I am asked these questions very often: “Where do you find time for cooking? Do you really enjoy it? Wouldn’t you rather be spending time doing something fun than chopping and baking?” I wish I had a dollar every time I tried to explain that making dishes can be fun and relaxing and that it plays such an important role in my family’s physical and mental health. Check it out yourself!
The battle against weight-loss is the longest and the most difficult one every woman experiences in her lifetime. It never ends, it does not forgive mistakes and it hates cheating. Stepping on the road to healthy eating is overwhelming itself and all those recipes with long lists of ingredients (I call it “take a unicorn’s horn and on a full moon night, sprinkle it with a few drops of a mermaid’s tears”, I hope you see my point) do not make it any easier (that is one of the reasons why I love using the same basic set of ingredients or spices in most of my recipes. I have to keep it simple!).
Nevertheless, when women (and not surprisingly, more and more men everyday) start improving and practicing their cooking skills, a different problem appears – where to find time? I can honestly write a whole page of how to incorporate cooking into the daily routing without making it the most hateful activity of all. Yet, this is not the time or place, so I am going to mention just few of the most important tricks I use myself to love what I do.
First of all, understand why you need to do so. Are you trying to lose weight? Want to impress your partner/family? Trying to live healthier or maybe save some money on eating out? Mean to follow some specific diet (paleo, vegan, vegetarian, plan-based etc.) and can’t find places to eat out in your area? Great! All of those are the perfect motivation. Pick one, mix them up and believe in it. There is no right or wrong answer. We all different, and whatever motivates one person is not going to influence the other. In my case, all of the above are true. That is why my motivation is strong: when one chain link weakens, I have plenty of others to support my will.
Second, think about this: whatever you and your partner in life eat is an example to your children. You are the first people your kids adore and mimic. So when you have another slice of everything-on-it pizza, think that you simply cannot expect your children to have different eating habits. Your wordless example is like a green light to them. Do you want to be responsible for them being sick? Really? Of course, you don’t. Choose what you eat wisely if not for yourself but for you kids.
Third, more baking, less grilling. Baking is not only a healthier way to cook your meat or veggies, it is also…. time saving. While your dish is being baked, you have time to chop a salad, or do some yoga, to have a cup of coffee, for the God’s sake! Also, try to bake things in advance. Let’s say, you need a fully cooked beetroot for a recipe. Bake it at night and then use it to make a lunch next day. You basically cut that time you need to make lunch in half. It is very convenient (just make sure, you do not cook it three days in advanced. After all, freshly cooked meals are more safe and nutritious).
Fourth, make a presentation out of it. I know, I know, you going to say that your fantasy is lacking creativity by the end of an 8-hour-workday. I hear you! Nonetheless, it is super simple and quick to garnish a dish with fresh herbs or sesame seeds, or chopped nuts. Make it pretty and you will see that whatever looks nice tastes better 😉 Your loved ones will appreciate it too, I am sure about that. And there is no better motivation than excitement of those you cook for.
Fifth, make it your time. I have to explain little more here, I guess. Cooking is often associated with losing time. Something that I mentioned at the beginning: “Wouldn’t you rather do something fun than cook?” I do have fun when I am in the kitchen. It is time when I watch my favorite movie or listen to a podcast, or audio book. Or when I listen to music and sing. When I think stuff over that happened during a day or when I make some decisions. While your hands do some physical work, your mind can focus on anything you like. Do not think about how much you hate chopping onions! Turn on a TV show your were postponing to watch for the past three months. Do not stress out about the process of cooking otherwise you will never learn to enjoy it.
Of course, it is going to take some time. You may have some ups and downs on the way but, honestly, rather than hate something all your life, make a peace with it, learn and love your enemy and make it your friend!
To sweeten your mood a little, I want to share with you a recipe of a simple and delicious chocolate that you can make at home in less than 20 minutes! Yay! The beauty of it in its limited number of the main ingredients and its variety of tastes.
As always, the main components are highlighted. Others can be substituted.
Healthy Chocolate Bar with Superfoods
1 cup of Cacao Butter
1 cup of Organic Cacao Powder
1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
2 tbsp of Organic Honey
½ cup of raw chopped pistachios
½ cup of Goji berries
1 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup of freeze dried raspberries
½ cup of freeze dried blueberries
½ cup of freeze dried strawberries
- Melt cacao butter in a water-bath (one bigger pot fill with water and then place another smaller pot in it. When water in the big pot boils, it heats up the small pot. It will help you to make sure that butter will not burn). Watch it closely, butter should not boil.
- When butter is fully dissolved, decrease the heat, and add cacao powder to the pot with butter. Make sure that it is fully blended with butter and the mass is smooth and solid.
- Add honey and again stir it up until it is fully dissolved in the mass. Try it and adjust it accordingly to your taste.
- Turn off the heat and add vanilla, stir it up very well.
- Cover a baking pan with a piece of aluminum foil.
- Pour out your chocolate mass on the baking pan.
- Sprinkle your coconut, berries, and nuts into the mass (your can crash the berries before sprinkling).
- Put your baking pan in the fridge.
- Try to stay away from it at least for few hours.
- Break the chocolate bar and store it in the freezer or the fridge in a ziplog bag.
Tips and tricks! *I would recommend not using vanilla extract if you plan to share the chocolate bar with children. Vanilla extract contains alcohol so better choose a vanilla bean or just skip this step.
**There is no need to add honey if you plan to load your bar with all the Superfoods I mentioned. It is going to be just too sweet. If you want to use just a few of the mentioned Superfoods’ options or substitute some of them for different nuts, raisins, etc., for example, then start adding honey by the teaspoon. Make it just a little sweet and then load it with all the goodies.
***There is always an option to skip all of the Superfoods and just make a simple dark chocolate bar.
Improvise and practice! Eventually, if your family prefers sweeter or sourer chocolate, you will find your perfect combination of the ingredients. This is not my original recipe and it is very difficult to trace it back to its creator, but each and every new component makes it unique. My family barely buys chocolate anymore.
Try it out and do not forget to enjoy!