Gain more freedom in your cooking by avoiding pre-made ingredients.
Lunch Hour Lesson #39
Cooking from scratch basically means using individual ingredients, rather than pre-made foods, to compile a recipe.
I have a few cookbooks, but most of the recipes that I use, I find online. Sometimes I am excited to find what I think is an easy whole-food meal and then I find out that it is a bit misleading.
For example, if you Google a recipe for tuna casserole, some recipes will be called 3-Ingredient Tuna Casserole or something like that. And then when you look at the recipe you find out that along with tuna and peas, the other “single” ingredient is boxed mac and cheese. And the first step in the recipe is to prepare the boxes of mac and cheese according to the instructions. The boxed mac and cheese itself has 11 ingredients, like wheat pasta, canola oil, thickeners and preservatives.
So really, the recipe title should be 14-Ingredient Tuna Casserole, but that doesn’t sound like quite as fun. Might as well just make it actually from scratch at that point!
Other recipes with short ingredient lists utilize more pre-made foods like canned cream of mushroom soup, jarred enchilada, spaghetti, or bbq sauce, canned biscuits, refrigerated pie crusts, and ranch dressing. Usually it’s some variation of cooking up ground beef, putting a sauce on it, then cheese, then putting it in a pie crust or on biscuits and baking.
I wouldn’t consider this really cooking “from scratch”. The recipes can be tasty and also save a lot of time cooking at home. You probably could also find ok-quality prepared foods. But the problem is that if you don’t cook from scratch, you’re restricted if you want to avoid certain ingredients.
I recently had this happen when I went to Trader Joe’s and bought a lot of corn tortillas. The cashier asked if I was going to be making enchiladas, and I said, I wish, but they’re a lot of work. He said that they sell a great enchilada sauce and went to go get it for me.
I was ready to just buy it, but then I looked at the ingredient list and saw it had vegetable oil (corn, soy, canola) and flour in it. And it wasn’t organic, which means the oil was probably from genetically modified ingredients and the flour was probably sprayed with pesticides. I told him that I’d have to pass.
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I know this maybe makes me sound snobby! And no, I haven’t made enchiladas in awhile because making the sauce from scratch does take work! But, I am grateful for the deep understanding of food and the food system that I have because it does empower me to be able to make good choices, and every time I do make enchiladas, they are amazing 🙂
In any case, my point is that cooking from scratch gives you more freedom. You can make pretty much anything and tailor it to your preferences and dietary needs. And you’ll avoid lots of flavorings, thickeners, colorings, and preservatives.
Today I’m going to share a recipe with you that I would consider cooking “from scratch” although purists would disagree because one of the ingredients is prepared mustard! In my defense, out of all the condiments, mustard is usually the least problematic because it mostly consists of mustard seed, vinegar, and spices. I would recommend organic, and my favorite is Annie’s Organic Dijon Mustard.
This is a baked chicken recipe that I use often. It comes from Diane Sanfilippo’s great cookbook Practical Paleo, which I would recommend to anyone. The recipt only has 6 ingredients, and it comes together easily. I usually serve it with rice or potatoes, and a salad. Enjoy!
Mustard Glazed Chicken Thighs
- 1/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- black pepper to taste
12 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (I often use boneless skinless thighs and they’re still great)
Preheat oven to 425 F. In a small mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, mustard, black pepper, sea salt, and sage. Place the chicken thighs on a baking sheet or oven-safe dish, and brush the mixture evenly over each one.
Bake for 45 minutes or until a thermometer reads 165 F when inserted into the center of one of the chicken thighs.
Browse the internet by searching “simple real food recipes”. The phrase “real food” ensures you’ll get very few processed ingredients in the recipes. Many blogs have collections of easy recipes you can try.
Lunch Hour Lessons with Allison
Watch this week’s Facebook LIVE – Lunch Hour Lesson #39: Cooking “From Scratch”. Each week I bring you a topic related to nutrition and health that I think is interesting, and give you a lesson to take with you into your daily life. Watch Live on Facebook, Wednesdays, 12:30pm PST!
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