Why Make Home-Cooked Meals?
Preparing meals at home is very advantageous for the health of the family. Getting rid of commercial food pays big rewards in various ways, not just in the food’s nutrition. An article by Chiara Iacoviello, from the University of Washington, lists the benefits of cooking at home, as suggested by dietician Ben Atkinson:
1. It saves money – Eating homemade foods is usually much cheaper than eating at a restaurant or buying processed foods from the market.
Ben’s advice: “When we eat at a restaurant, we pay for not only the food but also the costs of running that business. The lights, the water, the building, and the staff — in addition to the meal we are eating. The same goes for the pre-made or frozen meals at grocery stores.”
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Here are some additional ways Ben suggests saving money:
- Plan several days of meals. We’ll be less likely tempted to eat something else if we have a plan or something already made.
- Make a grocery list and stick to it to avoid buying extra food.
- Save leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer. Once you get a stock of leftovers stored, you can reheat them later when you don’t have time to cook.
- It saves time – It might seem like grabbing something to eat at the local supermarket or driving to get take-out at the closest restaurant might be a quick solution when you’re in a hurry. In reality, many times it can be much faster to cook something at home, especially when you plan ahead. There are so many meals that can be made in less than 30 minutes. And if you choose a more complex recipe, you can always cook in bulk and eat the surplus later in the week or freeze it.
- Choice of healthier ingredients – Many commercially prepared foods are high in bad fat, salt, and sugar. When we prepare our own food, we know exactly which ingredients and how much of each is going into our food.
Ben’s advice: “When we cook at home, we are in control. McDonald’s fries have 19 ingredients. We can make them at home with far less — and they will taste just as good. A favorite at my house is potatoes cut into wedges, olive oil, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Put these in a Ziploc bag to mix together. Then place in the oven on a pan for about 30 minutes at 400 F. It’s only five ingredients, and tastes fabulous.”
- Avoid food allergies and sensitivities – Preparing your food at home can be especially beneficial if you or a family member has a food allergy. Because you are in control in your own kitchen, you can reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.
- Portion control – Many restaurants and fast food joints offer portions that are much larger than necessary. And the problem is, when food is in front of you, chances are you’ll eat it. When you dine in, you can regulate the amount of food served for dinner, eliminating unnecessary temptation.
- Brings family together – Eating at home gives the entire family time to talk about their day.
Ben’s advice: “Studies show that when we eat together, our kids and family are much healthier. Eating together is linked to less obesity, kids doing better in school, and less substance abuse within the family.”
Involving your children in food preparation (maybe by asking them to read the recipe out loud or mix ingredients) is not only a fun thing to do but also a great way to teach them healthy eating habits.
What Is Cornmeal?
McGee (2004) explained that most corn is prepared and eaten in ground form, and dry-milled products are ground directly from the stored grain, usually yellow dent corn, without any pretreatment. These days, they’re generally refined to exclude the hull and germ, an innovation that dates from around 1900 and that made large-scale milling practical.
The rarer whole-grain corn meal and flour, sometimes ground between stone wheels, are richer in fiber, flavor, and nutrients but also stale rapidly thanks to the oils and related substances in the germ, which become oxidized on contact with air. In order to extend shelf life people began removing the germ. It is far more beneficial from a nutrient perspective to eat whole-grain cornmeal and flour.
He also gave a clear and concise definition of cornmeal: “Cornmeal is finer than grits, with particles down to 0.2 mm across, absorbs water and cooks faster than grits, and provides a subtler graininess. It’s used to make unleavened mush, polenta, and johnnycakes as well as corn breads, muffins, and other baked and fried foods that include some wheat flour and leavening for lightness.”
How Does Kosher Salt Differ from Ordinary Salt?
Kosher salt is salt used for the koshering process, the preparation of meats according to Jewish dietary laws. It comes in coarse particles, often flakes, and is sprinkled on the freshly butchered meat for the purpose of drawing out blood. Because it’s meant to remove impurities, the salt itself is not iodized. Many cooks like to use kosher salt in general cooking for its relative purity and ease of dispensing by hand (McGee, 2004). Ordinary salt may contain more impurities.
Advantages of Broiling Food
Jan Sheehan, an award winning medical and nutrition writer, in her article at SF Gate, mentioned the keyhealth contributions of broiling food. She stated that:
The American Heart Association considers broiling a healthier cooking method than frying, which adds fat and calories, and thus increases the risk of weight gain and coronary artery disease. In addition to being diet friendly and heart healthy, broiling is fast, cheap, and requires no extra appliances that take up counter space since it can be done in the broiler compartment of your oven. Enjoy the ease and health benefits of broiling by turning on your oven’s broiler.
So here’s a recipe that will warm your soul on these cold winter nights.
Baked Chili Vegetables with Corn Biscuits3 tablespoons corn oil
1 head cauliflower, chopped in small florets
1 chili pepper, poblano, seeded and diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 scoops Momental MIND Nootropic Unfl
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
2/3 cup fresh milk
2/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup black beans, canned, undrained
1 cup tomato sauce, canned
1 ½ cup vegetable broth
1 ½ cup corn nibbles
- Preheat oven and switch to the broiler function.
- In a bowl, toss together oil, cauliflower, poblano pepper, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Transfer this to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly.
- Broil until veggies are browned on the edges, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Prepare the corn biscuits: In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, MIND nootropic meal replacement, and butter. Stir in fresh milk and half the amount of cheese. Mix everything together until combined. Set aside.
- In another bowl, mix beans with the liquid, tomato sauce, vegetable broth, and corn nibbles.
- Remove the baking sheets with the roasted vegetables and set the oven to 475 degrees. Pour the beans mixture evenly on the baking sheet.
- Divide the biscuit dough into 12 pcs and place with the rest of the ingredients on the baking sheet. Place the biscuit dough about 1 ½ inches apart.
- Sprinkle the biscuits with the remaining 1/3 cup cheese.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cheese starts to bubble and biscuits are golden brown.