Corporations cook very different from how people do. They tend to use much more sugar, fat, and salt than people cooking for people do; they also deploy novel chemical ingredients seldom found in pantries in order to make their food last longer and look fresher than it really is. So it will come as no surprise that the decline in home cooking closely tracks the rise in obesity and all the chronic diseases linked to diet.
I didn’t always enjoy cooking. Several years ago, I thought it was burdensome and boring … something I did because I was only slightly better at it than my wife. I think a big part of this was because I didn’t really know what “healthy” was. I’d buy a box of perogies that said “low fat” on the package and assume these were healthy.
Cooking, and especially healthy cooking, is not easy. Processed food makes it easy and convenient; that’s why we buy it.
But here’s the deal guys: the more real, unprocessed stuff you put in your food the better it will taste and the better it will be for your health.
In this post I want to share with you 7 healthy ingredients everyone should have in their kitchen. These ingredients will make cooking easier for you. I use several of them every single night.
You should too. Here’s why.
Olive oil is one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Most people eat way too many Omega-6’s and not enough Omega-3’s, which causes inflammation that leads to a variety of diseases. Cheap, unhealthy oils high in Omega-6 fatty acids (such as “vegetable oil,” soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, etc.) are in nearly every type of processed food and are used by most restaurants.
Get rid of this junk and eat 2-3 T of a good extra virgin olive oil every day instead. One thing to keep in mind: olive oil is not a good cooking oil because it has a low smoke point and can burn and become rancid. Buy a quality bottle of olive oil and use it for salads and sauces only. So which oil should you cook with? This …
Coconut oil is my favorite oil to cook with. It’s great for searing meats at high heat and sauteing vegetables. Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, but most of it is a good type of saturated fat that actually improves your HDL (good) cholesterol. Choose an “extra virgin” coconut oil, which is less refined and processed. All oil is high in calories though, so eat it in moderation. I usually limit myself to 1-2 T of coconut oil per day.
Lemons add a ton of flavor and balance to a dish with virtually no calories. Plus, lemon zest is one of the most underrated ingredients in the cooking world and can really enhance a dish. I use lemon juice in my soups, sauces, and dressings several nights per week.
Limes are another citrus fruit that are extremely versatile. One of my favorite foods in the world is guacamole. When it’s done right, it’s one of the healthiest and tasty dips on the planet. Here’s my go-to recipe: chop up an avocado or two and squeeze half a lime on top, add the zest from the lime, some minced onion and jalapeno, sea salt, and fresh cilantro and that’s it. Speaking of sea salt …
Sea salt is the least processed type of salt, which means it has essential minerals that refined table salt lacks. In my experience (and according to most chefs), sea salt also has the best flavor. Plus, you get more bang for your buck … a little sea salt goes a long way.
I love black pepper. The best way to enjoy this super seasoning is to pick up some real peppercorns and grind them yourself … just like you see in restaurants. If you don’t have one, it’s a worthy investment that will enhance nearly every food you eat. I got one at Ikea for less than $5.
The most versatile cooking vegetable that goes with nearly every savory dish you can think of is the noble onion. I always have onions on hand: red, white, Vidalia, Spanish yellow, green, etc. Onions are a mild vegetable that add an incredible amount of flavor without a lot of calories.
Stocking your kitchen with healthy ingredients is one of the best things you can do to making cooking easier. Cooking has made me more independent and less reliant on corporations who don’t give a shit about my health. I think it’s the single most important thing you can do for yourself and your family to improve your health and wellbeing. If that’s not incentive to spend a little more time in the kitchen, I don’t know what is.