Even Food Network getting back to basics - Chicago Sun-Times

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Meet Nicki

Join Nicki Anderson, columnist and author, at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at Reality Fitness Studio in downtown Naperville. Nicki will discuss the truth behind successful weight loss and what keeps so many people from realizing long-term weight loss. Her six-week Weight Loss Challenge has been a successful program for her clients with more than 320 pounds lost. To learn more about her program or attend the free event, visit www.realityfitness.com or call 630-357-7087 to reserve a seat.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the good fortune to make one of my dreams come true. No, I didn't meet George Clooney, but almost as good, I attended the Food Network Wine and Food Festival in New York City.

You may or may not know that I love to cook. I always strive to find creative ways to make healthy meals that everyone loves. At this festival, I walked away with so many ideas, I couldn't wait to get back home and give some a try. But the most important thing I walked away with is the reminder that getting back to basics with cooking, may be the best way to create a healthy, satisfying meal.

It's funny, (or not) that our society has become so diet obsessed that many have forgotten how to eat or even cook real food. People are so caught up in fat-free, calorie-free, gluten-free, carb-free and so on, that basic foods (not found in a box) have almost become extinct. If you look back a couple of generations, the food our grandparents ate likely contained half the calories, sodium and fat than the foods we eat today. Mainly because of portion size!

When I was little, snacking was a rare treat. We never ate fast-food and seldom did we have boxed or frozen foods in our house. My mother cooked from scratch, and we all ate it, whether we liked it or not.

As I walked through the aisles of the festival, I discovered that a lot of the chefs are also getting back to basics with cooking. They are opting to buy their produce locally (less carbon imprint) and making incredible meals from various foods we can easily find at our local grocery store or farm stand. I believe that if we just get back to basics with the foods we choose, the prevalence of obesity and disease could be reduced.

In addition to eating "real" food to improve our health, I believe getting back in the kitchen and cooking meals at home does a lot to improve family relationships. There's nothing like cooking a meal together with your kids, or sitting down as a family and having a conversation. Sure, I know people are busy, I too worked full time and raised four children, but most days of the week, I cooked dinner. Granted, I love to cook, but I just knew that the nutrition my family was getting could never be duplicated by carry-out food.

If you're not crazy about cooking, or worry that time is going to be a challenge, here are some tips that may help you get back to basics and better health.

1. Just like exercise, try not to do too much. Sunday is my day to get all of my foundational ingredients together. I put together my menus for the week, and then I shop.

When I get home, I clean all of my fruits and veggies, and chop up what I know will stay fresh, i.e. mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes (shop 'n chop).

Then, I will cook up two kinds of meat, though I try to do at least one vegetarian meal per week. Sometimes, I roast a large amount of veggies and then store them to use later in the week for soup, or a side. This prep on Sunday allows you to come home from work during the week, and put together a real meal in significantly less time. If you're not a meat eater, cook up legumes or rice ahead of time.

I know for many people they grab fast food so they don't have to "think" about what to make for dinner. However, if you have your menu made up ahead of time, and the food is prepped, all you have to do is think of a way to mix them together. Once you get used to it, it will become second nature.

2. There is no shortage of issues with lunch. Many opt for fast-food over home created. Rather than picking up a burger and fries, or a calorie laden sandwich and chips, use your prepared basics to make a lunch. Make salads with the roasted vegetables, if you made rice ahead, mix that with chicken and toss some veggies in. Use a whole wheat wrap and put in lentils in with a bit of cilantro and avocado. Yum!

Attending this festival reminded me how important it is to dedicate myself to consuming and cooking real food. There are all kinds of diet trends, but what about bringing back the trend of home-cooked meals? Diets have done little to improve the health of our country. So why not try more home cooked meals with an emphasis on sustainable, seasonal, local produce. Get back to basics and improve your health and the health of your family!

If you want to learn more about my New York journey, check out my blog at www.nickianderson.com

18 Oct, 2011

Source: http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&usg=AFQjCNHkpVWqG0nkR4XqQjxMOYs4XLl1mw&url=http://napervillesun.suntimes.com/lifestyles/8271097-423/even-food-network-getting-back-to-basics.html
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