The new year brings a healthy change of focus: stop thinking about calories and take a closer look at recipes that help you make delicious yet light home-cooked meals. Modern cooking steps into the domestic domain.
“Though there’s nothing wrong with starting a diet per se, I prefer to focus on changes that make me more excited to cook at home, rather than focusing on calories or cleanliness,” declares Claire Lower in Kitchen Resolutions You Should Make for a Delicious 2016. And she hits the nail right on the head. From a psychological perspective, it’s much more intriguing to focus on positive words like “excited” than words with more negative connotations such as “calories,” more synonymous with “enemy,” “depression,” and a host of others. From a nutritional point of view, all recommendations point towards learning how to eat to maintain a youthful, illness-free body.
Diets are like slapping a patch over our frenetic consumerism; they are our “penitence” for indulgent overeating throughout the rest of the year. But the 21st century insists that eating goes far beyond those few extra pounds: we are what we eat. Soycomocomo.es (“I am how I eat”) is the name of just one of many digital nutrition magazines, such as foodandnutrition or betternutrition.com, that contribute to bringing awareness to society about how food, on a daily basis, conditions our future and our ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. And that taking care of yourself can be perfectly compatible with pleasure.
Relearning how to eat
The key is learning or relearning how to eat. Go back over the family habits you learned as a child, the addictive food filling our pantries, our trips to the grocery store… and start on the vital path of learning basic cooking techniques that teach us how to delve into a simple yet flavorful world of cooking.
“In general, I would say it’s important to learn to make basic, every day recipes before venturing little by little into more original dishes and presentations,” says María José at Aprende a cocinar.
These days, it’s easy to learn basic cooking skills by watching YouTube, following culinary blogs, or signing up for virtual or in-person cooking classes, either general courses, or ones for specific recipes or cooking styles. The important thing about modern cooking is to begin with what you are most attracted to: desserts, soups, breakfast foods… Learning to cook is fluid, as it corresponds to each stage of life: everyone starts where they like and creates their own learning path.
Learn to cook in a group
New cookbook clubs have sprung up out of this interest to discover cooking, which are basically informal culinary get-togethers inspired by what we find in recipe books. “The idea behind Cookbook Club is a simple one—a group of friends all make recipes from the same book and gather to share the results, a crowdsourced feast,” says Tara Austen at How to start a cookbook club. She adds, “None of us are professional cooks. We like food, we’re a little adventurous, but most of all, we’re willing to try.” In other words, participants dedicate a Sunday to cooking, trying different dishes, and meeting other people interested in sharing their new passion: cooking. So much better than a diet club, right?
Another trend continuing into 2016 is the boom in cooking workshops to learn techniques and recipes in a group setting. Workshops are conceived as both a learning space and a source of entertainment, making for a formula that is revolutionizing the universe of training and education. People turn up to learn, but also to meet other people and spend a Saturday afternoon taking part in a fun and useful activity, or so report many workshop teachers.
Home cooking in 2016
“Do yourself a favor, apply these ideas to your everyday diet and you’ll eat more cheaply and healthily, with a lot more flavor, and you’ll definitely be happier,” says Mikel López Iturriaga, one of Spain’s most famous culinary bloggers on his blog El comidista in the newspaper El País. Mikel proposes ideas that are whizzing around on the social networks, such as:
- Eating homemade recipes and not prepared food
- Creating dishes with healthy vegetables, carbohydrates and proteins
- Planning your weekly grocery shopping, and if it’s local, even better
- Devoting an afternoon to cooking the bases for the week
- Cooking and freezing
- Steaming, using anti-stick pans and the oven rather than frying and sautéing
- Reveling in legumes: it’s their official year
Gastronomistas.com adds that healthy cooking is a continuation of the 2015 boom, which this year will turn more organic and home-made, furthering the “free-from” trend. They also mention that home delivery from quality restaurants and home-cooking establishments will be big this year. The magazine Professional Horeca insists that vegetables will be take on a central role, alongside simplicity and traditional cooking.
As for the North American National Restaurant Association (NRA), they predict the success this year of local food, healthy children’s foods, new cuts of meat, unrefined fats, fresh homemade sausages and learning how to manage food waste.