Health Starts in the Kitchen

Why We Should Cook and Eat at Home More Often

So often on my blog I attempt to convince my readers that the key to nourishing our bodies and preventing chronic disease is to

JUST EAT REAL FOOD!

Why?  Because food can truly heal our bodies, something prescription medications are not capable of.

What does eating real food look like?  

Eating meals with high quality, whole food ingredients will maximize your nutrient intake from natural sources.  Avoid nutrient-poor processed foods.  Despite the opinions over what constitutes a healthy diet, I hope we can all agree that processed foods can, and will harm our bodies.  I love this rule from the Daniel Plan, “If it grows on a plant, eat it; if it is made in a plant, leave it.”

Eating real food is eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, organic if possible.  If not organic, then at least local to ensure freshness and to support local farmers.

Eating real food is finding animal protein that was raised on the food it was meant to eat.  For example, a cow that was grass fed or a chicken that was cage free and sustained itself from the barn yard.  Now I understand that these ingredients can get expensive, so at least antibiotic and hormone free option is recommended.

The biggest thing keeping us from Eating Real Food

OK before you totally check out on me… The biggest thing keeping us from eating real food is not whether or not we are buying organic.   I’ve come to realize the major hindrance to a lifestyle of EATING REAL FOOD is the lack of time we spend in the kitchen.

As Americans, we are a society that loves to RUSH, RUSH, RUSH, and unfortunately we treat mealtimes the same.  We want recipes that are quick and easy, with minimal ingredients.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a mother of young children so I understand the lack of time and focus that parenting affords you.  However, I do believe if we are going to nourish our families with high quality food, then we need to get back into our kitchens.

I watched a video the other day comparing America with other cultures in regards to how much time we spend preparing and enjoying meals on a daily basis.  In France, they spend on average 2.5 hours per day preparing and eating their food, as compared to 75 minutes for Americans.  That’s because we’re often eating on-the-go and at times even skipping meals or asking the family “fend for themselves” for dinner.

I propose that we get back in the kitchen and learn how to cook (and eat) real food again.  Using quality, whole food ingredients we need to research and execute a meal with high nutritional value that was made with love.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

We’ve got to get back in the kitchen not only to provide nutritional food to our families, but to spend more time with them as well!  If time is a factor, and you work away from your children, then bring them into the kitchen to help.  They can wash and chop vegetables, stir sauces, and keep the kitchen tidied – all the while spending quality time with you and picking up some cooking skills for themselves.  My two year old will don her apron when mommy is in the kitchen and help me “cook” by stirring and mixing for me.  It’s funny, older kids will often open up when they are spending time “doing” something with you.

Another tip to cut down on cooking time during the evenings is to pick a few hours over the weekend and prepare a portion of the meals for the week.  You can grill several chicken breasts and bake several sweet potatoes for a meal on a night you don’t have much time.  Also chopping vegetables ahead of time for soups/stews can really save you time on a weeknight. Soups also are great because you can make a large batch and eat leftovers throughout the week.  I like to make some brown rice or quinoa as a go-to side for several meals throughout the week.  Or you can make snacks like hummus, salsa or guacamole to have in the fridge ready to go.  A little preparation over the weekend can keep your meals nutritious, while saving you time in the evening.

And lastly, meal time should be a time to enjoy with your family.  Instead of just rushing through to get onto the next activity, spend time around the dinner table.  Maybe everyone shares a high and low they experienced that day or can say something they are grateful for.  It’s been found when children have this daily routine of meal time with their family they feel more secure and their overall communication with their parents is better.

Take a step in your family’s journey to health and try to cook at home more.  Make it fun, make it interesting, and model the importance of meal time to your children that they can carry for the rest of their lives.

~ Kelly ~