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5 BENEFITS OF COOKING: How Cooking Can Make You Healthier

by Chuck Johns
by Chuck Johns

These days cooking had become quite popular. Cooking shows are everywhere and celebrity chefs have become as popular as rock stars. The result is that everyone and their mother seems to have an opinion on a dish or even an ingredient, from avocado to kale.

This is great, sure, and it's not hard to see the appeal. Food getting to be trendy is pretty impressive as a development, and we can usually enjoy it from where we are, becoming more adventurous in eating out, whether by ourselves or with friends and family.

But, for many of us, that's where it usually ends – cooking at home is still not something many of us want to wrap our heads around.

That should really change, because far from being an unglamorous thing to do, cooking at home actually does us a lot of good.

So, what are the main benefits of cooking?

BENEFIT 1: CONFIDENCE BOOST

Sure, it can be nerve-wracking to cook a new dish for the first time, and you might not always get it right – that's pretty daunting. But when it works, and when a plate really comes together – and when you serve it to family and friends who love it? It's a high that's hard to beat.

Whether it's baking a cake or making a sauce, it's a rush of confidence that comes from finishing a tricky project, of figuring out what needs to be done and doing it well. The best part? That confidence can spur you on to try other dishes, which can lead to more confidence!

BENEFIT 2: HELPS WITH MENTAL HEALTH

Fun fact: many mental health clinics actually incorporate cooking programs in their treatments, such as treatment programs for anxiety and depression. Cooking is a thoughtful process that forces you to slow down and focus, and this actually helps a person de-stress.

For that matter, the sensory stimulation – try cooking well without keeping an eye out for color changes in caramelization, listening for the sizzle of a saute running out, or even enjoying the smell of bread you're baking – it contributes to increasing your endorphins, which means cooking can literally put you in a happier mood. This, along with the increased confidence and self-satisfaction it can give you, allows for cooking to curb negative thinking and nudge you toward a more positive direction.

BENEFIT 3: IT BRINGS THE FAMILY TOGETHER

Forget bonding in front of the TV_(seriously, how do you bond while you're each staring independently at a show, barely registering the presence of anyone there?)_

Cooking is a far better way to interact and build stronger relationships, and it doesn't even have to be a high-stakes “we're having the boss over for dinner” cliche sitcom plot.

by Chuck Johns
by Chuck Johns

Good food is a great motivator for people to come together, so schedule a night of the week where different family members agree on a favorite type of cuisine and cook it. Involve the kids and get them invested in making their own food (which will also help take some of the work off parental shoulders when the kids are holding down the fort at home).

Bonus points! If you're all eager to try making your own favorite cultural cuisine, whether it's dividing the labor to make Japanese maki or teaming up to dice vegetables for tacos. If the relatives are coming over for lunch or dinner, set the coming over a bit earlier so you can make and cook the food together. That's a lot of time to talk, have fun, and bond. This is guaranteed to be better at bringing you together than “we bought this at a restaurant on the way.”

BENEFIT 4: NEW STUFF IS FUN

Seriously, this is worth a try every once in a while. Go into a grocery store or mega-mart, and pick out some interesting ingredients you stumble upon (sure, you can Google them first to make sure you're not allergic). Radicchio? Langoustine? Red snapper?

Anything goes, as long as the budget permits of course. (You can make this more structured by picking out categories: a grain, some vegetables, a protein, and some fruit for dessert.) Then, figure out what dishes you can make from these, whether Google-assisted.

**PRO TIP:** The fishmongers and butchers selling the meats may have some suggestions about what goes well with what. Why surprise yourself like this? The trouble with cooking, or indeed any skill, is we tend to fall into a rut and default to certain things we know we can do well.

BENEFIT 5: IT'S GOOD FOR YOU

One advantage they always trot out for infomercials for cooking products is that since you're frying or chopping or slicing or dicing the food yourself rather than buying pre-processed stuff, you know exactly what ingredients went into the dish you're eating. And while we've learned to tune out the infomercial nonsense, there's a kernel of truth in that: you control the ingredients, you control the cooking method, you control it all.

This definitely beats being at the mercy of however your favorite fast food joint wants to cut corners and serve you food that's been prepared with speed, not flavor or healthfulness, in mind.

Now, no one's saying you only have to make healthy food at home, but the beauty of it is, you can tailor what you're eating to be good for you anyway. If you dare (and really, it isn't that hard), you can go full Good Eats with it and make a lot of your food at home – your own ground beef mixes for burgers or meatloaf, your own pancake batter (which literally involves sifting a few dry ingredients into a tub and shaking them together!), your own spice rubs. Think of it as a fascinating project.

BONUS: IT'S CHEAPER THAN EATING OUT!

by Chuck Johns
by Chuck Johns

Stocking up on ingredients and cooking and eating it will no doubt be cheaper than eating out. Sure, nothing's stopping you from taking the hubby or the family out for a night out (which also saves you all some dishwashing), but keep those to occasional treats, and you'll find that you save a lot of money by doing your own cooking. For one thing, you don't have to factor in restaurant upkeep or wages for the wait staff in your price breakdowns.

For another, you can make executive decisions about which ingredients offer the best value for money – and where to buy them.

Start cooking now and begin your journey to a healthier and happier you!

#happycooking #cookingwithfamily #healthylife

This article was originally published on @chuckjohns