One thing anyone who knows me knows is that I LOVE FOOD. I’m sure I attribute that most to being full-blooded Italian, and by that I mean my blood is actually garlic and olive oil. Growing up, everyone in my family knew how to cook, and we all enjoy it. I find it so strange how there are so many people I know that haven’t the slightest idea of how to cook anything. Maybe it’s just the way I grew up, but I always felt that it was just kind of one of those survival skills that people have. People always ask me where I learned to cook, and I think it’s just something that you do. I don’t follow recipes, I usually go by taste, and measuring tends to be really hard for me.
If you can improve your food habits, you can begin to improve everything else. Why? Simple, when you eat well you feel more energetic and healthier, and when you feel more energetic and healthier you want to improve your quality of life, and when you improve your quality of life you feel better, and when you feel better – okay you get the idea. Food is love, culture, art, expression, health, vital, and I’m sure the list goes on. By no means am I talking about fast food and other garbage that you buy in the grocery store that just takes a few minutes in the microwave. Don’t get me wrong, we have all had our fat girl moments where we’ve eaten an entire box of Double Stuffed Oreos in a sitting because we did not feel we were good enough for life at one time or another. What I’m talking about, is the food that you feel good about putting in your body without guilt or feeling that you need to do extra cardio at the gym, but at the same time can enjoy it.
Moving to California showed me the extremes of health and fitness that growing up in Jersey in the 90s didn’t really offer. I had never even had an avocado before I left New Jersey (they weren’t popular then and all 4 of the avocados in the grocery stores looked bad). It really made me think about what I was eating. Maybe not so much “what” I was eating, rather “how” I was eating it. There had to be a way to enjoy home cooked meals that were comforting and healthy at the same time. I do want to be clear and say that by no means do I encourage “dieting.” People can tell you all day long that you can lose weight or not gain weight as long as your caloric intake is equal to or less than what you burn. That’s great, but I’m sorry, there is a huge difference between a 400 calorie fast food meal and a 400 calorie homemade meal of what you know is in your food. Of course, there are those of you that will go on strict diets for one reason or another. Whether it is health related reason and your doctor gives you a specific plan to follow or you are trying to be a body builder and need to keep a very low body fat percentage and high muscle mass. What I encourage is enjoying what you eat while being conscious of what you put into your body. You’ve heard it many times, but it’s true, health is more about a lifestyle change rather than which diet you go on.
In my opinion, for those without professional training, the first step to cooking is to cook what you like and taste as you go. The next step is to constantly try new things. You never know if you’ll like something if you never do it. The worst that can happen is you don’t eat it prepared that way again. That’s right, read that sentence again. Don’t eat it prepared that way again. That means try it again cooked a different way. If something is sold as food, that means it has to taste good at some point, you just have to figure out the way you like it. Taste buds constantly change, especially from being a child to an adult. I hated brussel sprouts and mushrooms as a kid, but who knew that bacon made everything taste so good. My point is, don’t limit yourself to experience. Yes, I just said that eating was an experience. You’re really going to take a once in a lifetime vacation to another country where the style of food is completely different and order a hamburger and fries just because you know you’ll like it and you don’t want to try something new? Don’t be that tourist…
Each recipe is based on my tastes so if you don’t like it, change them. That’s the beauty of cooking, remember? Also, you’ll notice that I don’t use much salt, if at all because it’s really not good for you and if you don’t need it, then don’t use it. Feel free to put salt in anything you want, it’s obviously your body.