I recently posted a question on my general Facebook page that asked why people did not like to cook. I was looking to see if anything in particular was hindering people from the joys of cooking plant based meals. The most popular responses were:
- They do not enjoy cooking for one, or separate meals, for those who do not eat plant based.
- They do not like the kitchen clean up.
- They are not sure what to cook, and it is stressful
- They are tired after work, and do not want the bother
I would like to look at these things from the easiest to the hardest to fix. No one likes to clean dirty dishes. But the general rule of the kingdom of humans is that those who do not cook wash dishes. The cook can help by drying or putting away, but the cook should have assistance cleaning up if someone else took part in eating. If you are alone then you get a bonus; leftovers. That means you will not have near as many dishes the next night. Clean up goes faster when everyone pitches in, but it rarely takes more than 20 minutes. Cooking without oil also makes the clean-up much easier because nothing gets glued to the pans. The other bonus is that you are on your feet while cleaning up, which means extra steps and better metabolism.
Ok let’s tackle cooking for one. You are the winner! You can eat whatever you want! It is the movie Risky Business but in the kitchen. Put on the tunes and eat the rainbow. You get to choose all of the spices so it can be fiery hot or wildly herbal. No one is going to complain. Try new recipes if you like. Keep it extremely simple with a loaded baked potato and a salad. Pick up a vegetable that you have never tried and google some vegan recipes for it. You will probably have leftovers so you will have lunch or another dinner already prepared that frees you up for another activity. The most important thing to remember if you are cooking for one is that you are Worth Good Nutrient Dense Food and YOU DESERVE IT. I have heard people say they just eat to survive. That is usually far from the truth. Those people are getting little fiber or greens and just eat brown box food. Your plate should be so colorful that you would like to take a picture of it.
Those who are trying to keep the peace and serve two meals have it the hardest in my opinion. I think there needs to be some ground rules. When it comes to children of any age, they are not nutrition experts and most likely do not contribute to the food budget. Therefore, they do not get to plan the menus. You may have created little picky monsters, but it is also your job as a parent to fix this before they go out into the world and demand others do the same for them. Or they will themselves sick and overweight when they choose fast foods every night of their lives until their health is in trouble. The reality is, it only takes a week to fix this, and I guarantee they will not bring it up in therapy in twenty years. You are giving them the biggest gift a parent could give; healthy eating habits. They will be better people because of it. So brace yourself for a week of complaining, and then it will be over. As for spouses I believe you need to have the conversation. A lot of times people tell me that their spouses would never eat that plant food. However, when I speak to the spouse and we talk about heart attacks, cancer, erectile dysfunction and getting off of many medications, there palate starts to open up a little. Remember, the why is important. Start simply with foods that everyone likes. Mashed potatoes, corn, green beans are usually accepted foods. Add some baked beans and some banana nice cream for desert with cacao nibs. Not too bad. Let’s go for another. Perhaps negotiate meat free nights with a plan to phase the animal products out over the next month. Set a date. Make the plate look great. When everyone starts to feel better in a few weeks, it will really start to get easier. If it is not working offer a consult with me, I will handle the rest.
Changing your cooking style is like changing languages. It is hard at first but easiest when you immerse yourself. The best way to start again is to look at the common grounds. What vegetables and cuisines do you and your family prefer now. Start there as a base and go forward. Change is best when it is attached to a habit already in place. If Thursday night has mashed potatoes and corn then build on that. Add beans and greens and you are done. Want to get fancy? Add mushroom gravy. Try not to use a new recipe more than one time per week. If you are used to pizza night by all means do pizza night. Leave off the cheese and add vegetables. Write down what you had for dinner over the past month and assess the variation. It may surprise you that you really do eat the same 7-10 menus most of the time. Make them plant strong and you are a winner.
Everyone is tired after work. The funny thing is that if you are so tired then why would you want to drive to a restaurant, wait in line, wait for food, eat poorly, be more tired and go home feeling guilty that you did not get anything accomplished at home and your feel miserable. Or, cook a plant strong meal and energize your body. It will heal and you will be able to do more things after dinner with all of your energy. A little planning takes some of the stress out. Shop for food on the weekend so you can at least make it through mid week without having to stop at the grocery store after work. Soup in the electric pressure cooker takes thirty minutes and can be used more than one night at repurposed over a potato or polenta. A big bowl of potato salad can be spread over a few meals. Keep a little notebook of the meals that you like so you can reference them when you are running out of ideas. And by all means keep it simple during the week.
If you need a little motivation check out my podcast http://jaimeladulaneymd.podbean.com
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments. Wishing you good health and happy cooking.