Home Cooked Food

A lot of people at work are amazed that I cook almost everyday, and that’s because home cooked food always fills me up more and leaves me satisfied than any take-out ever could.  And when you savor slowly and truly taste your food, you tend to eat far less than the junk you eat outside.

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fresh veggie wrap with whole wheat tortilla and home made hummus

As I learn more about processed food, it scares me more each day, especially in Malaysia where food labeling and listing of ingredients are not as strict as other countries.  Being a vegetarian and I hope someday a vegan is a blessing in disguise.  Besides of having to cook more and not just grab any food I see out of convenience, I’ve learnt to love and respect my body, by not just putting any crap into it.

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fresh cut very sweet mangoes

Food industries has become one huge giant conglomerate, food scientists are paid to put together food that tastes good, cheap to produce and resembles the real thing to give an illusion to consumers that they are eating something healthy, convenient and cheap.  As we are leaving in an overweight society, people do have the good intention to eat healthier, so with this in mind, food producers are always looking for the ultimate solution….put together food with whole wheat/whole grains, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats the cheapest way possible to maximize profit.  So enter food additives, some are natural and most of the time it is artificial.  It is easy to capture the attention of consumers, put big bold words on a packet of white bread that says “High in calcium” or “contains omega 3 fatty acids” and people will buy it.  What about the white refined flour, some genetically modified corn starch or oil that resembles the natural omega 3 you get in fish oil or nuts?  Food regulations and labeling has got so many loopholes that allow food producers to do as they please.

What are we doing to ourselves? When did we go so wrong?  In Malaysia, or at my workplace for example, a typical lunch for an office worker is some greasy fried noodles in a stall, or a plate of mixed rice with a variety of tasteless oily vegetables or meat that will costs under $5, or worse, some fast food joint that serves greasy hamburger and fries for what they call a “value meal”.   Dinner is again eating out for most working people, probably another greasy joint or for those who are more well paid, they eat at cleaner and more expensive restaurants but probably serving the same crap, all because they think that it is too time consuming to cook after a long day.  I know people who go for days without vegetables, and their coffee intake way overtakes plain water or fresh juices, or people who always end their meal with a cigarette for dessert.

A lot of people are shocked when I tell them that I cook almost everyday and I have a full time job, with dogs and cats at home, and really, it’s not that difficult with a bit of organization and planning.  I wouldn’t say that I’m an experienced cook, but I love food, in all its natural forms and I still have so much to learn.  I love to eat gourmet food on a budget.  People always tell me that it is expensive to eat healthy, which to a certain extent, it’s true.  My philosophy for buying food is simple – cut down expenses by eating out less, stop buying junk food and use that money to buy healthy food.  For instance, I tend to buy local vegetables but organic, I cut out milk and replaced it with soy milk, we used to drink an average of 2 to 3 cartons of milk a week, now we consume about 2 cartons of soymilk, which is double the cost of a carton of milk per carton, but we drink a carton less and it’s fine.  Shop for certain food at certain places to get the most worth out of your money.  For example, I always buy my olive oil, whole wheat pasta, and imported cereal from Tesco, because it is the cheapest and it’s good quality.  I used to buy very expensive cheeses and yogurt, but I have cut that down tremendously and use the money instead to buy good quality honey, organic oats/quinoa, couscous or very good pasta sauce, good olive oil, nuts and so on.  So really, it is not that expensive to eat healthy, I just need to know which area I should trim down, one less pair of new shoes, one less piece of a gorgeous top that I absolutely must have, and I use that money to nourish my body and soul.  Besides, being a vegetarian will greatly reduce my need to spend on meat, except occasionally, I do cook chicken for my dogs.  We have greatly cut down on eggs as well, so that greatly helps in reducing our spending.

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a wonderfully sweet juicy peach

I love to try different cuisines and experiment with different ingredients, I make curries, chutney, chapati, chinese stir fry, soups, porridge, pasta, salads and anything and everything else.   And I realised that if you put love and an attention to details when cooking anything, it will usually turn out tasting fantastic. 

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coconut vegetable curry

A lot of people I know wants to cook, but they don’t know how, so they resort to convenient food, desperate for some taste and trying to convince themselves that this is the best they can feed themselves with the limited time and busy lives that they lead.  And then they worry that they are growing fat, and worry about diabetes, heart diseases, cancer and the whole works.  I remembered that the best meals that I’ve ever had are all home cooked, there was this old lady who used to spoil me rotten when I was a child that can barely read or write at that time, she made the best flavoured rice, chicken in a flavourful thick sauce, sweet and sour prawns, and steamed fish, simple home cooking, but it was so delicious.  She cooked the food with love, and now I wished that I have asked her for the recipes, but I was too young at that time.

In a nutshell, people are longing for low fat fried chicken, healthy sweets, healthy wantan mee and curry noodles, low fat latte….but really… it only makes you feel better.  It’s like chain smoking but working out everyday, or using the most expensive beauty products but eating crap everyday.

As for me, I cut out fast/junk food from my life years ago, I think I have only been to McDonald’s for an egg burger once this year because I didn’t have a  choice and I was on the road, other than that, no chips, weird colored junk food, sweets, cheap artificial ice-cream, canned soups and other such things.

And honestly, I don’t miss it at all, there’s nothing like a fresh salad, homemade curries and pasta sauce, homemade hummus, lightly sauteed vegetables, or a crisp honey sweet apple or a peach so sweet that its juices run down my chin as I sink my teeth into it.  Who needs anything else?

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homemade minestrone

Let’s spread the word, eating well doesn’t have to be time consuming, and if you want to look more beautiful and fall sick less often, learn to cook whole, real food, food that is in season with natural ingredients filled with flavor, savor your food slowly, and you will achieve food nirvana.

Nourish your body and soul today, after all, it is true you know..

You Are What You Eat

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