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11 Nov 2021

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Made to Cook: The Cooking Hypothesis

22 Oct 2020

What makes us human? Some would argue that it’s the act of cooking — whether it’s boiling, broiling, roasting, baking, or barbecuing — that separates us from every other species on Earth. 

 In 1999, Harvard professor of biological anthropology Richard Wrangham published an article in the Current Anthropology journal called “The Raw and the Stolen: Cooking and the Ecology of Human Origins. Known as “the cooking hypothesis,” Wrangham’s groundbreaking new theory of human evolution proposed that taming fire to cook food changed the course of human evolution. 

 In his article and his 2009 book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, Wrangham argued that cooking allowed our human ancestors to process food more efficiently — and this change had a profound impact on evolution. While all other animals eat raw foods, Wrangham theorized that our ancestors began cooking their food some 1.8 million years ago, a change that gave early man the ability to process food more efficiently. It takes a long time, and a very large jaw and teeth, to grind down raw meat and plant matter. Before our ancestors learned how to cook, Wrangham estimated that half of their waking hours were spent simply chewing enough food to subsist, leaving little time for anything else. Cooking alters the chemical structure of food, breaking down the connective tissues in meat, and softening the cells of plants to release their starches and fats. This makes cooked food easier to chew and digest. This also helpthe body to use less energy to convert food into calories. Once the cooking was introduced, he estimated that our ancestors had an extra four hours in their day — time that could be spent huntingforaging, and slowly beginning to organizinto societiesWrangham explained, “The extra energy gave the first cooks biological advantages. They survived and reproduced better than before. Their genes spread. Their bodies responded by biologically adapting to cooked food, shaped by natural selection to take maximum advantage of the new diet. There were changes in anatomy, physiology, ecology, life history, psychology, and society.”  

This higher calorie, higher-quality diet lead to the evolution of bigger brains and bodies, and smaller jaws and teeth—a transformation that gradually resulted in modern man. From the control of fire and the growth in brain size, it’s not such a large leap to the development of dedicated hearths, the introduction of pottery and other tools for cooking, and the domestication of plants and animals.  

(Also ReadWhat eating healthy looks like)

 Wrangham’s theory is, of course, just that: a theory. Archaeological history to support control of fire 1.8 million years ago has not yet been found, but the recent discovery of ash in a South African cave suggests that our ancestors were controlling fire at least 1 million years ago — far earlier than previous evidence suggested. It may be just a matter of time before definitive evidence that proves Wrangham’s theory is found.  

 And If Wrangham’s theory is correct, we truly are what we eat.  

 If cooking is so fundamental to our evolution as people, it is a wonder that we don’t have time to make home-cooked meals with wholesome ingredients. Modern life has created many barriers to our ability to prepare home-cooked meals. What do we do if we don’t have time for home cookingBusinesses like CookinGenie can help you bring cooking where it belongs—in your own kitchen—even when you don’t have time to cook yourself. Check out our menus, and book your Genie today for building healthy eating habits in the family.  

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team dinner at home to celebrate a work anniversary - cookinGenie

01 Nov 2021

For some, going through the motions of getting to work and clocking out is as much effort as they want to put into their job. Often, they don’t feel that connection with their coworkers that makes them want to do more than the bare necessities to get their paycheck. For managers and leaders that want to inspire their employees to feel more like a family and a true team, it’s important to implement a workplace that has a more personal touch. One excellent way to do that is to organize team dinners to celebrate work anniversaries and other events.  

Why does Team Dinner Matter? 

There is something special about food and the act of sharing food. Throughout the past, there have been rules about breaking bread and how it can be a bonding action to the point where it could bring opposing parties together. Team dinners can be an amazing opportunity that offers more benefits than meets the eye. It can be more than a meeting outside of work hours to have a meal.    

Increase Retention by Developing Friendships  

One of the biggest expenses that companies can have is turnover. Having to go through the motions of recruiting new talent only to have them leave later on is expensive. It’s also can be costly when you consider that your loyal employees can often start to feel burnt out by having to pick up the slack for open positions or helping out with new trainees. It can turn into an unhealthy cycle. Celebrating work anniversaries and other work events with dinner parties thrown at your home can help to make your existing employees feel seen and important. It’s great for their morale while also being great for increasing your employee retention. 

Foster Highly Engaged and Productive Teams 

It’s hard to be dispassionate about the people that you work with when you know each other on a more personal basis. You can create a team that’s engaged and productive when you find ways to build a team spirit. Each member of a team will be more willing to work with each other and ensure that their work helps to support each other. It’s easy to put off working on a task or not put your best effort in if you don’t care about the next person that will be working with the product you created, such as a report or data collection. Creating camaraderie can help people feel more involved and want to be productive.   

Exchange Ideas 

You may find that your team has great ideas, but sometimes, these ideas can be lost in the shuffle at work. Organizing a team dinner can be an excellent place to talk about work with the exchanging of ideas. You may find that team members in a different area that have other tasks may have ideas that impact other portions of the team. In a regular work setting, these ideas might never see the light of day, but you’ll be creating a more comfortable setting where it can be discussed. 

