Monday, January 10, 2011

I Had To Learn To Cook...

Yesterday I posted some background about me.  I grew up eating crap.  Chips and dip were my favorite and they were around weekly.  Frozen meals were bought in bulk and stored in the downstairs freezer. Vegetables consisted of the occasional lettuce that we would put on our salami sandwiches.  We'd go to the buffet and get a salad with our meal.  That is healthy right? 

I never learned to cook. Or even cared to cook.

I got married when I was 25 and had my first baby at 26. I tried to learn how to be domestic. I had a few recipes under my belt that I was quite proud of. We also had a deep fryer. We used that baby a lot for "homemade" meals. 

My brother, who we live with, started getting into fitness more.  He'd always been able to maintain his weight but now he was getting into running and really paying attention to what he ate. He started using my postal scale for weighing his portions.  I had never seen this or even thought of this.  He tracked calories. I was impressed. 

Slowly I started learning that Mac & cheese and frozen pizza was NOT a good evening meal for my family.  4:30 would come around and hubs would automatically ask "Where do you want me to go for dinner?".  We'd bring home fast food 3 nights a week, easily.  Not to mention the weekends that we'd frequent the buffet.  I can seriously remember going to the buffet twice in the same weekend, several times.  The amount of money we were spending eating out was insane. 

Then, my aha moment.  Diabetes.  I finally DID something about it. I did a ton of research and LEARNED how to eat. That and with the tips from my brother about weighing and measuring everything, I was finally able to take control. 

Once I started reading labels and really THINKING about what I was eating, I realized I had to do something about it.  1/2 cup of mac and cheese and 1 piece of frozen pizza wasn't going to do it for me.  I had to find something filling.

I remember once, after I had started tracking my calories, planning to make sloppy joes for dinner. I pulled out the can of manwich out of the cupboard and started calculating the calories. I thought, I can SO do better than this!  So I did some research and found some sloppy joe recipes online. That was the start of me trying to convert, high calorie meals, into lower calorie fulfilling meals.

I became engulfed in the food blogging world. I'd see recipes and be eager to try them.  My family was a bit scared at first. 

"What!? This is the 5th night this week that she is cooking?!" 

It took them awhile to get used to it. My kids missed their chicken nuggets and fries at McD's.  My husband didn't always (and still doesn't) like my new concoctions.  Even though he is only slightly overweight, he had grown accustomed to eating out and he enjoyed it as much as the rest of us.  So it took awhile for him to change. He'd often go to taco bell after dinner and bring home "real food".  It killed me as I WANTED those tacos.  I got through it though and succeeded. 

I was learning to cook. I was taking control.

Then I decided to create my own food blog.  I held off for a long time as I am not computer savvy.  At. All.  I figured I was making new recipes and calculating the calories for all of them so I might as well just take a picture and share with the rest of the world.  I loved to share my successes with friends anyways so it seemed to be a good idea. 

The point here is that I learned to cook.  I was now cooking healthy, satisfying meals that I could enjoy and not feel like I was depriving myself of anything.  Don't get me wrong, if you look at my food blog, EVERYTHING isn't the healthiest but for the most part, I try to keep it healthy, filling and tasty.

I still use prepackaged foods and everything I make is not completely made from scratch. Nor am I saying that you should never go out to eat and you should make all of your meals at home.  It will be different for everyone. But what is the same, is the learning process that we need to go through.  If we are not in control of our eating, we need to relearn to eat. In my case, it required me to learn to cook.  I'm so glad I did. 

Today's Eats:

Breakfast Burrito = 175
    Whole wheat tortilla, egg beaters, salsa
Yogurt = 100

Salad with veggies & dressing = 150
Banana = 105
1 1/2 portions Squash Pot Pie =  500

Total calories = 1030

I used chickpeas instead of tempeh in the squash pot pie. It really rocked. Tasty, healthy and very filling. Considering I woke up super, duper hungry, I am ending the day quite full and satisfied. 


  1. You have learned with a vengeance! I love your recipes. Can I also say I'm impressed with how strict you are on calories...I have a tough time with that. Even when I eat really healthy stuff, I struggle to keep my portions in check and that often ends up blowing up my target calorie rate at the end of the day.

  2. I cannot believe you taught yourself all of that!! My mother is quite the cook, and I'm STILL learning a lot, LOL! You're absolutely right though, controlling our own food is an important step, and we need to understand exactly what we're ingesting. Kudos!

