01 Feb

Ready, Steady – Cook!

Are you ready, steady to cook? Does cooking give you pleasure or do you see it as a daunting, time-consuming messy chore? Why is it important to love cooking?

The essence of what I do really is about helping people to eat better to feel better. Food is information, it tells your body what to do and how to function. If you eat junk you will feel like junk, if you eat fresh, unprocessed food rich in nutrients you will feel fresh, vitalised and good. I teach clients why they should be eating or not eating certain foods and the education part can be powerful because they then start to understand the “whys” not just because “its good for you”. Cooking is then key to be able to eat the foods that give your body good information.

I post recipes on my blog, Instagram and give clients handouts in the hope these will give them and anyone else out there interested the necessary tools to go away and start eating well. However I realised at the weekend it’s not always as simple, more on this later.

My cooking background

I have cooked for years, my mum cooked; my husband loves to cook so it is in my blood and heart. I did have to learn; when I first got married our staple meal was pasta with tomato sauce or bought chicken kieve, salad and bought croquette potatoes. At some point we must have decided we had to do more, so I bought books on how to make soup and invested in The Naked Chef – Jamie Oliver books and my repertoire expanded. I then had children and back then I never actually thought about food as information but still had a strong desire to feed my children well. I was a stay at home mum so I had time to work on my dishes, so they grew to casseroles, cottage pies, curries, risottos and more. I was lucky I had the time and I also had the ability to try my hand at most meals. It was also my escapism.

Reality moment

I say all this because I realised actually for a lot of people, cooking is a really daunting process. Whether it’s because you are just starting to cook, or you have never seen anyone cook, you don’t like cooking or you have had bad experiences with it can seem like a chore to some, like ironing is to me.

At the weekend, my daughter cooked herself and her brother a meal. She decided to make a tomato sauce with chickpeas and serve with buckwheat pasta. I said to her I have a recipe on my blog. I then duly went upstairs for a bath, she text me…..”How many cloves of garlic and and kind of heat is it good to sauté oil in?” My first reaction was does my recipe not say? And how does she not know that? I then thought about it and I have been doing this for 19 years, she is just beginning. Turns out I had not put how many cloves of garlic – note to self be more exact with recipes, don’t take it for granted everyone else knows and showed her what temperature to sauté at. I left her to it after that and her brother said it was really tasty, just like mine, so she managed and felt incredibly proud of herself as well.

With all that in mind here are some tips, benefits and advice on cooking:

  1. KISS – not literary but Keep It Simple Stupid – try making tomato sauce for pasta, then advance to a bolognaise, then advance to a curry – once you learn to sauté garlic, onions, carrot and celery in some olive oil you can really cook any kind of sauce based dish, its just about adapting the flavours – adding pasrley, basil, rosemary for Mediterranean dishes and stews, or turmeric, cumin and smoked paprika to Indian or Mexican food.
  2. Put some music on – it really helps, especially when batch cooking.
  3. Start where you are – if you have never cooked or you don’t have a lot of time, start with buying pre-chopped vegetables, ready made quinoa and brown rice packs. You can move on to the next steps when you feel ready. My next step is learning how to ferment foods!
  4. Take a course or ask a friend or family member to teach you a few recipes.
  5. Don’t be scared to experiment and don’t give up when it doesn’t work out. I have had many disasters, I learn from them or I don’t make it again! Baking can be a challenge for me at times.
  6. My daughter was doing one thing at a time, she was watching the garlic cook, yes do this but, if you can do other things while you are waiting for something to cook, so open the tin of chickpeas and rinse them under the sink or wash your herbs. This becomes easier the more time you spend in the kitchen.
  7. Cook extra for lunches and leftovers so that you are not always having to cook.
  8. Buy some good cookery books that can help get you started, look through them first, find ones with straightforward easy recipes.
  9. Find some good websites with recipes, like mine 😉 or others like: food matters, bbc/food, my new roots and Totally Nourish.
  10. This tips was from a client: YouTube – it has some brilliant clips on how to’s such as cooking chicken, chop an onion.
  11. I find cooking therapeutic, if I have not been well, I often find myself cooking – I think this is probably my way of nourishing myself. If I have had a bad day cooking helps, so try to find pleasure in it and use it as a way to distract you from the digital, busy world we live in.
  12. Cooking is good for digestion! It is giving your body a sign you are going to be ready to eat. If you don’t cook, set the table, have pre mealtime rituals that signals your body you are ready to eat.

Finally here is my tomato sauce recipe again in as much detail as I can think of – give it a try and let me know how you get on and if you have any other great tips to become an inspired, healthy and happy cook, let me know:

Tomato Sauce for Pasta, rice, fish, meat or chicken.

  1. 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  2. 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  3. 1 tin of chopped tomatoes for silky smooth sauce 😉
  4. 2 tbsp. olive oil
  5. 200 ml of liquid, either chicken or veg stock or water will work as well ( I fill the tin of tomatoes with about half the water)
  6. tsp. dried oregano
  7. handful of chopped basil or parsley or both
  • Gently heat olive oil in a pan at a low-med heat
  • Add the garlic and let it gently sizzle, but watch to make sure it does not burn
  • Add the tomato paste
  • Add the tomatoes
  • Cook for a few minutes, then add the liquid
  • Bring to the boil then bring down heat to a simmer
  • Add the herbs and seasoning
  • Cook for 25 minutes with lid on, keeping an eye on the heat.
  • The chickpeas are for added protein, so you could add them when you add the tomatoes.