As a holistic nutritionist, I always ask my clients if they enjoy cooking. Reviews have been mixed. I would say most feel overwhelmed, like they don't have the time. Some are just plain bored of it. We all want as much energy as possible to work toward becoming our best selves, so the way we nourish ourselves could not be more important. If you want to be energized you need to eat energizing, nourishing foods. Simple math. Your health is an equation of daily decisions adding up to well-being or illness. If we can make the time to binge-watch a Netflix show, then we can carve out enough time to cook quinoa. Heck, you can even listen to Netflix while you cook.
I understand that not everyone is interested in becoming the next Iron Chef. Most don't get the strange satisfaction that I do coming home with fresh produce, and not everyone enjoys spending their Sundays in the kitchen meal-prepping. I get that.
I also know that once I began dedicating time in the kitchen, my health improved dramatically. The care that I began putting into my food was directly translated into my body. For me, cooking has sparked a dedication to self-love.
Your time in the kitchen is a time of self-care. Creating nourishment for ourselves, in my opinion, is one of the most sacred things we can do. Cooking is understanding our deepest needs and committing to fulfilling them. Whether it is a meal for one or you are meal-prepping for the week ahead. Cooking is love. It is a way to show love to yourself, three-plus times per day.
You don't need to be a pro to love cooking!
Practice makes present.
Once you are in the kitchen, try not to think about where else or how else you could be spending this time. The time you spend creating meals with your hands is an opportunity to practice being present. We feel that everyone is always ahead of us, doing more than us, enjoying life more than us. Sink in to the sensations that come with cooking—smell each piece of product, let your breaths become longer, listen to the sounds of foods transforming. It is so empowering to know that the energy you put into these foods is energy that will be coming right back in to you.
Don't stress over recipes.
The world will not end if what you create does not look like the picturesque meal you saw on Pinterest. If you are able to tune into your senses and let flow take over you will be surprised what you can make without a recipe. I have found the more I branch off of recipes, the more enjoyable cooking becomes. Recipes are an amazing form of inspiration and can expose you to new foods and cooking methods you would have never touched before. Allowing them to serve only as a guide and adding your own flair is where the magic really happens.
Ritualize the event.
If the act of cooking doesn't thrill you, accessorize it to build an enjoyable ritual. Do this the same way you would for other activities you don't enjoy. You hate running so you put on workout clothes that make you feel like you could run a marathon. You don't enjoy cleaning the house, so you put on nice music, pour yourself a glass of wine. The same can be done with cooking. Creating a ritual around any activity makes it easier to keep coming back—even when you would rather do anything else.
Variety is the spice.
I find that cooking the same foods week to week greatly decreases my motivation to cook. Think of creating in the kitchen as a game. Buy one food that is new to you each week and find a way to incorporate it into your meals. Whether it's a new vegetable you don't even know the name of, a bean or legume you never use, or a spice with a name so fancy that you feel more sophisticated just by using it. Play around with different methods or tools for cooking. Ferment, blend, grate, roast, grill, slow-cook, grate, mandoline (no, not the instrument). Find any way to incorporate play and newness, and I promise enjoyment will follow. Adding variety into your diet also increases the array of different nutrients that you are eating, leaving you less likely to develop nutritional deficiencies. It's a win-win. So go pick yourself up some kohlrabi, beluga lentils, or smoked paprika and start playing.
Play with your food.
You don't have to become a food blogger, or the next DaVinci, but thinking about the aesthetics of your food can be an opportunity for creativity. Consider the colors of your ingredients, the way you lay it on the plate—make it look too good to eat. Creating a meal is no different from creating art, whether it be music, a painting or a sculpture. Either way, you begin with raw materials and what you end with is a completely unique expression of your creativity. I never thought of myself as a creative person until I began to cook. For me, cooking has sparked a desire for cultivating creativity in other mediums as well. I have found if you expand your horizons in one area of your life, you send the message that you are open to expansion in all areas. Allow cooking and nourishment to be a catalyst for change in your life.