Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Try Cooking Instead of Dieting in 2009

At some point or another just about everyone has tried the New Year’s resolution to go on a diet. Judging by the size of us all in North America, my guess is the diet technique isn’t working too well for any of us.

I wonder if we would be better served if we changed the diet resolution to an intention to cook healthy homemade meals more often. At first glance they may seem like the same thing but it’s really two entirely different approaches.

A diet essentially means you’re going to try and deprive yourself of food…which usually includes the foods you love. That approach doesn’t work for most of us because it requires way too much will power. By February most of us will have fallen off the diet wagon like so many before us.

An intention to cook more often is much easier to follow. You’re not depriving yourself of anything. You actually get to enjoy tastier meals more often (especially if you use the recipes in my book…sorry about the shameless book plug). The best part is an intention carries much less pressure. For example if you don’t cook for a few nights, you can still get back on track because it’s not like a resolution where breaking it implies you’ve failed …so you give it up until the next year. An intention means you intended to do it, but somehow couldn’t this time, which means you can try again tomorrow. How easy is that!

There are a couple things required to make this cooking intention thing actually work, in terms of shedding some pounds. The first is to remind yourself every week of your intention…only takes a few seconds. The second is to plan and buy the groceries for what you intend to cook…a little harder than step one but definitely not over the top. Here’s a prepared grocery list to make it easier.

Of course, you will have to cook the meals but the trick is to keep it simple. My intention was to make a meal last night, so I prepared the spaghetti with vegetable sauce recipe outlined below. Took me all of 20 minutes to make…I was jamming to “Soul Kitchen” by The Doors while prepping it. It tasted great and I didn’t starve myself. I may not cook tonight but my intention is to make another delicious and nutritious meal tomorrow evening. By using this approach I think I can cut my take-out orders and ready-made meals in half. I’ll save some calories and a few dollars to boot.

If I lay off the Ho-Ho’s and cookies a little more often I think this intention thing just might work…what do you think?

Fashionably Fast Spaghetti

16 oz spaghetti
2 tsp olive oil
½ cup diced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp each dried basil leaves and dried oregano leaves
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 can (28 oz / 796 ml) stewed tomatoes, undrained
¼ cup tomato paste
2 tsp red wine vinegar
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a large saucepan, cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions. Cook and stir until onions are softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook and stir for 30 seconds more. Add tomatoes (use a wooden spoon to break them up). Stir in tomato paste, vinegar and pepper. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in Parmesan cheese and parsley. Add cooked spaghetti and mix until coated with sauce. Serve hot.

Volume: Makes 6 servings

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