Making Food Healthy, Simple, & Enjoyable

The time I get to spend in my kitchen has become my creative outlet. I've learned that cooking is an art and I love creating healthy, simple and enjoyable meals. Here’s what I mean by “healthy”, “simple”. and “enjoyable”.

“Healthy” is a very generic term. And I use it very loosely. I’m not a health nut! I’m not a dietician! I’m just a mom who wants a healthy family. And truthfully, I like to eat food that is healthy only so long as it tastes good. This can be a problem, as you know because there’s a lot of “health food” out there that tastes like “health food”. So I try to find a balance between using as many healthy ingredients as I can and still be able to make the food taste good. Here’s a few general guidelines that I try to follow (most of the time, but always with exceptions!)
  1. Whole Grains – In most of my recipes, you will find that I love to use whole grain flours in my cooking. The health benefits of whole grain flours over refined flours is starting to be studied and made more widely known to us. While I could state here a well researched support to confirm this point, let me just state it a bit more simply. I believe that the closer to its natural state the food, the better it is for you. Makes sense doesn’t it? When a food is processed and refined, nutrients are taken out (and yes sometimes added back in), thus sometimes leaving the food in a more uniform and pleasing state to the eye, but not to our health. I say, leave the food in it’s natural state, the way God created it for us. He knows better than us about such things anyway.

  2. Low Sugar – We all know that sugar is something that should be used in moderation. We’ve probably all experienced the sluggishness that comes after Halloween or another holiday where we’ve binged on sugar and realized it’s not so good for our bodies. I’ve experimented a bit with sugar substitutes in my cooking and have included some recipes with honey or other sugar substitutes. But again, I’m not an extremist in this matter. I think sugar has its place, if used in moderation.

  3. Mostly Good Fats – From what I’ve read, the researchers change very often which fats are the good fats and which are the bad. So here’s my rule of thumb. Again the closer to mother earth the better. Butter over margarine or processed spread, vegetable oils over animal fats, etc. I use mostly butter, canola and olive oil in my cooking.

  4. Low Meat – I believe in balance. I’m not an advocate for vegetarianism or veganism. But I do have my reasons for using less meat in my cooking. First of all it’s cheaper (that’s the poor college student in me talking). Second of all it’s healthier, as long as you obtain adequate protein from other sources (lower fat, cholesterol, etc).

  5. From Scratch – I do believe in cooking “from scratch”. And for me, it’s more than “healthy” in the sense of “it’s good for our bodies”. For me cooking from scratch is one of those labors of love that you do for your family in order to create a healthy, loving and successful family. Bringing home take-out or warming up a TV dinner does not bond your family to you and to each other. Cooking a meal from scratch and serving it to them in a loving way does. But again, balance! Do I always cook 100% from scratch? No! But as a rule, I cook from scratch.
By simple I mean recipes that use basic ingredients, are time efficient and cost efficient. I look for and try recipes that use ingredients that I keep in my pantry or produce that I grow in my garden so I don’t have to go out and spend a lot of time and money shopping. I do love to experiment with new foods though, and am constantly expanding my palate and my pantry. I love to find recipes that don't take a lot of time to prepare. I'm a busy Mom and as much as I love to cook, I do want to do more things with my day than spend all my time in the kitchen. 

Understandably enjoyable will be different to my family than yours. However, I know for a fact that taste buds can be changed! It’s a difficult process and one that involves time and effort, but we can help our kids learn to like foods that are good for them. To give you an example, I’ve blogged about my experience changing my family’s breakfasts. We started out eating mostly cold cereal. Low sugar cold cereal, but cold cereal nonetheless. One year I set a goal to change that and the results were painful at first, but my success came a lot sooner than I had imagined it would.

To give you a jump start in this process, I’ve tried to help you out by including our tried and true recipes on this blog that our family loves to eat. I understand firsthand the difficulty of trying a new recipe, only to have it be disliked by most of the members of your family. Preparing food from scratch can be time consuming (especially at first when you're learning how to do it) and if you’re going to invest the time into it, the food needs to be enjoyed by your family for it to be worth it. It takes practice to learn what those recipes are that your family will beg you to make again. But with patience, persistence and effort, this can become a reality for you!

Well there you have my cooking philosophy in a nutshell. I hope you find success as you create your own healthy family.

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