No More Excuses: Cooking Doesn't Take as Long as You Think it Does

In the last year or so, it has become fashionable to shop at farmer's markets and buy organic foods. For years, the "green" and "slow food" movements have pushed us to avoid the pre-packaged, highly processed food items that were once thought of as revolutionary. Finally, we are hearing their messages.

Now more than ever, (at least in my lifetime) people are looking to prepare food as close to its natural state as possible. In fact, just last week I received an unsolicited magazine called Clean Eating. Its sole purpose for existence is to teach and inspire people to eat fresh, unprocessed foods.

I know what you are thinking: "That's all well and good in an ideal world. I would love to eat this way, but I have two kids and a dog. I have a job, a husband, and a house to clean. There is only so much time in a day, and something has to give."

Trust me. I understand. I am probably more inclined to embrace this movement than the average person, but I, too, struggle with the practical need to balance the myriad of activities in my life. Time cooking? Yes, it is important, but I have a long list of other things that are important as well.

But there is hope.

Recently, while huffing and puffing on my elliptical, I came across a very interesting and encouraging bit of news. This past August, Shape magazine ran an article titled, "The Top Healthy-Eating Obstacles, Solved." Here, author Amanda Presser cites research from the University of California, Los Angeles. This research demonstrates that "people who make meals with 'convenience items,' like ground beef helpers and rice mixes, spend as much time in the kitchen as those who cook from scratch."

The items that we've been buying to help us save time actually don't save us time at all. They simply aren't holding up to their promise.

How can this possibly be good news? Because our bodies are better off without these food products. They are full of sodium and sugar, and their labels often read like a science experiment. If eating healthfully is just as easy as eating crap, we can, indeed, make a change for the better without giving up too much.

But where to start?

If you don't cook much, the thought of cooking "from scratch" may be totally overwhelming. Don't panic, because I have an idea for you: take a cooking class at your local Adult Ed. Sign up yourself. Then sign up your spouse or friend. These classes are fun, informative, and take the mystique out of cooking.

Several years ago my husband took a class called "Cooking with Herbs." It armed him with the knowledge he needed to make interesting entrees with great taste and without loads of fat and calories. When we were dating, we took a "Light Italian Cooking" class together. Without it, I would still be a slave to the recipe.

Try out something that appeals to you. Once you gain some confidence, you can begin to put things together without recipes. It is so much easier, fun, and less time consuming to cook this way.

Trust me, you will enjoy this! Bon Appetit!

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