How Recipe Culture Keeps Us Fat
Recipe culture is yet another anchor that keeps many of us fat, unhappy and sick.
Recipe culture is rich, self-replicating and deeply rooted in our worldview. It ignores natural goodness of foods and twists our taste so that simple stuff tastes weird and colorless to us with time.
In a nutshell, recipe culture keeps you focused on recipes, cooking, taste, dishes and meals. Escaping this mindset dramatically increases the amount of health and happiness in your life.
Treating your nutrition that way is unnecessary, unhealthy, and keeps you miserable while you don’t ever notice.
Instead, you should be focusing on nutrient types, food combination logic and foodstuff freshness.
I’d call my philosophy “uncooking” but that word is already usurped by the “raw recipe” mafia. Google “uncooking” and you’ll see a bunch of raw eaters teaching you to cook “healthy-chocolate-raspberry-salsa-dips” – an array of actual cooking recipes, what an irony. I find raw recipes almost as bad as the regular ones.
Once again, to stay healthy and happy you need to abandon the recipe culture for good.
Here’s a couple of essential steps to doing that:
Cooking as little as possible
Cooking was adopted to make food safe and edible. We heat up raw meat to kill possible bacteria in it, we pour boiling water over grains that are dirty, we wash our fruit, peel and slice it to remove the inedible parts. These are all the things that just need to be done, the bare minimum.
Once you go beyond that and start cooking for ‘taste’, ‘texture’ and ‘flavor’, you are falling victim to the recipe culture. Breading, sauteing, stuffing, adding sauces and dip-frying are a waste of time and diminish your health.
The more you cook, the less your taste buds appreciate natural food, and the more new recipes you need. And then one day you realize you’ve just bookmarked a webpage that teaches you 17 ways to put bread and cheese together.
Once again, cooking is necessary to a) disinfect the food b) make it edible. Do not go beyond that. Teach yourself to love the natural taste of food like a toddler loves it.
I’m not advocating raw veganism or anything like that (to each his own though, so it might be your thing). I’m saying cooking is like a hygienic procedure that should be kept to bare minimum.
Appreciating real food taste
Meat has a meaty taste. If you hate the meaty/milky smell of it, a sprinkle of regular black pepper will do wonders to remove it. Boil your meat in salted and peppered water, leave the connecting tissues and gristle, add any organ meat you can get in there – take the best from the paleo diet, organs do have a lot of vitamins.
Alternatively, bake it all in an oven or a toaster oven if you have it, and eat it just like that without any wrapping, mixing, mincing, sauteeing, stuffing and what-notting.
If you are making potatoes, bake or boil them and enjoy them as they are without mashing, adding milk, vinegar, eggs, bacon or whatever else.
The more complicated your food is, the more spoiled your taste becomes, the harder it is for you to enjoy real food’s flavors again. This causes more cookery, more taste-altering spices and condiments, more inflammation in your body, more mood swings, more unhappiness.
When you think in terms of “recipes” horrible things happen – you eat more and more crap. Eating complex crap makes you sick so you look for more recipes to eat healthier, detox and slim down – and as a result you eat more crap that resembles crap you’re used to eating but is made with ‘healthier’ substitutes. Misery all over.
Recipe culture is a vicious circle of eating complex, excessive, time-consuming crap. Ultimately you become a chronic dieter desperately jumping from one meal plan to another, because you believe that branded recipe lists or miracle supplements will help. But they won’t, and your only chance is to rediscover real food taste again.
Stick to just two conditions: a) no complex dishes made of several elements and b) no taste altering substances.
Want a salad? Wash a heap of lettuce and several tomatoes, eat them. Don’t bother chopping, because it will make you want to add dressing. Just bite the damn tomato. Eat your boiled chunk of meat with that.
Food will be tasteless for a couple of days, and that’s because your taste buds are so out of tune by now. They need time to adjust back to natural sensitivity.
After that, however, you’ll start loving the real simple flavor of everything. It feels as good as giving up smoking and regaining your taste and smell again.
Combining things you love
Eating well means combining your foods properly. ‘Heavy’ foods must go together with light ones, acidic stuff must be balanced with something to neutralize it. All possible recipes you might read online are based on these principles.
- fruit + dairy
- meat + raw veggies & herbs
- meat + bread
- meat + dairy
Bread is best consumed alone (see next section on bread).
Sweet stuff is best consumed alone too (flushed by plenty of water to clean your teeth).
Dairy products like sour cream, yogurt or kefir go well with fruit and berries that are not too sour. Strawberries are awesome with yoghurt, that’s a cliche combo by now. Extend the analogy and you already have a set of ‘recipes’ in your mind that you can use any time. If you have black currant and kefir you know what to do without food bloggers.
