“I was making a stir-fry with chicken, broccoli, onions, celery and carrots. When I looked into the pan and saw the beautiful vibrant colors, I had to grab my camera. In that moment I realized that because of my new skills, cooking was no longer exhausting.” – Veronica
It’s never too late to learn healthy cooking. After decades of relying on canned and packaged foods, Veronica made a change at age 60. For her, the Cook Smarts Nourish Class was a game changer. Suddenly, the exhaustion of cooking transformed into excitement for beautiful meals that helped her lose weight without losing flavor. Now Veronica gets to pass on important skills to her 6-year-old grandson sous chef, making smiles and memories along the way.
Name: Veronica Joan Wilson
City, State: Radford, Virginia
I cook for: my husband, son, daughter-in-law and 6-year-old grandson.
Outside of the kitchen I: am a retired reference librarian who’s learning to quilt.
If I could have any superpower, it would be: being able to stretch like Elastigirl in the animated movie The Incredibles.
I cook because: well, cooking can be healthier but mainly because it makes me happy!
Favorite CS meal so far: Chicken Pot Pie Soup
How did you learn to cook?
My mother taught me a few basic things but her cooking consisted mostly of opening a can of this or a package of that. In my twenties I checked out Fanny Farmers Cookbook from the library to teach myself. I learned to make gravy.
When I married, I had the 1963 Pillsbury Family Cookbook and The Granddaughter”s Inglenook Cookbook that my Brethren church group gave me. The two books served me well. But I depended too much on packaged meals.
When the boys were grown and I had reached 360 lbs, I took an online course on healthy cooking. My weight finally started going down. I loved getting feedback from the instructor and the other students. However, cooking a meal was a major event that left me exhausted.
“The concept of Prep Work was new to me. Now not only are the ingredients ready, they’re arranged in the cooking area by the order they go into the pot.”
What’s been your biggest cooking challenge?
Heat! Have I got the pan too hot? Is that a simmer or a sweat? Why isn’t my sauce reducing? Never mind I just burnt it.
How has your cooking routine changed since starting Cook Smarts’ meal plans?
The concept of Prep Work was new to me. Now not only are the ingredients ready, they’re arranged in the cooking area by the order they go into the pot. I’ve also developed the confidence to experiment with flavors. For instance, the Chicken Pot Soup and Chicken Korma are both favorite dishes in our household. So I used the seasoning for Chicken Korma on the chicken for the pot pie soup. It was a hit.
Tell us about your proudest kitchen moment.
I was making a stir-fry with chicken, broccoli, onions, celery and carrots. When I looked into the pan and saw the beautiful vibrant colors, I had to grab my camera. In that moment I realized that because of my new skills, cooking was no longer exhausting. I was now free to truly enjoy the process.
How has your health and cooking journey led you where you are today?
Because of a thyroid problem, I was VERY thin growing up. My nickname was Joany Maroni Stick of Macaroni. When I reached my twenties my thyroid problem leveled out and I could finally gain weight. And slowly I grew year after year until I was 363 lbs at about age 50. I finally started losing weight when I entered my 60s.
Two years ago, we sold our home of 38 years and moved to a rented house in Radford, VA with our son, daughter-in-law, grandson and a dog named Coco. We had to sell the house at a loss and I was in the middle of a health battle with cancer and hypercalcemia. It was very hard. Yet, I have never been so contented. The surgeon in nearby Roanoke knocked my problems right out of the ball park! Everyone made us feel so welcomed. Everywhere I look there’s a beautiful mountain or valley. Life is good in this little town.
My brother tells his friends that his sister lives in Grandma Heaven because I live with my grandson. Well, it’s true. He’s my sous chef. As a baby and a toddler he loved carrots and broccoli. Now at age 6 his diet consists of chicken nuggets, cheese and yogurt. But he loves to help with cooking. One day his tastes will change back to his former nutritional self. By that time he will have all the cooking skills he needs to make good food.
What are your tips for health and success in the kitchen?
Explore unfamiliar vegetables, fruits, and ingredients to add variety to your diet.
Take time to arrange the food in an appealing manner.
Thank you so much for sharing your cooking journey with us, Veronica! We are thrilled that Nourish equipped you with the skills to not only change your life, but to affect the next generation as well. Keep enjoying your “Grandma Heaven” with family, Coco, and an occasional chicken nugget!