Brooke: Healthy Home Cooking for the Family
I would like to be a good role model for my children, so that one day they too will know the value and health benefits of cooking meals using fresh ingredients. – Brooke
Kitchen Hero Brooke grew up in a family of great cooks, and she was surrounded by home gardens filled with fresh fruits and veggies. However, when she was in college, she slipped into the habit of eating fast foods and frozen meals. Now that she has a family of her own – with 3 little girls! – this Kitchen Hero mama took the steps she needed to raise healthy eaters by introducing them to delicious, healthy, homemade meals. Not only are her girls willing to try new foods, but Brooke has also impressed her parents and husband with her top-notch home cooking! Read more about her Hero in the Kitchen story below.
Name: Brooke Springman
City, State: Spring,TX
I cook for: my husband and three daughters (ages 5,3,1).
Outside of the kitchen I: am a work-at-home mom / stay-at-home mom, and a medical and insurance billing specialist.
The strangest food I have ever eaten: We were at a Bangladeshi wedding and they had these “things” that I believe are called paan – they are betel leaves that are stuffed with ingredients like roasted fennel seed, cloves, cardamom, nuts, tobacco paste, coconut flakes, and rose paste, and then folded into a triangle to eat. Paan is meant to cleanse the palette. It tasted like perfume, and I did not care for it much at all. On the upside, we ate lots of wonderful Indian food that I have come to love, and some that I have made myself from the Cook Smarts menus.
I cook because: I feel that it is so much healthier to eat meals cooked with “whole fresh foods” and ingredients versus processed or “fast food”. Growing up I remember my mother cooked us a different meal every night of the year. I used to brag that we never ate the same thing twice all year long. She also was good at cooking a variety of cuisine and flavors from all over the world. Looking back I can only imagine how hard that must have been for her without a meal planning service like Cook Smarts! I also would like to be a good role model for my children, so that one day they too will know the value and health benefits of cooking meals using fresh ingredients.
Favorite Cook Smarts meal so far: Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles. Funny story – I absolutely loved this meal, but my poor husband was sick when I made it so he could barely taste it. When he finally got his taste back, there were a couple bites left that he got to try, and he was so upset that he missed out. Now he asks me all the time to make it.
HOW DID YOU LEARN TO COOK?
I grew up around an entire family of great cooks that all had gardens growing in their backyards. When I was a child I remember picking and eating fruits and vegetables straight off the vines in the garden. Somewhere along the way, perhaps in college, I slipped into a horrible habit of eating fast food, cooking frozen meals, and eating vegetables from cans. When I bought my first house, I made a small garden in the back, and slowly started to change my eating habits.
I remember feeling in a total food rut though, and desperately wanting a change. Then a good friend posted about the Cook Smarts service online, and I thought, “I have to check this out.” I loved it so much I took the Nourish class, and it wasn’t until then that I really started learning to cook, and feeling confident to go above and beyond just following the recipe.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST COOKING CHALLENGE?
I still have trouble looking at what I have on hand, and just throwing a dish together, but I am working on it! It is also very hard for me to do the meal prep; I always have the best intentions but due to time constraints I never get to it. Perhaps when my kids are a little older. I often utilize my time on the weekends to work because my husband is home, and can help me with them. I even had a moment when we were not using Cook Smarts because my little 15 month old became very demanding when I was in the kitchen. That food rut feeling crept back around a bit. Of course, when I got back to cooking the meal plans, we were so much happier.
If we go out to a restaurant or eat fast food, I am usually up all night not feeling very good. I never feel bad after eating a Cook Smarts recipe.
How has your cooking routine changed since starting Cook Smarts’ meal plans?
One big thing that has changed for me is that I used to buy pantry staples and then only use them one time before they would expire and I would have to throw them out. I recently finished a jar of toasted sesame oil and cornstarch, and now I often replace my vinegars and spices! I love how much money we are saving, and that we are not nearly as wasteful with food anymore. I also love how we have streamlined our kitchen to only have the tools we really need, and through the Nourish class, have made our space much more efficient to cook in!
Finally, one more change I love is when I started Cook Smarts, I had tons of kitchen equipment from our wedding registry that NEVER got used for like 7 years. Next thing I know, I am pulling out things like my Dutch oven, and using them all the time!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROUDEST KITCHEN MOMENT.
The other day I cooked a Cook Smarts recipe for my parents, and my mom said not only did it taste great, but that both of my parents did not feel bad all night after eating dinner. I think about this a lot actually. If we go out to a restaurant or eat fast food, I am usually up all night not feeling very good. I never feel bad after eating a Cook Smarts recipe.
TWO THINGS you LOVE ABOUT COOK SMARTS:
- I love that often the recipes will use healthier ingredients than would otherwise be called for in another recipe (for example, ground turkey), yet the flavor is NEVER compromised!
- We started Cook Smarts when my middle child started eating food, and she is our kid who will eat anything and is always willing to try new foods. I am totally convinced that it is because we started her out eating a wide variety of foods and flavors to begin with. Also, when I was pregnant with my third child, I remember feeling so good about all the nutrients my unborn child was getting from foods like kale, due to great meals I was eating thanks to Cook Smarts!
Brooke, thank you so much for letting us be a part of your cooking journey. We’re happy to hear that our meal plans got you out of dinner ruts, and that Nourish has helped you become an even better cook. At the rate that you’re cooking up homemade meals, we’re sure that your 3 adorable little girls will soon be mini Kitchen Heroes, kicking you out of the kitchen so that they can cook delicious, healthy dinners for you and your husband to enjoy!