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Intuitive Cooking: Get in tune with your inner chef
We hear a lot these days about intuitive eating. While many of us might be familiar with the term, I don’t believe a lot of us make it part of our daily routine. When life is busy we tend to rush things and eating is definitely one of them. To use your intuition when you eat you have to stop and listen to your body cues, it’s kind of like meditation but instead of emptying your mind, you fill up your stomach (in a conscious way, of course).
You will be surprised to know that we are born intuitive eaters, the smart and wise type too, until we succumb to being conditioned by fast and highly processed food. An intuitive eater is a person who makes food choices without experiencing an ethical dilemma, honors hunger, respects fullness and enjoys the pleasure of eating pushing guilt and judgement to one side and embracing acceptance. In other words, it’s about being present when we eat and listening to our body cues of hunger and fullness, making confident food choices with no remorse or second thoughts – sounds easy enough, right? How many times in the last week during your meals have you actually stopped and thought about how full you were and whether or not you needed to stop eating? Yeah, me neither. It’s tough!
Intuitive cooking shares a lot of characteristics with intuitive eating, although I wouldn’t say both of them go hand in hand. You don’t necessarily tune into your hunger cues and become a masterchef all of a sudden. They both take practice and perseverance. Another thing they have in common is that, in both cases, you accept and believe that only you know what works best for you whether is the food that goes in your pot or on your plate.
So how can you become one of those people that open the fridge and throw something together without a recipe? The answer is following your intuition, common sense, knowledge and experience, you don’t become an intuitive cook overnight. But to gain that experience, you first need to get over that paralyzing fear of the unknown. This is where acceptance comes into place and it’s a super important process because it will give you the confidence to keep going when things go wrong.
Here are a few easy steps you can follow to unleash your inner chef and get creative in the kitchen.
1 – Start by choosing your most favorite recipe, one that’s easy to follow and execute. A few ingredients is all you need. Cook it again and again and once you master the recipe, start swapping ingredients or changing ratios and quantities to make it your own.
2 – Remove the mindset of being a recipe junkie. Recipes are awesome when you are a total beginner or when you are cooking something worth selling in a 3 Michelin star restaurant but when you are cooking simple dishes, it’s probably best you use recipes as a guidance or just to get ideas on processes and combination of ingredients. If this sounds absolutely terrifying, go back to step 1 and do it over and over again until you feel confident enough to move forward.
3 – Learn about ingredients, flavors, cooking and preparation methods. The best way of doing this is by cooking from scratch and reading cooking books like you are reading your favorite novel. Or you can always watch cooking shows… I love those. It’s very important that you have basic knowledge and understanding of all this stuff, I don’t mean you should learn how to sous-vide a lamb loin or make a souffle, but at least understand things like what a medium rare steak is and how to chop and onion properly.
4 – Choose a base for every recipe then start building the recipe up from there. I actually find this way of approaching recipes super useful. Once you choose your base, ie: pasta, then think what goes well with it, for example: pesto, then think what goes well with pesto and so on…
5 – Always have a look through your pantry and your fridge before you go food shopping. Write down the ingredients you have available and then look for recipes you can do with them. When you are confident enough, you will be able to know what to cook with those ingredients without any recipe at all. This is a great way of avoiding waste too.
And the most important thing… please have fun! What’s the worst that can happen if things don’t go to plan? This will help you see cooking as something you look forward to every day rather than a burden. So start small and build your confidence up, the possibilities are endless when it comes to food!