This might seem like the same old recipe-based cooking, but it’s not. The perspective is mirrored – you do not download a blueberry cheesecake recipe, drive to the market for bluebs, bake the damn thing half a day and wash the dishes the other half a day, – instead you grab the berries that you have and eat them with that carton of kefir you got. Got a spoonful of honey? Drop it in there too for some light natural sweetness!
You get to enjoy berries that have not been killed in the oven, you get your dose of dairy and gut bacteria, and you loved it because honey made it a bit sweet. Great dessert minus the flower, minus the sugar, minus the cooking, minus recipe-ing, minus the misery!
Bread, as a food, is not necessary nowadays. It’s an example of an overly cooked, complex food. It’s made up of a weird mix of seemingly unmixable stuff, it’s very nutritious and not digestive-system friendly. The worst thing about bread is we add it as a side to so many other foods. Daily bread consumption belongs to the past.
Here’s why bread was so awesome throughout human history:
- Bread is nutritious and and cheap. Not everyone could afford meat, veggies and nuts all the time, but bread was always there to fill you up.
- Bread has a decent shelf life. It goes dry but can be consumed with water at any point later. Grains, the main ingredient of bread, have an insane shelf life – they last up until the next year’s harvest.
- You could bake a lot of bread at once and save time that is necessary for everyday outside work.
- People worked physically a lot more than nowadays. “Excess energy” was a luxury even when they ate carb-rich bread-based diet all the time.
…and here’s why bread does not really work for us anymore:
- We don’t have to survive daily, we can afford getting and preparing other foods.
- Standards of living are (mostly) higher and we don’t have to fill up on bread anymore.
- Eating bread out of mere habit makes you fat and clogs your guts. A side of bread makes any food heavier.
- Store-bought bread is packed with taste-enhancing substances and further spoils our tastebuds.
- Store-bought bread, again, is a perfect example of a processed food. It’s full of chemicals none of us needs inside.
With that said, breads and pastries are often absolutely delicious and giving them up is hard. View these foods as a treat and enjoy separately from anything else several times a month, you won’t risk your shape by that. However, there is zero reason for daily bread consumption.
Realizing the absurdity
I can’t come up with a better title for things like “weightloss recipes” or “paleo recipes”. These are absurd statements, oxymorons.
Recipes are, by definition, cooking instructions to make ‘tasty’ food and enjoy eating it. Weight loss takes place when you spend more energy than you receive with food. So how would playing with recipes for MORE FOOD help you lose weight? By somehow making you cook more and eat less?
A “cooking recipe” addiction is such a clear sign of a chronic dieter that people should be ashamed of it. Not wishing to slim down is fine; but disguising your constant recipe-based eating as a diet is laughable.
“__ diet recipes” are equally pointless, as they trick you into thinking you are not adhering to any diet. Example – “paleo” recipes. A simple and beautiful lifestyle mode (that is paleo) based on absence of grains, legumes and candy – is turned into something ugly with hundreds of recipes that will actually help you “not notice” living paleo. Things like paleo soups, paleo bread and paleo dessert are not something I just made up. These things exist in real life, and real people read and discuss them.
I was on a strict paleo diet for a while and lost a ton of extra weight. I loved what the lifestyle has done to me and I went online to find more success stories. I got shocked when I found out there are communities of people spending their time matching cooking ingredients with “paleo approved foods” lists to come up with all these weird dishes cooked with substitutes just to resemble the regular cooking.
The whole idea of paleo is to shift away from all the cookery fluff, but chronic dieters are not after the value. They just want to tick off another branded meal plan as “not working for me”. Recipe culture kills the value of the paleo diet for them, just as it kills the value of any other diet.
Recipe culture leads to chronic dieting (final words)
Recipe culture is so dangerous because it breeds chronic dieters. When people are used to eating “tasty” dishes and cooking stuff for fun they have a hard time dealing with any limitations. That is why diet recipe bloggers flourish: they fulfill the needs of the weak-willed. The only ones at loss here are the chronic dieters – everyone else wins: diet authors, supplement vendors, food bloggers.
The whole diet market is fueled by chronic dieters, people addicted to cookery and taste enhancers; people brainwashed by the recipe culture. Most diets are just branded recipe lists. The main premise of most diets is that eating according to their branded recipe list for a period of time will make you slim. And when a chronic dieter gives up on one diet, no one’s heartbroken: the market is alive as long as the dieters keep giving up.
This idea resonates with people initially lacking willpower, and it also very strongly suggests that when one diet “does not work”, you need to jump ship and board another one.
Do not become a chronic dieter. Forget about diets, in fact. Rather, get used to eating simple minimally cooked foods separately and see how your body reacts to them. You’ll be surprised at how much easier the extra pounds go when you drop the recipe culture.
Eating honestly is part of living honestly, so don’t fool yourself with diets, substitutes or recipes.