Play with Your Food.

You probably already know I love food, but cooking from scratch… is like playing with my food. When I was a kid I loved to get in the kitchen and play. Most everyone I know (including my kids) loved it too. I remember coating a spoonful of peanut butter in crumbled Oreos as a kid and thinking it was the best creation – ever! While the combination of Oreos and peanut butter still sounds pretty tasty, I can’t imagine eating that now. When you’re a kid, you’re limited to what your parents have stocked in the kitchen and to what appliances you are capable or allowed to use.  As adults, we don’t have these limits.

And here’s the icing on the cake. You learn so much when you cook from scratch. If you’ve always eaten something out of box you may not even know what’s in it or what cooking methods are used to make it. And believe me – you can find a recipe for nearly everything you can buy in a box or bag. Brownies are so easy to make from scratch, yet I never even bothered to look at a recipe until about a year ago. There are only a few ingredients, most of which anyone would already have in their pantry. I’ll never buy boxed brownies again. You’d be surprised how quickly you learn the basics of cooking when you start cooking from scratch. It’s often cheaper to buy the ingredients than it is to buy it prepackaged, and it’s better for you. It does take a little longer than opening a box, but that’s the best part. Really! When food is too easy to prepare (or already prepared), you tend to eat it more often and over indulge. When you slow down and take the time to make it yourself, you really learn to appreciate food. You eat slowly and savor every bite. You eat less and you get to control the quantity and the quality of the ingredients (and eliminate additives, preservatives and excess sugar). Cooking from scratch is gratifying and you might even lose a few pounds – effortlessly.

If the kitchen is my play ground, then the markets are my toy stores. I used to hate going food shopping. Now that the blinders are off, I find new things all the time. Sometimes I take them home to learn more. My favorite places to shop are off the beaten path – farmers markets, specialty markets and less common markets where you find things you’ve never seen before. I’ve learned what eating seasonal and local means and I’m so inspired by it.

Growing your own food seems like a quintessential part of life. Nurturing a plant and then (hopefully) eating the fruits of your labor restores a connection to food that has been lost in America. I’m still amazed at how disconnected this nation is to food. I recently walked through a small greenhouse display and the woman ahead of me was surprised to see how bell peppers grew. I don’t presume to know how everything grows, but I know how most of what I eat grows and I am curious about the rest. And I’m not suggesting we should all know where everything we eat comes from (or am I?).

Bell Peppers

Asparagus

Broccoli

Artichokes

Pineapple

Coffee is made from the roasted seed inside this berry.

Cacao Tree - Chocolate is made from the beans found inside these pods.

And playing with food is more fun when you do it with friends, family – even strangers. Involve them as often as possible. Nothing is more enjoyable than sharing a good time and good food with other people. This summer I plan to let the kids get in on the fun a little more. It’s not like they have anything better to do. Even London (3 years old)  can help.  Our schedule will be more relaxed which means meal times will be less hurried. They can help in the garden, the kitchen and with shopping, and we’ll learn even more together. Maybe by the end of summer, they’ll be able to help with dinner every night. Hell, maybe they’ll be able to cook an entire meal themselves! I’ll just sit back and have a glass of wine while they do it all. That would be nice. And fun for them I think.

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About Michele
Wife and Mom of three girls doing her best to lead the family into a healthier lifestyle and evolve gracefully.

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