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Return to the Stove

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

Cooking has always been an essential part of our lives, whether

we do it for ourselves or someone else does it for us. No getting around it, we have to eat, but what we eat and how we prepare it may have more effect on our lives than we may have thought about in the past. Now, the two factors (selection of food and preparation) are receiving attention, as they should.

Do you cook? Do you like to cook? What do you cook? All good questions and perhaps I can explore that a bit with you and see if we come to new revelations that apply to all of us.

Our bodies, occasionally, fail us in terms of our mood or our medical conditions but often our bodies also "tell" us what they need. Do we pay attention? Not always and that's a problem because certain foods and condiments, herbs, spices, etc. may contain what we need to stay healthy and happy.

Consider this: Have you ever wondered why certain cultures delight in hot spicey foods? It's not just the taste, but what the spices do for the body. Capsaicin, the ingredient that makes foods hot (hot peppers for instance), has been found to ease pain,

have possible beneficial effects on the heart and the immune system. It may also be useful in weight loss. Some studies in California found it worked to thwart the growth of cancer cells in mice.

Tumeric is often used to decrease certain types of inflammation and a cardiologist recently advised a colleague to use it for just that purpose. It is one of the main ingredients in Indian dishes.

Aside from what we're reading about spices, what about when you get a craving for something? Specific hungers or specific appetite theory holds that when you are deficient in something, you develop a desire for it. These desires may come from a need for something to boost your level of calcium, protein, zinc, magnesium or potassium. Foods high in these will seem extra appealing to you, in theory, as your body cries out for them.

Then there's the consideration of what foods might actually be good for your mood. A lot has been written about dark chocolate, grains high in omega 3 fatty acids, salmon, cauliflower, mushrooms, bananas, red kidney beans, broccoli and nuts.Turkey we know contains tryptophan which is a natural remedy for anxiety. So, consider your dietary planning as not just foods to handle your hunger needs, but almost natural medications. No script needed here.

But in addition to what you cook, how might cooking itself be helpful to you? We know that cooking can provide relief from stressful activities in your day, can also provide a time to have a fun activity with someone or your kids and the scents are a delight to the senses.

Need some exercise? Try making bread that requires kneading sometime. A man I know views this as a way to help himself in terms of his MS. It's also a wonderful gift to share with anyone because homemade bread is manna from heaven.

View cooking as an adventure in eating rather than a chore and you will have opened up a world of delights for yourself and anyone who is fortunate enough to join you on this journey. Ever see the film "Julie and Julia?" You don't need to work your way through Julia Child's incredible book on French cuisine like the young woman in the film, but some of it might just be fun.

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