Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cooking From Scratch

Cooking from scratch means different things to different people.  I know some families that make a cake with a box mix and then add the eggs, milk and butter. This is cooking from scratch to them.  It is making something in their kitchens.

To me, making it completely from scratch, is a bit more refined than that.  I don't care if you use a box, can or bag to make your meals but I do believe that when we use simple ingredients with single items we have more control over our food and menus.

When I use a box, can or prepackaged food item I read and reread the labels.  At first glance I can tell if I will even give this product the time of day.   If the ingredient list is more than 3 or 4 lines I don't buy it.  I don't even bother to read the ingredients.  I do this because I want food that is "added to" with as little possible ingredients as possible.  I want food to be minimally processed or not processed at all.

Sometimes I can't avoid it though and I am left buying something bagged, canned or packaged.  I don't freak out about this and make a big deal about it.  I do my homework and try to buy the best possible fit for my family.

Single ingredients are what I hope to spend my hard earned cash on.  I want to control how my food is put together.  This is why I cook from scratch.  I want complete control over how much sugar, salt, oil, flavor, and spice go into our meals.  Call me a control freak if you must but this control has led us to living a more balanced life and a healthier and more fit lifestyle.

Diabetes is an illness that runs rampant in my family.  It is a disease that I have watched my grandmother and mother battle.  It is something that I don't want my kids to have to watch or be a part of.  For this reason I have taken measures to eat as little processed food as possible.  I cut out almost all refined sugars from our diets.

I know when my blood sugar is off.   I think to myself,  how can a person live this way?  I feel terrible, sick and out of sorts.  I immediately reflect on what I have eaten and try to improve and refine my diet even more so.  My Mom was with me last year and we ate real food.  We checked her blood sugar levels every day.  She could not believe how low they were.  She was eating  home cooked meals with natural sugars, a little bit of salt.  Meals made with single ingredients and with as little processed food as possible.

Do I believe cooking from scratch has healthy benefits?  You bet I do.  I know that this way of cooking won't prevent diabetes or any other illness in some people but I do believe it can help many many lives.

Cooking from scratch is personal to me because it has given me hope that I won't fall into the family health plan of getting some of the more dominant issues in our family tree.  It is worth it to me to try and stay as healthy as possible for the sake of my kids.

Oh I know it takes time.  Preach that to the choir.  Time is relevant when your health is at stake or you are overweight.  Make the time.  Find the time.  Create the time.  I am just as busy as anyone else.  I still manage to make almost all of our meals from scratch.


1.  Make easy meals.  DUH?  I used to think that every meal had to be this gourmet production.  It doesn't.  My kids would prefer to eat the same thing twice a week instead of seeing me wig out because this or that dish did not turn out.  Keep it simple.

2.  Make a menu.  Yes, take a few minutes to write down your ideas of what you want to make.  This will help you make time to make real food.

3.  Involve your family.  Kids love to cook.  Believe it or not, husbands, can shop too.  My husband will often go to the grocery store for us.  Does he buy exactly what I need...not always.  I don't care though.  The fact that he went is HUGE in my book.

4.  Start reading food labels.  Educate yourself on what you are consuming. If this doesn't scare the shit out of you then I don't know what will.  Discover what kinds of dyes, preservatives, artificial flavorings, etc...the list is a mile long of reasons why you should care what you are eating when you buy something processed.

5.  Decide to do it and just do it.  Nike had it right.  Just do it.  Take baby steps. Figure out how to make breakfast from scratch: eggs, oatmeal, homemade pancakes or waffles, hash browns.  Focus on one area first and then when you become comfortable try lunches.  Lunches are the easiest because you can use leftovers from dinner.  Dinners take more planning but they can also be made with time saving kitchen gadgets like: Crock Pots, Vitamix's and pressure canners.

These five suggestions can help you get started.  Teaching you how to incorporate cooking from scratch and using simple single ingredient foods when planning your meals at home.  If I wasn't a beneficiary of this method of cooking and seeing first hand how it has helped our family I might be more passive about discussing this way of life.

People talk about passions and this is one of mine:  Eat real food made from single ingredients as often as possible.  Know your food.  Shop local.  Visit the farms in your area.  Know those that cut your meat and sort your produce. Engage in your meals. Involve your family.

Get in the kitchen and start cooking from scratch.

Simple?  Maybe.  Manageable?  YES!

Written by Sherron Watson

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