Natalie Lopez, Teen Board Member
Memorial High School - Houston, Texas
Teen Board Member 2021 - Present
Natalie is a sophomore at Memorial High School. She is the assistant stage manager of Memorial’s theatre shows and productions and is also the vice president of her school’s American Sign Language Club, where she works on connecting hearing and deaf cultures. In the future, she aspires to become a nutritionist or dietician. Outside of school, she enjoys experimenting with cooking, baking, and doing yoga.
A Taste of Homemade Happiness
If you’re not an experienced cook, you may be hesitant when getting started in the kitchen, not sure where things are, unsure of how to work the appliances, or afraid something will catch on fire. Cooking and baking aren’t a sport that requires any training, but it does take some practice. Just remember that you don’t need a fancy air fryer to enjoy a hearty home cooked meal, because many of your favorite dishes can be made by what you most likely already have available in your kitchen. As we approach spring break, I challenge you to take some time to spend experimenting with cooking! Get to know your kitchen, share a fun cooking experience with a friend or family member and enjoy a delicious meal made specially by you.
The Benefits of a Nutritious Home Cooked Meal
Restaurant meals typically serve dishes that contain higher amounts of sodium and unhealthy fats, often used to make their appetizers and entrees flavorful but also leaving you with a need for a constant refill of that fresh icy water due to the excess salt your body consumes. By cooking at home, you have total control of what is going into your food and what nutrients are entering your body, giving you more control of your diet. In this way, you are also in charge of working around your allergies and diet restrictions, making your meals more personalized to your needs and wants. Restaurants also have a large impact on the world's greenhouse gas emissions, especially when it comes to food waste and water usage, so by choosing to make your meal at home instead, you are having a positive influence on the environment and in reducing your carbon footprint.
Tips for Experimenting with Cooking
● Keep an open mind!
Cooking can sometimes become frustrating or stressful especially when you don’t have much experience, so it's important to keep an open mind and get excited about the new food and meal opportunities within your kitchen.
● Look up recipes
Planning ahead for what you want to make and what you are going to need will make it more convenient for your future self before stepping into the kitchen, especially with the help of a recipe. There are many resources to finding recipes, and so many available on food blogs, websites, and social media platforms for you to try out and experiment.
● Prepare a small snack before you get working
Oftentimes our brains are used to the quick delivery of food especially when you eat out on a regular basis. However, when we are in the kitchen the prepping and cooking time can take longer than anticipated so keeping a snack handy is helpful for an extra boost of energy for when you begin to get hungry in anticipation of the meal you’re making.
● Stock your shelves and counters with the basics
Investing in some basic cooking equipment and fundamental ingredients is useful when it comes time to making a meal. Simple tools like a cutting board, sharp knives (to be used with caution), and a skillet or cast-iron pan are commonly used for recipes involving frying or sautéing. It’s also useful to keep your spices up to date and stocked up since adding some simple ingredients like oregano, tarragon, basil, thyme, etc. could bring your dish from good to great. A little bit of spice can go a long way!
On a final note, the world of cooking and baking is endless and spending some time in your kitchen working on a meal can be very rewarding in the end. With more free time on our hands as we come closer to spring break, I encourage you all to spend some time in the kitchen, filling your home with warmth from your oven or stove and the smell of fresh foods. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try something new, you might end up being the next top Michelin star chef!
Newsletter March 2022