Cooking for Health, Nourishment, Relaxation and Connection. Why I Love to Cook!

Quote from the New York Times Magazine, August 2, 2009:

“The more time a nation devotes to food preparation at home, the lower its rate of obesity.  In fact, the amount of time spent cooking predicts obesity rates more reliably than female participation in the labor force or income.”

Why I love to cook!

I love the creativity of it all.  I get to think – but not too hard – what I could make that is delicious, pretty easy, will impress my friends and family and be healthy. 

I grew up with 2 working parents and although Mom prided herself in making home cooked (sort of) meals, they weren’t always that tasty and mostly had one spice ingredient – Lawry’s salt.  Now I have to give her credit for her efforts but she wasn’t my inspiration.  I ended up being friends with my sisters’ best friend.  I was 16 and she was 21.  Her name was Louise and she was a great cook.  In looking back, I can still hear my Mom say, ‘when did you learn to eat that?’  The ‘that’ included (now) staples like garlic, onion, spices, herbs, and so forth.  All I could ever tell Mom was ‘Louise taught me!’

From there I got into health food – that tasteless, no salt, old dried out herbs kind of food.  I stopped using salt, stopped cooking in aluminum pans, and stopped storing in plastic in the ‘80’s.  Now most of this thought pattern has continued but I have to say I sure have learned how to make food tasty!  At that time I was quite proud of what I cooked but anyone who ate it suffered!  I didn’t know this until about 6 years ago when I made a meal for my sister.  She wasn’t feeling well and laid down for a nap.  Upon awakening she came into the kitchen to see what smelled so good.  (You see she, my brother and I were together, just the 3 of us, for the first time in 18 years!)  I can still hear her remark about those bad meals she and her family had to eat when I cooked for them all those years ago.  I had no idea!

Well, she opened the oven and exclaimed, ‘oh, a whole chicken!’  I kind of looked at her and said, ‘yea, so?’  To think that she was a stay at home mom turned stay at home grandmother and yet she hadn’t cooked a whole chicken in years.  Instead she had the illusion that cooking whole things like a chicken was time consuming and difficult.  The result was that she mostly cooked things like potatoes from a box, reheated a ham, vegetables from a can or frozen package.  Things like that.  On the other hand, I have been working full time and managing a house for 26 years (at that time).  Obviously we had taken different paths on our lives.

Fast forward to today, 6+ years later and I have grown into a better, more self-confident cook.  But let’s not go there just yet…

The true credit for my initial cooking ability came from my friends Jan and Jeff.  I met them in the late ‘80’s when I was working for them in Hawaii.  We became fast friends and I had the pleasure (both socially and gastronomically) of sharing many meals with them.  They both cooked and did so mostly together.  It was, along with a martini, a social event; a place where they would come together after a long days work to catch up, share their day.  This was an experience completely new to me and I loved it.  It opened my eyes to not only cooking but a wonderful way of engaging.  I was hooked and, although single, wanted it to be a part of my life.  I truly enjoyed the connection and delicious rewards that came with the experience.

I left Hawaii in 1990 to move to Colorado and pursue a new career – one as a massage therapist.  Among the many things I brought with me was that fantastic, mouth watering joy of cooking great food and sharing it with friends.

I have continued to do so and have added a great dimension – a partner – a man that is vastly interested in the senses, including taste, and is appreciative of my cooking.  It has enabled me to be more creative (and less neurotic about precise measurements in recipes) and more risk taking.  I put together dishes based on nothing more than an idea and what I have available.  The results?  Mostly I end up with really yummy dishes.  Do I still read and try recipes?  You bet!  They give me inspiration to be more creative.

Why I’m telling you all this is because of a concern for where our society is heading.  I am reading more and more about junk food, fast food, pre-packaged food all dominating what we put in our mouths.  Pre-packaged food started in the ‘50’s.  It was marketed as the ‘new way’.  The unfortunate thing is along with it has come a tremendous increase in obesity (fact) and a decrease in communication and relaxing with each other while eating, in my opinion.

