The easiest way to make organic meat part of a healthy diet is to practice cooking for yourself – not just on special occasions, but for everyday meals.
Everyday home cooking is a good strategy for staying healthy, not only because you can choose high-quality ingredients such as organic meats, organic vegetables and whole grains, but also because you will naturally consume fresher, less processed foods. Plus, when you’re the chef, you can control your daily intake of fat, sugar and salt.
Cooking for yourself: why and how
We’ve got some pointers on how to make cooking for yourself fun and painless, plus some easy recipes featuring organic beef, chicken and pork. But first, a quick note about why getting into the kitchen is so important. Take a look at the CDC’s Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion website, and you’ll find many alarming statistics, as well as this reminder:
Although chronic diseases are among the most common and costly health problems, they are also among the most preventable.
Too much bad food is contributing to the rise in Americans’ chronic health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Eating well – along with other good habits like physical activity – can prevent or control the effects of these diseases.
We were inspired by Micheal Pollan’s article that appeared this summer in the New York Times magazine, titled Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch. He makes the excellent point that we spend a lot of time watching cooking shows, but not a lot of time cooking for ourselves…and relying heavily on packaged foods that save time but may add to our waistlines.
So why not get off the couch and get into the kitchen again? Bring along your favorite organic meats, vegetables, fruits, spices… and try these strategies for getting inspired.
1. Stock your kitchen
It helps to have basic ingredients on hand. Be sure to have the most common spices (basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, sea salt and pepper, to start) in your cupboard, as well as canned tomatoes, beans, vinegars and oils. Buy onions, garlic and potatoes ahead since they keep well. And keep your freezer full of good quality organic meats and vegetables you like, such as organic chicken breasts, organic steaks, chopped spinach and corn.
2. Make it a party
Cook with friends or family members whenever possible, giving everyone different tasks. Kids love jobs like peeling garlic or grating cheese, and even the most reluctant chef should be willing to chop a vegetable or two. Put on some music, pour some wine…whatever makes ordinary weekday cooking feel festive and fun.
3. Splurge a little
Cooking at home can save you a lot of money over time, especially if you’re in the habit of eating restaurant meals a lot. So, if you’re switching to scratch cooking, don’t be afraid to invest in really good ingredients – you’ll notice the difference! A fine grass-fed ribeye steak doesn’t need much except salt and pepper, and a fresh spring mix from the farmer’s market can taste delicious with just a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Generally, the better the quality, the less work you need to do in the kitchen.
4. Find recipes that match your lifestyle
If you usually have only 30 or minutes to prepare dinner in the evening, you don’t want to tackle a two-page recipe for authentic Italian lasagna. Buy a few recipe books that focus on everyday cooking for home chefs. And search online at places like epicurious website, which allow you to filter “easy” recipes.