“Every time you eat or drink, you are either feeding disease or fighting it.” ~ Heather Morgan.
We all love fast food because they are convenient and easily accessible. Finding time and strength to prepare home-cooked meals can seem a bit tasking especially if you are a working-class or very busy person. However, one of the easiest ways to improve your overall health is by preparing home-cooked meals. Learning how to cook gives you the skills to try new recipes, take care of your health and it also gives you the pleasure of preparing and enjoying your food according to your taste bud.
Cooking is a fundamental skill that needs to be practised and perfected every day. Remember, practice makes perfect.
It is widely known that eating healthy meals is the key to good health. Want to learn how to cook well? Want to learn how to cook without oil, without sugar, or salt? Want to make healthier food choices? Want to eat in smaller portions? Planning to save some money? Then you need to start preparing your meals at home and limit going to restaurants and fast food to get something that is more expensive and you can cook cheaper and healthier at home.
Processed and junked food can take a toll on your health and that's why we at Superprof NG are going to take our time to explain the benefits of preparing your meals at home in this article. As you read on along, the seed to start cooking at home will be planted in your mind and if learning to cook seems intimidating, don’t worry, we got you.
Advantages Of Cooking Healthy Meals For Kids
A balanced diet is very essential to the growth and development of children. The type of food your kids will have a great impact on their health throughout adolescence and adulthood. Eating food containing important nutrients helps your kids grow, which in turn is very essential for their mental and physical development.
The foundation of education, food habits and taste bud of children are made during their early childhood. Families and schools, therefore, play a crucial role in feeding children, as this is where they learn their food habits which wills serve them well in the future if properly done.
“Eating habits are learned behaviors; they’re not intuitive. So what your children learn to eat at home early in life sticks with them well into adulthood.” Ann Cooper and Lisa M. Holmes
When you learn the basics of cooking and start playing chef, you can take charge of the health of your children and family. Meals prepared at home allows you to know more about what you are feeding your children, teach you more about its nutrition and will also help in their:
- Mental development
- Immune system
- Energy stability
- Weight management
A UNICEF report revealed in 2016 showed that five in six children under two years old are not fed enough nutritious food for their age group, depriving them of the nutrients they need which are critical in their physical and cognitive development. In 2016 also, WHO conducted a survey that showed 41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight.
Read this UNICEF article on children, food and nutrition to know more about the importance of your child's eating habit on their well being.
There are many tasty Nigerian recipes you can use to impress your kids at home. Nigeria has diverse cultures with different dishes. Be creative with these dishes and make some balanced diet and healthy meals for your kids.
You control to cut back on ingredients that are not good for your kids when you cook at home.
Here are some tips to encourage healthy eating for your kids:
- Incorporate fruits and vegetables in their meal daily. Add fruit to their lunch box
- Focus on them eating less packaged and processed food. Prepare meals that are organic and is as close to their natural form as possible
- Make healthy snacks readily available for them
- Be creative to disguise the taste of healthier meals, for instance, you can add lots of vegetables to their pasta
- Find healthier junk food alternatives for them
- Get them involved in the grocery shopping and encourage them to pick food items they will like to it from the organic food section
- Involve your kids when preparing their meals. They will be interested in eating meals they have prepared
- Ensure your store and pantry is not filled with unhealthy food so it is not easily accessible to you and the kids
- Start them very young. likes and dislikes start from when kids were babies
- Encourage them to drink water after every meal
- Limit fat and products high in sugar or salt
- Make mealtime exciting for them by adding colours and shapes of fun stuff in their food preparation
- Children imitate what they see. Be a role model in your eating habits for them
You will know your children's eating habit is on the right track when they personally start refusing junk and fast food, chocolates and sugary snacks.
Take cooking classes at Superprof NG to improve your culinary skills.
Cooking Aids Your Social Lifestyle
Learning how to cook is good for not just yourself, but your family and friends as well.
Use Your Kitchen To Improve Your Cooking Skills
Like we said earlier, practice makes perfect. Don't be too hard on yourself when you are not getting it right. You will be amazed at what you can do with your cooking skills once you start making your meals yourself. We often are too hard on ourselves in the kitchen and criticize everything we make. You will be shocked that someone will taste that meal you criticized and really love the taste. Go easy on yourself. Rome was not built in a day.
Here are some tips to get you comfortable in the kitchen and to also improve your cooking skills:
- Ensure you have basic kitchen utensils/ tools to make cooking easier. You don't need to spend a fortune on basic kitchen tools.
