Getting Started (AKA Kitchen Secrets of the Anti-Martha)

You know those movies where someone starts a new job – a teacher or the assistant or the dazzling- yet – intimidating Prada- wearing Devil – and the first scene is them setting up their workplace? Sitting down in the chair, giving it a spin, putting out their nameplate or boxed lunch? That’s you! Setting up your workspace – your kitchen – is a great first step when you’re going to make changes in your life, especially when it comes to eating. You’re going to find it’s helpful to be really deliberate about what you’re doing and to plan in advance what you’re being prepared. This way, when you’re super hungry, you’ll have healthy snacks or a wholesome meal on hand, which will make it more difficult to cave and run to the nearest fast-food place. Or when you get home from work or school and you’re too pooped to start prepping a meal, you’ll already have produce cut up and ready to go. When you’ve made changes in your kitchen, your brain will follow.

It’s bizarre to even hear myself talking this way. When my fiancé Michael and I first met, I didn’t know the first thing about the kitchen. At the time, I was super poor and – as I’ve previously confessed – I tended to eat food that would appeal to anybody watching the Disney Channel. My cooking and eating repertoire included mac and cheese and hot dogs – and that about covers it. Michael, on the other hand, had great taste and a good income. One night he took me to an incredible restaurant where they served these roasted peppers…oh, those peppers, crispy and hot and sweet….I was obsessed. To my surprise, Michael said they were easy to make. “You buy a few peppers, wash them, put them in some hot oil in a pan, add a little bit of salt and pepper, and cook them until they shrivel.” So later I went to the store and got some peppers that looked like what I’d had at the restaurant. I was pushing my limits. Trying something new. Impressing the guy. More important, impressing myself. And I felt cool. I went home, washed ’em up, put them in the pan with the oil, salt, and pepper. They shriveled and looked just like the ones we had eaten at the restaurant! I was thinking, this isn’t so hard! Next up, standing rib roast! I started to eat them, maybe three or four. Mmm, good. Good and hot. Whoa, very hot. HOLY SH#&! THESE ARE CRAZY HOT!

What I bought were serrano peppers, about five times hotter than jalapeños, which are about five times hotter than shishitos – the kind they were serving at the restaurant. I stayed up sick all night while Michael held my hair back and praised me for at least trying something new. (Maybe that was the beautiful moment when he really fell for me.)

But again, life lessons show up in weird ways. I learned that I couldn’t get ahead of myself. Maybe I needed to start by boiling water instead of pan-frying peppers. So I advise you to do the same: Start slow, take your time, build up. Prepare your space. Up your cooking game on your own schedule.

If I can do it, anybody can. I’ve learned how to eat super healthfully, creatively, and deliciously. But in order to get there, I had to get prepared. Get geared up. Go grocery shopping. And in the next few weeks I’ll be sharing tips for doing just that!

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