The obesity stems from foods that are low in nutrition and high in (bad) fats, sugar, and salt.  These are all ingredients that, in big enough quantities, can mask the disgusting taste of the other cheap denatured ingredients.  It is a sin!  What has made us rise above other animals is our ability to prepare and cook foods, our ability to plan, store, and create meals that enable us to spend time being together (and working) rather than grazing or hunting our time away.  It has provided us the luxury of sitting down, eating and connecting with fellow human beings.

Now I realize people will argue that we still do this while inhaling a meal together at McDonalds but is it really the same?  I think not.  Not only are we missing out on the nutrients but the care, love and pride that goes into a homemade meal.  We are feeding our guts but are we really nourishing any part of our selves?  As for the ‘I don’t have time’ concept, I don’t buy it.  I continue to work full time and manage a house yet I also cook about 80%-90% of the meals.  And they are meals that are healthy, focused on local growers, very nutritious, easy to make and delicious.  This is not to say I don’t enjoy going out to eat but it makes it a special occasion and it allows me to afford to go somewhere that is healthy.

My goal is to introduce you… entice you… encourage you… and to offer you meals that will take you down this fun rewarding path.  Oh and there are some side benefits – you will feel physically better, have more energy, possibly lose weight (if you need to), and save money!  Now what can beat that?

Try out the recipes on my website.  Meanwhile I am putting together an eBook titled 30 Meals 30 Days that will offer you a variety of dinners so you won’t have to plan a thing.  There will be a list of ingredients to keep on hand in your kitchen, a weekly shopping list, and short videos to show you just how easy healthy cooking can be! 

Check back regularly for the launch of the eBook or sign up for our mailing list (no I will not give your name to anyone!).  If you choose to sign up, I will let you know when it is available.  Meanwhile, eat healthy and share good food and great conversation with your friends and family!

Interested in Sustainability?

Early Morning in Leh
Early Morning in Leh

Three years ago I had the fortune of finding out about an organization that has been focusing on sustainability, ecology and diversity since the 1970’s.  The organization is called ISEC or International Society for Ecology & Culture.

They have been working in Ladakh, also known as ‘Little Tibet’ since this time.  Ladakh at one time was a place where being 100% self sustainable was the norm.  It has been used as an example and study of what can be an ideal way to live.  I went to Ladakh and volunteered with this amazing organization for 4 weeks, living on a farm and learning about the culture as well as what we can do in the United States to make a difference.  It was a journey that changed my life.

Since this time, ISEC has gotten more and more involved with education around sustainability.  If you are interested in learning more about this subject and organization, I strongly suggest you check out their website.  They have books, videos, and articles.  Of course, if you want a greater experience, you can always volunteer!  Whatever you choose, it is a great resource in a time of great need. 





Village of Phyang
Village of Phyang





Morning market
Morning market
Ama Le
Ama Le

The Use of Palm Oil

If you haven’t seen the BBC series Planet Earth, I highly suggest it.  Not only is the photography incredible but the opportunity to see places and animals that have hardly been seen by humans is a gift. 


I was especially moved by the final disc, number five, that summed up the entire presentation.  The one part in particular that moved me was titled ‘Working Together’.  This addressed the impact of humans on our planet and looked in particular at issues that have resulted with our increased population and use of natural goods.  The one particular issue that has stuck with me was our use of palm oil and its’ impact on the tropical rain forest ecosystems around the world.  With the increase of palm oil in so many products, the natural forests are being torn down and replaced with the palm plant.  Thousands and thousands of acres! 


The result of this is a tremendous loss of biodiversity and the potential to have even more animals and insects become extinct.  Palm production is huge and continuing to grow as our demands have increased.  An amazing amount of products contain palm oil without our awareness.  This is a shame!


In so much as we all feel we have little power to make changes in the health of our environment, I beg to differ.  We have the power of the almighty dollar.  We can choose to spend it on products that are not only healthy for our bodies but for the environment.  I am therefore suggesting you take this problem into your own hands by reading the ingredients on common foods and only purchase those that certify that the palm oil used is from a positive source. 


Become educated.  Learn more about agencies such as IMO that focus on sustainability, eco-friendly producst, organic agriculture and more.