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Eating Healthy When You Hate Cooking

Eating Healthy When You Hate Cooking

I don’t like cooking. I mean, REALLY don’t like cooking. Everything about it is stressful to me – looking up recipes, walking around with a list in the grocery store to locate ingredients, timing when to cook, figuring out how to cook without destroying my kitchen, greeting the possibility of cooking something that someone else won’t like. For me, not one ounce of cooking is gratifying. Well – one exception – I like baking. Making chocolate chip cookies is magic, but it’s not magic when I eat them all, thus baking is not something I do often because my waistline doesn’t need it (and my family doesn’t need the extra sugar).

I hear some of you gasping. You’re already judging me because I microwave food, go out to dinner a lot, and think it’s fine that mac and cheese is a food group (which by the way, Annie’s now offers a mac and cheese that has cheese from grass-fed cows!). You might be labeling me as lazy – a mom who doesn’t care about nutrition – a woman who has no shred of pride in being a homemaker.

But just because I don’t like to cook doesn’t make me a bad mom, or wife, or woman, or human being. I may hate cooking, but I’m really good at assembling healthy meals and snacks regardless. And it’s still very possible. I love to entertain and host and have my “go-to” list of ready-made wonders from Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. I still believe in eating organic and fresh foods (and avoiding processed ones) and making sure my daughter appreciates what is healthy and helps her body become strong. My husband and I try to cook with our daughter as much as we can and involve her in preparing family dinners, but at the end of the day I just don’t love food prep all that much.

Cooking-with-childHmmm, you might be saying. Maybe Lisa grew up without proper cooking mentoring? That couldn’t be more wrong. My mom was basically Martha Stewart. Maybe better. She was shopping for organic foods before any other mother even knew what Bread and Circus was (and was, in fact, ridiculed by others who thought her views on nutrition and food were crazy). I was drinking Recharge while the other kids were drinking Gatorade. I was watching my mom brew her own Kombucha tea while other kids stuffed their faces with Steak-umms, candy with red dye, and thought Cheetos were healthy because they had cheese on them. I was making homemade spaghetti in the kitchen, and spending hours upon hours helping my mom make dough, and hand-rolled sushi, and all sorts of other fabulous things.

I also had a mom who totally and completely burnt out from cooking once her kids hit college. My mom probably had the most complete and enviable collection of cookbooks and Gourmet magazines that you’ve ever seen, but after all of those years of making food, living in the kitchen, and laboring over Julia Child-esque meals she was just done, and those cookbooks sat untouched until we threw them out when my parents moved two years ago. My mom now is the queen of no-bake meals, the ready-made section in Whole Foods, and the “what’s-in-the-pantry-diet.”

Perhaps some of this history has influenced my attitude towards cooking today, but who really knows? What I do know is that creating healthy food choices for your family is important and something I prioritize. And I’ve also begun to challenge myself to cook on occasion. Inspired by the Bright Horizons curriculum element “Handwriting Without Tears” I’ve created a Pinterest board called “Cooking Without Tears: Easy Recipes for an Uncook” where I collect easy recipes in the hopes of being inspired. In the last year I’ve actually made a few of them, and I have found that my confidence and interest grows with each baby-step I make. I have even considered enrolling in a cooking class or two – maybe doing it with a friend or my husband so it seems less daunting. My thought is that maybe I will be more inspired if I have some legitimate culinary successes under my belt.

So, don’t judge me. I’m a great mom (and person) and do a lot of other things really well. I love my daughter and my husband. Health is a priority in our household. So are hugs and kisses and play time and learning and exercise and exploration. I don’t offer love through food, but I am trying to offer health through food offerings and some cooking for the benefit of my family. I am committed to giving more cooking a shot. For now, though, giving love from my heart seems to be scrumptious enough itself.

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