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So You’ve Never Cooked Before? It’s Not Too Late To Start

So You’ve Never Cooked Before? It’s Not Too Late To Start

When I was little, I remember being in awe of my mother’s cooking talents. And while I loved her legendary lemon meringue pie and other sweet treats, what really amazed me were the nights we’d have meat and vegetables for dinner.

She was able to get so many parts ready so they were all cooked at the same time—the peas, the potatoes and the lamb chops or sausages. If this sounds impossible, it will be. But if you’re just willing to try, it’s really not hard to learn to make sandwiches and salads. From there, you’ll be baking cakes and cooking pasta.

But it all comes from one thing: being willing to try.

Here are five pieces of advice for how to get started today, even if you’ve never cooked before.

1. Decide that you can cook.

Like anything in life, if you don’t think you’ll be able to do it, it’s probably not going to happen. So this first reason is deceptively simple, but crucial.

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You can cook. And one day you might even be able to say you love to cook.

2. Accept that failure IS an option.

Take some advice from a culinary master of a restaurant that’s been ranked one of the best in the world. One of the things that Danish chef Rene Redzepi is passionate about is for his chefs at Noma to “fail” or have disasters from time to time. His philosophy is that if you aren’t failing then you’re not trying hard enough.

People that love to cook know that there are going to be things that don’t work out. It’s expected. Surely if it happens to the best chefs in the world, it’s okay for it to happen to you.

3. Make a salad for yourself.

When you’re in the right headspace and it’s time to actually touch some food, the good news is you don’t need to invest a small fortune on a new set of knives. You don’t even need a kitchen really. A knife and a chopping board can be helpful but they aren’t essential. With limited utensils you could easily toss together a tuna and chili salad. All you need is a can of tuna in chili oil to mix with a bag of pre-washed salad leaves and a lemon for extra flavor.

4. Make a salad for someone else.

One of the things you’ll start loving about cooking is the opportunity to nurture your loved ones. There’s nothing as rewarding as sharing something you’ve made with your own two hands.

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The secret is that your meal doesn’t need to be anything fancy. A lovely fresh salad will suffice. And once you’ve had that feeling, it will motivate you to keep cooking.

5. Try some soup.

Soup has to be one of the most underrated meals, and also one of the most forgiving. This makes it the perfect place to start playing with fire, so to speak.

All you need is a pot to cook in and some sort of heat source. The good news is that a tasty soup doesn’t need to be simmering on the stove all day. In fact, you can get a really lovely soup on the table in as little as 10 minutes.

A very simple white bean and tomato soup is perfect to try on a stove top, but there’s no reason you couldn’t whip it up in your microwave at work. Feel free to dress it up with a little pesto or some finely sliced proscuitto or even a handful of fresh basil.

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White Bean Soup

    White Bean and Tomato Soup Recipe

    Enough for 2

    1 can white beans (400g /14oz)

    1 jar tomato pasta sauce (or even canned tomatoes)

    Parmesan cheese, to serve, optional

    1. Combine the beans, the bean canning liquid and the tomato in a heat proof bowl (or 2 bowls).

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    2. Heat in a saucepan on the stove until hot. Alternatively, microwave for 3-4 minutes or until very hot.

    3. Taste. Season. Serve with parmesan shaved over the top, if using.

    Featured photo credit: Jules Clancy via flickr.com

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    12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

    12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

    Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

    But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

    I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

    Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

    1. Nuts

    The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

    Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

    Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

    Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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    2. Blueberries

    Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

    When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

    3. Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

    4. Broccoli

    While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

    Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

    Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

    5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

    Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

    The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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    Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

    6. Soy

    Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

    Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

    Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

    7. Dark chocolate

    When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

    Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

    15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

    8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

    Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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    B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

    Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

    Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

    To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

    9. Foods Rich in Zinc

    Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

    Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

    Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

    10. Gingko biloba

    This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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    It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

    However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

    11. Green and black tea

    Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

    Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

    Find out more about green tea here:

    11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

    12. Sage and Rosemary

    Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

    Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

    When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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