In the past, eating home-cooked meals was the only option that most people had, except on special occasions. However, that has changed in recent times as people have become busier and prepared meals have become cheaper and more convenient. While this trend has had a negative effect not only on people’s health, but also on their personal lives, it is still possible, even for busy executives and families, to prepare easy and delicious home-cooked meals.
A healthy diet can be difficult to follow in today’s fast-paced world. When people are rushing from one meeting to another or are hurrying home to pick up the kids for hockey or ballet lessons, cooking at home can be extremely difficult. However, preparing delicious and easy home-cooked meals is not only possible, but is also an excellent way of living a healthier lifestyle.
And what better way to learn how to prepare delicious recipes from scratch then from chefs like Toronto’s Jameson Watermulder.
It might take longer and involve more effort than simply buying a meal, but cooking at home can have a highly beneficial effect on health, as a Johns Hopkins University study found. Through eating food that they cooked at home, people generally consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar, and less fat than those who eat out several times a week.
Cooking at home allows people to use the healthiest ingredients possible. While packaged meals normally list their contents, including the unpronounceable chemicals, it can be difficult for the average person to understand the health implications of what they are eating.
Case in point: would you know what “autolyzed yeast extract” is or how dextrose differs from regular sugar?
People who cook their own meals from scratch can be sure of including only the best ingredients - ingredients which they also know and understand. Especially in cases of allergies or other sensitivities, this can make all the difference between a good meal and an unpleasant reaction to one’s food.
Besides the health benefits, home-cooked meals can strengthen family and community ties. After all, cooking is a social act, one that draws people together as they chop vegetables or stir the soup. Gathering the family around for supper can be difficult with busy schedules and a multitude of activities. However, having supper together allows family members to interact with each other in a casual setting.
Even for people who live alone, a home-cooked meal can be a good excuse to bring friends and neighbours together to share their food with each other. A typical meal for singles might include fewer than five ingredients and takes under ten minutes to prepare, but making a special dish can also be a chance to explore new horizons of healthy food.
Chef Jameson Watermulder learned quite a bit about the benefits of cooking together during his years of working first at Gluttons in Winnipeg, Canada and then at the Summerhill Market in Toronto. Using fresh, local ingredients was the key to preparing delicious meals that are full of all kinds of good things. His famous broccoli salad, which he developed while working at the Summerhill Market, is only one of the many delicious dishes that he became known for.
The first step in preparing healthy food is to choose the best ingredients. Since olive oil is generally healthier than the alternatives, that is what Jameson normally uses in his recipes. Freshly squeezed lemon, chopped garlic instead of the powdered variety, and low-fat mayonnaise are among the other ingredients that he chooses.
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is key to healthy eating. For example, Jameson Watermulder’s recipe for quinoa cakes with roasted garlic aioli is not only full of good ingredients, it’s also a good way to add variety to any diet. Some of the ingredients might be more difficult to find than others, but there is nothing in the recipe that a reasonably good cook could not manage, given time and the incentive to attempt it.
Adding something unusual, like quinoa, can give the meal a special touch that is difficult to achieve with macaroni and cheese or hot dogs. It can even introduce family members and friends to new tastes and encourage them to be adventurous and try something different.
Working together to prepare new recipes can help to bring people together. Comparing techniques, sharing ingredients, and exploring new ways of combining flavours can help people to enjoy supper again and to take the time to make it special.
Everyone can enjoy a home-cooked meal. Isn’t it time to get back to that kind of lifestyle? Whether it’s for the social interaction or the health benefits, cooking at home is an excellent way of living well.
Here is Chef Jameson Watermulder’s recipe for his quinoa cakes:
Quinoa Cakes with roasted garlic Aioli
- 2½ cups cooked quinoa, cooled
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 medium roasted and peeled sweet potatoes
- 1 can chick peas drained and rinsed
- ½ cup fine diced red bell pepper
- ½ cup fine diced red onion
- ½ cup peeled and grated carrot
- 3 cups kale, deveined and finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup low fat mayo
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil plus more for frying
- ¾ cup panko (use gluten-free breadcrumbs to make this dish gluten-free)
- Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, add chick peas and sweet potatoes. Blend until mixed well and smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Whisk eggs until smooth. Add quinoa, red pepper, red onion, carrot, kale, mayo, egg and salt to chickpea mixture. Mix well.
- Place a clean skillet on medium heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom.
- Form patties using ½ cup of quinoa mixture and place patties on a baking sheet.
- Gently roll patties in panko, shaking off any excess crumbs.
- Using a spatula, transfer the prepared patties to the skillet, being careful not to splash hot oil or overcrowd the pan. Fry until golden brown on each side, 2 minutes per side.
- Remove patties from the skillet and let drain on a paper towel. Transfer to preheated oven and bake at 350 degrees for 10 mins.
- Remove from oven and top with Roasted garlic Aioli.
Roasted Garlic Aioli
- 2 to 3 whole heads garlic
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Dash Worcestershire sauce
- Chopped fresh chives, for garnish.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Take the whole heads of garlic and cut the tops off to expose the garlic cloves. Place on a large piece of aluminum foil and drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap the foil to form a tight pouch and place in the oven to roast for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Squeeze the pulp from the skins and measure out 1/3 of a cup.
- In a food processor, combine the roasted garlic, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Parmesan, Dijon mustard, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse until well combined. Refrigerate to allow the flavors to meld together. Garnish with fresh chives.