A big part in living wholeheartedly is knowing how to live healthy & acting upon it, and that includes food. I love everything about food! I love grocery shopping, I love making things from scratch, I love working with my hands and smelling spices; I love reading through cookbooks and I especially love the atmosphere of cooking: spices sizzling in a pan, messes all over the counters, glass of Merlot in hand, and singing along with Josh Garrels.
For the last five-ish years I’ve taken it upon myself to learn how to cook. (Caveat, my dad also loves to cook and we would cook together when I was younger, so I probably acquired this love from him.) But learning on my own started when I was in college; and at that time I was on a pretty tight budget, but once I graduated, things changed.
After getting home from work or a long day, putting on an apron, displaying fresh and yummy foods and spices on the counter, pouring a glass of wine all while dancing to some music was the perfect start to an evening.
When I first began cooking (like really cooking, during my junior year of college) I wasn’t too sure about how to find good organic fruits and vegetables, I didn’t know much about which grains were healthiest for you, and eating a balanced diet was hard to do because of the lack of education and lack of money since I was a college student.
It’s taken years to get good and feel relaxed as I cook. It’s taken time to read up on healthy ingredients and diets; it takes time to learn certain techniques and time to figure out what you enjoy cooking. It also takes time to learn, buy, prepare, and make healthy meals with fresh, organic foods.
And over the years I’ve learned all about this stuff. I’ve read numerous books on white flour, wheat flour, rye, barley and sourdough starters; I’ve gotten cookbooks that teach you how to make soups, sandwiches, pasta dishes, and salads from scratch; cookbooks for a vegan diet (which I’m currently reading & using daily); and my mother-in-law has given me numerous cookbooks on how to cook in Colorado and how to basically cook everything (that book is literally called How to Cook Everything). There are endless amounts of resources out there on how to cook real foods!
Most of us, in America, are used to fast & easy, quick & simple; we’ve got no time, so we need to whip something up fast and eat on the way to our next big and fast and exciting thing. It’s awful.
Food is to be enjoyed, savored, loved and shared. Food is to nourish, sustain, and keep our bodies full and healthy. Stopping in our crazy, busy, flashy world & learning to cut, chop, knead and slice are necessary.
As someone who didn’t know where to begin a few years ago, it would have been helpful for me to have had a list of tips, foods to buy, and ideas for meals. So, that’s what I did. Below are a few tips, my current grocery list, a “normal” day of the foods I eat/ideas for meals, and lastly, a recipe! Enjoy!
Tips on cooking:
- Start reading! Learn about whole & healthy foods, foods that sustain and nourish you, not just satisfy you for a small chunk of your day.
- Start where you are. You don’t have to be a chef, that shouldn’t be your end goal. If you’re a beginner, then start there – learn about different spices, what ingredients do when you mix them together, buy a cookbook and slowly wean yourself off of it & make that recipe your own!
- Keep learning! Don’t give up when a recipe fails & try new and harder things when you’ve grasped the easy stuff.
- Buy local, buy whole & organic foods. You can do this on a low budget, look for deals and shop at several grocery stores and farmers markets when in season! The health of your body is important, feed it well!
- Have fun! Turn on some music, sing along, and begin to fill your kitchen with noises from clanging pots together and smells so good you can taste the food before it hits the plate. Make messes all over the counters. Then sit and smell and taste the amazing meal you just created.
Some must-haves on my current grocery list:
- Potatoes of all kinds
- Spinach, lots of spinach
- Veggies: carrots, peppers, celery
- Fruit: lots of bananas and frozen fruit for smoothies
- Other greens, like kale
- Grains: quinoa, rice, oats, sourdough bread
Eating Schedule/Meals/Ideas: This schedule is based off of a plant-based diet.
** I generally cook everything and make everything from scratch because it’s delicious and your body is worth it and needs good food to sustain it.
- Coffee first, always first.
- Smoothie: 2 bananas, frozen berries, 5 cups of spinach (3 big handfuls), 1 orange (or a splash of almond milk)
- Breakfast: something with oats or grains, like Blueberry Banana Overnight Oats (recipe below) or Cinnamon Banana Pancakes, Breakfast Quinoa (tweaked from Shauna Niequist’s book Bread & Wine)
- Lunch: taco salad, quinoa salad, leftovers
- Dinner: soup, homemade pizza, pasta dish
- Snacks: Veggies & homemade hummus, veggies (or sometimes corn chips) with homemade salsa
- Dessert: a smaller smoothie than in the morning – add dates or pumpkin to make it extra sweet! Otherwise, smashing frozen bananas & adding toppings to make “nicecream.”
- Blueberry Banana Overnight Oats (taken & tweaked from Vegan Cookbook: For Beginners)
This recipe is delicious & super easy to make. It’s good for when you have to be somewhere early in the morning and need something quick and healthy before you go out the door!
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 2 small bananas, peeled and sliced
- 1 ¼ cup fresh blueberries
- ½ cup chopped pecans (I’ve used walnuts and almonds too!)
- 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
** I’ve also added flaxseeds and chia seeds!
- Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir.
- Spoon the mixture into a casserole dish (I usually use a 9×9 pan)
- Cover with plastic & refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, scoop it into bowls. Serve cold & top with extra fruit or granola!