Lara DePetrillo, co-author of Love Food, Can't Cook? tells us that it was her return to home-cooked meals that reignited her passion for food. . .
'We all want to be healthier, and we all know that what we eat is a big part of that. Still, making a change can be overwhelming. When you first start thinking about it you are immediately struck by how much advice is out there, and how many of the ideas conflict with each other. Do I want to follow Atkins? Do I need to keep track of my GI levels? Should I be buying the low fat version of this? Am I eating enough Goji Berries, and what is the latest ‘super food’? I even read one article that said that if I wasn’t feeding my kids enough flax seed, than I was ruining their health. Come on!
Personally I don’t think it has to be all that complicated. We all know that fruit is better for us then sweets. We all know that baked is better for us then deep-fried. I don’t think it’s all that mysterious, and I think the best first step is cooking things for yourself. If you make the food yourself, then you can see everything that goes into it. There is no way to fool yourself about what you are eating. When you drop a block of butter into a frying pan, you can say ‘hey, that’s a pretty large block of butter. . .maybe I’ll try to cut down on the fats for the next few days to make up for it’. And chances are that you are much less likely to reach for a big bowl of e-numbers then your average food producer is.
‘Everything in moderation’ – but how can you moderate when you don’t see what goes into your food? The idea is to be eating more food, and less food-enhancers and food-like substitutes. I used to be someone who didn’t cook. I ate take-aways and instant food from jars and tins. Ever since I discovered my love for cooking – the fresh and lovely tastes of home cooking, cooking that doesn’t have to be fancy and doesn’t have to be elaborate – I have also rediscovered my love of food. I thought I didn’t have time to cook, but the more I learned, the more I realised how many recipes take a half hour or less. In the end I realised that in the time it took me to pre-heat my oven, and bake some fish fingers, I could have created an exciting and healthy meal that would leave me feeling good about myself, and good about what I had provided.
It’s also a big help in this time of economic crises. I love to go out to restaurants, but let’s face it, many of us don’t have that option anymore, and once you have a family, even that take-away becomes an exercise in financial planning. Learning how to cook reopened so many food options for me. The meals that I loved to get when I was out are still an option, as long as I don’t mind putting in that little bit of time and effort. To me, it’s worth it to have the foods I love.
The wealth of foods available to us in this day and age is almost magical. Foods that would have been considered unimaginably exotic when I was a child, are readily available at the supermarket. We can reproduce, in our homes, foods from every corner of the world. Now is the time for the most amazing of foods, and cooking allows you to be right in the middle of it all.'