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Fear. What does it have to do with eating and cooking? A lot. It’s what partially what kept us out of the kitchen for a long time. The fear of how it would change our lives — would we have no time left? Would we turn into crazy hippies and make everything from scratch?

And then, actually doing it — could we do it? (I was a notoriously dismal cook who had problems doing even the simplest tasks in the kitchen.) What if it didn’t work? What if our food turned out disgusting?

And what about trying to eat a “whole food” diet, which sounds so lofty and confusing? What should we eat? What if we couldn’t do it? What if we craved bad-for-you constantly?

Cooking has taught us a lot of life lessons, and one of them is to be bold. I’ve never done anything else in my life that has required me to fail more constantly. Failure has been as much a part of the process as success. We’ve had so many failed recipes you wouldn’t believe — and stumbles along the way as we tried to figure out the way we wanted to eat.

Cooking and mindful eating is not an achievement, but a process. The good thing is you don’t have to have it all figured out to start. You just have to be bold enough to dip one toe in the water. Yes, it’s scary — it requires you to jump out of your comfort zone, try new tastes you’ve never experienced, and try new skills you may have never practiced in your life. But the journey is so worth it.

So to you who are worried about how to start — whether you have the skills or knowledge, whether it will fit into your life, whether you could give up your favorite convenient food for a home-cooked version — we say, be bold!  Try it out. All you can do it start — and expect to fail many times before you even start to see some progress. Cooking and learning about how to eat takes time to discover what’s right for you, your body, and your lifestyle, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But it can change your life.

How to start?

Find one recipe in a cookbook, magazine, or online for this weekend and give it a try. (We have started doing most of our weekly cooking on the weekend, which is a great way to get ahead for the week — if you don’t mind leftovers!) Here are a few inspirations for new or experienced cooks alike:

Lentil Tacos
Italian White Bean Soup
Tomato Basil Soup with Ricotta Dumplings
Mexican Lasagna

PS How does the image above relate? I chose our Quick Refrigerator Dill Pickles to represent fear because I used to be scared of pickles. This, like so many other things, I had to get over when we started cooking – and now they are one of my favorite foods.

For a little more inspiration this week, check out our friend Erin from Naturally Ella’s post on loving your food. We’re looking forward to spending some time with her soon to brainstorm more ideas around how to spread the love of cooking and eating natural foods.

The Healthy & Whole project is a project to inspire home cooking and healthy whole foods eating, in order to improve public health. The goal is to provide inspiration and resources on how to eat a whole foods diet, become connected to your community, and care for others around you and the environment.

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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  1. What a great post! I especially love the part about how you fail just as much as you succeed. I think people see all the amazing photos and recipes online and expect that everything should come out perfect every time, which is definitely not the case. When a recipe doesn’t work, it’s easy to get frustrated and give up but I know I learn more when I fail than when I succeed. Every “fail” teaches you something new and you get better in the process. Thanks for sharing!!

    1. So true! I too used to become frustrated and just plain sad when something didn’t work out like the picture :) Now, after so many failures, it’s much easier to laugh and just try again — and like you said, you learn so much more from that failure than you may have from a success!

  2. Fantastic post! Fear of failure often keeps me out of the kitchen. It’s never nice to screw up a recipe. But it’s a great metaphor for life. Getting in there and trying (and sometimes failing) will make you a better cook, help you enjoy life and feel so much healthier and happy. Plus, when I conquer something I was scared to try in the kitchen, I feel like a million bucks :) Cooking is like everything in life. With enough practice, you develop confidence and then you become unstoppable. Time spent in the kitchen no longer feels like a chore. Cooking on the weekend is also a great idea. You always feel ahead of the game throughout the rest of the week!

    1. Yes — it’s a perfect life metaphor! We’ve learned so much about life and grace after failures in the kitchen. In the beginning it was easy to want to give up, but like you said, more and more practice builds confidence and a fulfillment that is worth all those failures.

  3. Those pickles look amazing! This post is fabulous. Like Stephanie stated, we see blogs all day long of beautiful looking food and assume that the person behind the blog must have some secret talent in order to produce all this amazing food all the time. It’s great when bloggers share their failures and frustrations and show that they too are human. I think we tend to forget that for every successful recipe there is likely many failed recipes before and after. Thanks for this reminder.

    1. Well said! No secret talent — just persistence…and passion, I guess, which keeps you going through the failures :) Thanks, Anna!

  4. I think you probably already know that I love this post and I couldn’t agree more- there really isn’t anything else in life where you fail so much (but it’s also a good reminder that when we fail and learn from that experience, we grow and get better and often create something delicious ;)

    Excited for next weekend!

  5. Thanks for the inspiration! Just started reading your blog a few months ago and really enjoy it. With two kids, including one picky eater who really does try, it is hard to not fall back to the basic chicken dinner that I know they will eat. We have lightened up our dinners and have several veggie dinners per week. Your post today about fear of changing how we cook and eat really hit home. It isnt that hard to change when we think about how great the results are. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you, Christine! It’s exciting to hear about the changes you’re making for your family! Fear of change is one thing — but convincing your entire family of a change is an even bigger challenge! Thanks for writing and keep us posted on your continued journey!

  6. I can relate, my pickles are always a little scary and I worry about them every time I make a batch. Perhaps it’s time for me to make some. My purple pickled eggs on the other hand, are awesome every time, but people are scared to try them!

  7. Your post is awesome. I was afraid to make my own cheese from scratch. I began with an easy recipe and I turned very well, funny and amazing ! I definitely will try your pickle recipe one day.

  8. What a great post. Thanks for taking the time to give a word of encouragement to new cooks like me trying to take back control of what we eat. Can’t wait to try some of these!