Meals at home

By TaylorGleason

Professional chefs and self-taught connoisseurs collide with their array of tips and tricks for home cooking on what has become to be known as “food blogs.”

One such food blogger, Andrea Newberry, is a Columbia grad whose online journal of recipes and photographed meals is blogged from her home in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood.

Newberry’s blog Forkable encourages others to give cooking a try, if not for fun, then at least for the sake of their own health.

“Home-cooked meals tend to be lower in calories, fat and sodium than what you would get at a restaurant,” said Megan Campbell, a registered dietician. “When you cook a meal, you think about where the food is coming from, which makes it a more mindful experience.”

In this busy city, Newberry’s lofty goal is to make healthy meals from home as often as she can.

“As a modern American society, we’re so busy that people are really looking for shortcuts,” Newberry said. “But in order to have [convenience food] preserved for its shelf life to be extended, there are a lot of additives and preservatives that aren’t good for you put into the food. When you make things from scratch, you have more control over the ingredients.”

Newberry’s blog helps her to share these skills with an online community.

The tagline on her blog reads, “Slow food for fast living.”

Food blogs have grown so much in popularity that Newberry said a computer can replace recipe books these days.

One Forkable reader, Michelle Woehrle, said she finds Newberry’s techniques very helpful in her own busy life.

“Her meals actually are easy to make for a busy schedule,” said Woehrle, who has been following Forkable for about six months.

Woehrle said the only temptation with home-cooked meals is to overeat. Especially as a single person, Woehrle said it’s hard to figure out the correct portion when she is cooking from a recipe meant for a family.

If you can figure out the portions, however, Campbell said eating a home-cooked meal is better than following a fad diet that focuses on skimpy portions of certain food groups.

“Nothing good ever comes from focusing on only one kind of food,” Campbell said, in reference to fad diets that cut out carbohydrates, meat or any one food. “It seems like a lot of people are looking for a quick fix. What they need to focus on is a balanced diet.”

Newberry said she likes cooking from home because it gives her more control over what she is eating. She said that by using fresh foods, she avoids foods with fillers like preservatives and salt.

Campbell also noted the importance of whole foods. She said there are more nutritive benefits in eating whole, fresh produce.

In regards to current movements towards eating foods in their whole form, sometimes raw or local, Newberry said, “I agree with all of that stuff. I try to make a conscious effort about my choices of what I put into my body.”

Of course, time is of the essence, and the common complaint of being “too busy” discourages many people from trying to cook.

Still, many food bloggers would attest that with a little planning, cooking doesn’t have to be as laborious as some might think.

“My blog is about how you can integrate making food from scratch with limited resources of time and money,” Newberry said.

Woehrle said that she makes breakfast every day, and lunch and dinner nearly four times a week. That is almost 15 meals a week and Woehrle said she would consider herself a busy person.

However, Newberry said it took her a while to get her practice perfected. In fact, it took her a while to even consider cooking.

She said that she didn’t cook much in her college days because she didn’t like where she lived—two years in 731 S. Plymouth Court and two and a half years in the 18 E. Congress Parkway Building—and she wasn’t very invested in her “home life.”

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that when I was in college I ate well. My family was always into food so the knowledge was there when I wanted to grab it, but I didn’t want to grab it,” she said. “You would be disgusted at some of the crazy stuff I ate.”

In addition to that, Newberry said she lacked the patience and confidence in herself to cook during college.

Newberry’s husband was the one to teach her basic cooking skills such as stir fry.

From there began Newberry’s hobby of cooking, and her interest in the wholesome nutrition of a meal prepared in her own kitchen.

And now she is the cooking teacher.

Newberry will give a live, in-home holiday cookie class for the first time this month.

Visit Forkable at