Eating Real Food

On chilly winter nights, there's nothing that I love more than spending the evening in the kitchen – but I wasn't always of that mindset. In our fast-paced, over-worked, impatient world, cooking from scratch has become a thing of the past for most people. Food manufacturers make dinner fast and easy with boxed staples and freezer-to-microwave meals. But when you eat something that a corporation has made, how do you know for sure what you're really eating? For me, cooking from scratch started after I realized how much fake food – as in processed food – I was actually eating.
In 2004 I had the privilege of traveling with the International Crane Foundation to the Russian Far East. For three weeks we taught environmental education at a summer camp for area teachers and students. While there, our wonderful cook, Olga, kept our bodies nourished with homemade meals consisting of fresh, local ingredients. Many of us worried that we would get sick from drinking the water and eating the food in such a poor part of the world. Only after I returned to the States and went back to my old eating habits of frozen chicken patties, SpaghettiOs, and Little Debbie snacks did my stomach and innards protest. This was my eye-opener into the world of real vs. processed food. With my newfound desire to eat better, I also learned how to cook.

So that is how I came to love the sound of my chefs knife tapping on the cutting board as I dice carrots, onions and celery. Or why I love when the kitchen windows steam up from stock simmering on the stove. Or the blast of hot air that rushes past my face as I open the oven door. Or the way the whole house (inside and out) breathes out the delicious aromas of my next home-cooked meal.

I cook from scratch because I need to know that what I'm putting into my body is good and wholesome. Sure, I could go out to the grocery store and buy a frozen chicken pot pie, pop it in the microwave and have myself a meal in 4 minutes. But I don't want a meal that's high in sodium and hydrogenated oils and has more ingredients listed that I can't pronounce than those that I can. So, instead, I spend 2 hours dicing, simmering, and baking my own Pot Pie – made from scratch with ingredients that even my great grandma and grandpa would know.


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