Over the past few years, I have really grown to absolutely love cooking and cooking real, whole foods. People talk to me and ask where this love came from, and they want to know how I do it and how they can do it too. I would always say I had no idea where it came from…but it’s probably one of the best things to have ever happened to me.
I was always fascinated by cooking. I even came very close to going to culinary school instead of a traditional college after high school. However it wasn’t until later, into my early 20’s that I really started to experiment in the kitchen. I watched a lot of food network, always captivated by the beautiful dishes that these hosts created and the ease in which they manipulated the food into something delicious. So of course, I wanted to do it too. However, I have always had a passion for information and learning, not just doing. Alton Brown quickly became a favorite of mine, feeding not only my interest in making foods but my hunger for knowledge too. Over the years, my food idols have expanded to people like Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman, diving deeper into topics surrounding our culture and food.
I have always attributed the start of my interest in health and healthy living to the foods themselves. While it is absolutely accurate to do so, there is also another component to the process that I hadn’t really given its due credit, and that is cooking. I can’t pin-point where, what, or even really when I started to cook a lot; it was a gradual process. The more I cooked, the more I wanted to learn about different foods. The more I learned about different foods, the more I learned about health, and wellness. Cooking became a catalyst for me to begin a path of health and nutrition self-education. The more I learned, and the more I experimented, the better I felt and the more I wanted to continue to cook and learn.
When I really stop and break it down, cooking saved me. Now, I know that sounds a bit dramatic. It didn’t cure me from any terminal disease, or clean me up from a debilitating addiction; but it did turn my life around. When someone asks, “What are you passionate about?” cooking and leading a healthy lifestyle are always my top answers. I found a passion that is bigger than a hobby; I found a way to heal myself, physically and mentally.
Cooking has really given me the opportunity to get in touch with who I am. Because it’s something that you have to set time aside for, and make it a priority, you’re really making yourself a priority. It allows you to say, I want to do this for me and put the effort in to nourish and treat myself better. I’ve learned a lot about myself, my likes, my dislikes, I’ve developed my palate and have experimented with foods I never would have thought to try before. It takes me out of my comfort zone and pushes me to think outside of the box. I’ve also developed my skills of patience, and acceptance. I don’t always make homerun dishes the first time, but I know and accept that and I figure out what went wrong and try it again. My kitchen has also taught me to slow down. My time there is a time to focus on what I’m doing in the here and now and not on all of the other things going on in my life at that time. It’s my escape and peace in a busy day. Cooking has become something very important and personal to me. I create in the kitchen; I put my whole effort and self into my dishes and I love the food I make. I completely believe the emotions and feeling you put into your food is translated into the foods themselves. The foods I make are a part of who I am, and when you love the food you create, the food just tastes better. Fact.
Cooking has also allowed me to heal myself physically. I spent many years of my life dealing with a lot of stomach issues. I would frequently get sick after meals, feeling nauseous or have stomach pains. I was on at least 4 different medications over the years because maybe I had acid reflux? I had an upper endoscopy performed so they could scope my esophagus and stomach to try and find out the cause. I had scarring but it wasn’t cancerous (thank goodness). I even ended up in the hospital with a diagnosis of gastritis and a peptic ulcer (oooo…dry toast for 3 weeks, yay). Nothing made me feel better until I started to play around with my diet. I now know what foods make me feel sick, and what foods make me feel energized. A big thing for me was cutting out dairy. But probably the most important step I took was a basic one, adding in more home cooked, whole foods. Doing this left little to no room for the processed crap that I ate far too often earlier in life with who knows what in it.
The difference is notable. The recipe is simple. Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. Make time for yourself and your health. Eat real, whole, organic foods. Prepare and cook them with love. Enjoy the process; you will taste and feel the difference.