Tag Archives: cooking at home

Corning’s Loss, Our Gain

This is the United States where eating out is a national pastime. When I was growing up, there were only a couple of places in Brookhaven open for breakfast – Kerns Cafe and Brown’s Cafe (neither of which exist anymore).  The Round Table and Dog N Suds were open at lunch.  The Dog N Suds was also open for dinner. Sometimes, we would drive to Hazelhust to have dinner at Max’s or over to Georgetown for fried catfish at Al’s Fish Camp.  I think we might have had a Kentucky Fried Chicken in those days, as well.  But, you get the picture.  We ate out infrequently and had few choices when we did.  Now, I have a choice between Backyard Burger, fried chicken, eggrolls and Dunkin Donuts all at a single truck stop in the middle of nowhere!

corning casserole dishMarketing students hear how Corning Glass nearly failed because it didn’t see that Americans weren’t cooking at home anymore.  My grandmother and my mother both had complete sets of Corning casserole dishes.  You know the ones I’m talking about – white with either white flowers or vegetables on the side and that heavy, heavy glass lid.  Every pot luck, church dinner, holiday meal, supper club and family get-together saw tables laden with them. Check your cabinets. Do you have any of them?  I don’t.

And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we cook less but are fatter than ever.

I’ve talked before about cooking and how cooking your own food is vital to weight loss success and a healthier body.  I am convinced that this is true.  Hidden sugar, salt, and god-knows-what make us gain weight and retain water.  They subject us to cravings.  They alter our body chemistries in ways we don’t even understand.

Friends encouraged me to start this blog because while Valerie Bertinelli and Oprah Winfrey can lose weight and look great, most of us do not have personal trainers, chefs or life coaches on speed dial.  Pre-packaged diets are successful because we don’t have time to plan.  We don’t know what to plan.  We just don’t know where to start.

I am coming to believe that a great part of my earlier success was that I was working from home.  Planning nutritious, balanced meals was much easier then than it is for me now and, frankly, I’m not doing all that great a job of it yet.  However, this weekend, I began to take my personal life back in hand.  I am a creature of habit, a person of routine.  I am still developing one that contains time for housework, laundry, exercise, meal planning and preparation, work time and networking time.  Oh, and sleep.  Sleep would be good, too.  While I’m nowhere near done, I made significant progress this weekend and that feels good.

I would love it, though, if you would continue to share what works for you!

A 4-Letter Word That Starts with C

Cook.  That’s right.  I said it – cook.

You know this without watching Super-Size Me.  It is difficult to eat healthfully at restaurants.  Their portions are enormous and they augment flavor with sugar, salt and fat.  Even healthier restaurant choices come with empty calories in the parmesan garnish on the broccoli or the butter finish on the carrots.  Cook it yourself and there won’t be bad or empty things lurking around.

Going to the grocery store is so expensive.  Compare it to the dollar menu and you might think so.  However, the the dollar menu just doesn’t list your downline expenses of bypass surgery or diabetic supplies.  You spend the money on nutritious food now, or you spend it dealing with health issues caused by poor food later. Either way, it’s going to cost you.  At least when you spend it on nutritious foods, you get the benefits of feeling better!

Basket of goodies from my local farmers' market
Basket of goodies from my local farmers’ market

Cooking is such a pain and so time consuming.  Prepare and freeze chicken, beef , pork and even rice and beans ahead of time.  When you’re baking one chicken breast, you might as well bake several and put the extras in the freezer for later.  The same thing goes for making a beef, pork, or rice and beans.  Cook them in quantity, divide into single servings and freeze.  This keeps you from eating the same things day after day, it cuts down on your prep time and decreases the likelihood that you’ll call out for Chinese spare ribs.  I usually don’t pre-cook any fish, though, since it takes so little time to cook anyway.

I also like to prepare a large salad (greens only) and put it in a bowl in the fridge.  Tomatoes, onions, peppers, whatever, are kept separately so that I can have an all veggie salad one night, but maybe a salad with blackberries, walnuts and brie the next night.

As far as cooked vegetables go, I steam nearly all mine (except root vegetables).  Steaming them takes just no time at all.  With beets or sweet potatoes, I dice those, put them in the oven and they’re ready in about 20 minutes.

That’s all fine and dandy for lunch and dinner, but what about breakfast?  Omelets are nutritious and, when put on some flat bread or rolled into a tortilla, portable.  To decrease prep time, become your own sous chef.  When you get home from the grocery store, go ahead and chop up those onions, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, etc.  Storing them in separate containers makes them easy to use in either salads or omelets.  

I’m also a huge fan of oatmeal – the old fashioned and steel cut kinds, not instant.  I’ve seen some crock pot recipes for oatmeal, but mine ended up just over the edge of charred; so, I cook it on the stove. I add chia seeds and flax meal for the Omega-3.  I add cinnamon as it cooks, then stir in a mashed banana before I eat it. (The banana has to be mashed to make it as sweet as I like.  Slicing it is also tasty, but not nearly as sweet.)  When I make one serving, I usually go ahead and make two. I can put the second one in the fridge for the next day.

Here’s the most important thing to remember, though: measure. Make sure you have measuring cups, spoons and a kitchen scale.  If you’re like most Americans, you have no clue what a proper serving size looks like and when you’re keeping a food diary like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt, you have to know what you just ate!