Learning to cook can change your life

The most important thing you can do to improve your health is to cook your own food.  

Prepackaged and processed foods contain lots of chemicals and substances that you will never find in a pantry in someone’s home.   Lots of extra chemicals are necessary to keep food looking fresh and recent, but there are serious health concerns about these dyes, flavors, emulsifiers, and preservatives.  You are probably already aware of the high levels of salt and fat that comes with mass-produced “corporate cooking” as well.

“I don’t have time to cook!”

Cooking real food does take more time than ripping open a colorful box and throwing it in the microwave, but the perception that cooking  takes “too long” is false.  A web search for “quick and easy recipes” turned up thousands of recipes that take 30 to 45 minutes to prepare, using fresh un-processed ingredients and very simple steps.

Using an electric pressure cooker, I can prepare a huge pot of black eyed peas and sausage served over rice, in less than 45 minutes, starting with dry peas from my pantry.  (Recipe below)

Not only is this healthy and clean food – it is a lot cheaper as well.    Recently I made our “Gusto Chow” for a group of ten people, and it cost me $20.00 to make a pot big enough to feed all of us twice.

How Cooking Can Change Your Life

The first 7:30 of this video is quite eye-opening.

As Michael Pollan says, cooking is about creativity and control.   If you exercise greater control over exactly what goes into your body, you have a much better control over your own health.  Pollan also said “Really great cooking comes from care and conviction, not from a complicated recipe or specific methods.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to cook right now.  There are thousands of recipe websites with pictures and videos that can teach you how to make anything you want.

Learning how to cook is the easy part.  Training yourself to get in the kitchen and DO IT instead of going the “easy route” is the difficult part.  I admit, it took me a few years to learn how to cook and to train myself out of the habit of getting “easy” prepackaged food, but these days we happily go several months without any prepackaged meals.

learn-to-cookGusto Chow Recipe

Serves 3 – 10
Not to be confused with Gusto Chow for 100


1 lb bag dry black eyed peas
1 package of smoked sausage
1 large onion, diced
4-6 stalks celery, diced
2 cups dry, uncooked rice

Seasonings: minced garlic, salt, pepper, liquid smoke, and herbs
(we use basil, oregano, and marjoram)


Electric pressure cooker
2 quart sauce pan
cutting board and a good knife

Optional: Tea kettle or a second pot for boiling water, if you want to really speed things up!


Sort and rinse peas and set them on the stove to boil with enough water to allow the peas to expand. Get the peas to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute, but not longer than 5 minutes. Turn the heat down and let the beans simmer while you do the other steps.

Slice the smoked sausage and brown it in the pressure cooker. Pour off extra fat.

Add the diced onion and celery, and sauté until done.

Drain peas and add them to the pressure cooker, add water to cover.
(Here is where that kettle of boiling water comes in handy!)

Add garlic, herbs, and seasonings to taste.

Attach the pressure cooker lid and set it to cook on High pressure for 30 minutes.

Make rice on the stove while the pressure cooker is doing its thing, and you will likely have 20 minutes to sit down and relax until your home-cooked meal is ready.


If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you would simmer the black eyed peas and sausage on the stove for 90 minutes. This is perfect for a weekend, but the pressure cooker makes it work on a week night.
But an electric pressure cooker costs $80!!  Yup, they do.  If you just look at the savings of using dry beans over canned, you’re saving $5 or more PER MEAL. Because we can use more dry beans, we are eating a LOT less meat.  We are using basic ingredients which are cheaper.My pressure cooker lowered my grocery costs by nearly $100 every month.