Processed food is certainly easy to prepare and can save on time, but with a lengthy ingredient list leaden with sugar, salt, fat and chemicals, they’re not so great for your body. Processed food is anything that has been altered from the way Mother Nature made it.
What is processed food? If it comes in a package, it’s likely processed. Foods left in their natural state are highly nutritious and can be made into inexpensive, tasty meals in less time than it takes to have a meal at a restaurant.
The best thing about home cooked meals is that you can enjoy them in the comfort of your own home. Cooking provides an excellent opportunity for family connection because when your hands are busy washing or chopping, your mind is free and the conversation flows. Plus, your home will be filled with the scent of freshly made food.
Most processed foods are made with genetically modified corn and soy and loaded with chemicals such as artificial flavorings, preservatives, colors and thickeners. These non-food items are not natural so your body doesn’t know how to process them. Millions of dollars are spent developing these products, which contain addicting sugar, salt and fat. These ingredients cause you to crave them even more, but cooking at home gives you control over what you eat.
Homemade meals can be less expensive than ready-made meals because whole ingredients add bulk, which makes more servings. Shopping at farmers markets is an excellent way to save money and can be a fun family outing. It’s the best place to buy fresh, seasonal produce and you’ll also get to know the people who grow your food while connecting with your community, getting fresh air and a little exercise.
Meals made with dried beans are cost effective, nutritious, filling and easy. Simply simmer on stove, or tuck into a slow cooker, and go about your day. One pound of dried beans produces four times the amount of that in one can, for approximately the same price. Homemade beans contain less sodium and those cans don’t end up in the landfill.
Home Cooked Beans
1 pound of beans
2 bay leaves 2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
2 dried chipotle peppers (optional)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Rinse beans and add all ingredients to a large pot. Add water until beans are covered by 2-inches. Bring to a boil and reduce to barely a simmer. You want an occasional bubble to rise to the top. Cook until the beans are tender, about 3-hours. Top with water as needed. They’re done when you blow on them and the skin curls away from the bean. Season to taste, drizzle with additional olive oil and serve with a fresh salad. They can also be added to wraps, blended with spices and used as a vegetable dip or spooned over steamed brown rice. When sautéing, the broth makes a flavorful low-calorie substitution for oil.