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by Christina Wilson December 18, 2023

“We must all make a tremendous effort to bring back the family table... and, of course, those assembled around that table should eat nutritious, home-cooked meals rather than highly processed convenience foods." -Julia Child.

Today, when our day-to-day meals are more likely than ever to be store- or restaurant-bought, the cooking we do from scratch during the holidays can remind us of how gratifying and valuable preparing food can be. Cooking the same foods that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers prepared connects us with who we are and our larger community. When we share that food with those from different backgrounds we share something of ourselves and create real bonds and mutual understanding.
Julia Child helped people gain the confidence to cook and enjoy the kitchen. I still have my mother's tattered, sauce-stained, dog-eared original copy of Mastering The Art of French Cooking.  Before marrying her husband Paul, Julia ate frozen dinners as her cooking attempts led to oven fires and exploded ducks. Despite that dicey start, she built a legacy as one of the most influential (and funny) chefs ever.

Julia Child lived fearlessly and fully until she passed at 91 years old. She's an excellent source for eating and life advice. She preferred translating the word gourmand as “happy eater." She ate a variety of food but practiced moderation and balance, saying "“You must have discipline to have fun.”

Some favorite Julia quotes annotated:

"Fat gives things flavor."

Amen. Thankfully we've ditched the 90's low fat craze. From both nutrition and a culinary vantage point, good fat is where it's at. An appropriate amount of high-quality fat is essential. Fat makes food taste better, provides satiety, offers many nutritional benefits, and can help you lose weight. Truth. Kale massaged with olive oil can tenderize those bitter greens to a silky salad. Avocados make everything better.

"You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces—just good food from fresh ingredients."

Delicious food can be as simple as a roasted vegetable or a fresh peach over arugula with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon.

“If you don’t have a really good meal, you’re probably always hungry and snack because you’re not satisfied.”

Eating balanced meals with protein, fat and fibrous carbs will keep cravings at bay, and keep your insulin in the sweet spot so you don't feel the need to snack.

"Remember, 'No one's more important than people.' Friendship is the most important thing—not career or housework, or one's fatigue—and it needs to be tended and nurtured."

Relationships and community are essential for health. The Okinawa Centenarian Study is a well-documented report examining the city's elderly population. They have the lowest coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer rates (the U.S.'s three leading causes of death) globally. Besides genetics and healthy habits such as physical activity and healthful dietary choices, their relationships, strong family ties, and community play a crucial factor. Sharing a meal with friends is one of the best things in life.

"The only time to eat diet food is when you are waiting for the steak to cook."

Diet food is a term in our vernacular that needs to go away. If you eat and enjoy meat, try to make it grass-fed. Don't eat meat? Pescatarian? Vegan? That's fine; just make sure you are consuming sufficient protein. Protein makes up the building blocks of our organs, muscles, skin, and hormones. Studies show that eating protein can also help you lose weight and belly fat while preserving your muscle mass.

"If everything doesn't happen quite the way you'd like, it doesn't make too much difference because you can fix it."

Whether you follow recipes meticulously or make dinner with wild abandon, cooking can go sideways. Nine times out of ten there's a fix for a mishap. If not, here's another quote by Maya Angelou that may useful "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."

Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it."

Julia is proof (in the pudding) that you can create a new career from a passion, no matter your age. You deserve to seek a life that fulfills you and brings you joy--for the most part, anyway (there will always be dishes to wash).

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook—try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all, have fun."

In short, cooking is important for your health and happiness, and that of everyone around you. Cooking for your friends or family is a great way to show your love. It’s healthy, better for the planet and it can be a very calming and beautiful ritual. Your meals don't have to be Instagram-ready or photograph well. Be messy and imperfect. Just make it delicious. Make it nutritious. Make it yours.

Cheers! Go forth and nourish yourself and others this holiday season.

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Christina Wilson
Christina Wilson

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