Thursday, 14 March 2013

My Journey to Cooking from Scratch

              Today, I am writing about my journey to cooking mostly from scratch. About four and half years ago, I set out to lose weight before I have kids and to become healthy. I have struggled with my weight my entire life so I knew I would need help. I joined Weight Watchers. I had tried the program before and it had worked but I always stopped after a few weeks thinking I could now do it on my own. Well, one of the keys to my success in weight loss is the support I get from my Weight Watchers meeting along with exercise and healthy eating. (Please note: I am not a Weight Watchers spoke person. It was the program that worked for me.) Over a period of about two years, I lost 45 lbs. It may seem like it took me a long time but my philosophy has always been slow and steady wins the race. My weight did not go on overnight so it wasn't going to come off overnight. I worked hard going to the gym and cycling, as well as eating healthy smaller portions. I would have never dreamed before my weight loss journey that I would ever start cycling but it is something my husband introduced to me. Now I love it. The process became about making choices I could live with for the rest of my life.
              There is nothing I cannot eat but I make the choice not to. I became conscious of the ingredients of my food. Part of what I learned from the program was to read the labels on prepared and packaged food. As I began doing so, I noticed that there were a lot of things I could not pronounce or recognize what they were. This scared me because if I cannot say the word or recognize what it is why should I put it in my body. So from that point on I decided to make as much as I can from scratch. I started slow and began to build my repertoire. The first thing I made was taco seasoning. Tacos are a favourite of mine but the seasoning mix that comes in the taco kit has a huge list of ingredients that I couldn't say or pronounce, as well as a lot of sodium. After doing some research, I realized that cumin, chipotle chile powder, garlic powder, and salt would give me the same flavour as the kit. The cumin gives it is smoky flavour and the chipotle chile powder adds the spicy chili flavour. From there, I made my own tomato soup, tomato sauce, bread, pizza dough, brownie mix, vanilla cake, macaroni and cheese, and continue to add to weekly. The food just seems to have a much better flavour. I soon realized that Parmigiano-Reggiano freshly grated has unbelievable nutty taste and texture that you cannot compare. The same goes with pure vanilla extract. I grew up using the artificial stuff but one day when watching on of my cooking shows they said that the pure extract is better. It makes logical sense that the pure version would be better that the artificial but I had to find out for myself. So I bought an expensive bottle made with Madagascar Bourbon. I can't believe what a difference it makes and how many different kinds of vanilla extract there are depending on where the vanilla is grown. Definitely worth the cost for both the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and the pure vanilla extract. Also, the flavour is so much more vibrant you don't need to use as much.
          Since I started my "from scratch" journey, I had a baby making it even more important that I know what is in our food. I want the best for my son and my family. For me, "from scratch" is just as easy and in most cases takes the same amount of time to prepare. Now I will admit I am not the poster child of "from scratch" sometimes I do use processed things. Mostly because I haven;t figured out how to recreate it or I am simply busy and stuck in a pinch. This marks the beginning of my recurring posts on my food "from scratch" journey.Believe me making it from scratch is both satisfying knowing what is in your food and tastes a lot better than the stuff out of a box.

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