I realized that the worst thing I could do to this family was to shame or judge them, prescribe them more medication, kitchen or tell them to eat less and exercise more (a subtle way of blaming them). Instead, I wanted to teach them to cook real food from scratch and show them they could eat well on a tight budget and feel satisfied. When I looked through their fridge that first day, I was surprised to see a bunch of fresh asparagus. The mother explained that she used to hate them.
“Once I had asparagus out of a can; it was nasty,” she said. “But then a friend told me to try one off the grill, and even though I didn’t want to, I tried it and it was good.” My theory about kitchen vegetables is this: If you hate them, then you most likely never had them prepared properly. They were canned, overcooked, boiled, deep-fried, or otherwise highly processed and tasteless mush. Just think of overcooked Brussels sprouts or tasteless canned peas.
The worst! So we got the whole family washing, peeling, chopping, cutting, touching, and cooking real food—whole foods like kitchen carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, salad greens, and even asparagus. I showed them how to peel the garlic, cut the onions, and snap the asparagus to get rid of the chewy ends.