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Cook From Scratch--Fast?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

When people find out that I cook everything from scratch, I am often met with looks of dumbfounded amazement. My husband once relayed the story that when he told one of his female co-workers that I never use the microwave and never cooked anything from a box, she almost fell off her chair. "Those are the only things that save me!" she exclaimed.

I think most people would like to cook healthier, but their number one excuse for not doing so, I have found, is lack of time. Because let's face it: we are all very busy people. Sure, I am a Stay-At-Home-Mom, but you guys all know that this does not mean I am sitting home eating bonbons and watching soaps all day. We're busy. You, me, everyone. So, what's a person to do without sacrificing their health?

Well, I am hoping to make this a series on how to manage your time in the kitchen efficiently, to help all of us (myself included) to remember the gameplan, and hopefully avoid nights when it is already 6:00 and you still do not have a clue what to cook for dinner, so it looks like burgers again. First, though, I feel the need to explain the dietary philosophy that my system is approaching this from.

I adhere to the biblically-based whole-foods traditional diet, as outlined in the book The Maker's Diet by Jordan Rubin and explained in full scientific detail (with all the recipes you need to go with it) in the educational cookbook Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, Ph.D. You can find much of this eating philosophy's main tenets on the Weston A. Price Foundation site at www.westonaprice.org.

Yes, it is a philosophy--this is not a fad diet, or something to do for a few weeks to drop a few pounds. It is a lifestyle of healthy eating, based on thousands of years of human experience.

Dr. Weston A. Price was a dentist who went and studied indigenous peoples around the world in the 1930's. The peoples he studied had only come into contact with Western civilation and eating habits within one generation. Consistently, he found that the people who had grown up on a diet of whole foods, many of them lacto-fermented, had beautiful, healthy teeth and wide jaws and faces, strong bone structure, and the women had wide hips and easy deliveries during childbirth. This was especially true of those people that got much of their food from meat and (raw) dairy products, including the fatty portions, which are rich in vitamin A and other essential nutrients. Their children, by contrast, had narrow jaws and hips, crowded and missing teeth, and were much more sickly than their parents.

In The Maker's Diet, Jordan Rubin expounds on this idea further by pointing out that historically, the Jewish population that held to kosher dietary laws have had robust health, even in the midst of plagues and diseases that have ravished the populations of the people they were living amongst. In fact, this has often led to further persecution of the Jewish people. For more information about this, please pick up the book (about $13 at most bookstores.)

In this way of eating, raw dairy and meat (with full fat) from happy, grass-fed and antibiotic-free animals are emphasized. Grains should be a small part of the diet comparatively, and the grains that are eaten should be whole, properly prepared by soaking or sprouting to neutralize phytates that can bind with calcium and zinc in the digestive tract. Fresh-ground grains are best, since as soon as grains are ground, they begin to oxidize and lose nutrients. Gelatin-rich bone broths should be consumed every day. Nutrients should not be isolated from their sources, but consumed as part of whole foods. This means using vitamins to "salvage" a poor diet is right out the window. Besides this, many vitamins in capsule and pill form are either unassimilable by the human body, or actually in a form that is toxic.

Now don't get me wrong--not all fat is good. In fact, polyunsaturated fat that has been created under high heat and pressure so that it is rancid before it even gets onto your grocery store shelf is strongly discouraged. This fat causes the walls of cells in your body to lose their structure, and all kinds of free radicals to roam your bloodstream, causing your body to create--you'll never guess--cholesterol. On this list are canola, peanut, sunflower (unless it is expeller-expressed), soy, and a host of other oils. Extra-virgin olive oil, which is high in antioxidants, is good if it has been First Cold Pressed and kept in a dark glass or opaque container--again, it oxidizes in light.

But, we do need fat, and lots of it. Our ancestors ate whole food--roasts without the fat cut off, milk without the cream skimmed off, eggs without the yolk removed--and yet heart disease was nearly unheard of. So what is the right kind of fat? Hold on--this is going to flip your lid. Saturated fat. Did you know that the whole anti-saturated fat bias was not even heard of until the '50's and a guy named Nathan Pritikin came up with the lipid hypothesis? All kinds of research has debunked his theories since then, but it goes mostly unnoticed and/or unheralded in the media and the nutritional majority, because it is one of those myths that was proclaimed loudly and long enough that it must be true. Check it out. Not to mention the amount of money that is riding on people not discovering the truth. If this information is new to you, I highly recommend you spend time on the Weston A. Price Foundation site, and pick up one of the books I recommended above.

So, to wrap up a post that has already become long enough, in this series (which will likely NOT be a daily thing, just warnin' ya) I will try to make creating healthy habits something that anyone can find time to do.

What is the very first step you can take to eating healthier right away?

Lose the cereal box.

Cook From Scratch--Fast! Part Two - The Right Tools For The Job
Cook From Scratch--Fast! Part Three - What to Bring On Vacation

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  1. This will be SO helpful to so many people.

    Like you, I cook from scratch always as well, other than the rare lunch or dinner out but I am looking forward to this because I need an infusion of meal ideas. If that doesn't happen we may begin eating the exact same thing every single day the rest of our lives.

  2. hey there,
    cooking from scratch requires only a couple minutes more, if. That's what we realised. we've been cooking food from scratch for months now...and are even making our own soup as well as squeezing our own juice. It tastes 'light' and delicious and the best part is, you know nothing artificial has gone in it!

    I'll read this post of yours in greater details over the weekend. Sorry, I've been out of the loop. You know it. Hope all's well! xx

  3. Ah, man. Are you telling me all that tasty food I like is healthy?! I think we are going to have a talk when I get home;)

  4. Thanks so much, I am going to check those books out. I can honestly say I am a pretty "from scratch" person too. Not as much a you and I look forward to some more post on this.
    Thanks and have a beautiful day.

  5. Vicki - Gosh, I could probably learn a thing or two from you! However, it's always nice to see a fresh idea for a meal plan, isn't it?

    Ace - Mmm, that all sounds so good. You're right, it only does take a few extra minutes to cook from scratch--what people will sacrifice in health for a few extra minutes' convenience!

    Jason - I'm shaking in my boots.

    Anna - I hope they help! Let me know what you think! I hope you had a good weekend.


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