Adulting 101: Cooking For Yourself

Adulting 101: Cooking For Yourself

We have reached a time in our lives where it is 100% necessary to know how to at least make one meal...

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Remember moving out of your parent's house for the very first time? Remember that hilarious, rebellious feeling of ordering pizza at 2 am because no one can tell you not to? Some of the American college experiences make the greatest memories, but they also create the worst habits. Living on your own, especially for the first time, can be an amazing and eye-opening experience.

It can also instill life-long horrible habits. Habits like relying on take out and happy hour specials to feed yourself nearly every night of the week.

Cooking should be something you begin to do as soon as you begin to live on your own in order to create healthy lifestyle habits. Not only is it costly to depend on restaurants for meals, but it's also not the healthiest way to be eating.

When you cook for yourself it doesn't have to be Whole30 or Keto to be healthy, but the fact that you are in control of the ingredients gives you the power to make average meals just a little bit healthier than they would be at the restaurant.

Using less salt, healthier breading, substituting bad fats for good ones are all simple changes you can make at home while cooking to give yourself a healthier meal for your body and wallet.

How Do I Start?

You may be asking yourself, where do I start? You've got a stove top and an oven. You've got a cutting board, pots, pans, and a fridge. What's the next step? How do I actually get into cooking for myself?

To make things easy, start with picking out a few recipes and planning ahead for what you might want to eat that week. Lucky for you, this is the 21st century and cookbooks are a dying industry. All you have to do is get on the web and search: "chicken dinner recipes easy." You'll get millions of hits, and most of them are likely going to be linked to the site Pinterest.

It wouldn't be a bad idea to get yourself an account on the site, but it's not necessary. This site is a collection of millions of recipes, instructions, tutorials, and guides to just about anything and everything.

I get almost all of my recipes from Pinterest. You can be as specific as you need to be to find a recipe that works for you. "Thirty-minute beef dinner," or "dump and bake casseroles," or "kid friendly vegan dinners." Pretty much anything you want to make, someone out there has a recipe for you.

What Do I Buy?

Alright, so you've picked out your recipes and you're ready to get cooking. Well, hold on let's pause. First, we need the ingredients. This part of the process can be intimidating and hard. Grocery stores can be a mess to navigate. Things you for sure need to have on hand each week are meats, vegetables, and bread.

Without naming specific types of each, they are the three key ingredients to any meal. Better yet, any meal can be whipped up from having just a few of each lying around. It's also important to build up your army of sauces and spices. If I had to list my top 3 used spices it would be garlic powder, pepper, and dried parsley.

You can season meat with them, you can season veggies with them, you can mix them into melted butter and season bread with them! Spices can be pretty inexpensive, so buy a few a test out their flavors.

Paprika and chili powder are some other great, flavorful choices to have on hand. Besides spices, you always want to have things like pasta noodles, rice, vegetable oil, butter, or soy sauce.

These minor ingredients are staples in so many dishes, it's helpful to have them at all times. But let's get back to the grocery list. Pick out versatile vegetables that can be included in more than one dish.

Also, keep in mind their expiration and make sure they won't be sitting in your fridge until they need to be tossed. It's easier on the wallet when you have most things on hand and only need to buy a few recipe-specific ingredients.

Why Should I Bother?

Why should you bother putting in the effort to cook for yourself? Besides the money and health reasons I mentioned earlier, cooking can become the best part of your everyday life.

Have you ever heard of visual progress? For some people, seeing a project visibly go from the beginning phase to the end can lead to a release of Seratonin. In other words, some people find cooking to be very stress-relieving when they can see their dishes come together from the form of ingredients.

Let's say you've had a god-awful day. Everything that could go wrong has. You come home and you get in the kitchen and you lay out the ingredients for a meal. In about thirty minutes something in your day will have gone right and by the hands of no one other than yourself, and you get to eat it.

You've successfully done something with your day and you've got a hot meal ready. If you don't like doing the dishes, well... I don't know what to tell you. That's life.

The better you become at handling dishes promptly and cleaning up after yourself the less you hate it, that's my only tip. Don't let them pile up, knock em' out while your food is still cooling down. Since I'm over here barking at you to start cooking for yourself, I supposed I'd better share an easy recipe that I started out with.

