Time for “Spring Cooking”!
Thankfully, spring is in the air! We finally have warmer weather, flowers blooming and a renewed zest for achieving our healthiest lifestyle. For many, the onset of spring means that it is a time to prioritize cleaning. For others, spring is a time to start up (or re-start) an exercise regime. These are great ideas; however, this spring, I want to inspire people to get “Spring Cooking” as one of the most powerful ways to improve their nutritional intake.
Our Current Challenges:
According to an Ipsos Reid poll conducted for Dietitians of Canada, 43 per cent of Canadians say they do not cook balanced meals for themselves or their family on a regular basis. Time constraints are the number one challenge in planning and preparing meals. With our jam-packed schedules, cooking at home is often seen as a chore. Our food choices are increasingly based upon accessibility and convenience. A consumer trends report from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, found that Canadians’ shopping and eating habits are more sporadic, we spend less time preparing meals and an increase in snacking on portable and take out foods.
Possibly the most impactful concern is that basic cooking skills have gradually eroded from generation to generation. It is documented in the literature that basic culinary skills and food knowledge are not being passed down because young people are often not involved in cooking (Health Canada, 2010). Consequently, youth often perceive basic cooking as difficult and have low confidence to make healthy meals for themselves. This lack of confidence leads to a reliance upon processed, convenience foods that do not require any cooking skills.
The concern is that basic cooking skills have gradually eroded from generation to generation Click To Tweet
What is “Spring Cooking”?
“Spring Cooking” is a term I dubbed to refer to an opportunity to prioritize being in the kitchen to cook basic, wholesome meals for yourself, your family or your friends. These meals don’t have to be complicated or time-consuming and can even save you money. Try “batch cooking” and freeze extras in single serve containers so you have the luxury to re-heat your meal when tight for time. “Spring Cooking” could also mean stocking your kitchen with fresh or frozen fruits, cut vegetables, whole grains, and pantry staples. One of my favourite healthy eating strategies is to arrange a cooking night with a friend. A client of mine started a lunch exchange with a group of co-workers. Each Tuesday, a different person brings in a homemade lunch for the group. Overall, “Spring Cooking” is simply a time to prioritize cooking for your health.
Benefits of “Spring Cooking”:
When you are able to make your own meals you are in the drivers seat for the foods you are putting in your body. You are more likely to have vegetables and whole grains in your diet and avoid the excess calories, sugar and fat found in processed foods.
When you make your own meals you are in the drivers seat. Click To Tweet
If you are unsure where to begin, I would highly recommend signing up for a grocery store cooking classes. This is an economical way to learn the basics (or advanced recipe ideas) from local chefs inspiring you to make delicious foods. If you have children, get them involved in the meal preparation by cleaning vegetables, shredding cheese or making a salad. You will be improving their future health by raising confidence that they can nourish themselves instead of relying on the food or restaurant industry to feed them.
Cooking is a cornerstone to a healthy diet. By getting into your “Spring Cooking” you will find yourself making a healthy new habit to be less reliant upon the “less wholesome” convenience foods. The more practice you get in the kitchen, the more confident and creative you will become. This spring, I challenge you to increase your time cooking by trying a new recipe, prioritizing weekly batch cooking and involving others to make this a fun opportunity to bond and enjoy delicious foods!