Study Habits: Cooking and Eating Healthy
People who love to eat are always the best people. (Julia Child)
I have always enjoyed food, but in the last few years I've found that I also love meal planning, cooking, and eating healthy.
Food is an interesting thing. We need it to survive. It defines cultures. It's an expression of love. Too much, or the wrong kind, can make us sick. I was a vegetarian for a few years but that didn't automatically make me healthier. In fact, I am leaner and happier now that I'm eating meat again. I believe food choices are all about what works for the individual, and this can change over time.
Cooking and eating healthy have become objects of study for me. I have tweaked and practiced, altered and adapted. I deepen my skills with each new recipe. I broaden my knowledge as I learn about new science. There are few topics I am more interested in than cooking, enjoying good food, and eating healthy — and there's always more to learn.
The documentary Food Inc. influenced the way I look at food. If something on my plate has been genetically modified, pumped with antibiotics, or factory-processed, it is hard for me to consider it food. I am not perfect and I'm not an expert, but this definition drove my decision to become a vegetarian… and it is what helped me refine my choices when I started eating meat again. I feel fortunate that we have access to organic produce and many varieties of grass-fed, pasture-raised meats.
At the same time, the movie Julie & Julia inspires me in a completely different way! It is such a great movie, one that I re-watch when I'm in need of some extra sparkle. There is something magical about the way two women found their way in life through cooking. (If you liked the movie, consider reading Julia Child's book, My Life in France. I listened to it on audiobook and it was amazing!)
Earlier this year, I read the book Grain Brain. The science (and logic) in the book helped me decide to limit the amount of carbohydrates, sugars, and grains in my diet. I would have never dreamed of trying this when I was a vegetarian, but I’m willing to change my ways if there is a healthier option. Around the same time, my Mister joined CrossFit, which promotes a Paleo diet. We are not strict or hard core, but we have shifted to eating more vegetables, healthy fats, fish, and meat. Along with working out regularly, these changes have resulted in both of us being lighter and stronger than we have been in years.
While I own a ton of cook books, there's one in particular that helped me with the basics. I received the The Vegetarian Student Cookbook as a Christmas gift. It's written as a guide book for college students, but it is great for anyone who is cooking for 1 or 2 people. The first section shares "Kitchen Know-How," which are helpful basics from food safety to taste tips. Then the book flows from light bites and sides, to salads and pasta, then entrees, and finishes up with "food to impress" and desserts. The book has a ton of pictures and easy to follow instructions. Even if you are not a vegetarian, there are plenty of great ideas to build meals around.
I have also enriched my cooking "studies" through blogs, Pinterest, and YouTube videos. Some of my favorite blogs for food inspiration and knowledge are:
- Pinch of Yum - cannot wait to try their Chicken Shahi Korma
- Eat, Live, Run - her Meals to Freeze list is total genius
- How Sweet Eats - these Thai Beef Tacos are a serious show-stopper
- Skinny Taste - I am intrigued by these Naked Salmon Burgers
- Budget Bytes - her Dragon Noodles are a big favorite around here
- Shutterbean - this Cilantro Hummus is on my must-make list
There are so many food-related books that I want to read. Since shifting my diet away from sugars, carbs, and grains, I have started to research study materials. One of my goals for August is to read It Starts With Food and begin my Whole30 later this month. At some point, I am also planning to read Wheat Belly, Clean Gut, and Secrets to a Healthy Metabolism.
As with any favorite subject, there is no limit to the amount of inspiration and knowledge out there. The exciting thing is that I eat every day, so there are plenty of opportunities to refine my study habits!
Image via Death to the Stock Photo
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