Cheesy Taco Pasta

You will need:

  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • taco seasoning packet
  • noodles
  • some salsa
  • shredded cheese (at least 2 cups

Instructions:

  1. Boil your noodles and set aside.
  2. Brown your hamburger in a large skillet.
  3. Mix in the taco seasoning with hamburger meat.
  4. Add your noodles and salsa to the meat and mix together.
  5. Stir in your cheese and mix until melted and blended.

If you already love to cook, tell me what got you started in the kitchen. Was it mom or grandma sharing family recipes? Or a group of friends who loved to bake? Following that question, what's your favorite meal to make? How did you come across the recipe?

For those who have yet to start cooking, what do you feel is holding you back? A bad memory in the kitchen? Lack of confidence in your ability? I challenge you to try something new this weekend! What recipes could you see yourself getting started with? Or if you are firm in your belief of anti-cooking, tell me why! Show me a little bit about the life of not cooking and why you like it that way!

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The Unspoken Dangers of 'Mukbang' Culture

Ever wondered why you can't stop clicking on these addictive, self-made eating shows?

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Unless you've been living under a rock for the past five years, you've probably heard of the internet trend commonly referred to as a mukbang, or "eating show." These self-produced video clips typically involve one hungry individual, their filming device, and an obscene amount of delicious foods.

Though these broadcasts originated all the way from South Korea (hence the foreign vocabulary), the growing popularity of eating videos has taken the internet by storm. Nowadays as you scroll through YouTube, you'll find an outrageous amount of uploads with titles like "10,000 CALORIE PASTA MUKBANG," "EATING EVERYTHING ON THE MCDONALD'S MENU," or "THE ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE CHALLENGE."

Popular 'mukbangers' such as Peggie Neo, Megan McCullom, and Steven Sushi have made a sizable profit off of their viral eating shows, some collecting tens of thousands of dollars in revenue.

So, what's the big deal you say? You order a large quantity of food, indulge in said food, film yourself completing this menial task, and upload to the internet for money and fame. On the outside, this may seem like a luxurious lifestyle, but behind the camera lens sits an individual battling their own demons and influencing the world of social media to partake in their harmful behaviors.

Mukbanger Livia Adams ("Alwayshungry" on YouTube) has opened up about her unhealthy relationship with food in the past, praising herself for fasting several hours in order to justify her over-indulgence on camera.

Similarly, internet sensation Trisha Paytas claims to diet and starve herself for weeks just to be able to satisfy her subscribers with epic mukbangs, which are essentially binges.

In all actuality, these social media celebrities are negatively impacting (and possibly triggering) vulnerable viewers.

Many fans only see the highlight reel of YouTubers shoveling bowls of cereal or boxes of doughnuts into their mouths, yet remain completely unaware of what truly goes on behind-the-scenes. Messages saying:

"I'm on a diet... watching this is giving me some sort of satisfaction, like as tho I ate, you know?"
"I watch these videos because I know I physically can't afford to eat like this because I gain weight too easily."
"When having an eating disorder, watching Trisha's mukbangs is sorta comforting in a way omg"

flood the comments sections of Paytas' videos. Quite obviously, fans young and old are heavily influenced by this content and continue to support these creators to fulfill a self-destructive need.

Additionally, famous mukbang accounts never seem to include the painful after-effects of their ginormous feasts in videos. Fitness model Stephanie Buttermore flaunts her slim physique just days after consuming over 10,000 calories for a challenge, giving the impression that her previous overindulgence had no repercussions on her health whatsoever. Because Buttermore is a trained, athletic young woman, she was able to quickly bounce back after a series of workouts and low-calorie meals.

On the contrary, if a sedentary woman of about the same age were to attempt this challenge, she would most likely feel sluggish, irritable, bloated, stomach discomfort, and even vomitous post challenge. Eating regularly like this could lead to bigger issues such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer. Unfortunately, because topics like these aren't glamorous and attractive to subscribers, mukbangers often edit them out.

Now don't get me wrong. Though not everyone who uploads a mukbang to the internet has an eating disorder or an evil agenda, they have to realize the kind of audience they're appealing to. This generation is more susceptible than ever to emulate the actions and words of their favorite celebrities. Young boys and girls look up to successful adults, and influencers should be remembered for the change they inspired, not the disease they encouraged.

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30 Days Of Meat Taught Me About Emotional And Spiritual Eating

Emotional eating is actually a very good thing.

ChelseaC
ChelseaC
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I wrote about my experience with the Carnivore diet here—two and a half weeks of only beef, and then the remainder of the thirty days on just meat.

