There is perhaps no better solution to improving your health and well-being in the New Year than to get into the kitchen and make wholesome homemade food that is not only good for the body but even better for the soul!
Many of the real dietary problems we face in our country are caused by processed, frozen, and fast food that is full of preservatives, high in fat and salt, and loaded with things we cannot even pronounce. One of my favorite food writers of all time is Michael Pollan, who is the author of several books encouraging people to return to whole food eating in ways that are better for our bodies and better for the planet.
I love his very simple premise that at the most basic level one can eat extremely healthy if you simply stick to the perimeter of the supermarket. This is where you find the fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, and fresh meat and seafood. These items, combined with switching from processed to whole grains, are the foundation of a diet that is awesome for you. As Michael Pollan says “Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.”
However, these items all have one thing in common: they require cooking at home. The ready-to-eat processed food in the middle aisles of the supermarket is the worst for you. So load up that cart, look up some recipes, and get in the kitchen. Whether you are a single person or cooking for a large family, the pleasure of preparing wholesome meals from scratch this year should be on everyone’s list.
I offer up my top 5 New Year’s Real Food Resolutions:
- Stick to the perimeter of the supermarket as much as possible and make an effort to cook from scratch more often than you do.
- Pick up a vegetable you’re unfamiliar with, look up a recipe, and challenge yourself to make something delicious and nutritious.During the winter months, using kale (see my recipe in the link) is a great idea as are other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, and kohlrabi.
- Make a commitment to consuming more Super Foods which include Beans, Blueberries, Broccoli, Oats, Oranges, Pumpkin, Wild Salmon, Soy, Spinach, Tea (green or black), Tomatoes, Turkey, Walnuts, Yogurt, and Dark Chocolate. These foods are some of the healthiest on the planet and should make an appearance on your menus this year.
- Embrace ethnic foods and flavors. Adding ethnic flavors and bold spices is an excellent way to add excitement and pleasure to ingredients whose appeal may have grown stale over time. Other food cultures around the world do this by relying on big, bold flavors, fresh ingredients, and lots of vegetables. Ho-hum vegetables like zucchini can go from boring to bodacious by adding some interesting spices.
Try adding curry powder, garlic, kosher salt and whole cumin seeds to the zucchini while sautéing in a mixture of olive oil and butter. Finish with a touch of lemon juice and some fresh cilantro or parsley for an interesting side dish.
- Make use of leftovers. Making big batches of things like soups and stews and then freezing a meal’s worth in plastic containers makes eating healthy homemade food on the fly much easier. Be your own freezer section instead of relying on the preservative-laden and not very tasty supermarket offerings. On any given day I can go home with no time or desire to cook and have chili, roasted tomato soup, or pot roast in no time thanks to my stash.