Communication Links  

Communication is a skill that a lot of people feel is easy, but good communication can be hard. It takes practice. There is more to communication than meets the eye. Active listening is essential with communication. Hosting team dinners for work anniversaries and other occasions is the perfect opportunity to work on the communication skills among everyone in a more relaxed setting. 

How To Turn Team Dinners into a Meaningful Experience  

Food Tours 

You can make your dinner about more than just a mandatory meeting outside of work, but make it fun. Food tours are a great way to incorporate a fun element that turns your dinner into a worthy occasion to celebrate a work anniversary or other event. Food tours are when you take a particular country’s food and create dishes that only come from that area. Often, during food tours, you learn a little about the culture of the area along with getting to try out the most popular dishes from the area. Sometimes, the food tour may be a specific region in a country, like creating dishes from Tuscany, or from around the country.   

Personal Chefs 

Personal chefs can be a great idea for your at-home work dinner. It’s hard to handle ice breaker games, friendly chats, and relaxing with your coworkers when you’re trying to handle all of the cooking. Utilizing a personal chef allows you to host your dinner without being absent from all of the festivities. Why miss something fun by being trapped in the kitchen? You could get takeout, but why risk the food being cold when personal chefs are a comparable option price-wise with all of the benefits of your food being cooked in your very own kitchen. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. 

Team Building Activities  

As your team is sitting around eating dinner, it’s the perfect time to enjoy team-building activities. The food and conversation can help to relax your team members while they get to know each other better. Throwing in some team-building activities can be a fun way to spend time with everyone in a more personal setting without work tasks hanging over everyone’s head. You get the benefit of helping your group of workers feel more like a team while enjoying themselves. Some fun team-building activities include two truths and a lie, office trivia, blind drawing, virtual escape rooms, and you could even have a murder mystery or similar games. Any activity that makes you come together to problem solve, work as teams, or learn more about each other can be good activities to enjoy during your time outside of work.  

 CookinGenie can be an excellent way to explore the possibilities that are available when it comes to team dinners. It can be stressful enough getting your home ready to host a team of coworkers in your personal space, so why add to your to-do checklist before the event? When you use CookinGenie, you free up a lot of time to handle all the other last-minute tasks. Your private chef will do all of the shopping, meal prep, and even clean your kitchen after they are done preparing your dinner choices. What could be easier? Check out the CookinGenie website today to find your new favorite personal chef to cook for your upcoming work dinner party or other events. 

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Healthy Ingredients_Tahini

14 Jul 2021

If you’ve ever dipped a carrot or pita chip into a bowl of hummus, you’ve likely been the lucky beneficiary of tahini — an extremely common, yet not commonly known ingredient that serves an integral role in middle eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. This incredible ingredient is a tasty, healthy, and versatile food that you’ll want to get to know.

A smooth paste made from grinding hulled sesame seeds, tahini is essentially sesame butter. With a delightful nutty flavor and a rich, creamy texture, tahini is almost the middle eastern equivalent of peanut butter, although tahini is a little bit looser, with an earthier, slightly more bitter flavor.

The appealing taste and texture of tahini lends itself to many tasty iterations in middle eastern cooking. Tahini is most well-known for being the glue that holds together quintessential middle eastern dips like hummus and baba ghanoush, (smoked eggplant dip) but it’s also be used in numerous other applications. It can be served as a stand-alone dip for crackers and vegetables, mixed with olive oil and lemon to make a full-bodied salad dressing, spread on toasted bread or pita, used as a marinade for grilled meats, slathered over roasted vegetables, blended into healthy fruit smoothies, or even used in desserts such as cakes and cookies.

Aside from its delicious taste and endless culinary utility, tahini is loaded with health benefits. It boasts high levels of healthy fatty acids and it’s a good source of protein, iron, calcium, antioxidants, dietary fibers, and a host of other important vitamins and minerals. This varied and impressive nutritional profile renders tahini a bona fide superfood and its rich levels of iron and protein make it an excellent ingredient for vegan and vegetarian cooking.

Among many other benefits, tahini can reduce inflammation, is good for weight loss, can strengthen the immune system, and may even help protect against heart disease and some cancers.

(Also ReadHealthy ingredients – turmeric)

You should be able to find tahini at your local grocery store in the international section, although it may sometimes require a trip to a specialty market or health foods store.

With all of its wonderful culinary variations and incredible health benefits, tahini is a great ingredient to start incorporating into your life. But with all new ingredients, sometimes it can be difficult to know where to begin.

That’s where CookinGenie comes in. Whether it’s folded into a creamy homemade hummus, drizzled over crispy hand-rolled falafel, or topping a hearty chickpea shawarma salad, our genies offer an array of healthy, delicious, family-friendly dishes that will help you seamlessly blend tahini into your diet. Book one of our talented genies today to taste and experience this magical ingredient from the comfort of your own home.

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