The Carnivore diet has a myriad of reputed health benefits and definite physical benefits (it's the easiest way in my experience to lose weight), but what I found most fascinating was how it illuminated my emotional and spiritual relationship with food.

I've heard all my life (from family, friends, articles, memes) that emotional eating is a thing. But I've only heard it mentioned in a negative way—eating away my feelings is bad, dealing with a breakup by gaining 10lbs of Ben & Jerry's is understandable but bad, snacking because I'm bored is bad.

Let me tell you, I was not motivated to eat in response to any emotion on the Carnivore diet. When you can only eat unseasoned meat, it does not taste good enough to eat as comfort OR as celebration. During this time I dealt with normal school stress, financial stress, and personal stress for weeks, and became acutely aware that I would have turned to food for comfort, stress relief, distraction, happiness, and more.

Rather than seeing this emotional eating as a bad thing, I actually began seeing it as a very, very good thing. Life is stressful and difficult and sometimes just plain bad. Why would it be a bad thing to find comfort, distraction, and even joy in something I already need to do?* It seems, actually, a great blessing that I can find such happiness in a part of my inevitable daily routine.

*Of course, like all things, emotional eating can be extreme. If I eat an entire cake every time I'm sad, that's a different matter. But if I eat well overall, and eat unhealthy things with moderation, that's a sustainable balance. And you will never know the joy that blueberries and kale can bring you until you only eat meat for 30 days.

This element of food bringing joy—be it enjoying slices of fresh mango, fresh cheese on toasted bread, or homemade kettle corn—leads us into the spiritual and communal aspect of food.


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Sharing in food is a highly communal—almost primal—part of our ancestry: sharing our resources was integral to our very survival. Sharing food is incredibly intimate and is one of the most bonding things we can do in a social setting. If you've ever gone out to eat with friends and not been able to eat the foods they're eating (because of a diet, intolerances, or even just not being hungry), you will have felt the impact of not participating in this social bond. Even if we're not hungry, if all our friends are eating, we feel this strong urge to be a part of the group too—to eat something. And those around us also feel this pressure—think of how often people have offered you food, especially if you weren't already eating something, even to the point of pressuring you to eat.

Food strengthens (or weakens) our bodies, it strengthens our social bonding, and it nourishes our soul. Food can be incredibly powerful—the right food at the right time can bring happiness to even the most broken of hearts. Every single one of our ancestors spent time preparing food; and doing so ourselves makes us more mindful of our health, taking care of our bodies, and honoring an age-old routine of the process of making and enjoying food.

Realizing the joy that the presence of food brings to my life--and the utter emptiness I experienced without it--opened my eyes to food's presence in my life in both an emotional and spiritual way. There was nothing that could compensate for the thrice+ daily habit of enjoying delicious food or snacks; there was no substitute for sharing food and mealtimes with other people. Even when I was present during mealtimes, I wasn't able to share the same food the others were eating. There was simply no substitute for everyone eating together.

We can't live without food, and it's incredibly beautiful that an unavoidable part of our day—a thing we literally can't live without—is a thing that can bring us such joy, comfort, happiness, companionship, routine, consistency, health, and community. We're caring for ourselves when we eat good food, and our bodies get that. And even when we eat ice cream and cookies, we're enjoying delicious tastes and textures that bring us happiness—even if they may add to our waistline.

I was the most fit I'd ever been on the Carnivore diet—and the most food-relatedly unhappy. I love food. Before the Carnivore diet, if you had mentioned emotional eating to me, I would have thought you were speaking of a negative thing. Now, when I think of emotional eating, I think of how food pairs so well with so many different emotions of the human experience--and how absolutely wonderful that is. Being able to go out with friends and enjoy amazing cheeses and tea and salads and ice cream makes me incredibly grateful for the powerful social bonding experience of breaking bread with others and even just breaking it with myself. Are you sad? Lonely? Wanting to celebrate? There's a food for all of that. Feeling any strong feelings—with other people or by yourself? There's a food for that too.

in the words of J. R. R. Tolkien: "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

The Carnivore diet removed almost all pleasure from food and distilled it down to just physical nourishment. After 30 days of self-exclusion from one of the most ancient, beautiful, and powerful rituals (both social and solo) known to man, I wouldn't trade food for anything--including hoarded gold.


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ChelseaC
ChelseaC

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