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home : health : health January 16, 2019

12/31/2018 11:52:00 AM
Getting back to the basics of cooking at home
By Jodi Schneider McNamee

Online grocer Peapod's third-annual meal forecasting survey showed a greater appreciation for home-cooked meals and that spending more time in the kitchen cooking healthy dishes is a top resolution for many in 2019.

The more you cook, the healthier you live. People who frequently cook dinner at home consume fewer calories than those who cook less, according to a study of more than 9,000 people published online Nov. 14, 2014, by Public Health Nutrition.

The study found that adults who cooked dinner at home only once a week consumed 2,300 calories per day on average, which included 84 grams of fat and 135 grams of sugar. In comparison, regular at-home cooks ate 150 fewer calories per day and consumed only 81 grams of fat and 119 grams of sugar.

You don't need to be a celebrity chef to transform your cooking skills. For most, the knowledge and skills are simply gained during the time spent in the kitchen. You might find cooking to be a relaxing and rewarding activity that you can enjoy alone, too. People can learn that cooking for themselves is a way to tap into their creativity.

When cooking is a habit it isn't stressful or frustrating. You can become so efficient in the kitchen that it will actually take less time to cook than to go out to a restaurant.

A little planning goes a long way, and after a hard day's work you know exactly what to do to get a tasty, healthy meal on the table in half an hour.

Jackie Newgent, a registered dietitian, culinary nutritionist and author of "The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook" said, "When cooking at home, you have full control over what's going into the food you eat, so if you have any special needs, you can assure they are being met - and even if you don't have particular requirements, you can make sure you are using the best possible ingredients."

Cooking at home allows you to use fresh ingredients, produce that is seasonal and foods without artificial ingredients.

But living in a fast-paced and fast-food-oriented world, many people don't know where to start on how to cook food at home. learning from others - seeing and doing - is key. To do just that, check out a local cooking class, spend time with family who are at home in the kitchen, or ask a friend that is kitchen-savvy to teach you a few basic techniques.

If you're new to the kitchen, it's always best to get a few handy recipes under your belt before you really start to experiment.

To get started, create a cooking plan, which includes gathering recipes, necessary equipment and ingredients, as well as determining the number of times per week you might plan on cooking. If you don't cook at all, start with one meal per week. This month it might be one meal per week, and next month, it might be two meals - but be realistic.

When it comes to selecting recipes, choose ones you will enjoy and have time to make. Sometimes, recipes can be overwhelming with long ingredient lists, and with cooking techniques that are unfamiliar to you. But a simple recipe can be just as delicious and impressive as a complicated one. A basic omelet, a grilled-cheese sandwich, chicken soup and a basic spaghetti dish are good dishes to start with.

The idea is to nourish your body with healthier choices such as lean protein, lots of fresh produce, and whole grains. By avoiding restaurants, your meals will naturally become healthier. 

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