I am probably the only person that I know of that takes their New Year’s resolution seriously. Last year I decided I wouldn’t purchase any new fashion items (you can find the post here). I successfully accomplished this without complaint. Once I’ve set the intention – which is what a New Year’s resolution is – I put things in motion to ensure I achieve it, which is really the foundation of achieving any goal really. So this year I set my mind to cooking dinner at 3-4 times a week. I came to this decision because eating out was not only biting (pun intended) into my disposable income but I thought it would be a good challenge – and much more appetising than running a marathon which I was also seriously considering at the time.
Cooking for optimum nutrition
One of my friends, Michelle, said I should just forget cooking and go raw. Indeed, given that I am aware of the health benefits of raw food and involved with establishing a raw food business, this makes perfect sense. According to Sir Stanley Davidson author of “Human Nutrition and Dietetics” there are “invisible chemical losses of nutrients that occur during food processing and cooking”. For optimum nutrition from cooked foods, Davidson provided some guidelines for cooking:
- avoid cooking at the highest heat, use moderate heat instead
- use minimal heat for the least possible time
- ensure that water is boiling or oil already heated before adding fruit and vegetables (don’t add food to cool water or cool oil)
- shorten cooking time by using a lid
- cook food as soon as possible after harvest
- serve as soon as possible after cooking (reheating will further diminish food nutrients)
But I had already made up my mind that cooking was my challenge for the year. And I did follow Davidson’s advice – except those times I forget to use a lid.
Never too late to start
With the year drawing to an end, I can now say that this has been an enjoyable learning experience. I had no idea I would take to vegetarian cooking the way I have so not only have I surprised my family, but I also surprised myself. I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy it as I used to think it was a menial task that needed to be done (or is that how I perceived it when I watched mum in the kitchen as a youngster?) Having been raised in Melbourne with its wildly eclectic food scene (of which I was a regular) and where food is an acceptable art form, gave me a good foundation for cooking. Having a love for good food creates the desire to make good food.
So I pored over cook books and food sites and food blogs. I’ve done so much recipe reading, I’m surprised I’m not dreaming about it! From curries to pho, dumplings to lasagne, raw salads to raw choc balls and the occasional meat dish (for my fiancé and future father in law) – my year has been gastronomically enjoyable! And my Instagram account proves it 🙂
There have been a few setbacks – like putting one too many cloves of garlic in the yogurt dip (in my defence, I love garlic), not enough salt in the meat dishes (again in my defence, I don’t eat meat so I forgo the taste test) and too much soy sauce in a stir fry (I’ll cop that one). Cooking may not be firmly under my belt, but at least I’ve gained more confidence with it. It took me a while to get to this point, but at least I can say that I was younger than Julia Child was when she began cooking. She was 32 when she started and I was 31. So there.