The Most Important Ingredient Is You

Becoming a skillful shopper, a good cook and smart eater is much simpler than you might think. It does require planning, organizational skills and a good attitude, but anybody can do it. The benefits of educated shopping and healthy cooking and eating far outweigh any perceived inconvenience.

Preparing meals for optimum health should be treated as if your health - and life - depend on it, because they do. Meal preparation is not about simply putting calories in your body - it's about nourishing body and soul. It's not about thoughtlessly and grudgingly throwing "whatever" food together - it's about thoughtfully and joyfully creating the perfect meal with the best, healthiest and freshest available ingredients.

The act of getting food on the table becomes whatever you make it. Treating food as some time-wasting but necessary chore, makes it just that. But choosing healthy meal preparation as an act of love transforms all aspects of it into a deeply fulfilling experience. It is wonderfully gratifying to choose your own food, know where it comes from, prepare it with your own hands, eat it joyfully, and watch your loved ones savor the fruits of your labor.

So by all means, learn the skills. But also cultivate a love of healthy cooking.

Here are the steps on how to shop, cook and eat for maximum health:

  1. Cook all your meals from scratch using SLOW (sustainable, local, organic, whole) ingredients. Homemade meals are the safest and most effective way of maximizing healthiness, food safety and cost savings
  2. Plan your meals according to what is in season and buy organic food that's locally grown http://www.environmental-living.com/organic-food/is-organic-food-really-more-expensive.htm
  3. Support your local Farmers by shopping at your nearest Farmer's Market-it's fun, healthier, cheaper, more educational and safer http://www.vegetarianorganicblog.com/2008/07/meet_your_farmers_and_get_to_k.html
  4. Plan more vegetarian meals that include veggies, fruits, beans, grains, nuts and seeds-it's healthier, faster and simpler to prepare as well as easier on your waistline and pocket book
  5. Once a week sit down and do a weekly seasonal menu planning all breakfasts and dinners using healthy recipes from healthy cookbooks or web sites
  6. Highlight menu items that will require early preparation such as homemade vegetable stock, pre-soaking beans, cooking beans ahead of time, making dressings and sauces in advance, marinating, etc.
  7. Plan on making enough food to have leftovers for lunch the next day
  8. As you plan your weekly menu, make a shopping list of ingredients that recipes call for and check your pantry and refrigerator to figure out what you already have on hand and what you'll need to purchase
  9. Post the menu visibly where everyone can see it and you can glance at it to know exactly what you need to do next
  10. Go shopping with a full stomach and shopping list on hand. Most of what you need should come from the Farmer's Market or the produce section at the health food store
  11. Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before using and use separate cutting boards for vegetables, fruits, meats, fish and chicken. Wash you hands constantly as you cook
  12. Get everyone in the family involved in the meal making process-have them do prep work, set the table and clean up as you go but above all, enjoy the process and make it fun for everyone else
Amira Elgan

Amira Elgan

Amira is a Board Certified Holistic Health Counselor and Healthy Lifestyle Author, accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP), and a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrion.
Read more about Amira.

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