Do You Cook with Your Kids?

Want to involve your kids in cooking? We’ve put together a list of all the ways young kids can help out in the kitchen, with activities tailored to their age and ability. So whether they’re two or 10, you can train up a little sous chef!

Source: How Young Kids Can Help in the Kitchen

It’s a great life skill, and it’s been suggested as therapy for treating depression and stress.  I have a co-worker who is keen to teach his kids how to cook by starting with the things they like – various desserts.  And they too have to learn about chopping onions eventually? 😉

The Difference Between How You Cook and How Companies Cook For You

When I started learning about nutrition, about which, by the way, much less is known than you might think, I learned that what mattered most about one’s health was not necessarily the nutrients, good or bad, that you were consuming, or staying away from, or even the calorie counts, but what predicted a healthy diet more than anything else is the fact that it was being cooked by a human being and not a corporation. Corporations cook very differently than people do.

Source: What Predicts a Healthy Diet?

Rather than using health-based metrics, restaurants and snack food companies evaluate their products according to crave-ability and snack-ability. Nutrition usually isn’t a factor.  To do otherwise would mean a non-sustainable business model – won’t be in business long if you don’t make money.  Which is why I don’t fault any business/corporation of any size.  And there’s nothing wrong with a treat – but the point is that it’s a treat, rather than a habit.

Cooking: Boiling vs Hot Water

The main reasons to cook food is to kill bacteria and increase nutritional value.

But what is “cooking”?  From a biology perspective, it’s the denaturation of proteins and lysis of cells in your food.  There are many ways to denature a protein: heat, acid (IE: Ceviche, cooked by the lime juice), enzymes (IE: papaya contains meat tenderizers)…  All of these methods are indeed ways to “cook” food.

99 Celsius will denature proteins almost identically to 100 Celsius. Bringing the water to a boil might create steam inside of cells, forcing them to lyse. This will have a much weaker effect on what you consider “cooking” than the temperature will, but could make a small difference, particularly in plant cells that are resistant to lysis because of their tough cell walls.

This is exactly why it is more nutritionally beneficial to steam your vegetables than to boil them.  When the cells do lyse, all of the contents get distributed among the boiling water solution, not in the cooked vegetable food you ultimately eat. Steamed veggies, on the other hand, may also have lysed cells, but the surrounding water vapor is much less efficient at leeching the contents out than was the liquid.  There are exceptions to the rule: sweet potatoes are more healthy if boiled if you don’t add something like oil after steaming.

Boiling is simply the hottest water temperature you can achieve under current atmospheric conditions. Typically, when cooking food by submerging it in a non-oil liquid, there is no danger of burning the food, so the highest available temperature is preferred because it will yield the shortest cooking time.  This is why most boiled food products, such as pastas, have high altitude instructions, which are usually as simple as “boil an extra few minutes.” The lower atmospheric pressure experienced at higher altitudes means water boils at lower temperatures, so you need to cook it longer.

There’s some debate about whether the definition of cooking is appropriate for things like pasta, bread, and legumes.

TLDR: temperature matters, not the change of state from a liquid to gas.

Beyond Charity: Turning The Soup Kitchen Upside Down

[Robert Egger] set out to train homeless people on the streets of Washington, D.C. — many of whom were drug addicts cycling in and out of a life of crime — how to cook and earn a food handler’s license. The goal was to help them trade addiction and crime for stable employment in restaurants and other food enterprises.

Source: Beyond Charity: Turning The Soup Kitchen Upside Down

Not a bad idea – you can go anywhere and find work as a cook.