This post is all about five skills that will help you become a joyful cook in your home.
Are you a joyful cook, or do you find yourself stressed out in the kitchen?
Long before I was even married, I dreaded having to come up with meals to feed myself! As a perfectionist, I wanted each meal to be nutritious, filling, and unprocessed, which felt so intimidating! The result? I either gave up and ate crap, or I made a TON of leftovers and literally ate the same thing until they got gross. Ultimately, this made me associate cooking with feelings of discouragement and disappointment.
Long story short, I realized something:
The quickest way to enjoy cooking more is to make each dish something you can take pride in!
The thing is, most people think they don’t have time to make delicious and/or nutritious meals. I have a secret though: if you make good basics you don’t need to make fancy meals!
There are five simple skills that can transform your cooking experience, boost the health and taste of your food, and you can start practicing them today! Don’t worry; these skills aren’t about creating complex dishes that require hours of preparation. They’re about mastering the basics, to help you create joy-filled foods.
This post is all about becoming a joyful cook
1. Homemade Broth
Homemade broth is a nutritional powerhouse that you can start by simply filling a freezer bag with your veggie scraps or meat bones. It has a rich content of essential nutrients, particularly minerals, gelatin, and collagen. When you simmer bones (such as those from chicken, beef, or fish) with veggies and herbs, you extract valuable nutrients that support joint health, aid digestion, and boost immunity. Additionally, the slow cooking process breaks down nutrients, making them more easily absorbed by your body. So, that delicious homemade broth in your soups and stews isn’t just about flavor; it’s a wholesome, nutrient-dense foundation.
Sourdough bread is a true artisanal delight, not just for its flavor and texture but also for its health benefits. The unique fermentation process involved in sourdough creates an environment where beneficial bacteria and yeast thrive to make the grain easier to digest, preventing rapid spikes in blood sugar, and creating a natural preservative. However, you don’t even need to make bread to get these benefits! You can start by simply mixing unbleached flour and un-chlorinated water into a thick-pancake-batter consistency. Every day, pour about half of it in a greased hot pan and sprinkle with spices to create a savory or sweet “pancake.” After about two weeks, you will have a sourdough starter that will start to get bubbly and rise! That little pancake will just continue to be more and more beneficial for your health, while providing a low-stakes space to play with spice combos.
3. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods have been a staple for centuries across various cultures, and their health benefits are increasingly recognized by modern science. For the most part, all you have to do is put the food you want to ferment in the right environment and give it time. These foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, homemade sodas, and kimchi, are rich in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that colonize your gut.
And the great thing? They are super easy to add to a meal! A spoonful of sauerkraut on a sandwich or a scoop of yogurt in a soup can add so much flavor and nutrition to a dish, so you can be proud of whatever you are feeding your family. A healthy gut microbiome is linked to improved digestion, better absorption of nutrients, and even enhanced mood. Probiotics also play a crucial role in supporting your immune system, helping your body defend against infections and illnesses. By incorporating homemade fermented foods into your diet, you’re cultivating a diverse and resilient gut microbiota, leading to better overall health and vitality.
4. Homemade Dressings and Sauces
Creating your own dressings and sauces isn’t just about the fun, instant gratification of customizing flavors; it’s a smart move for your health. Store-bought options often contain excessive amounts of added sugars, unhealthy fats, and preservatives. By making your own, you can use high-quality ingredients, control the level of salt and sugar, and opt for healthy fats like olive oil. Herbs and spices, commonly used in homemade dressings and sauces, offer a wide array of antioxidants and phytochemicals that contribute to your well-being. The science-backed benefits of ingredients like garlic, turmeric, and fresh herbs are truly remarkable, from anti-inflammatory properties to potential cancer-fighting compounds. When you pour that homemade vinaigrette over your salad or simmer your own tomato sauce, you’re not just enhancing the taste; you’re making a conscious choice for a healthier, more flavorful life.
5. Storing Produce
Take-out never sounds more appealing than when I look into a fridge with mushy fruit and wilted lettuce. Properly storing your fruits and vegetables is essential to preserving their nutritional value. Many fruits and veggies continue to ripen after being harvested, and the right storage can slow down the process while maintaining their nutrient content. For instance, keeping leafy greens in breathable bags helps prevent moisture buildup, reducing the risk of spoilage and preserving the vitamins and minerals. Dark, cool places are ideal for root vegetables, preventing the breakdown of nutrients due to light exposure and temperature fluctuations. Storing tomatoes at room temperature allows them to retain their natural flavors, antioxidants, and vitamin C. By understanding the optimal storage conditions for different produce, you’re maximizing the nutritional benefits of these ingredients in your meals.
Each time you add one of these foods to a meal, you can take pride in what you have made! These lost skills aren’t just about enjoying cooking; it’s about harnessing the power of nutrition, microbiome health, and culinary expertise to create a joyful and healthful experience in your kitchen. As you practice these skills, you’ll not only savor the deliciousness but also reap the science-backed benefits they bring to your overall well-being. You will be able to be proud of whatever you are feeding yourself and your family. Happy cooking!
If you want to learn more about joy and cooking? Then check out these posts!