  3. Nice, realistic approach to cooking - learn to make the stuff you already love....just healthier. I think that's a great way to go. Diets blow and aren't ever sustainable in the long-run but what you are doing is. Well done m'lady.

  4. Deb, this post really really spoke to me! I have been leading the charge for the past couple of weeks. I can't cook, Kathy can cook her butt off. I have been researching recipes cause we have been in a rut with our healthy recipes. I talked Kathy into branching out and we collaborated on a stuffed bell pepper, ground turkey and brown rice supper the other night that was born from a recipe we found that Kathy said " I can healthy that up"! So we have decided that we are going to do that too! We just last night had a whole fryer chicken that she seasoned up and cooked in the crock pot, and it was yummy! I am now really looking forward to our branching out! I am going to start coming to your food blog now!

  5. Again, thanks for sharing more of yourself. I really enjoy knowing the background of the people behind the blogs I read. Makes it more personal and easier to identify with the person as a REAL person, not just words on a page!

  6. Thankfully, my mom had me in the kitchen when I was tall enough to reach the stove without burning myself. BUT the downside was that I was making the family size mac-n-cheese at age 10 and eating the entire box for a snack.

    I'm still trying to learn healthy recipes that the entire family will eat.

  7. If your Mom or Grandma didn't teach you to cook, you're unfortunately left to recipe books and celebrity chefs on TV.

    The problem is neither of these actually teach you HOW to cook.

    The Food Network is the MTV of Food. MTV used to play music, now they're entertainment ABOUT music. The Food Network is entertainment ABOUT food, they don't teach anyone to cook.

    Neither will you learn how to cook from a book. Written recipes won't teach you to cook any more than having sheet music will teach you to play piano. There are too many variables in recipes that always lead to frustration.

    The best way to free yourself from recipes and cook like a chef at home is to examine the basic cooking methods.

    When you learn HOW to saute, broil, grill, roast, then you can create your own recipes from what you have on hand.

    Knowing HOW to cook anything is a skill that will save you time, money at the grocery store, improve your health, reunite your family over dinner, eat a greater variety of foods, and have this skill for the rest of your life.

    Chef Todd Mohr

  8. I so want to take cooking classes. It's one of my "things to do before I'm 55" tihngs. I'm slowly using recipes and trying SIMPLE stuff at home. I grew up in a FRoM SCRATCH food home. We were poor immigrants and mom and dad ate what they ate in the old country--only not just killed meat or just milked milk or just picked fruit, since we lived in The Bronx. When we moved to Miami, then we had homegrown veggies and chickens mom kept in the backyard, freshly killed pig for festivities. I was used to normal meals, 3x, all cooked from scratch (with some exceptions--the Cuban predilection for canned peas and carrots, some canned soups, sodas, cold cuts). It was when I married and moved out that I got lazy and it was a lot of eating out/fast food/nicer restaurants when money was less tight.

    It was a bad thing. I need to relearn what I grew up with--make stuff at home, less salt, less fat, more herbs, more wholesome ingredients. Fresh local picked when possible.

    I love your recipes..the look of the pics. It's a very tempting collection.

    I think Americans getting back to eating at home is the way to get the obesity epidemic to recede. We need to control the food. Amen.

  9. This is what I like about blogging friends. We are all learning something. I grew up watching my mother, aunts and grandmother cooking with lots of southern seasonings - bacon grease, lard, and ham hock, and of course a lot of salt and sugar. I can make most of those good foods a lot healthier. Thanks for your recipe suggestions. They help me a lot.

  10. Loved learning your history and how your food blog came to be! Man, I come from the opposite end of the spectrum. Raised by a health nut and wasn't allowed the stuff I wanted--what you were raised on. So my overeating probs didn't start until I left home and could make my own choices. And I went too far. Strangely, I now enjoy eating the types of foods I was raised on and it really has helped me become healthy again. But I still fight the chips and dip--I'm right there with you. Those things are one of my biggest weaknesses. My Mom allowed us to have chips and dip about twice a year and it was always a huge gorge fest in which we'd fight to get the most before they disappeared in a matter of minutes. And still I get that way when I buy them now--I'm fighting people that aren't there so I can get my fair share...which now is like the entire bag!


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