What am I going to make for dinner? We often ask ourselves that at the end of the day—perhaps with a groan. Many of us dread this daily obligation, especially when tired, hungry, and short on inspiration.
Yet, in many cultures, cooking symbolizes good fortune—the gift of plenty. Throughout history, the time-honored tradition of taking raw ingredients and turning them into delicious meals that can sustain a family has been regarded as one of the most important tasks of life.
Indeed, having enough food to cook is worthy of celebration. Throughout our frail human story, one of our biggest challenges was simply having enough nutritious food in order to survive. In today’s society of surplus calories, oversized Styrofoam takeout trays, and mega-bags of snack foods, we’ve lost sight of being thankful for an ample food supply.
In the past, children learned to cook from their parents or at school. Now, with cooking classes banished from standard school curricula, and few parents making the time to teach (or even cook themselves), we are in our second generation of non-cooks. Seven percent of Americans don’t cook at all, and one in five say that they do not enjoy it.
I implore you to think about cooking with fresh eyes. Let this time of the day be your meditation and time for gratitude as you chop celery for a soup, dice onions to sauté, and wash tender leaves of lettuce for a salad, let the day’s stress fall off of your shoulders like rain. Take a deep breath as you toast cumin in olive oil or mince garlic for a marinade, and let the aromas lift your spirits and take you away. Then sit down to eat the meal you’ve prepared. Whether you share it with friends and family or enjoy it on your own, let food be an expression of love.
Excerpt from Plant-Powered for Life: Eat Your Way to Lasting Health with 52 Simple Steps and 125 Delicious Recipes, © Sharon Palmer. Reprinted with permission from the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.