May 28

BOWEN WEST: I can take the heat — let’s set aside kitchen fears for healthy eating | Entertainment


Full disclosure: I am an extremely prideful person.

I have no right to have the hubris that I have. I fail at virtually every task I tackle and even in my wins, I still manage to make a fool of myself. I’ll never live down losing out on prom king because I was outside crying in the parking lot.

With my pride comes the belief that I don’t need directions; to me they serve merely as guidelines more than rules.

It takes a great failure to bring my colossal arrogance crumbling to the ground. Nothing has broken my self-importance more than the kitchen.

I’ve tried to make meals for friends in the past who very politely struggled to take the food down their gullets.

One time I tried to make a girlfriend some homemade tacos and mixed up the tablespoon and cup measurement for the seasoning, which is an honest mistake for a man who is barely literate. It’s a miracle that the dangerous amounts of sodium we consumed didn’t kill us. She still hasn’t returned my calls after this incident.

Now that I, along with virtually everyone in the world, am encouraged to spend more time at home, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to tame the daunting beast known as the kitchen.

To cover the basics, I turned to Bakersfield College culinary arts instructor Anna Melby, who offered some pointers on how to not feel so defeated after creating a new meal.

For any wannabe chefs, Melby recommends scouring the internet for videos and how-tos on tips of the trade. Basically, abandon any voice in your head that is telling you that you know best and get ready to learn a thing or two.

People who aim to eat healthier should be ready to make substitutions: Swap out white bread for whole wheat or abandon the nightly ice cream for a bowl of fruit. Anyone looking to make the healthiest and freshest meal is encouraged to incorporate vegetables and fruits that are in season.

“It’ll taste better and be cheaper,” Melby said. “Incorporate things that are fresh into your meals.”

There’s the remaining question with this subject: Why cook when you can go out and buy ready-made food? For Melby, it’s a matter of pride.

“There are two things — one it’s the pride in knowing that I made this with my own two hands,” Melby said. “Two, it’s the security. You know everything that is in it. You can easily make changes for diet restrictions and to personal taste.”

I spoke with registered dietitian nutritionist Nicole Giumarra for my last article focusing on health. When we spoke, she dispelled the misconception that there are “bad foods” and “good foods.” She encouraged readers to view food in terms of how nutrient-dense they are. Not all diets are good because people fixate on what they can’t have, she said.

“There’s room for all foods in a diet,” Giumarra said. “One meal, one snack will not make or break anything.”

The reason why people are so afraid of cooking and eating healthy is due to time, Giumarra said. Planning out meals and getting families together to help in the kitchen is a great way to manage the stress.

“It’s a great time to experiment in the kitchen,” Giumarra said.

When dealing with time and food, sticking to a regular schedule these days are hard. Giumarra is seeing patients concerned about over-snacking throughout the day, more often than not due to boredom. Her recommendation is to stick to a regular meal schedule and focus on hunger cues, only eating when you’re actually hungry.

“It prevents that pitfall if you listen to what your body is telling you,” Giumarra said. 

Bowen West can be reached at 661-395-7660.

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