This week's challenge was about cooking with care - and eating only meals made from scratch. It's easier - and harder - than it sounds...
It was a normal Sunday - surrounded by cookbooks and deciding what to cook for the week. And that was my problem.
I love cooking. I'm a Cajun expat from South Louisiana and food is pretty much life down there. Well, food and dancing... Yes, I can make jambalaya, gumbo and etouffe :-) So I usually cook from scratch, often including a big pot of soup to eat through the week (let's face it, we're all busy people, so why not cook once for half a dozen meals?), so this challenge was right up my street, except...
I usually cook from scratch... Which means it didn't feel particularly fresh.
What worked was trying some new recipes, including muffins with no sugar and with wholemeal flour (this is HUGE for me) and what would have been vegetarian soup if that pesky leftover ham hadn't fallen in the pot. You can talk the girl out of Louisiana... I love recipes and have loads of books, but it's easy to get in a rut with known winners. It's always satisfying to know what I'm eating is prepared with care from quality ingredients, so that felt good, and one day I even got a friend to cook with me and that was really lovely!
What was less effective was the lack novelty. In fact the biggest take-away for me so far, assuming the experiments are meant to be good habits, is that I have some fairly good habits. I'm interested to see what comes next month, although I may be asking for trouble because sharing the love was WAY out of my comfort zone... So I'm still braced for the next mind-blowing leap into the unknown but the challenge has already shown me that life is more fun with a bit of random novelty thrown in and even the best things can get a little stale.
I also took a little side-track on this challenge (which seems to be a theme for me) in that one day during the period I was out and about and I didn't even try to eat healthy foods, never mind home-cooked. I ate tasty foods - I am Cajun after all, so this is serious stuff - but I ate cakes and food from chains and generally ignored everything I know about a balanced diet.
And I felt rubbish! Icky skin, tired, head-achy, and full-yet-hungry...
It was a really good reminder that eating well is more than "tasty" or "filling", and it's more than "home-cooking" and it's even more than "quality". It's about balance and keeping treats as treats. And my mom was right - you really do need to eat your vegetables!