Taking Care of the Cook
How to keep your resolve to cook healthy, inexpensive meals from scratch. Success begins with taking care of the cook. Let me help you succeed.
This is a real class with real-life applications. You’ll need a notebook for this class. As well as a file on your computer. Right now, go to the files section on your computer and create a file – Scratch Cooking 101. You’ll be getting weekly emails from me during the 4 weeks of this course. You can save those emails in that file. I’ll also be asking you to create documents to keep track of various things like food expenditures, addresses of nearby resources for food and food storage, and price lists. Those documents should be in this file, too, so that you can access the information after this course. We’ll be building on this information throughout the month and in Scratch Cooking 201, and Scratch Cooking 301.
So grab your notebook and a pen and let’s look at today’s lesson.
Take care of the cook
3 pm is the crunch time. Your blood sugar is low from a fast lunch, whether you work away from home or are busy at home. If you are carpooling kids or grandkids, you are feeding them snacks on the way to their next activity. Don’t grab a chocolate bar or a cookie or even an iced cappuccino. What you put in your mouth between 3 pm and 4 pm can make or break your resolve to cook healthy, inexpensive meals from scratch. The warehouse stores know this and that’s why they will offer carb-rich samples between 3 and 5 pm — you are primed to buy the packages of frozen pot-stickers, and corn chips with salsa. Spike your blood sugar at 3:30 pm and you’ll be fighting temptation at 4:30 pm to pull into a fast-food joint, or pick up that package of Pot Stickers to get dinner served as quickly as possible.
Write this down: Plan your win by keeping your blood sugar level throughout the afternoon. Avoid sugary or carb-rich snacks from 3pm to 5pm. If you feel lethargic at 4pm, grab some protein and a non-caffeine drink to sustain the cook.
When you eat carbohydrates, bread, cookies, candy, or even crackers, — basically sugars and starches – they are converted to glucose in your bloodstream. The rise in glucose levels causes an immediate increase in energy, which is quickly used up. Once it is gone, you feel lethargic, your energy is gone, and hunger cravings start. Add to that the drug-like stimulation that eating wheat, aspartame, msg, or high fructose corn syrup, gives you, and you set up withdrawal symptoms that are only satisfied with more of the same. This is one reason why it’s so difficult to break the processed food-fast food habit.
However, if you plan ahead to eat healthy, high protein, high fat, vitamin-rich, low carb snacks, you will moderate your energy levels, and be able to stick to your resolve to cook from scratch more easily.
During this course I’m going to be offering you some tips and tricks to help you achieve your goals of cooking from scratch, lowering your food budget, and increasing your satisfaction. It’s not just about taking the foods that you used to buy as processed foods and making a recipe for them, at home. It’s about changing the way that you think about food.
Success begins with taking care of the cook. And to do that you may need to toss out what you learned in school about how to eat healthily. That nutrition pyramid that you learned in school was designed by the processed food industry. The same industry insists that ketchup is a vegetable. Enough said.
My view of healthy eating is:
- A serving of protein at least 3 times a day – eggs, grass-fed meat, wild fish, organic beans (not soy, even if organic) raw cheese, peanut butter, nuts and seeds.
- As many fruits and vegetables, in season, as you can fit into a meal, and snacks — eat them both raw and cooked
- Two small servings of grains, more if you are normal weight or very active, less if you need to lose weight
- Healthy oils like coconut oil for cooking and virgin olive oil for salad dressings (Eating fat doesn’t make you fat – eating processed carbs makes you fat.)
- 2 servings of raw milk, raw cheese, yogurt, almond milk, or coconut milk – use in cooking, add to smoothies, use in sauces and cream soups.
Avoid GMOs like cotton, corn, canola, beet sugar, and soy as much as possible, by reading labels. Also avoid non-organic milk products, unless you have a clean source that doesn’t feed GMOs to their animals. Avoid chemicals and food colourings. Caffeine is fine, but avoid soda pops and artificial sweeteners, as much as possible, including sugar-free gum. Of course, your own dietary needs will dictate how you apply this information.
The Non-GMO Shopping Guide — online
The Non-GMO Shopping Guide — downloadable
Your view of healthy eating may be different, and that’s all right. Everyone has a different way of eating and different cultural norms. If you have a different view, take the principles of this teaching and apply it as it fits into your own personal lifestyle.
