Change Your Thinkin' + Get In The Kitchen. Here's How.

$17.79 GOT ME LIKE ...

From the below veggie purchase I made a giant soup, a dip, roasted veggies to be used on grains, greens, sides and in my eggs. Of course I will stuff veggies on veggies, perhaps add tofu to that soup for an additional protein punch. I can build stacked sandwiches filled with color and this eating right here makes me feel strong in my heart and mind. Food is a gift we give our body and brain, think about it that way and let that guide your choices.

This week I’m off from substitute teaching, but I’ve still got private and corporate health work to attend to with a No Bake Treats workshop happening at a law firm in NYC on Friday, then one in DC and CT the following 2 Friday’s while I balance sub teacher life. That said, this week promises to be quite busy as do the coming weeks ahead. Filled with teaching, treat making, writing and figuring out how to get new clients and wondering how I'm supposed to date in the middle of so much newness. I digress. 

A meal strategy going into a week is key for me and, I’d imagine for you too. And, I’m in the zone when it comes to my own food and time. I know what food I like, I'm committed to eating well (and all within reason, hello, Nutella) and I’ve already prioritized cooking as an integral part of my life that I don’t plan on sacrificing. Cooking makes me feel good and what/how I cook varies week to week based on my plans after work, whether or not I’m teaching, if I’m eating lunches at home or on the go. I find when I commit time to simply being in the kitchen to enjoy it, like really enjoy the process, I get so much more out of it. We get so caught up in making meals perfect and that's way too overwhelming, but I encourage my clients to simply begin somewhere. Start by roasting a veggie, make dip, don't go all Chopped on yourself - you're only gonna feel badly. And we want you to feel good! 

So, if you’re gonna get in the kitchen and you want to get healthy, it’s important to start small. You can’t build a house on sand and I will not let you. But, I will push you to move forward.

Below are some notes for Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced cooks along with some inspiration for the week ahead. Free your mind with happy food thoughts, and the rest will follow. Now it's time for an En Vogue break.   

A beginner cook’s strategy to getting in the kitchen for health + happiness might be:

  1. Grocery shop for some key items that are nutritious but don’t require much cooking 
  2. Stock on fresh fruit
  3. Get some go to whole food + fun snacks
  4. Make a new dip and experiment with a new flavor to begin building what flavor profiles you enjoy 
  5. Hard boil some eggs
  6. Eat 1 salad a day

You may decide to fill in other meals with take-out and find yourself gravitating toward more nutritious options simply because you started building the above into your weekly and daily practices. You’re finding your style and it takes time to build a habit and get into a groove, especially with cooking and kitchen time. The main, and most important thing about this, you’re trying. Baby steps. No one becomes a savvy home cook over night. My process was 17 years and I’ve still an insane amount to learn. The first summer I stepped in the kitchen I made two meals, lentil soup and spaghetti with squash and cheese ... building blocks. 

An intermediate cook’s strategy to getting in the kitchen for health + happiness might be: 

  1. Grocery shop for some key items and build a freezer + pantry stock 
  2. Stock on fresh fruit
  3. Make smoothie or veggie/avocado toast for breakfast
  4. Roast a small tray of veggies 
  5. Make a dip and a pot of soup, sauce or one pot meal on the weekends and leftover soup is frozen for future meals 
  6. Eat 1 salad a day with homemade dressing 
  7. 1-2 nights a week dinner is prepared from weekend cooking

A person more familiar with the kitchen may already have some existing pantry items and spices so they’re not always shopping for every ingredient when they go to the store. Their focus and interest may already be in the veggie realm but not all in for cooking many meals, but they make their space and meals work for them. You may still fill in with takeout options, but simple food is a staple and balance has been learned by way of doing the above consistently. At this point you’re relatively comfortable in the kitchen and you know what flavors you like. 

The advanced cook’s strategy to getting being in the kitchen for health + happiness might be: 

  1. Grocery shopping is not an overhaul each week, but includes new items to refresh, replenish and make meals
  2. Breakfast has become routine with stock in the home like eggs, smoothies, toasts, oats and it’s second nature to eat it + make it 
  3. Counter always has fresh fruit to grab and go
  4. Freezer is stocked with veggies, fruits, soup and sauces for weeknight meals on the fly
  5. Pantry is equipped with all staples to cook at any time and go 
  6. A weekend morning of cooking might consist of “meal prep” or cooking in components to mix, match and pair foods throughout the week by making things like, grains, beans, roasted veggies, having staple greens, protein on hand to make meals night of, dips, sauces and other items to dress up food during the week 
  7. Lunches and dinners are prepared most nights by way of going through the pantry, fridge and freezer 

Someone who is a kitchen ninja has put in the time, effort and creative energy to cooking on the fly. These folks usually read food magazines, have an interest in food, save recipes and can recreate or create meals from their background, experiences in dining and curiosity. It takes time to arrive here and I truly believe everyone can and I truly believe cooking is the way back to our health, family, connection and self. 

Cooking isn’t about punishing ourselves or not having fun, in fact, it’s the complete opposite. It’s about taking time, moving slowly, learning, nourishing, EATING, tasting our way through, making mistakes and growing. We didn’t fall into our jobs and become who we are overnight, did we? That doesn’t happen in the kitchen either ... process leads to progress and with that come health and happiness, I know it with my whole pasta pumping heart. 

Keep getting inspired and I hope those pretty photos of what I got at the produce market for $17.79 this week help to motivate and make you curious. Notice I only did a produce refresh because my pantry is stacked in the back brother wanna thank your mother for a butt like that ... sorry, I can't help quoting 90's hip-hop ... and I only need fresh ingredients week to week until I have to replenish my stocked goods (like grains, spices, nuts, seeds, etc). 

I know you can do it.

Get in the kitchen.