Getting started adding more veggies into your current meal rotation can be intimidating. I spent years avoiding the kitchen for two reasons:
I would love to hear YOUR reasons for not cooking for yourself. If you're a member of The Women's Wellness Academy, visit the Community Chat and share why you don't cook. If you're not a member, send an email to me at [email protected].
Here's the truth. Both of these beliefs were preventing me from being my healthiest. Could I change what I believe? Yes! And once I did, I started loving time in the kitchen. I have the skills to make delicious food, and so do you.
Let's look at my first belief. I didn't want to spend time in the kitchen because I considered it beneath me. Honestly, I thought I had more important things to do than cook for myself (or anyone else in my life). I'm a self-employed business owner. I'm busy! Six pm is my favorite time to work out. Who wants to shop for food or prep food?
I spend a LOT of time reading about food. How does what I'm eating help or hurt my body? What is the best food to be my healthiest? How can I eat whatever I want and not gain weight? What does science say about what I'm eating?
And yet, I was happy to let someone else control what I was putting in my body by not stepping into the kitchen and cooking for myself. Was it easier? Yes.
Here's what I recognized was the real reason I wasn't cooking for myself. If someone else was preparing food for me, I wasn't responsible for what it was doing to my body. If my weight wasn't where I wanted it, it wasn't my fault. I didn't spend much time in the kitchen.
Recognizing that belief hurt.
While I was helping others take control of their health and their lives, I let myself off the hook. The truth is that if you want to make a change, you have to make a change.
Here's what I did.
I found ways to make healthy, delicious meals that require minimal time in the kitchen. Martha Stewart, I am not, nor do I aspire to be. Spending hours in the kitchen preparing a gourmet meal may appeal to you. It does not appeal to me at all. The meals I prepare tend towards one-pot simplicity. They require about 20 minutes from start to finish. They require little-to-no advanced preparation and are made from ingredients I'm familiar with. They're packed with flavor and nutrient-rich veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and some spices.
This brings me to the truth about my second belief. In reality, no special skills are required. The internet has opened a world of recipe options, especially for those of us living plant-focused lives. I can put the ingredients I have in my kitchen into a search engine, add "vegan, no-oil recipe," and up pops dozens of options for me to choose from.
I've found recipes with five or fewer steps that are amazing. The steps are things like, "boil water, add grain, cook 20 minutes," or "add ingredients 1-5 to the pot and cook." Sure, they can get more complex than that, but there is NO reason you can't start making a change today.
Give it a try.
Go to your fridge and your pantry. Pick one or two ingredients. I've put "onions, lentils, cabbage, zucchini" into the search and come up with at least five recipes to choose from.
Not sure what ingredients are healthy? I have a simple formula for that. Choose a bean, a green, and a whole grain. Every meal can begin with these three ingredients.
One of my favorites is chickpeas (garbanzo beans), spinach, and brown rice. I'll generally add some tomatoes (sun-dried, fresh or canned), and it's a meal ready in minutes.
Another option could be lentils, kale, and quinoa. Put it all in a pot with some veggie broth and cook for 20-30 minutes.
Here's a simple summer-veggie recipe that makes a delicious soup that you can eat all week.
Perhaps THE most important thing you can do when you're trying to change your health is to step into the kitchen. It can be a scary place. You're not alone. There are thousands of recipes, videos, and blogs to help you.
Changing your mindset around food, the kitchen, your health, and your body is the bigger challenge. You can do this, too. Start with small steps. Try one recipe a week or one recipe a month. Ask a friend to come over and make a meal together. Start "googling" recipes and find something that seems easy enough and sounds appealing.
I'll help get you started. Check out this recipe from Forks Over Knives (they're my favorite recipe source.). It's perfect for this spring season, and you can get started with frozen versions of the veggies if it's not warm enough for summer veggies in your neighborhood just yet.
After you try the recipe, share how it went for you. It may not work the first time. You may not like this recipe. That's OK. You haven't failed. You've tried something and decided it wasn't for you. Let it go and move onto the next recipe that sounds appealing. I promise you'll find one you like. Your mind and your body will thank you for the effort.
The Women's Wellness Academy is a safe space for women over 40 to transform their lives through fitness and nutrition. We share our struggles, support each other as we change and celebrate our success together. Find out more and join us today.