Since I’ve been living alone, one of the most difficult things that I have had to deal with has been cooking for one.

At first, it may seem like a pretty simple thing to do, cook everything you used to cook, but make less of it.

Unfortunately, it’s a lot more complicated than that. It’s really a battle with your own tendency to think of cooking as a group activity. Most of us enjoy eating a meal that has been prepared by a family or couple, or company. It’s one of the daily activities that serves numerous functions: nourishment, the pleasure of eating food that is tasty and well prepared, a social experience, eating in the company of others, and of course, to satisfy our need to be healthy and fit.

When one of the most important elements is missing, that of companionship, for instance, the motivation to prepare a meal is diminished.

I have found myself struggling to maintain a level of interest in cooking meals. It is so easy to fall back on simple solutions — prepared foods, things that need little or no preparation, such as a sandwich, or foods that are just there, such as cereal or snacks.

It’s a dilemma.

But, a few months ago, I read about a program that promotes the development of opportunities in a community for people to remain healthy longer by focusing on changing the things that can have an impact on how we live our lives in a healthier way.

I was intrigued by what I read and then heard about from friends who were familiar with the program in Florida. It’s called Blue Zone.

My immediate reaction was to think about my own dilemma and try to connect that to others who might have similar issues related to cooking and eating healthy foods. I decided to think more carefully not just about whether to cook or not, but what to cook instead. Perhaps, if I made a connection between cooking and remaining healthier, I might actually do it. I might make a connection between healthy eating and being healthy.

So, here in Branford, we gathered a coalition of people who represent various organizations that are associated with food or health. We agreed to begin by organizing a Facebook page called Branford Gets Fresh, which is devoted to promoting recipes for cooking healthier meals using fresh ingredients. It’s been really fun to watch the membership grow and interact with each other. It’s also been helpful to be able to look for ideas on how to cook fresh, simple meals that are good for you and are tasty as well.

Bringing all of these groups together such as the Shoreline Health Department, the Y, Food Pantry and the Community Dining Room together with the high school culinary arts department and the food service program gives us a broader perspective on the food landscape of our community. Add to that Betty Anna Donegan, a local cooking teacher and Stop & Shop staff who are interested opportunities to promote healthy cooking, we have a powerful network working to achieve a common goal.

Getting back to cooking for one, I’m finding a renewed interest in cooking for healthy living. Cooking as part of my daily regimen which is designed to keep me healthy; going to the gym, keeping my mind alert, and now cooking and eating fresh, simple foods.

My Italian mother always cooked what was available in the market, in season. Fresh vegetables in summer and legumes in the winter. I’m going back to her menus and enjoying both the delicious meals that I’m making and the fond memories that they evoke.

Connecticut Media Group