretches your mind in a different way. Cooking is also relaxing. Put some music on, pour a glass of wine if you’d like, get your hands into it, and have fun! Take cooking as a fabulous hobby, use it as relaxing time, and get all these benefits! 

Whether you’re eating alone or with people, don’t neglect your eating space. Try to eat fewer meals in front of the TV or the computer, and just enjoy your food. Pay attention to the smell, the taste, and the look of the food. Take care with all of this–you deserve it! Therein lies a problem, I think. So many Americans now are so preoccupied with being busy, working, and helping other people that we forget to take time for ourselves. Cooking for yourself or your family is a wonderful way to work on this virtue. 

Food is also a wonderful thing to share. Use it as precious time to spend with your family and your friends. Many of my greatest and most precious memories revolve around food and sharing it with people.

Thanks so much for reading my ramblings. 🙂 Do you like to eat at home? Why do you like it and devote time to it? Do you support my mission to increase the number of meals people cook at home? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Today’s Inspiration

Welcome readers! Here is what I found today that inspired me…

“It is difficult to quantify a decline in cooking skills, but many studies show that time in the kitchen has declined steeply since 1965, when American women spent a weekly average of 13 hours cooking…Today, women in the United States report spending an average of 30 minutes a day preparing meals. The percentage of women who are overweight has risen to about 65 percent from about 30 percent in the 1960s”  (New York Times).

Please use the comments to tell me what you think about this. I have decided to use this blog as a vehicle to promote the benefits of cooking your own meals, both nutritionally and emotionally. Are you with me?

Heart-Healthy Nutrients

Hello blog readers! The info I have for you today is from a MSNBC article about women heart health. This article listed five important nutrients for women and easy ways to incorporate them into your diet.

  • Omega-3s: There are three of them, and DHA is best for your heart. It lowers blood fats and raises good cholesterol (HDL). Salmon and other fatty fish are the best sources, and if you don’t like fish look into a supplement or other foods that are fortified with DHA. You need two fish servings a week or 200mg a day.
  • Soluble fiber: Insoluble fiber is in whole wheat and vegetables, while soluble fiber is found in fruits, oats, and legumes. Soluble fiber lowers your LDL (bad cholesterol). Aim for 25 grams of fiber a day, with several sources of the insoluble type.
  • Folate: B vitamins reduce homocystine in the blood, which lowers your risk of heart disease. Try to eat two sources of high-folate foods (green/leafy veggies, orange juice, legumes) to help your heart.
  • Antioxidants: These attack free radicals (oxygen fragments that can damage your cells). Colorful fruits and vegetables are your best bet. Keep eating all your servings!
  • Vitamin D: Many, many Americans are lacking in this vitamin, and studies show it can lead to heart disease. Get your few minutes of sunshine a day and look for Vitamin D-fortified foods (800-1000 IU/day).

Check out the article here for some more info and meal ideas that incorporate these essential nutrients!

(Please don’t forget to leave me a comment with your thoughts and subscribe to the blog with the button on the right!)

More Info on Fish and Post-Super Bowl

Since I just featured a salmon recipe from the lovely Angela here, I figured it would be beneficial to include some more info about fish. Here’s an article about sustainable seafood and this is one regarding the best eco-friendly fish choices. And we should all know about which fish to choose when it comes to mercury levels, particularly pregnant and nursing women, so here’s is a handy guide from the FDA and the EPA.

Let’s move away from fish and talk instead about the Super Bowl! Though it might have been more beneficial for me to post this article before the Super Bowl, it still has valuable information that you can keep in mind before the next big eating holiday. What was your strategy for eating during the Super Bowl and how did you handle it?