Be a Cook, Not a Chef

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When people come to see me we go over a handout called The Blood Sugar Control Diet.  It helps get sugars out of the diet and thus is useful for a myriad of chronic health issues.  This handout details what to eat for proteins, carbohydrates and fats.  It further differentiates the good carbohydrates from the bad carbohydrates and thus has further sections for grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy.  I’ll tweak things depending on what I think each person can or cannot handle.  For example, some people are more ready than others to give up all sugar, refined grain products or say, diet coke.

Regardless, there’s one thing I underline on this handout that is essential for everyone and it has nothing to do with specific dietary changes.  It’s so important that I always have a red pen on hand to underline it for emphasis.  As I’m underlining I always say this, “This is absolutely the most important thing on this handout.  None of this is possible unless you do this one thing.”

This is exactly what I underline:

This way of eating does take a little planning, but is well worth the effort.

In other words, you have to cook a little more to eat healthier.   It’s hard to get around the fact that to minimize processed foods, to stop eating sugar and to start making real changes, that you have to spend a little more time in your kitchen.  This doesn’t mean you have to be Julia Child!  As I like to say, “You don’t have to be a chef, but you do have to be a cook.” Big difference.

This can be intimidating for many people, especially those with full time jobs.  But with a little planning and a little preparation it’s amazing how quick and simple it can be to eat well at home.

I have yet to find a fish or a vegetable that does not work beautifully with a simple sauce of butter and lemon.  Olive oil, salt, pepper and an herb or two work equally well.   Soy sauce, ginger and garlic are pure magic in my book for red meats and green vegetables as well.  And as far as I’m concerned, the crock pot is one of the greatest inventions of all time.

I always try to help my clients with simple strategies for eating well in a way that isn’t completely overwhelming.   Trust me I’m certainly no chef myself.  But I am a cook.  I’ve realized that I have to be in order to nourish myself and feel well.  With a little practice, patience and persistence, you can have quite the repertoire of delicious home cooked meals within a very short time.

There are so many great cookbooks and websites that can turn almost anyone from a microwaving, hot pocket eating, processed food junkie into a real food cook.  As I’ve mentioned previously, Nourishing Traditions is a personal favorite of mine.

However, there’s nothing quite like learning from others in person.  And it’s a heck of a lot more fun.

On that note I’d like to give a shout out to my friend Molly Merrett.  Molly is very active in the local food movement here in the Pioneer Valley and she has recently started a series of cooking classes using local foods.  I’ve taken a few of them and they’re really great.  I always learn something new from Molly’s classes be it a recipe, a new technique for chopping vegetables or a new way to hold a knife so that I don’t slice my finger off!  Trust me that last one is an important skill to learn.

Check out this short video of Molly and myself at her last class:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9OChvWBuCg

If you’re in the Pioneer Valley, Molly’s next class is this Saturday, August 20th from 2-5pm at the Friends Meeting House in downtown Northampton.  You can find out more about her classes at www.localfeastcookingclasses.blogspot.com .

If you’re not in the Pioneer Valley, I bet if you google your town name with “cooking classes” you might find more options than you realized.   It’s a great way to learn some new recipes and meet some people as well.

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