Cooking to Create Health
As a dietitian, I am often asked what the best diet is or what foods you should eat for weight loss. While there are a lot of great meal plans and foods to choose from, ultimately losing weight and creating lifelong health starts simply by getting in the kitchen.
I am certainly no chef, but through my own battle with autoimmune disease, I have learned to love cooking my own meals. In fact, this is probably the single most important lifestyle change that helped me reverse my disease symptoms. When I started my journey with an elimination diet, cooking my own food was a necessity - either that or I didn't eat. But, once I made it through those eight weeks and felt like a million bucks - there was no way I was going to go back to where I started!
Here are some awesome reasons to cook your own food:
You can control what's going into your body. When you eat out, there is no way to know how your food is prepared. Are inflammatory fats and oils used? Likely. Is there an excess of sugar or salt? Probably. But, when you make your own meals, you have the ability to choose the amount and type of these additives.
You can control the sanitation. It's no secret that we're in the middle of a pandemic. When you make your own food, you have control over the hand washing. In addition, food borne illness is a real threat - cooking at home allows you to manage proper cleaning and food storage, but you can also control cooking time and temperature.
You can improve your family relationships. Spending time cooking with your loved ones builds camaraderie and helps to foster healthier relationships. You can share the events of your day and bond while cooking and sharing a meal together.
You can teach your kids valuable lessons about health as well as basic cooking skills. I have never met a kid who wasn't eager to help out in the kitchen. By sharing your time and attention in the kitchen, your children will be more likely to make healthier food choices as they age, but they will also be prepared to take care of themselves once they leave home.
You can practice self-love. Preparing your own meals fosters a sense of accomplishment and is a way to put your own health front and center. When you care enough about your body to really invest the time and energy it takes to make it healthy, you are better able to care for those around you.
You will be more apt to have overall healthy eating habits. People who make their own food generally have more nutritious diets and take in a more variety of nutrients compared to those who eat out frequently.
You save money. We all hear how eating out, especially for one or two people is cheaper than eating at home, but this is just not true. You can definitely save money by planning your meals and shopping smart. And, don't forget the hidden cost of eating fast food routinely. The real cost of the food you're consuming will eventually show up in payments for medication and doctor visits from poor health, not to mention the reduction in quality of life.
You can boost your mental health and reduce your stress level. Cooking can help provide stress relief. You're able to focus on creating the meal instead of lamenting the stressful events that may have happened during the day.
You can get creative. Some of my best meals are those that don't start out with a recipe. When you cook your own food, you have the opportunity to try new foods, new seasonings, and new cooking methods to create your own little masterpiece.
If you're new to cooking, just starting with some basic, simple recipes can boost your confidence. And remember, every meal doesn't have to be some elaborate four course marathon. I started with making two or three different vegetables, threw in a source of protein, and added a serving of a healthy grain for a well-rounded meal.
My Psoriasis Diet Cookbook is full of simple, healthy recipes perfect for anyone just learning to cook! I also post easy, healthy meals over on Instagram @nutrisensenutrition. Check out the simple recipe below for a quick, nutritious lunch or dinner dish!
Summer Quinoa Bowl
1/2 head of red leaf lettuce, chopped
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 onion, cut into chunks
2 cups broccoli, cut into chunks
1 cup baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
To a medium saucepan, add the avocado oil, bell pepper, broccoli, onions, and mushrooms. Saute over medium heat until softened
Meanwhile, to a small mason jar, add the dressing ingredients and shake well
When the vegetables are soft, layer two bowls each with 1/2 of the leaf lettuce, add a layer of quinoa and then top with the sauteed vegetables. Add dressing and serve.