Strategies to win that 3 pm battle.
Are you thirsty? Sometimes we think we are hungry when actually we are dehydrated. Make sure you have clean, filtered water available. Use a glass bottle to carry your water away from home – the by-products of plastic water bottles that can harm your thyroid are found to cause cancer, avoid them.
Don’t wait till you feel hunger before you satisfy it. Eat something 3 to 4 hours after your lunch meal. If you skipped lunch, you may need this earlier. If you need more, kombucha is sold in a glass bottle with a tight-fitting, reusable lid. You can use the Kombucha to make your own starter, and then up-cycle the bottle for carrying your water. Canning jars don’t have tight seals and will leak in your car, but work well if you are home all day, and just want a reminder to drink.
Adding a tbsp. of cider vinegar and 1 tsp. of honey to a bottle of cold water or a mug of hot water, can cancel cravings and help you detoxify if you have found the battle tougher than you expected. Lemon juice or lime juice and honey have a similar effect.
Healthy snack suggestions:
Slice cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, carrot sticks, celery sticks, or other raw vegetables, prepared as you would for a vegetable tray. Homemade Lara Bars, Mini Dark chocolate bar, Cocoa in hot water with cream and cinnamon (no sugar), frozen berries, organic cheese with apple slices, fruit in season, dried fruit, avocado, fruit leather. Avoid wheat, refined sugar, soda pop, chips, corn, or processed foods. The purpose of the snack is to satisfy your hunger without triggering later cravings and a severe drop in energy.
Time Saving Tip: Using a food processor slice enough vegetables, like cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, for 3 or 4 days and have them ready in glass jars, in your fridge, so that you can use them for quick snacks, lunch additions, or for making stir fries, or soups. You only have to wash the food processor once, and you have part of the meal prepared in advance. Don’t have a food processor? You can still do this chore in advance. The food processor only saves you a bit more time.
Tea – seems more filling than water. Pick your favourite. Chai tea can help rev your metabolism and will give you a quick pick-me-up due to the cinnamon and pepper in it.
A green drink – can pull you through the crunch without the sugar spike. I use Tropical Traditions “Antioxidant Natural Greens” – berry flavour. It adds extra vitamins and antioxidants to nourish at the cellular level. (1 container is 30 servings.)
Have healthy snacks for the kids after school, too, so that they aren’t asking for Micky D.’s on the way home. Advertisers aim for kids. Teach your kids to be aware of the advertising hook so that they will be less gullible. Get their help in slicing vegetables, mix up a dip with raw milk yogurt and some vanilla or chives/salt/garlic powder and they’ll be happy for the crunchy snack. Train them when they are young to like real food.
How about yogurt and fruit? Apples and honey? Bananas sliced lengthwise and spread with peanut butter and dark chocolate pieces? Use the same strategy with kids as you use with adults – keep the processed carbs to a minimum and fill them up with protein, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables. It’s true that processed carbs like bread are cheap to produce, but the subsequent blood sugar spike and drop actually prevent the satiation trigger in your brain and cause you to eat more – which actually costs you more. Manage the snacks and you manage your budget and your weight. If you have to feed things like potato chips, cookies, cakes, etc. make them a special occasion treat, not an everyday staple.
The goal between 2:30 and 5 pm is to keep your hydration level and blood sugar level even, avoiding hunger cravings, and the drop in energy levels that are usually triggered just before dinner. By planning ahead you can put yourself in a good frame of mind to cook dinner from scratch. As you practice it becomes easier.
A quick recap of today’s lesson: Taking Care of the Cook
- Plan your win in scratch cooking, don’t just wing it. Your plan begins with a protein-rich breakfast and managing your own blood sugar levels throughout the day.
- Stay hydrated by drinking enough water. Sometimes water needs imitate food cravings. Be aware of your own signals for thirst and hunger and meet the need before it comes desperate.
- Eat something with protein and healthy fat at 3 pm or about 3 hours after lunch to prevent food cravings from sabotaging your scratch cooking efforts.
- Prepare raw vegetables ahead of time, in quantity and have them ready for snacks and meal preparation.