- Before you cook a meal, have all the ingredients in your worktop in the kitchen
- Ensure your knives are sharp. A dull knife takes more force to slice through food and can be frustrating
- Start by trying simple and fast recipes, for example, boiled plantain and steamed vegetables
- Learn to perfect your knee skills so you can play chef
- Don't pressure yourself. Learn from your mistakes, it will make the next dish better
- Know your ingredients well so you can start playing around with them
- Avoid ready to microwave food items. Learn to cook your meals from the scratch by trying different cooking methods like steaming, baking, searing, grilling or frying
- Taste your meals at each cooking step or get someone close to you to taste them for you also. This will give you a sense of confidence when you are validated by someone else.
- Be cleaning at every completed step in the kitchen. When your work area is clean, it encourages you to go on
- Place your ingredients and kitchen tools that you use often in areas that are easily accessible in your kitchen
- Have a journal where you write down recipes you have learnt or are planning to create. Or simply to keep a track record of your progress in the kitchen
The more cooking you do, the more your cooking skills improve and build up to become confident in the kitchen.
Kitchen As A Social Space
As well as saving you money and giving you a chance to prepare your meals according to your diet plan, cooking is also a way to relax and share moments with friends and family. When you cook for people, you feel happy and connected with them. This is why during the pandemic, people were encouraged to make meals with their friends and families virtually to encourage a sense of bonding.
“There’s a tremendous amount of confidence-boosting and self-esteem boosting, performing an act like cooking for others,” explained Julie Ohana, a licensed masters clinical social worker and culinary art therapist.
Bring your friends and family together over a full table of yummy Nigerian or intercontinental dishes and set to the tune of some warm background Jazz or RNB music. Cooking encourages teamwork when you invite people over as someone can help you in the kitchen, whilst someone else sets the table or cuts the bread.
It is such a lovely moment when family and friends are chatting over some delicious meal. Cooking like a chef isn’t just cooking, it lets you share your love through food, showcases your food creativity and also a means to spend a great time with friends and family.
Cooking Integrates Food And Culture
The way Africans, Americans, Europeans have different languages and culture, is the same way they have different food and cooking styles. The cuisine of each country or race reflects its history. People also connect to their cultural or ethnic group through similar food patterns.
Learning another country's cuisine - African (Nigerian) cuisine, Turkish cuisine, Chinese cuisine, Vietnamese cuisine or American cuisine –lets you travel around the world through food
Nigerian cuisine consists of dishes from the hundreds of ethnic groups that comprise Nigeria and we have over 250 ethnic groups. This shows there are a lot of recipes you can try to cook as a Nigerian or foreigner that wants to try our food.
Have you ever wondered where some of the food you eat originated from? We grow up eating the food of our cultures or other peoples cultures.
Each country has its own unique food that most tourists are eager to taste when they travel. For instance, everyone wants to have a taste of the famous Nigerian Jollof when they visit our country Nigeria.
Don't just cook the basics everyone is used to, try to improve your cooking skills by going out of your comfort zone and cooking other cuisines from all over the world. Cooking can also be an instrument to learn more about each other and to teach others about our own culture. You can surprise your friends or impress your date by trying to cook their cultural food or even yours.
As the world becomes more globalized, it is easier to access cuisines from different cultures. We should embrace our heritage through our culture’s food but we should also become more informed about other cultures by trying their foods
To learn how to cook is more than just opening a cookbook to prepare healthy meals, it is a multicultural journey through history.
Become More Eco-responsible Through Cooking
What we eat and how to prepare our meals greatly affects our health and our environment. By changing how we cook, what we cook and where we get our food items can positively affect our environment. Cooking can be fun and relaxing and super better when it is done with respect for nature.
We now see more warnings regularly for people to look after the environment by consuming responsibly, shop locally and organically and only eat what’s in season. Learning how to cook also means advocating for the preservation of the environment which you could do, for instance, by having a little garden in your home where you can plant your own vegetables for cooking.
If some food is bad for our bodies, why would not it be bad for the ecosystem?
Make your commitment to the planet show on your plate!
Cooking Bring Out Your Creative Side
Cooking is the easiest method to get creative because it costs next to nothing and you can screw up and start again. Cooking at home saves a lot of money so why not try to be creative in your journey to a healthy lifestyle. You could try different cuisines and even be creative with it by making a combination of two, three or more cuisine to give you your own secret recipe
Turning a few ingredients into a magical dish helps to exercise mindfulness and enhance creativity. You do not need to follow a recipe, you could combine ingredients and flavour to make your own signature dish. No wonder why restaurants and food chain companies always have their own signature recipe.
Cooking is an art that should be enjoyed. It encourages creativity and increases your cognitive development. You can combine new ideas from your imagination with what you have already learnt.
Start by creating something delicious for your kids by combining the different food they really like or simply just prepare that recipe that keeps coming to your imagination. All you need to be creative is to explore your imaginations and intuition.
Once you understand the basics of how to cook, the sky is your starting point.