‘Scratch’ Cooking Key to ‘Clean Eating’
By JOSELYN KING
The concept of “clean eating” doesn’t mean one should only consume mushrooms, carrots and potatoes pulled from the earth and washed, or just fresh vegetables and water.
It’s a diet even the strictest of carnivores can embrace, as it reflects the culinary habits of our primitive ancestors. In short, the sprit of “clean eating” allows a person to eat like a caveman or cavewoman.
Steak, chicken and pork are all tenets of clean eating if properly prepared.
The key to clean and healthy eating might just be relearning “scratch” cooking skills lost in a busy society that looks to put canned, prepared and processed foods on the dinner table. By definition, clean eating is the act of eating “whole” or “real” foods — those that have been minimally processed, refined or handled, keeping them as close to their natural form as possible.
Eating raw vegetables would be part of this diet, but eating raw meat is not advised. A clean eating diet does allow for some “fire” or cooking to alter the natural state of food and kill germs.
The enemies of a clean eating diet are actually food additives — those ingredients listed on food labels that no one can pronounce.
Sometimes it may even be a natural additive that alters the food, such as salt or sugar.
Multiple studies have shown that diets heavy on fruits and vegetables can curb or prevent certain life-threatening conditions and diseases, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Nancy Karavolos, coordinator of the child nutrition program for Brooke County Schools, said the best way to avoid eating processed foods — and those containing processed ingredients or added salt and sugar — is to start cooking at home from scratch. She suggested that the time-conscious cook can make a dish such as homemade beef and macaroni casserole just as easily as they can reach into the cabinet for a can of Beefaroni, which contains many unhealthy transfats and sodiums.
Karavolos admitted that cooking for large groups, such as children in the schools, scratch cooking can be more labor intensive. Still, the district seeks to provide scratch-cooked meals to students at least two to three times a week.
“Today we made homemade sloppy joes,” she said. “This is something a family should be making at home with ground meat and homemade sauce instead of that out of can.”
And it doesn’t take hours to cook a food item, according to Karavolos.
“It can take 45 minutes to one hour for the most simple meals in today’s day and age,” she said. “The best appliance you can have is your pressure cooker or slow cooker. The slow cooker is great if you have to work all day. You can make a stew or chili in it all day and make it work.”
Fresh produce is always preferable for those looking to eat clean and healthy, but during winter months these can be harder to find or very expensive. Karavolos said frozen vegetables can be used, and these do not lose their nutrients if not overcooked.
“Also look for manager’s specials in the produce section,” she said. “If you are going to use it that day, it will still be good.”