When I was a 20-year-old newlywed (yes, I was young when I married) I didn’t now how to cook a real meal. I was really good at baking, but you can’t live off of cakes, cookies and pies. I would joke that I couldn’t even heat up a can of pork-n-beans, which was a staple at our house. So my amazingly handsome husband would grill most of our dinners and as a result we ate a lot of red meat. I remember commenting about how we were going to die young. Now I’m eating those words because my understanding of nutrition has completely changed and I still love a good steak.
My love of baking didn’t help my health. Neither did our love for Andy’s frozen custard, which we consumed weekly in our newlywed years. I was told by my doctor I needed to watch my blood sugars and I eventually was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. That is when I realized I needed to change. The biggest change I could make was to start cooking my own meals. This was very intimidating because I didn’t know where to start. So I picked up a cookbook. One of the first cookbooks I used was Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. Do you remember that bright orange cookbook? It was the same cookbook my mom used when I was a child. I picked a recipe and started cooking. I had a lot of failures in the beginning but when I succeeded the rewards were delicious. I can make a hearty lasagna.
I continued to have struggles with my health until I tried a Paleo diet. The Paleo approach to food totally changed everything in my life. I’ve talked about that here. The very first Paleo cookbook I used was Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso. Her recipes were super simple and very yummy. I think I’ve made every single one of them. After cooking my way through Sarah's cookbook I realized I could make just about anything. I frequently make dinners without any recipes now and my pass/fail rate is much higher. Although, I still do mess it up sometimes.
The key to learning to cook real food is to pick out a cookbook and make 1 or 2 new recipes each week.
As I continued to study nutrition I was introduced to soaking, sprouting, fermenting and other traditional food preparations. The time honored book for learning these methods is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Traditional food preparation has been passed down from our ancestors for generations. However, in our modern society these methods have been forgotten. When I refer to nutrient dense whole foods, this is mainly what I’m referring to – foods that are devoid of processed sugars, flours and vegetable oils. Foods that are prepared in such a way as to maximize nutritional content with the least amount of damage to our health. These types of foods are missing in our modern diet and that is why we are in the middle of a health care crisis. If there is one cookbook I would recommend most it would be Nourishing Traditions.
I have over a dozen cookbooks now, and have favorite recipes in each one. I encourage you to start experimenting with real food. Purchase a real food cookbook and get started today. Let me know which real food cookbook is your favorite in the comments below.