#OwenCooks: Ultimate Healthy Cornbread


I used to date a woman who was spectacularly talented in the kitchen. She would make these incredible, complicated, delicious dinners, and top it off with, like, an orange chocolate cheesecake that was simply to die for.

The thing that always got me was how she took as much if not more pleasure in feeding her family as she did in actually eating the food herself.

Actually, scratch that; making the food and putting it on the table was clearly the appeal for her. And I always thought that was funny, because a) what's so fun about slaving in the kitchen for hours, and b) the damn food was so good, y'all.

But I think I get it now.

She saw cooking and baking as a kind of therapy; her kitchen while she worked was chaos to a bystander, but she was always in control, even when she had three dishes going that needed minute-by-minute attention.

There's no room to think about anything else when you're fully focused on the task in front of you. And if you're the kind of person whose mind throws a never-ending stream of anxiety at you on a daily basis, it can sure be a mental vacation to just check out and follow a recipe for a while.

I'm not nearly at her level in the kitchen, not even close. But I can definitely appreciate the satisfaction that comes with closing the rest of the world off and just gathering ingredients and creating something delicious to share with the people around you.

That sounds cheesy as hell, but that's definitely why I've taken to this commitment to healthy eating so strongly. It's fun to make things, and it's fun to share them, too.

I was at the grocery store twenty minutes before it opened this morning because I needed an egg and some cornmeal. I had cornbread on the brain, y'all.

Like I've said before, a lot of this #OwenCooks stuff springs from me just looking up healthy versions of foods I really like. There was a southern food joint near my old apartment that served incredible cornbread, and the other night something triggered that memory and I desperately wanted some of my own.

Luckily for me, Amy's Healthy Baking has this "Ultimate Healthy Cornbread" recipe, which doesn't use sugar or butter (in my version), and instead uses Greek yogurt, maple syrup/honey and vanilla extract.

It's super easy to whip together, and I have to say, it's fantastic. I had some soon after it came out of the oven, topped with a small-batch alpine wildflower honey from Beeland Market and it was all I could do not to eat the whole loaf.

Later, we had a little more at dinner along with leftover healthy Chinese stir-fry (uh, fusion?), and I'd enjoyed baking the cornbread so much that I had another healthy banana bread carrot cake ready for dessert.

My family gobbled it all up with a quickness, and their appreciation and delight were palpable. From my perspective, I thought it all tasted wonderful, but I wonder if it would have tasted nearly as good if I hadn't had people to cook for?

For the first time, I can really see the joy in cooking for cooking's sake, and not just to have nice things to eat.